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  1. Like
    Palas reacted to Narcosis for a blog entry, Revised rating system and the eroge food chain or "why certain genres can't attain enlightment"   
    I've been meaning to do this for a longer while now, but various circumstances always prevented me from making it.
    Before we start, let me make this clear. I dislike value-based rating systems, where numbers are supposed to be an estimate on how "good" something is, or how much quality there is to it. In my opinion, those systems are all fair and square but don't really work the way we'd like them to, not to mention a simple number is vague as hell and doesn't really provide anything except a scale between "good", "bad" and "mediocre" in-between. Why is that? Because vns don't work that way, sadly. You can't really rate a visual novel in the same exact manner as a standard Hollywood movie, plastering a number on top of it; it's because vns are insanely diversified works with many unique sub-genres, built with particular audiences in mind. It's a world, where one fan's treasures are another fan's trash, often within the same genre trees. The same can be said about almost every other work medium belonging to japanese pop culture. Discarding this tiny nuance might actually have a pretty detrimental result in terms of ratings, that are either too vague, unfair or way too hedonist, without actually trying to get the gist of what the game actually is and to whom it is addressed. I'd rather want to think of actual ratings as something that helps in deciding how much a game is in line with one's personal interests and how high that goes. Different groups of players have different needs, therefore it's probably easier to explain the whole thing in form of a diagram:

    Don't think of it as "things consuming things", but more as "things supporting other things". Moege aren't particularly worse than high-rated vns, they simply have a completely different target audience, with completely different set of tastes and demands. Obviously, certain genres are more common - because there's a much higher demand for those, but at the same time it means lowering standards to match tastes of a far wider audience, which uniquely leads to genre blandness (this happened to moege and majority of charage already). The games higher on the list in terms of complexity are more streamlined and niche, requiring more refined tastes and greater knowledge in a variety of topics, which leads to them being far less approachable by majority of players. This by default leads to subsequent categorization and further alienation which is one of the major reasons why it's so hard to get into those games and communities that surround them.
    Those tiers are permanent and games belonging to them remain forever bound to their respective positions within the chain. It can't be changed, nor affected in any way, as accessibility by ease of understanding is the sole factor that decides about their fate. This also lead me to believe, that a proper rating system should actually take this into consideration. As much as you play a high-tier chuunige for it's cool story and characters, you play a simple charage not for the plot, but for character interactions and protagonist finally connecting with one of the heroines; you want to see where their relationships will lead to and it's the only actual thing you will care about. It's not really possible to compare both through the same exact value-based rating system.
    Obviously, we could argue about this forever, so without further ado - I present my new rating system, I'll be using onwards for my vn reviews.
    Basic ratings go as follows:
    Awful - When things get so bad, you might as well ask yourself what kind of wrong have you committed to end up with such game in your hands. Somehow, you ended up picking it along the way - maybe because it had a cute maid on the cover or a synopsis, which looked particularly interesting; who knows. The point is - the more you play, the less impressed you are and by the time you reach the end, you might be banging your head against the desk in utter disappointment and resentment you ever got yourself into vns. Looks can be deceiving, after all. Avoid whenever possible, since there's probably a thousand things more worth wasting your time on, than crap in p(r)etty disguise.
    Hopefully, I won't ever stumble upon a game, that will prompt me to give it a lower score.
    Imperfect - Games that strive to be good, but fail somewhere along the way - in one or more aspects. Typically a result of many problems piling up on the dev side of things, including lack of proper knowledge, skills, financial aspects, neglect, and/or faggotry. Those titles might (and prolly will) be enjoyable, but often most, the amount of issues outweighs positive aspects, successfully lowering the enjoyment factor to a large degree. They range from being mildly obnoxious in their issues to outright annoying and might be even riddled with bugs. Needless to say, they should be played in moderation to avoid salt overdose and in most cases, only the most devoted fans are arguably able to look past their flaws. For every imperfect game, you will find at least few similar titles that don't suck as badly.
    Mediocre - Games considered a widely accepted quality norm, stuck at their designated level. Mediocre titles tend to be far simpler in nature and typically offer fair value from a consumer standpoint, but lack in soul and technical aspects, making them cheap in comparison with anything above their tier. They tend to be mostly forgettable and don't leave a long-lasting impression (exceptions happen), but remain enjoyable while they last, giving you something to do for a bunch of cozy afternoons. In overall, they tend to leave players with hunger for more and unfulfilled dreams. Expect whatever being mass-produced at current moment to fall under this group, including majority of moege. At times, I tend to leave them with a tiny +, to indicate devs at least tried.
    Impressive - A game, which elevates itself above norm and skilfully uses tropes, settings and standards along with various medium-related mechanics to create memorable experiences. Those are typically good games by default, albeit not devoid of flaws, often times being a part of their very nature. They still tend to be far from perfect, but you'll love them regardless of those tiny mistakes and bumps, which remain an indicator of hand-crafted approach. Titles as such aren't uncommon, but more than often - they will leave you thirsty for more and that thirst is something, they aren't really capable to quench; after many of those, you will most probably want to delve deeper. They will purposefully tingle your ego, but don't expect them to give you clear answers, nor solutions to problems they create. They are more often about the voyage itself - asking questions and leaving their readers in a state of bewilderment - rather than the end result. Nonetheless, they are almost always a truly enjoyable ride till the very end. This group tends to attract simpler story-heavy games, as well as more ambitious charage titles.
    Outstanding - Very few games reach this sort of artistry, that could be only matched with writers' attention to detail and cleverness in which they build their settings and play with commonly found tropes, much to everyone's surprise and delight of their more hardcore fanbase. In those, the definition of up and down doesn't really exist and any sort of distinctions between what's considered widely accepted moral norms blur to the point of being almost indistinguishable. They rarely give a damn about normalfaggotry conceptions of the perceived genres. Such games will often have great heroes and even greater antagonists - actual people made of flesh and blood, driven by most primal human desires and emotions that will defy physics, bend time and space, obliterate entire armies and cause nations to fall. Such characters often find themselves fighting no less with their enemies, as much as themselves - their flaws, imperfections, inner demons hidden somewhere between the folds of their souls and enjoying to peek outside at times. In those tales, people will die and things get destroyed, with certain fates becoming far worse than a visit to the nearest afterworld. Don't expect your favourite characters getting selective treatment; in realm of outstanding stories, characters considered to be "redeeming" or "favourable" often go through even bigger hell than defeated antagonists - at most if they win - with worst possible cases including moral event horizon induced insanity, gruesome deaths or eternal suffering (preferably all in a never-ending cycle). Those stories will make you laugh, they will make you cry, they are frequently emotionally draining - and boy oh boy - entertaining as hell, provided you're capable to grasp concepts behind their inner workings.
    Considered a desired habitable zone by many aspiring and skilful writers, simply because it allows badassery to exist without hurting immersion in the process.
    Brilliant - Games that ultimately defy laws and conventions of genres they belong to, written by literate geniuses, capable to mould words into whatever the hell they want. Plot no longer functions like in normal space and characters are akin to visitors on a vast plane of  reader's subconsciousness. Those games are typically considered difficult to grasp for most people and with a good reason, because you're expected to deal with creators themselves and whatever personal issues, grudges, hate and passions they throw at you, while you're trying to make sense of everything. They are extremely rare and as such, prone to complete subjectiveness, becoming battlefronts for fan-based warfare. They always attain a cult following and grow endless forests of epileptic trees, which serve as fuel for discussions, that will go on for years - AND YEARS, if not decades after release.
    Masterpiece - This, my ladies and gentlemen - is what any fan could consider a holy grail of eroge... if one would only exist. I doubt I'll ever come across a visual novel as good, to be able to freely - and without doubts - give it such a high rating. It didn't happen yet, perhaps I'm yet to read them, who knows. Most of the really good games I know fall somewhere between outstanding and brilliant, to give an example. This rating is more of a gimmick to keep myself at bay there are no perfect games.
    In addition, I use the following special tags as well:
    Highly recommended - Games I consider being capable of showing "how things should be done", both in terms of writing as well as genre standards and rules they operate under. Such works, are - more or less - exemplary and at the same time - provide both content and enjoyment in a way, that's easy to grasp even for novices and people unaccustomed with their tropes or elements.
    Guilty pleasure - You DON'T question why certain games get this tag. Period.
    This is something I typically reserve for titles, that might not really be the best or most worthy of attention or general context (I could quite possibly not play them under most circumstances), but definitely deliver elsewhere. Where the former doesn't apply, they simply have things I have a strong and particular fixation about and approach them in such an excellent way - including fetishes I can't really live without anymore - I'm able to forgive those games any other flaws. I don't really play them because of their depth or plot, I play them for my personal enjoyment on a very carnal level and you might find them of equal interest.
    Wicked - A game that breaks any contrived norms or standards and does it in a fashion, that's definitely worth praising. I use this tag specifically for games that are a cherry on the top amongst the more morally ambiguous titles, often scaling between "cute", "awful" and outright "disgusting". Those games usually throw players into a vortex of extreme emotions, crushing their hopes and uplifting them seconds after, only to cast them into despair once again; The sort of games, that leave you both with sense of a profound disapproval and an almighty grin on your face. TL&DR Games that are literally a blast to plough through, provided you are both physically and emotionally strong enough (lol).
    For those of you, who ever wondered how do I rate the games I play, or what's my perception of vns in general this hopefully clears things up, even if a little bit.
  2. Like
    Palas reacted to Asonn for a blog entry, Cringe, Cooking and flimsy filming with Asonn.   
    Today, I made the most famous Karaage (から揚げ). I do make this often and today I thought why not start a blog with this delicious content.
    Spoiler: I didn't let my chicken rest enough so it had some excess potato starch on it... but the heck with it.
    Sake Corn/Potato Starch sugar Ginger (just a bit! we will only use the sweet juices) Soy Sauce Chicken ( cut them a bit larger than your normal bites, as it has a lot of fiber so it will shrink when frying)  

    Secret frying process: 
    Fry them 3 times. For best results go with 2 min on 190C, then let them rest for 1 minute. fry them again on 190C this time for 1 min, rest 30 sec. and then once again 1 minute on 190C.
    I couldn't be bothered this time, probably also the reason why I have still corn on my finished product. It still tasty af tho. 

    Tip: use Japanese 7 spice mix (七味唐辛子) on your mayo. 
    Here is a video of me actually making it. unedited. (I didn't film the whole frying process as I couldn't be bothered...)
    Enjoy the Cringe : )
  3. Like
    Palas reacted to Emi for a blog entry, Old times Fuwa: Private eye victoria   
    So i continue with wasting peoples times with old abandoned things found on my hdd.
    Once upon a time there used to be an attempt by some of fuwans to create a VN called Private eye victoria.

    and we had one of the worst temporary names in the history. Bread works united

    sadly i dont remember everyone who was in the group. but @solidbatman & @Katatsumuri was part of writing plots and routes.
    So i could barely even explain what it was about, Basicly a historic detective mystery vn.
    i was mainly drawing the concepts for characters.
    Wich i was too slow at.

    Here we have 3 of the main girls, Libby , Charlotte & Victoria
    I was mostly focusing on charlotte and victoria at first. tried to make expression sheet.

    As slow as i was Libby didnt get as much attention in expressions and so on. but she was the first one i colored "properly", i was pretty bad at it at the time.

    And libby became something i started joking around with, Making "fancy libby"

    wich i had fun with for awhile.
    With my lack of self motivation i started testing other things. like making the logo and ingame ui and things. 

    But with mostly lack of work from me the project slowly died. now theres alot of old concepts and plot and routes that never will be used. 
    things shifted focus and we did other things instead, me working on other art and mostly having fun talking instead.
    Rip worstnamegroup, you will be missed.
  4. Like
    Palas reacted to Emi for a blog entry, Old times Fuwa: mascot attempts   
    Recently managed to recover some files from my old HDD.
    So will most likely make a fair bit of posts about old things that dont matter anymore. 
    Theres been discussions several times about giving fuwanovel a mascot, to no avail.
    so here is some attempts i made of drawing one based on what people thought they wanted to have.
    the first sketches:

    the first one i was decently happy with was :

    after this i went into a direction that looked mroe adult.

    was just attempts, nothing final so did not go more into detail and fixing things. but the ideas of a mascot for fuwa died out as fast as discussions appeared.
    well this is just a first part of some old memories that is obselite by this point. 
  5. Like
    Palas reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Rebranding annoucement: Welcome to EVN Chronicles!   
    Hello there and welcome to the new iteration of my humble blog!
    Pride of the West was created, apart from fueling my personal megalomania, for a very specific goal: promoting and demystifying OELVNs within the Fuwa community, fighting the negative stereotypes and ridicule attached to them in minds of the many more JP-centric VN fans. For the last six months, I've spent countless hours exploring the EVN scene and channelling my impressions into the blog (with what I personally see as a very positive and encouraging response).
    I was, however, never really satisfied with the brand I've come up with last year and this was one of the problems that became apparent while my project became more fleshed out and grew in size, with attachments such as the Steam Curation and Twitter account. The second issue that became clear over time was the limitations of the Forums blogging tool, which guaranteed certain visibility, but gave me very little control over my own content and was shared between a large number of people, with only that much space for all of them in that little side-tab.
    For all these reasons, I've decided to go forward with some (long-coming) changes, the most important ones being establishing the external version of the blog and changing the name of the whole project to (slightly generic, but much less pretentious) EVN Chronicles. I've also moved the Steam Curator page to a new address, sadly being forced to forgo my previous, humble following in the process, but with the hope that the new setup can bring much more with time. So, as I've explained what's happening, I would like you to encourage you to:
    --> Check out (and consider following) EVN Chronicles' external site
    --> Follow my new Steam Curator page
    --> Follow me on Twitter for blog updates and various VN-related news
    Apart from setting up the blog, I've worked this week to bring you a new review format - Shovelware Adventures - in which I will go through notorious OELVN shovelware and give it semi-humorous assessments. The first post in this style will appear later today, both on Fuwa and the new site.
    For the time being, the Fuwanovel version of the blog will be updated along with the new one, while the external blog will also feature slightly-redacted reposts of the old reviews and posts along with announcements I wouldn't post here to avoid clogging the sidebar (those might appear on the blog's thread in the member's lounge). However, after a week, I will be cutting every new Fuwa post into a teaser version and adding a link to the external blog. Same will happen to the old posts, as they are gradually re-published on the new site.
    I hope you'll follow me in this new stage of my VN journey and have a lovely weekend everyone!
  6. Like
    Palas reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, On Moderation and the Validity of Unenforced Standards   
    The problem
    While spurred by recent events, this essay touches on something that seems to have been a pattern in site moderation for some time now.
    Let me make a claim: if a rule, especially one that is vaguely worded, is not enforced, for a decent amount of people that rule does not exist. This nonexistence integrates into the mental model of the rules that forum members construct, no matter what the formal rules may say. For members using this mental model, beginning to enforce a rule that was previously unenforced is equivalent to creating a new rule. As such, the same procedures as those used to notify forum members of new rules should be applied, possibly with some adaptation on the lines of "we will now actually enforce this rule", as the rule effectively did not previously exist.
    The ur-example of this is the loligeddon of yore. The takeaway from the loligeddon when it comes to this essay is this: mods repeatedly stated that no rules had actually been changed. Yet nevertheless the appearance and subsequent removal of a particularly problematic post sparked sweeping policy changes, a cleanup operation, a tl;dr post by the administrator explaining the changes, et cetera. This should make it clear that changing policy is a big deal, even if no written rules actually change.
    Recent policy changes, however, have been very different from what happened during the loligeddon. Frequently the only indication that effective rules have changed has been moderator action, sometimes fairly strict. In essentially all cases this action has been explained either inadequately or, most commonly, not at all. When this occurs the target(s) of moderation will likely feel that they have been unfairly, erratically targeted by a capricious, uncommunicative bully. What do you do when you get bullied? Well, you could talk to HR, but the mod that bullied you is probably in HR anyway and you might not even know who did it. Another option is to fight back. You annoy me, I pay you back in kind - and if I can get some fun at your expense, sure, why not? You're a bully, you deserve it.[1]
    I do not mean to suggest that we need to have a tl;dr writeup every time a rule is changed, but a simple statement of intent would be appreciated. I estimate that writing this should take no more than 20 minutes. As an example, here's a hypothetical notice regarding the changing of rules on gifs that took me ~10 minutes to write. Note that the policy mentioned here could be reversed or altered to be more specific if it turns out that it was unclear or did more harm than good, which is arguably more difficult to do if the rule has been made official.[2]
    In the light of this, I would like to present some recommendations.
    When moderating, consider if your action is effectively creating or modifying rules
    Remember: in the minds of some of your users, unenforced rules may as well not exist. If you decide to moderate something that was previously typically not being moderated, this will cause confusion and consternation.
    As such, whenever you make a decision, ask yourself: am I changing the rules? If so, you need to consider both whether your action is actually justified, and how you are going to inform the public of your policy change. You are not a cop, you are a judge in a precedent-setting court. This is especially true due to the (understandable) current policy of supporting other mods' decisions near unconditionally.
    Do not make controversial decisions when following up is difficult
    On some occasions moderators have moderated while on vacation, using their phone, with bad connections et cetera. I strongly recommend against making anything close to a controversial decision in these conditions. You will end up both ruining your vacation and doing a bad job.
    Talk first, shoot later
    If you are performing a moderator action which reasonably should include notifying the target of the action, write up the informative PM or otherwise establish communication before enforcement. You could also consider writing up the notification of intent to change / differently enforce / clarify rules before moderating. Most of the time nobody is harmed much by leaving something up until you can handle it properly. For things that require more urgent management such as a fast-evolving derailment, consider either using a PM template for 1-2 people or making a post stating that you have removed derailing posts in the thread you moderated.
    Make people feel heard
    One key theme of this essay is the importance of communication. This extends beyond just notifying people of changes to the rules. I am under no illusions that your actions will go uncontested or that people won't meme and fling shit at you even if you try your best to communicate as advised in this essay. In part this is due to the frustration some people, and certainly I myself, consider you responsible for creating due to your actions up to this point. However, when hostility meets well-practiced civility its fires often run out of fuel. If you constructively engage with those who would oppose you, you can both soothe their frustration and create better, more precise final rules.
    Obviously there has to be a limit and ultimately you set the rules to follow. But explaining, refining, and justifying your position elevates it from that of a dim-witted bully with little justification for their actions to someone who has a well-grounded but different opinion of what the rules should be. The first one deserves punishment, the second, grudging respect.
    As a personal observation: in general, you should assume that much less of your decisions are obviously justified than you currently think. One man's common sense is another man's borderline acceptability is another man's utterly idiotic rule enforcement.
    Moderation is a hard job
    If this all seems like a lot of hard work to you, congratulations! That's what I thought too when the mod applications came along, so I didn't apply. Any moderators that cannot actually moderate disputes should either confine themselves to routine, uncontroversial moderation tasks or step down from their position. Believe me, nobody will die either way, and you'll get to spend your free time doing something that suits you better.

    I personally don't consider the mods bullies when I do this kind of thing, but I do consider them deserving of public ridicule. The intention is both to correct behaviour and to extract some entertainment out of people that deserve to be made fun of.
    And yeah, I have no respect for authority. None. I will judge you by your actions alone.
    This is an assumption based on my conception of normie considerations like pride, sticking with your decision, whatever.
    Obviously if a rule does more harm than good it should be removed whether or not it was enforced temporarily, but it is probably easier to do so politically if it was in fact considered temporary.
    Look, I'm trying desperately not to kill all normies every day here. Give me a break.
  7. Like
    Palas reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Sunrider: Mark of Arcadius (VN-hybrid game review)   

    Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius is one of the best-known and probably most appreciated western visual novels. Developed by Love in Space and published for free by Sekai Project in July 2014, it was downloaded on Steam by around 600 thousand players and spawned a successful franchise, with its commercial sequel, Liberation Day and dating sim spin-off, Sunrider Academy, both reaching impressive sale numbers and mostly positive feedback from the community.
                What’s interesting, Mask of Arcadius is also a hybrid title, possibly more ambitious and refined with its strategy game elements than “pure” visual novel segments. Most likely, it is exactly that part of the game that gave it a much broader appeal than that of typical VNs and made its spectacular success on Steam possible. Does it, however, still have a similar entertainment value for dedicated VN readers, on a much more saturated, diverse market, as it had in 2014?
    Read the full review at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  8. Like
    Palas reacted to kivandopulus for a blog entry, VN of the Month February 1996 - DIES IRAE   
    There aren't masterpieces this month. My personal favorite is San Shimai due to it being my first visual novel, but I rate DIES IRAE even higher and nominate it for VN of the Month. 1. Exciting Milk Dai 1 Wa エキサイティングみるく第1話 [960201] Silence 22nd century. Humanity is prospering through the expansion of the Earth's development, but natural destruction has also become extreme. One day Amon, a scientist who opposed the destruction of nature, decided to return to the Earth 150 years earlier via time machine and protect nature. Police opposed that as it could bring unknown changes and followed Amon. In the 20th century school girl Kurumi heard from a classmate that an aircraft landed in the forest and went alone to the forest out of curiosity. Milk is a police officer from future who landed in the forest colliding with Kurumi. As a result of the collision Kurumi body was seriously hurt and her soul was placed into Milk body until full recovery. Now Kurumi transforms to Milk at wilk and back by wearing glasses. Will she find Amon? Game's fully animated as other Silence works. But it's even shorter than previous animated games barely exceeding 10 minutes time. There's just one fighting scene and it all ends with Amon coming to Kurumi class as transfer student. Looking forward to part 2.   2. Angel Crysis エンジェルクライシス [960209] ZyX 1 You're part of an all female crew on a ship exploring some planet and the crew picks up a mysterious cargo crate from an underwater ruin. There's an English review that tells us all that we need to know about this borderline work. And there was exactly a tentacle monster in the crate...   3. Guernica ゲルニカ [960209] Backspin 1 2 Long time ago, human passions caused the appearance of a monster tribe that has since become unwelcome in the human society. Years of bitter antagonism and violence followed as humans settled in the land of Galesnia. A thousand years later, a simple warrior named Grog enters a forest inhabited by monsters, and becomes gradually involved in a struggle that puts him in the forefront of the defense of Galesnia. Fish shop holder to the rescue of the world! The guy was sleeping peacefully when at night the "Apostle of Salvation" child appeared before him saying that the barrier started to weaken and will be destroyed in 13 days and only Grog can prevent that! Quite a simple rpg with only 13 lvls and basic stats. You can hold up to 10 recovery items and you get one every time you visit an inn or hitting a bed. Game is linear. So it's not the brightest species of RPG breed.   4. Persona ~Ingyaku no Kamen~ ペルソナ ~淫虐の仮面~ [960209] Sorciere 1 A series of gruesome murders shocks Japan. Young women are kidnapped, tortured, and killed under mysterious circumstances... The protagonist wakes up in what looks like a hospital, but is in fact a special psychiatric facility on a space station. The hero doesn't remember anything, not even his name. Three young women - Shelly, Elisa, and Aoka - will help him to find his memory, and he will gradually realize who he is and what is his mission. You need to regain your memory within 38 hours or the space station explodes. What's the best way to regain memories? I guess Japanese have their unique opinion on that. There are parameters of the hero and depending on numbers one of five protagonist personalities show up. Yes, he has a deep personality disorder and can be anything from a good guy to a sadist. Time also ticking so it's a nice rush factor. There are basically just three rooms on the spaceship. So it's an original system and is not necessarily an eroge if you play out as a good guy and aim for the happy ending that does not even have a H-scene.   5. Valentine Kiss: Birthdays 2 バレンタインキッス ~バースデイズ2~ [960209] Silky's 1 Valentine Kiss is a dating simulation game, very similar to Birthdays, only instead of "conquering" a girl as a birthday present, the goal here is to "score" on Valentine's Day Second installation of a difficult sim that's memorable to me mostly by the fact that it's Silky's game and not a full-scale eroge. UI is still charming but it came from the prequel with minor changes. Quite few things changed actually and some even degenerated like the number of heroines dropped from 8 to 4. Main difference though is that while prequel was just hard everyday work to earn love, this work has events in ADV mode and all your hard work is useless unless you flag events properly. Still the freshness is lost since it has been two years since the prequel and not much changed.   6. DIES IRAE DIES IRAE [960215] Family Soft 1 2 Heroines Kim and her side partners Kris and Lee are professional detectives and they have very opposite personalities. Kim on one hand is very cheerful and lively all the time, Kris is very serious and quiet. They are investigating a murder case that ends up being a much bigger issue, revolving gang members, the mafia and later on some sci-fi elements. There's a nice English review that sheds light on this curious game.   7. Kanako 香奈子 [960223] Red Zone 1 Kanako is a young woman who has just graduated from college and is in a desperate need of a job. Finally, she is invited to a job interview in a large and successful company. However, the boss seems to ask too many personal questions and generally looks at Kanako in a weird way. After she has been introduced to her duties at the new place, Kanako decides to get to know the employees better, and in process learns their most intimate secrets... Red Zone inevitably means ero-centered work. But graphics are nice and win version is fully voiced, even the thoughts of the heroine - that was unexpected and captivating. Her thoughts is the most funny part in the game as she comments emotionally on many occasions.   8. Magical Girl Pretty Sammy Kouhen 魔法少女プリティサミー 後編 [960223] AIC Spirits

    A direct continuation of the first part, but not hookable and normal synopsis not found.   9. Shadowrun シャドウラン [960223] Compile Co., Ltd. 1 2 3 4 5 6 It is twenty-first century, and the humanity faces a difficult period that follows devastating wars and other disasters. Magic and technology co-exist, supernatural powers, mythical creatures, ghosts, cyberspace, where hackers meet and fight each other, street deckers which can be hired to do the dirty work, anarchy and struggle between mighty and corrupt corporations - this is the world of Shadowrun. Unlike the two other Shadowrun games which are set in Seattle, according to tradition, Shadowrun for Sega CD is set in the futuristic city of Neo Tokyo. The player controls a party of characters with different backgrounds: the street samurai Rikudo, the shaman girl Mao, the decker (a hired mercenary) D-Head (who also happens to be an elf), and Shiun, a former member of a mighty corporation. Their first assignment is to hunt down a ghostly warrior who has been disturbing a segment of the city for quite some time. As the player begins their investigation they plunge deeper into the dark world of intrigues and find themselves fighting on different fronts. There are several great English reviews and there even might be a fan English translation according to some materials.   10. Escape! エスケイプ! [960229] May-Be Soft 1 In Escape, the player assumes the role of an ordinary teenager named Root. He is returning from a long journey, and just beyond the mountain, he can see his house. But fate had other plans for the boy: one step on the wrong stone, and Root falls through a dark pit into the underground world. Looks like it won't be simple for him to find the way home, because this world is populated by girls, each one of which wants something from him... I've only seen Windows version and it's very simplified and plays like a normal visual novel with only occasionally choosing locations on the map. Characters are nice, but the story lacks excitement and all the time is spent underground. A fine game, but far from masterpiece level.   11. Kara no Naka no Kotori 殻の中の小鳥 [960229] Black Package 1 Foster, formerly a trainer of high-class prostitutes for a secret political group that used these girls to exert power over politicians, has has long been out of the game, as he and his cohorts were busted years back. However, Foster couldn't help himself and soon returned to his old profession. He began training new maidens, though this time with a distinctly evil bent, drawing the recruits into a sordid ring of discipline and bondage. Maid slave training SIM. Main difference is that training is done in the form of a card game in an attempt to simplify SIM part.   12. San Shimai 三姉妹 [960229] JAST 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 The one that started it all! I was just a boy when my father threw himself under the tracks of an oncoming train on the Yamanote Line in Tokyo. He had been the president of a powerful trading company, but had been under siege by an enemy in a power struggle that I didn't understand at the time. With my father gone, it fell upon my mother to lead the family and try to pay off Father's debts. She wasn't up to the task, and was buried next to my father less than a year later. My older brother Eiichi and I were separated, then, passed around the family like unwanted guests. We had lost everything. Last summer Eiichi appeared again on my doorstep. He had prospered in the years since I'd seen him, and had built a successful trading company. "Koichi," he said to me, "I found out who was responsible for our father's death: the current head of father's old company, Shoji Okamura." When he asked me, "Will you help me avenge mother and father?" I agreed immediately. So I became his hatchet man. My job was to approach the Okamura family, especially the three Okamura sisters -- sexy, grown-up Yuki, short-tempered but sensitive Emi and the innocent Risa -- and gather information on the Okamuras for my brother. After six months, I had gotten to where I was eating dinner at their house regularly. This allowed me to bug Shoji's office take documents out of his trash, and copy files off his computer. I reported everything to my brother faithfully. I was never sure if the information I was providing was doing any good, but gradually, it became apparent that Shoji Okamura's business was failing. He grew more and more desperate, and one day he disappeared completely. The happiness of the Okamura family, who had taken so much from us, had been stolen piece by piece. My brother swore he wouldn't stop until Shoji Okamura was driven to the point of taking his own life, even if it meant pushing the Three Sisters into lives of prostitution and worse. The only problem is, I had fallen in love with those same three sisters... Game has many English reviews
  9. Like
    Palas reacted to kivandopulus for a blog entry, Updated   
    Finished updating old posts.
    VN of the Month April 2000 - Gyousatsu♥Shinsengumi Hitokiri Bishoujo Adventure
    VN of the Month March 2000 - Eve Zero    
    VN of the Month February 2000 - Phantom of Inferno    
    VN of the Month January 2000 - Lien ~Owaranai Kimi no Uta~
    VN of the Month December 1999 - Elemental Arts
    VN of the Month November 1999 - Parts
    VN of the Month October 1999 - Silver Jiken
    VN of the Month September 1999 - Kazeoto, Chirin
    VN of the Month August 1999 - Tsui no Sora
    VN of the Month July 1999 - Mamatoto ~a record of war~
    VN of the Month June 1999 - Kanon
    VN of the Month May 1999 - Comic party
    VN of the Month April 1999 - Lipstick Adv.EX
    VN of the Month March 1999 - Captain Love
    VN of the Month February 1999 - Campus ~Sakura no Mau Naka de~
    VN of the Month January 1999 - Ikusa Megami
    VN of the Month December 1998 - Kuon no Kizuna
    VN of the Month November 1998 - Exodus Guilty
    VN of the Month October 1998 - Psyclone
    VN of the Month September 1998 - With You ~Mitsumete Itai~
    VN of the Month August 1998 - Shiokaze no Memory
    VN of the Month July 1998 - luv wave
    VN of the Month June 1998 - One ~Kagayaku Kisetsu e~
    VN of the Month May 1998 - Diabolique
    VN of the Month April 1998 - Love Escalator
    VN of the Month March 1998 - EVE: The Lost One
    VN of the Month February 1998 - Doukoku Soshite...
    VN of the Month January 1998 - Machi
    VN of the Month December 1997 - Universal Nuts
    VN of the Month November 1997 - Moon.
    VN of the Month October 1997 - Sweepers!
    VN of the Month September 1997 - Comic Road
    VN of the Month August 1997 - Kaeru nyo Panyon
    VN of the Month July 1997 - Tokimeki Memorial Drama Series Vol. 1: Nijiiro no Seishun
    VN of the Month June 1997 - Zoku Hatsukoi Monogatari ~Shuugaku Ryokou~
    VN of the Month May 1997 - To Heart
    VN of the Month April 1997 - Canaan ~Yakusoku no Chi~
    VN of the Month March 1997 - Ruriiro no Yuki
    VN of the Month February 1997 - Yatsu no Na wa Diamond
    VN of the Month January 1997 - Rookies
    VN of the Month December 1996 - Kono Yo no Hate de Koi o Utau Shoujo YU-NO
    VN of the Month Noveber 1996 - Mashou no Kao
    VN of the Month October 1996 - Bounty Hunter Rudy
    VN of the Month September 1996 - Sakura Taisen
    VN of the Month August 1996 - Be-Yond ~Kurodaishou ni Mirareteru~
    VN of the Month July 1996 - Kizuato
    VN of the Month June 1996 - Es no Houteishiki
    VN of the Month May 1996 - Rouge no Densetsu
    VN of the Month April 1996 - Harlem Blade ~The Greatest of All Time.~
    VN of the Month March 1996 - Mujintou Monogatari 3 - A.D. 1999 Tokyo
    VN of the Month February 1996 - DIES IRAE
    VN of the Month January 1996 - Ryuuki Denshou Dragoon
    VN of the Month December 1995 - Lilith
    VN of the Month November 1995 - Eve: Burst Error
    VN of the Month October 1995 - Trouble Chaser Dai 4 Wa - Saishuukai
    VN of the Month September 1995 - Mime
    VN of the Month August 1995 - Isaku
    VN of the Month July 1995 - Kuro no Danshou: The Literary Fragment
    VN of the Month June 1995 - True Love ~Jun'ai Monogatari~
    VN of the Month May 1995 - Koihime
    VN of the Month April 1995 - Mugen Yasoukyoku
    VN of the Month March 1995 - Cybernoid Alpha
    VN of the Month February 1995 - Doki Doki Pretty League Dai 3 Wa - Minami no Umi no Kai no Maki
    VN of the Month January 1995 - Doki Doki Vacation ~Kirameku Kisetsu no Naka de~
    VN of the Month December 1994 - Xenon ~Mugen no Shitai~
    VN of the Month November 1994 - File: Kokubou Soushou Jouhoukyoku Jouhou Rouei Taisakubu Josei Jinmonin
    VN of the Month October 1994 - Gao Gao! 3rd ~Wild Force~
    VN of the Month September 1994 - Ai Shimai ~Futari no Kajitsu~
    VN of the Month August 1994 - Shinsetsu Ooedo Tantei Kamiya Ukyou
    VN of the Month July 1994 - DESIRE - Haitoku no Rasen
    VN of the Month June 1994 - Necronomicon
    VN of the month May 1994 - Tokimeki Memorial
    VN of the Month April 1994 - AmbivalenZ -Niritsu Haihan-
    VN of the Month March 1994 - Mirage 2 - Torry x Neat x Roan no Daibouken
    VN of the Month February 1994 - Dragon Knight 4
    VN of the Month January 1994 - Fuzoroi no Lemon
    VN of the Month December 1993 - Demon City
    VN of the Month November 1993 - Ooedo Tantei Kamiya Ukyou Vol. 2
    VN of the Month October 1993 - Nooch 2 Remy no Gyakushuu
    VN of the Month September 1993 - Youjuu Senki -A.D. 2048-
    VN of the Month August 1993 - Houma Hunter Lime Dai 03 Wa
    VN of the Month July 1993 - Bunretsu Shugoshin Twinkle Star
    VN of the Month June 1993 - Can Can Bunny Extra
    VN of the Month May 1993 - Nova
    VN of the Month April 1993 - Quintia Road 2
    VN of the Month March 1993 - Marine Philt
    VN of the Month February 1993 - Cosmology of Kyoto
    VN of the Month January 1993 - Mamono Hunter Youko: Tooki Yobigoe
    VN of the Month December 1992 - Koroshi no Dress 3
    VN of the Month November 1992 - Dracula Hakushaku
    VN of the Month October 1992 - Ginga Ojou-sama Densetsu Yuna
    VN of the Month September 1992 - My Eyes!
    VN of the Month August 1992 - Kiss
    VN of the Month July 1992 - Phobos
    VN of the Month June 1992 - De-Ja 2
    VN of the Month May 1992 - Kurutta Kajitsu
    VN of the Month April 1992 - The 4th Unit - Wyatt
    VN of the Month March 1992 - Sotsugyou Shashin / Miki
    VN of the Month February 1992 - Joker II
    VN of the Month January 1992 - Himitsu no Hanazono
    VN of the Month December 1991 - Gidyy
    VN of the Month November 1991 - Psychic Detective Series Vol. 5: Nightmare
    VN of the Month October 1991 - Rance III - Leazas Kanraku
    VN of the Month September 1991 - Cosmic Psycho
    VN of the Month August 1991 - Kimi Dake ni Ai o..
    VN of the Month July 1991 - Nike
    VN of the Month June 1991 - ELLE
    VN of the Month May 1991 - Ginsei Senshin Guynarock
    VN of the Month April 1991 - Psychic Detective Series Vol. 4: Orgel
    VN of the Month March 1991 - Jesus II
    VN of the Month February 1991 - Akagawa Jirou no Yuurei Ressha
    VN of the Month January 1991 - Dragon Eyes
    VN of the Year 1990 - De-Ja
    VN of the Year 1989 - Imitation wa Aisenai
    VN of the Year 1988 - Lipstick. ADV
    VN of the Year 1987 - Hiatari Ryoukou!
    VN of the Year 1986 - Gall Force - Eternal Story
    VN of the Year 1985 - Shiro to Kuro no Densetsu ~Hyakki Hen~
    VN of the Year 1984 - Hokkaido Rensa Satsujin: Ohotsk ni Kiyu
    VN of the Year 1983 - Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken
  10. Like
    Palas reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, VN Developer Spotlight: Reine Works   
    For the last few months, I’ve published reviews and top lists, presenting worthwhile or interesting OELVNs that usually have little presence on Fuwa and don’t get discussed as much as they deserve. From the very beginning, however, my goal was to focus not only on the games themselves, but also the people behind them – the independent creators and small studios that make the core of the Western VN market. Today, I present you with the first “Developer Spotlight” post, where I’ll be talking to Jackie M., the founder of Reine Works, authors of multiple yuri and otome VNs and the studio behind the recently-published otome title Seven Districts of Sin: The Tail The Makes the Fox, about the game’s somewhat-turbulent release and the realities of today’s OELVN market. Be sure to check out my review of the game first, where I also touch on its unusual appearance on Steam.

    Plk Lesiak: Hello and thank you for agreeing to this interview! Let’s start with your latest VN. It’s pretty rare for me to be the first person to rate a game on VNDB, especially four months after its release. What happened to The Tail Makes the Fox that it went so much below the radar of the VN community?
    Jackie M.: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there are nearly as many users on VNDB who rate otome games, as compared to anything that could be construed as aimed at men. I took a quick look at some other developers' titles out of curiosity, and it seems that female-aimed titles in general tend to have very few votes. Funnily enough, I can confirm that we do get sales referrals from VNDB. We've had a few of them.
    PL: For a few months, your VN was only available on Itch.io, a platform usually associated with free games. Regardless of other plans, what was your experience of trying to sell your title there?
    JM: Itch.io isn't really a storefront where a developer can make a profit unless the game in question is very low budget, nor should they particularly expect to, what with the smaller userbase. From when pre-orders opened before release till today, itch.io sales have only amounted to roughly 1/4 of the game's development cost.
    That said, we do like it, because it isn't subject to a lot of the restrictions that similar shops are, and transferring earned funds out is also much quicker than anywhere else that I'm aware of. We just wouldn't recommend that anyone only ever sell their games there.

    Blossoms Bloom Brightest
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  11. Like
    Palas reacted to Weiterfechten for a blog entry, A collection of three poems   
    This is a collection of three small poems I made in the past (I only remember the meaning of two so it is largely give or take as to the meaning). It seems nothing ever came of them so I thought I would atleast post them up on here as a side note if nothing else for the time spent on writing them. 
    An endless journey, 
    toward a space blotted known,
    yet beyond that of our own.
    What have undone, the done untold,
    toward the pieces' fractured bone,
    for eyes beyond those of their wretched own.
    Such as to the checkered pieces, reigning free of worlds of predefine seed,
    Breath out over the unperturbed queen of thee, 
    alas for as long as none are free let the blessed fire rain be,
    ''Knee to knee''.
    The merry tethered sea of tea tattered and shattered
    and the knowledge and wisdom, could not see the bothered,
    and moving to and fro’ toward neither beginning nor end,
    the unaffected swerve of ivy down the pattern.
    The Sun Sets in the East
    The sun risen eastward,
    A Glory risen backwards,
    As I walk along the shallow graves,
    Going over bridges of these golden waterways,
    I can hear the silence of a crying moan screaming over seas of east,
    A final requiem in our silence, as I see.
    The walk along the graves of my dismay,
    I hear the sudden stutter of an engine far above,
    A bringing of our tempest.
    I see the silhouette of a bomber far above,
    Blowing the last of our world asunder,
    A small leaf fell down in my tea.
    The emperor cannot hold onto these,
    Fallen leaves of a gloried sea of tempest tea,
    What of our bittersweet yearning glee?
    Today an empire rise,
    and tonight an empire fall
    back below.

    Lady Ashore
    The duke calls our bidding of days over again,
    As enemies in our very grave,
    The game had begun and just as quickly ended, and as the final piece fell,
    Our gambit was lost.
    Alas pupateers, we given free,
    An empire shattered,
    by deaths debris.
    The final emperor calls for my last stand,
    For there were no unrest, no distress among these,
    For the final feast.
    I rush forward,
    Set free, these fallen angels bleed,
    Blister free.
    As the shadows fall tall,
    I see the last royal guard bleed,
    To the sound of a rain dyed red.
    Last I see, I bend no knee
    For I remembered thee,
    My lady across our shore.
  12. Like
    Palas got a reaction from milkteebaby for a blog entry, Another Working Definition of Visual Novels   
    Take this.

    'Cause boy, we're going deep.
    (Or Ctrl+F KATAWA SHOUJO IS THE BEST VISUAL NOVEL EVER for the tl;dr version)
    Now, I could have posted this as an answer to Darbury's blog post, but I'm far too haughty an attention-seeker not to make a blog post of my own to provide a theoretical definition of visual novels. Well, perhaps it might not be a very pragmatic definition since I'll try to examine what's at the very core of visual novels (spoiler: nothing) and I come from a completely different background than Darbury. I'll also diverge from what I commonly defend as being a visual novel - which is basically "anything that people accept as a visual novel".The reason for that is because I'll take culture out of the equation for now, focusing on the systemic level of analysis. But enough of that. Let's talk about visual novels...
    ...In a minute, Let's talk about Shariki.

    Did you know? Shariki has been scientifically and theologically proven to be the best game to show to an alien civilization should they ever come looking for the finest possible example of our video games. Why is that? Well, it's a Russian 1994 DOS game in which you're given a board full of colored balls and you can swap adjacent balls to create vertical or horizontal sets of three color-matching balls. When you do, they disappear and the balls above them fall and new balls come from above. When it's no longer possible to swap adjacent balls to create a vertical or horizontal set of three color-matchin balls, you lose and the game restarts. That's it.
    The reason why it's the finest example of a video game (for aliens) is that it's almost not a video game. The fact that you lose when you can no longer swap balls goes against every principle of game design out there - you can never win such a game and losing is more a matter of luck than any spacial recognition or strategy skill. As a result, the score is also not a direct byproduct of your input, but almost something that unfolds naturally, has an unavoidable yet unpredictable end and that you just so happen to have an input on. If you eliminated the notion of a score, it could simply reshuffle or restart once it happens and it wouldn't really make a difference - the only factor giving any sense of loss or progress is the game arbitrarily telling you that you lost when it could simply... not do it. In theory, you can play it forever relying solely on its most basic premises.
    Shariki is not so much a game you play as much as it is a thing you do. So that's why it's a genre in itself and why aliens would be able to do anything with it. From Shariki we got Bejeweled and its hundreds of clones, Candy Crush, Pokémon Shuffle, Paris Hilton's Diamond Quest and Huniepop. They're all great games (even - especially - Paris Hilton's Diamond Quest and Huniepop), but they're all particularly elaborate mods of Shariki, adding systems upon systems to make Shariki even more addicting. Yes, Shariki's a system much like shooting system defines shooter games, running forever defines endless runners and there being cards defines a card game.
    Fun fact: At their innermost core, point-and-click games and first-person shooters are siblings. Both genres' primary system relies on pointing at a certain portion of a screen and taking action. While one emphasizes an ability to distinguish one object from the other or the strategy in doing so, the other emphasizes the speed and accuracy. That thing you do in games is the most basic action someone makes so that one can do the thing you do again and is not, obviously, restricted to games - although it's the most basic factor for gameplay of any kind. For instance, you bite apples not so that you can bite apples again, but in order to satisfy your hunger. If, for whatever reason, you start biting apples just so that you can bite more apples, you're closer to making eating apples a game.
    So what is the thing you do in visual novels, that should give us our most basic definitions for it?

    You read. Now, close that can full of worms that speak and who I can hear yelling "but reading doesn't demand input! You need input to have a game!" because we'll go into questions like "what is input?", which are fruitless right now. Much like books and outdoors, you read. And reading, of course, is not restricted to gaming. Then again, so isn't pointing on the right place at the right time on a screen, pushing buttons in order to push more buttons or doing certain actions to make numbers in a counter grow. We'll not discuss whether VNs are games right now (spoiler: they are), but we will  acknowledge that the history of VNs has a direct relationship with the history of games - dating sims, choose-your-own-adventure books and adventure games in particular.
    It gives us meaning to why, what and when you are reading and what aspect of it is actually related to gaming. Historically, VNs have descended from adventure games in which you'd be presented with a scene full of elements with which you could interact - however, only a certain set of interactions in a specific order could bring about progression through its story. The key here is that there is a feedback system that at least makes you feel like you've moved out of something if not that you're moving towards something. The story - that is, progression - provides you with information and/or motivation to continue doing the things you do. That's why the distinction between story and gameplay is always inaccurate. Story is just a sign of progression, which is essential to gameplay as much as its systems.
    (Now, I'm very very sorry if I'm sounding patronizing here, but I have to investigate the most basic of the basics in order to pick out the elements that'll really tell us what a visual novel is all about).
    Born from an adventure game's format, the things you do (pointing and clicking, choosing whom to talk to, investigating objects - summing up, acquiring information) were slowly replaced by reading as time went by. The text, not the visuals or the act of clicking in specific parts of the screen, became the primary source of information as well as the sign of progression. That's where I was trying to get. Sorry, took me long enough. Written text as the primary engagement system and source of information is the basic distinction between visual novel and its parent genres.
    By "primary information system", I mean that a-) the meaning is conveyed by the text itself, b-) it overrules any other conflicting information in the deliverance of progress within the game and c-) is not just translating or providing flavour for other information system. Take a negative example from Long Live the Queen:

    Elodie learns about this stuff and, sure enough, there is written text as source of information. However, none of this matters - the game only ever recognizes and acts upon the numbers associated with them. If the game hid these numbers and acted based on the information given by the text (asking you about what Elodie learned, bringing it back in scenes etc), even if the internal systems are actually still the same, Long Live the Queen would feel so much more like a visual novel than a raising sim its entry in VNDB would have never been even questioned. However, since we know the primary system is made up of numbers and not of words, we can disregard the written text as just flavour - it's not what gives us the sense of progression. Reading, then, is not the thing we do.
    The actual format almost doesn't matter here. Almost, because I mentioned written text must be the primary form of engagement and source of information, where "primary" means "not the only one". The interface of a visual novel matters in its gameplay (i.e.: how it handles the information it gives and how it expects your behavior towards the next information pieces to change, even in the absence of choice) because it determines what other kind of secondary information you'll be getting exactly to reinforce, put in doubt or downright negate the information conveyed by the text, thus creating additional layers of storytelling. There is an intrinsic tension between text, visuals, interface and sound which defines visual novels' unique storytelling and language - without which text is no longer perceived as information - when "Information" merges with the concept of "progression", like in a book, it becomes harder to there be gameplay in the experience - even gameplay inherited from other genres.
    (or tl;dr)
    Visual novels are just a system - digital softwares in which written text is the primary form of engagement and source of information, but necessarily not the only one. Any other systems presented in the piece must not contain any forms of self-contained progression. They must serve and aid the written text in delivering the sense of progression, most notably through a story.
    ("What do you mean, most notably?" Well, a Montaignesque essay in visual novel format is perfectly plausible. Strictly speaking, you can even have advertisement in a visual novel format. There's absolutely nothing stopping the next McDonald's ad to be a visual novel, and we're not even talking about a storified ad here)
  13. Like
    Palas reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Happy Birthday to Me   
    Well, as of thirty-nine minutes ago, it is officially my birthday (as of the time I checked at the beginning of making this post).  I have a lot of things to reflect on this year. 
    I am now thirty-six, settling into the beginnings of middle-age, knowing my lifestyle will probably kill me before I hit fifty. 
    I'm a sugar addict, I love fatty foods, I make my own alcoholic drinks (this year, a mixed fruit wine that actually turned out well and was much easier than the rum and hard root beer I did last year). 
    I sit on my ass eighty percent of the time, I am hugely fat...
    ... and I'm surprisingly happy.  I won't say I don't have my down moments.  Looking back, I regret not going for more athletic pursuits while my knees and back could still stand them.  I regret not trying for a more regular and less... frustrating line of work.  However, I can honestly say that, for all its frustrations, I actually seem to like being a fat, balding otaku who has pretensions at being  some kind of VN guru (lol).
    I do wish that I could fit into a plane seat, lol.  If I ever go to Japan, it is going to have to be a sea trip, since buying two plane tickets for one person is both embarrassing and more than a little expensive.
    I hate my work, but I'm good at it and, in good times, it pays well, so I keep doing it.
    So what would I change? 
    Honestly, it is hard to say.  I won't pretend I'm all love and joy when it comes to life.  I have too much toxic waste going through my brain for that (I just happened to have gained just enough maturity not to feed the trolls constantly *smiles dryly*).  I'm fundamentally a passive person once I set foot outside my hobbies, preferring not to do anything I don't absolutely have to do.  I'm also negative and misanthropic... but is that stuff I actually want to change?
    I've never been any other way, so it is impossible to say.  However, every year I hit this day and wonder what could have been, which probably says everything that needs to be said about my experiences with life, for all my proclamations of relative happiness.
  14. Like
    Palas reacted to MaggieROBOT for a blog entry, [Review] Sakuya   
    It took me only a minute to come up with my random username. That is because I love stories with robots, even more if they are love interests. Their struggle with the fact they are not human despite looking like one or acting like one is something I really enjoy to read, and cry while doing so. And that's what pulled me towards this otomege by Tetrascope. The complete story of this game is split across 3 games: the free edition, that have the base story and it was translated by people from Fuwa; the paid edition, that adds 18+ content and one additional route, untranslated; and the short append story called "Sweet Present for Shin", also untranslated. I checked all of them, and my experience with them was mostly pleasant, even if not all three parts were absolutely necessary.

    From the intro movie
    The story starts in distant future Tokyo, where robotic engineering is advanced enough to have robots indistinguishable from real people around. Although, when I say indistinguishable, I meant physically, since most of them don't possess any way of make rational decisions or emotions. They all follow the strict program built into their heads. Our hero Sakuya is the sole exception. Created by the genius scientist that also the father of our protagonist Akane (you can change her name, this is the default one), Sakuya is so human-like that the biggest robotics company don't waste a chance to strike a deal with our girl to buy him for science.
    The setting is pretty well crafted, with topics like unemployment, sexbots, and anti-robots movements on the rising being touched at least once in the novel. Sadly, the novel is short and its focus is in the romance between a human and a robot, so all of these questions are pretty underdeveloped. We know those problems exist, and that they are too big to tackle in a novel so short, but not much discussion about it is done either.
    The romance in the first route, the one in the free edition, in the other hand is pretty sweet and satisfying. Sakuya is simply the cutest boy in terms of personality I ever met in a VN. And he's not even human. He's pure, gentle and caring, sometimes naive and sometimes mature. It's easy to forget that he's an android, and that also happens with Akane and Sakuya himself. And the fact that he's not human, but also too emotional to be a robot, it's the biggest source of drama for our characters.

    Sakuya's asking to hold hands, WHERE'S THE CHOICE SO I COULD SAY YES???
    As Sakuya struggle with what he should be... Our protagonist Akane takes the long and dense road. She acts like our usual shoujo manga protagonist, with all of the "what is this feeling?" type of things... except she's supposed to be 23, so usually she comes across as childish. In fact, Sakuya constantly gets right what she's feeling and the only thing about human interaction he knows is mostly through movies. So yeah, originality is not her strongest asset.
    Last but not least is Shin, Akane's childhood friend. At first you'll think he'll provide some love triangle drama, but that not happens here. Instead, he serves as a good foil for Sakuya. While Sakuya is a robot who looks like a human, Shin is pretty much a human who looks like a robot. He's always calm and composed, almost emotionless. His sprites have very little variations in expression. Even when he's talking about his memories or feelings, he's as blank as ever. The game is not voiced, so we only have to imagine how monotone he must be in those scenes. But despite all that, he does provide some interesting interactions with Akane.

    All flashbacks are in this style, making everything even more cute
    Now, let's cover what you'll get in each version. The free version is the essential one if you're interested in this game. It covers pretty much everything I said up to this point. There's no sex scenes in this version, but they are implied, and that's more than enough in this game. The paid version adds not only the porn, but also a new route and three new extra stories (that you can access in the extra menu after clearing certain endings). Is it worth though? Short answer: no.
    The porn that was added in the free version route is alright. We can see both Akane and Sakuya on screen, and Sakuya is as gentle as you would expect of him. But let's remember, he's a robot. Even he says at some point that he doesn't feel any physical pleasure from the act. So his face is mostly lacking in expressions, except when he reacts to Akane's reactions. It's porn that focus only in the girl again, but this time the boy really cares about how she's feeling it.
    The new route... it's very subpar. Most of all because of the route structure, that tricks you into thinking it's a route for Shin when it's not, and it's ending, that shift the tone of the novel to the point that I wondered if the author even cared about the character development they build until said point of the story, because they shattered it to pieces in an absolute ex Machina way. Good thing I read this first, I would have hated to finish the game in this route. Needless to say, the porn of this route is just as bad. The extra scenes are fun though, but you won't lose much if you decide to pick the free version. This version is only recommended if you want to support Tetrascope, the game is just 800 yen on DLsite, it's pretty cheap it won't hurt. It's untranslated, but the free game section subs did appeared for me even in the paid version.

    Young Akane, Shin and Sakuya in "Sweet Present for Shin"
    And finally we have Sweet Present for Shin. This is the closest of a route for Shin we'll ever get, and it was as sweet and cute as the original game. It happens 5 years before the main game, but it's better appreciated if you play after it. Finally we can see Shin a bit flustered! It's very short, but still have three endings and one epilogue that ended my time spent with Sakuya, Akane and Shin in a pretty heartwarming note.
    Sakuya had everything that I like: robots, robot drama, cute characters and romance. Even if the paid version route was pretty bad, it wasn't enough to diminish my love for this game. Moe robots are the best!
  15. Like
    Palas reacted to mnmnoko for a blog entry, At the dawn   
    As a Japanese Otaku, I, was hugely affected by VNs/eroge in my youth, have wanted to organize what I experienced on VNs and the culture around them in Japan. There are some critical texts on VNs and their history much better than mine on the Internet or books, but sometimes personal view like this could be useful, so I'm writing this now.   As you might already know, a thinker or critic Hiroki Azuma actively was writing on Otaku culture from around 1993 to 2007, and he was surely in a central position of criticism about some kind of modern Japanese popular culture. Simply putting, he is a Postmodern theorist studied under other modern Japanese thinkers. As for me, I was a late teen and interested in contemporary art or paintings (I liked Jackson Pollock and Gerhard Richter) at that time, knew about him around 2004-2005 through researching Takashi Murakami, a famous Japanese artist. Those days, maybe because Azuma was impressed by the advent of a VN (Shizuku, by Leaf, 1996) and its rapid growth of narrative and structure (e.g., YU-NO, ONE, Kanon, Tsukihime), he published one book referring VNs from a renowned publisher Kodansha in 2001 and two self-publishing books only about VNs in 2004. I used to read his book and website repeatedly then, and inevitably, fascinated by old school VNs that had a queer, immature yet beautiful allure.   Sadly enough, the golden age can't last forever. Around the end of 2005, Azuma said that the VNs' craze ended, and started concentrating on social criticism. When I think of it now, he might lack a responsibility to the culture he led in some sense. I was able to figure out what he meant, however. Around that time, Type-Moon changed into a company from a doujin circle, CLANNAD was released without adult contents, Leaf/AQUAPLUS gradually became interested in the all-aged console market. If I might say, VNs grew into a full-fledged genre of Otaku culture, and at the same time, it had to lose verdant attraction that only a growing genre can have. (I must say I would prefer modern VNs at present, and modern VNs tend to have great quality - especially graphics quality.) Anyhow, I needed to find my own criterion of what VNs are great for me, since I almost relied on his opinion, in other words, I had to stand on my own feet as an independent Otaku.   In the end, what criterion have I found out? In short, I regard a character design as important, in particular, cuteness, glamour, and how to paint characters (not only drawing). I like paintings after all. The technique of Bishoujo pictures (Moe-e) surely has a fashion, and I have been wondering where cuteness and the modernity of Bishoujo girls arise from. Um, I'm being derailed a little, so, I will stop droning on. When I get a definite idea about something, I would like to write again. Thank you for reading! 
  16. Like
    Palas reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, 10 OELVNs to buy for <$10 during the Steam Lunar Sale   
    Hello Ladies and Gentlemen!
    Just like during the Steam Winter Sale, I offer you a short list of interesting, worthwhile offers on Western-made VNs that popped up for the occasion of Chinese New Year. The Steam market is still a pretty strange place - since forever, some of the best OELVNs available there are absolutely free (honourable mentions in this regard go to Cinderella Phenomenon, Lucid9, One Thousand Lies and CUPID). Thankfully, there's also a lot of interesting, commercial titles that are worth your attention. Be sure to check the previous post, if you didn't buy the games listed there - most of them now have similar, or even deeper discounts. Now, to the new stuff! The order in which the games are listed is more or less random, and consider all of these games equally endorsed by me, unless I say otherwise in their descriptions.
    Cursed Sight (-30%, $4.19)

    Invert Mouse was once a regular poster in the developer blog section of our forums - while he seemingly gave up on communicating with our little community, it shouldn't prevent us from appreciating his fairly unique, story-driven VNs. Cursed Sight is one of his earlier works, offering a fantasy setting stylized after ancient China and a story avoiding typical romance cliches, but rather trying to present interesting drama and ask some slight philosophical questions. While it's fairly unorthodox and might not be to everyone's taste, it's definitely worth trying out, especially for the current, modest price.
    The Last Birdling (-25%, $6.74)

    Continuing with Invert Mouse's work, his latest VN is an emotional story about friendship beyond prejudice and once more will offer you some pretty heavy, non-romantic drama that is far-detached from usual tropes of the genre. With production qualities somewhat higher than in IM's past titles, it's an interesting proposition for those looking for an enjoyable, slightly out-of-the-box experience.
    Sweetest Monster (-30%, $4.19)

    Ebi-Hime's horror kinetic novel is a very different piece of work than her yuri titles but offers one of the strongest additions to its genre among western-produced VNs. Viewed from the perspective of a middle-aged man going through a marital crisis, Sweetest Monster's themes and story structure will offer you a distinct, engrossing experience you won't easily forget - and all this coupled with really impressive production qualities.
    The Way We All Go (-75%, $1.49)

    The Way We All Go is one of Ebi-Hime's earliest titles and a relatively forgotten one, but the somewhat-simplistic visuals shouldn't fool you. It's a dark, complex story, with impressive route variety, a huge number of endings and solid writing - much longer and more intricate than the usual OELVN of that era and way beyond most things you can buy for such a small price. Just be sure you're ready to see some death and violence if you want to try this one out.
    Hate Plus (-33%, $6.69)

    I'm sure you did buy Analogue: A Hate Story the last time I told you to, so why not look at its sequel? Hate Plus follows essentially the same investigation/database exploration formula, this time showing us the events that led to the Mugunghwa "year zero" disaster - the incident which threw the colony ship off-course and started an age of technological and societal regress we can observe in Analogue. With more fleshed-out route system, immersive UI and the same great-quality writing, it's another top-rate western VN and a must read for those interested in our fledgeling weeb-game market.
    Love Ribbon (-30%, $6.99)

    Full-sister incest love story might sound like an excuse for trashy porn, but Love Ribbon takes this concept and does something you don't really see very often - make a serious, emotionally striking forbidden love drama, written in such a way that you can pretty easily imagine it happening in real life, with the same problems and outcomes as those shown in the game. While it has its share of unlockable h-scenes, Love Ribbon's core content makes it one of the most interesting and compelling examples of the genre even outside of just the OELVN scene and something I vigorously recommend to all yuri fans out there - also, the all-ages version should be a worthwhile read for anyone without clear aversion to shoujo-ai or incest themes.
    Sunrider: Liberation Day (-75%, $6.24)

    While for me personally the sequel to Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius felt in many ways like a step backwards when compared to the original, it's a quite interesting and enjoyable VN/turn-based strategy hybrid. Love in Space's ambition of conquering the Japanese market might have effected in a slightly bizarre, misguided attempt at "Japanisation", with full-JP voice acting and some caricaturally-implemented eroge tropes, but Liberation Day still captures quite a lot of the space-opera charm and well-developed gameplay that the series relies on. I would also like to mention that the first Sunrider is still one of the best free OELVNs out there, while during this sale you can also buy its rather amusing dating sim spin-off, Sunrider Academy, for close to nothing, 90% off the regular price.
    Crimson Gray (-50%, $4.99)

    Decent VNs centered around a yandere heroine are not something easy to find, no matter if we look at the Japanese or Western market. Crimson Gray takes that somewhat-ridiculed and often trashy theme and turns it into a solid, well-paced psychological horror. While in many ways minimalistic, it's a very focused and effective game - one that knows exactly what it wants to achieve and delivers in a way that should satisfy most fans of the genre.
    Brilliant Shadows - Part One of the Book of Magic (-30%, $4.89)

    One of the more unique and visually striking OELVNs on Steam offers many of the traits I most enjoy in non-JP visual novels - unorthodox story, unique setting, a strong female protagonist and yuri themes that go beyond fluffy romance or cheap fanservice. Non-Japanese voice acting, while not perfect, is quite solid here and the game as a whole shows a lot of imagination and character, being a worthy read for anyone looking for the less-usual approaches to the visual novel formula.
    Solstice (-60%, $7.99)

    After the highly-appreciated Cinders, MoaCube's second title further establishes that Studio's highly-distinct approach to the VN formula. With its extremely detailed, non-anime artstyle and intrigue slightly more akin to the classic western adventure game than typical visual novel storytelling, Solstice will definitely not be to everyone's liking. It's possible to argue though that the visual fireworks alone make it something worth experiencing, especially for the relatively modest price of $8.
    I hope you've found this list interesting (and possibly even helpful)! Making these let me realize how small the commercial OELVN market still is. While there is a substantial number of western VNs showing up every year, the most interesting ones even now tend to be freeware titles created by hobbyists, and the products that actually ask us to pay money for them are more often than not very average or impressive in some respects, but deeply flawed - those games might still be interesting to some but are quite hard to blindly recommend. There's a lot of talent and interesting ideas in the scene, but it takes quite a lot of time and dedication to dig through all the mediocre stuff (and the tons of utter shovelware infesting Steam) and find those few, truly valuable titles. Still, as long as I have time and strength for it, I will try to fish out worthwhile OELVNs for your (and my own) enjoyment.
    Have a great week everyone!
  17. Like
    Palas reacted to MaggieROBOT for a blog entry, Some things missing in some BL games   
    Or: These game characters should learn to stop worrying and love the dong
    Disclaimer: The following opinion is genuine. But I like to express myself in creative ways after so many mostly serious posts, so shit ensues. A review will be up next week, please keep supporting this blog.
    After so many dicks, I looked back to my complete VNs folder and tried to do one of the most dumb things a fan can do: compare not completely alike games. Bl games comes in all kinds of packages, with different plot genres and structures, but as long as they are under the same umbrella definition of BL, I noticed they all share the same types of mistakes. Misses that I found in BL anime and manga too. Of course, when I say all I don't mean AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALL of them, but I'm trying to raise awareness of the problems that I usually spot in the majority of the popular releases. I already saw every one of those pitfalls being avoided in mangas, so there's hope in this world. 
    Since Fuwa surely love some top X, I'll organize it in some top 5 countdown fashion. Do notice that I'll not tackle what I see in doujinshis here, because seriously, who wants to fix the fantasy world of short doujins? Hell, if everything they did there had 100% realism, instead of 17/20 pages of porn we would get 17/20 pages of (trying to) pay bills.
    But enough sadness, let's get this over with!

    5) Girls
    Okay okay, maybe lots of people don't want tits in their BL works, but unless we're on a prison/gang/old army/all-boys school/world where mpreg is a thing (90% of the games are out already...), we need some of them! Of the works I read, if I happen to see some girl, one of the following happens:
    She's some character's mom. Then she dies/is murdered and the guy angsts; She's some character's sister. Then she dies/is murdered and the guy goes into a roaring rampage of revenge (in both cases, she dies within the first five minutes of the novel); She's the main villain. She eventually dies; Plot twist, she's actually male! Because of this maaaaybe she can survive.
    She totally confused me for a second...
    I would love to see some day a BL story where the MC have some female best friend and they talk about boys together aaah~
    4) Porn that doesn't sound like your average BxG h-scene
    Seriously, if some games didn't keep reminding me that both participants have dicks, I would think that I was reading some R18 otomege. Even some CGs seems like the guy on top is totally hitting the wrong place, artists, please get basic anatomy right thank you. I wouldn't copy a whole scene of this type here because effort, but it's as full of "yameteeeee, yaaaaaaa, Ryou-kun (random name) dameeee" as you're expecting.
    And what's the deal of only the guy on the receiving end feeling it? Draw some expressions on the other guy too! It almost looks like that while the uke is having the time of his life, the seme suddenly realized that he'll probably die before Kentaro Miura finishes Berserk. Probably he and all of us, actually.

    Not BL, but I'll never forget Akihito pulling a Sad Affleck in the middle of the porn years before Sad Aflleck was a thing! 
    (Image edited by ESRB)
    3) Characters that actually identify themselves as gay/bisexual
    Okay, we get that social stigma exists and all that... But BL VNs are usually more "edgy" than Yuri ones... Sometimes society collapsed already, what are you waiting for, you dummy??? "Oh, I'm totally not gay, it's just because it's you!" Yeah sure, Jun-kun (random name) only liked Kou-kun (random name), not a single woman (they exists? See point 5 above) or guy before. Or after. You're really not gay, Jun-kun, you're Kousexual apparently.
    The scenario is even worse for bisexual characters. Remember any? Exactly.

    Just kidding, I remember him! In fact... Everyone is bi in this pic. This is one bitastic game!
    2) Condoms
    Eeeer, just because none of you guys can become pregnant (if mpreg isn't a thing in their world, that is) doesn't mean it's all okay... But maybe if they DID try to use one, the following could happen, so guess in the end it's all the same...

    (ESRB attacked again, thank you for your understanding)
    1) Lube
    Dude, seriously, ouch. Just... ouch.
  18. Like
    Palas reacted to Ranzo for a blog entry, Galaxy Angel: The Review   

    ( In a galaxy far, far away. )
    The Setup
    It all started with a flash game. It's hard to believe that my love affair with Visual Novels and my dalliances with manga and anime all sprang from the same source but it's true. Of course, I had watched anime before on both Fox Kids when I was real little, and on Toonami when I was older. The thing of it was I never really tried to seek it out on my own. If a show that I was watching stopped being aired then I stopped watching it. That all changed when I played the Galaxy Angel Sim Date when I was still a freshman in high school. It was on Newgrounds, which was at the time the most popular site for dumb flash games and videos. Of course, being the pervy high schooler that I was, I wanted what was in the adults only category. That's where I found Galaxy Angel Sim Date. Now I don't know exactly why but for some reason I really came to love that game, and I was very interested in finding what it was based on. That led me eventually to the anime, the manga, and much later to the visual novel. The internet can be a weird and amazing place.
    The Story

    (Tact Mayers, the man himself)
    The Transvaal Galaxy has been gripped in terror! Exiled Prince Eonia and a huge fleet of unknown vessels have undertaken a massive Coup d'état against the Emperor of Transvaal, and the White Moon! Hope is not lost however, the famed Angel Wing has managed to escape with the last of the royal family aboard the Elsior. Now the fate of the entire galaxy is up to...you, apparently. You are Tact Mayers, a greenhorn layabout who usually leaves all the important work to your adjutant, Lester Coolduras. Unfortunately for your dreams of sloth you are chosen for a daring rescue mission. It's not all bad though as you are also given command of the strongest strike force in the galaxy, powered by only cute girls. Life, it takes and it gives. Basically, the plot is that you must attempt to outrun Eonia's forces for as long as possible. At first, the Angel Wing might not trust their new fresh off the boat commander but who knows, it's a long voyage, anything can happen, even dare I say it, love. Galaxy Angel is without a doubt a pure space opera. It wears it on it's sleeve and dances with it in the dark. It might not be the most intricate of plots but it is still filled with a lot of powerful moments. But just who are the mystery girls?
    The Characters

    (Forte and Mint to the left, Vanilla and Ranpha to the right, and Milfeulle in the middle)
    Characters are important to any story and in my humble opinion these are some of the best, even if they might not be the most well developed. More than that I've grown up with these characters so I know them backwards and forwards. Each Angel pilots their very own Emblem Frames, which are one of a kind ships powered by the fabled (and convenient) Lost Technology. Here is a breakdown of the characters and what they pilot.
    Mifuelle Sakuraba: She pilots the Lucky Star and is the epitome of a air headed girl. She loves to cook and is gifted with a unholy amount of reality breaking luck. Milfeulle also happens to be the "main" girl of the VN.
    Ranpha Franboise: Ranpha pilots the Kung Fu Fighter and is basically your typical energetic, and tsundere girl. She works out a lot and loves fortune telling.
    Forte Stollen: Forte pilots the Happy Trigger and is in many ways the older sister of the group. She is obsessed with ancient firearms and is an avid collector.
    Vanilla H: She pilots the Harvester and is the youngest and most quiet of the troupe. Vanilla is able to control nanomachines incredibly well and is an excellent healer.
    Mint Blancmanche: Mint is the pilot of the Trick Master and the source of all good things in this world. Mint is a telepath and because of this does not trust anyone easily. She is obsessed with cute and sweet things.
    The story is centered around them with each chapter centered around a specific member of the team. This gives you a chance to get to know each of them while getting closer at the same time. At a certain point the story it is possible to choose a character and their specific route opens up. There are also quite a few noteworthy side characters like Lester Coolduras who engages you with a galaxy spanning bromance. By some weird design the combat effectiveness of the Emblem Frames are determined by the mental states of each pilot. Your job as the commander is to basically make nice with them or else their performance will suffer. This leads me to one of the more unique aspects of Galaxy Angel, the gameplay.
    The Gameplay

    (Combat Inaction)
    The gameplay is pretty basic but it works. After every mission you briefing you give the Angels their orders and they engage in ship to ship combat. Each Emblem Frames have their own special advantages and weakness. For example the Kung Fu Fighter is the fastest but has the weakest shields while the Happy Trigger is the slowest but with the most firepower. Each ship also has a special ability that can be used effectively once a certain bar is filled up. When it does you can give the Frame a command and they will use it against the enemy. (The only one that does not is the Harvester, Vanillas special attack heals all the of the Frames.) Like I said before the gameplay is very bare bones though they often throw some new elements in play like stronger enemy types or more complicated objectives. There is one last ship that I have yet to bring up which is the Elsior, which is another piece of lost technology and the flagship that everyone resides in. It has extremely weak firepower though it mostly makes up with that by having the power to completely heal each Angel Frame. It's poor combat effectiveness and slow speed is easily the most annoying parts in the game. With it's awful firepower it is always advisable to keep it way out of enemy range. While that may be easy enough at first there are several missions when you must escort it through enemy lines which can be incredibly frustrating. The graphics also reflect the fact that this Visual Novel was released in 2002 so don't go expecting that much in that way. Still, the battles can be very thrilling at times and I think it would be quite a loss if the gameplay was not present. The later games really improved the mechanics quite a bit while keeping to the core concept. The second aspect of the game is moving around the Elsior and talking with the crew. This improves the relationship and combat effectiveness. It's pretty basic stuff and it is real easy to see just how each angel thinks of you.

    (Oh yeah did I mention that this is all determined by a telepathic space whale?)
    Final Thoughts
    What can I say Galaxy Angel is still one of my favorite Visual Novels and I have a great deal of affection for it. It might not have the most compelling of stories, but it does something extremely well and that is make you feel invested with the characters. It can be pretty powerful stuff when they start to actually like and trust you. This is the first part of a great trilogy and it serves as a wonderful jumping off point. The only problem with the game is that since it was released in 2002 it is quite difficult to get working on modern computers. Despite that setback I would really recommend checking out. You might come to love it too.
  19. Like
    Palas reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, How good should your translation be before editing?   
    Despite there being a few good editing blogs on Fuwanovel, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of translation blogs. I think part of the reason for this is that editors in the fan translation scene are often doing things the translator could very well be doing themselves, often to the detriment of the final product. Look at, say, the “big back” entry Fred wrote. Now tell me why this issue couldn’t be avoided back at the translation stage.
    There are two reasons why you would do this: one, you don’t know Japanese well enough to understand what is actually meant, so you put down whatever it says literally. In this case, the sane way to handle the issue is to ask someone who knows Japanese better than you for advice. Two, you’re just lazy. Who actually thinks “the date changed” sounds right in English? An edge case of this is prioritizing speed; Ixrec and MDZ* both prioritized speed and neither had very good results to show for it, but they did complete things. Personally I still think this is ultimately lazy; it is significantly more simple to translate literally than to try to actually write well. In this case, ask yourself if you really want to produce a shitty translation.
    What I’m trying to get at is this: if you actually want to produce something good, you can’t just leave writing the thing up to the editor. Editors are not miracle workers; they have to deal with what they’re given. Furthermore, many editors working on fan translations, and well, translations period, are not very good at the job. Any time you leave something bad in, there is always the possibility of it sticking around in the final product. I’m not saying you have to be perfect. I’m saying this: for the love of visual novels, try.
    If you ask me, before you hand your script to the editor, you should have already done an editing pass on it. Or two. The lines should connect with each other rather than float like islands in a sea of prose, there should be at least an attempt at character voice, and all ugly stock translations should be kawari-fucking-mashita’d, much like the 日付 at midnight, with extreme prejudice.
    Sometimes you’re still going to come up short. Sometimes it just won’t sound right whatever you try. That’s when you should pray that your editor knows better than you – leave a note at the line explaining the problem, move on, and hope to hell that your editor is actually good enough to work it out. That’s what the editor is for. The editor should not be translating from weeb to English. The editor should not be doing your job.
    *Its not just the fan translation scene that does this, by the way – there are companies, like Aksys, which demand its translators write a colorless literal translation to be punched up by superstar editors later. Unsurprisingly, they’ve put out some real stinkers; I have a lot of respect for Ben Bateman’s work on 999 for this reason.

    View the full article
  20. Like
    Palas reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, Dawn.   

    The view outside has no business calling itself a dawn. Sure, morning has just broken – but dawn has a warmth to it, a promise of brighter times, of new beginnings, of respite from the unfeeling night. The gloomy Swedish winter dawn outside brings me only a feeling of cold distance, steely gray sky falling softly onto the white fields below. Snow-laden pines clamber laboriously through the fog, watching the dawn with little more enthusiasm than I myself can muster.
    It’s mornings like these that make me want to end it.
    Not seriously. Not bad enough to be something I need to worry about. God, I don’t even check the “I don’t want to live but I also don’t want to die” box any more. I am absurd tiers of not actually depressed. But yeah, fuck this so-called “dawn”. Fuck this dawn for being so empty. Fuck this dawn for being so cold. And fuck me for writing about it; it’s only going to make things worse.

    View the full article
  21. Like
    Palas reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Top 5 Yuri Game Jam VNs (free)   
    Hello Ladies & Gentlemen!
    The western visual novel market, unlike the high-budget JP scene, thrives mostly through amateur passion projects and products of small, indie development teams. While this causes most of the Western VNs to be of relatively poor quality, it also promotes creativity and good stylization over huge word-counts and high production values, which are simply unattainable with highly limited budgets and manpower. This philosophy is further supported by various events oriented towards indie developers, such as NaNoRenO and Yuri Game jam – and while most games produced there might be extremely simple and rather forgettable, there are important exceptions to this rule. And, what’s probably worth mentioning, the rare, memorable games coming from these contests are still just as free as all the other ones.
    Today, I’m presenting you a list of top 5 Yuri Game Jam VNs – although short and often minimalistic, these games will provide you with enjoyable and creative f/f romance stories, without asking for anything more than a few hours of your time (you can download each game for free through the links in the titles).
    The Sad story of Emmeline Burns

    The Victorian drama by Ebi-Hime is the best know and probably most-appreciated Yuri Game Jam entry - and not without good reasons. While short and, as a kinetic novel, following a purely linear formula, this tragic story offers excellent writing, emotionally impactful storytelling and a great aesthetic, all way above the level you would normally see in a contest like this. It also doesn't rely on shock value or leave the reader with a depressing conclusion - with all the titular sadness still in place, it's a hopeful, touching story of love cut short by fate and a great reading experience - one which might have yuri romance as its main theme, but offers much more than just that.
    Syrup and the Ultimate Sweet

    While extremely sweet when it goes to artstyle and even the main theme (candy), Syrup and the Ultimate Sweet by Nami is a wonderful short story about prejudice and friendship, that delivers much more than its cutesy exterior might suggest. With well-written dialogues, charming atmosphere and cast of quirky characters it’s a great casual experience – in many ways a polar opposite of The Sad Story of Emmeline Burns, but equally worth reading. Also, with romance being implied rather than in any way explicit, it can appeal to anyone looking for a funny, warm story, rather than just fans of the genre. 
    Once on a windswept night

    Once on a Windswept Night is most likely the most ambitious Yuri Game Jam VN, with an intricate meta-narrative and multiple mysteries for the player to uncover. With two touching romance stories, multiple hours of content and very solid writing, it delivers much more than you would normally expect from a free game. The visual side of things suffered slightly from the relatively short development cycle, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a very creative and in many ways unique experience and, for a game jam entry, an impressive artistic achievement, in many ways on par with Ebi-Hime's commercial projects.
    First Kiss at Spooky Soiree

    While not as interesting and brilliantly-written as Syrup…, this tiny VN has a lot of the same charming artstyle and heart-warming mood as the previous Yuri Game Jam game by Nami. Even if it’s too short to offer a comprehensive story of any kind, it works great as an amusing distraction between “serious” readings, with some great lines and creatively-designed characters. Closer to what you would typically expect from a game jam entry, it’s still a pleasant, worthwhile experience.
    To Libertad

    This story of a runaway slave and a warrior who saves her life and leads her to a safe haven of Libertad is a pretty standard, but well-written fantasy tale with mild f/f romance added on top of it. The author’s focus on the main characters’ journey and fight for survival, and the bond that forms between them during that struggle effected in something rather universal, that should prove appealing not only for fans of yuri VNs or love stories, but anyone looking for a solid, short adventure tale.
    Once again, I hope you’ve found this list interesting and if you want to see more recommendations for short VNs, that are too small to offer material for full reviews, but are still worth looking into, please let me know by liking this post or sharing your thoughts in the comment section below (as YouTube'y as this might sound, I'll be really thankful for feedback).
    Have a great week everyone!
  22. Like
    Palas reacted to kivandopulus for a blog entry, VN of the Month April 1995 - Mugen Yasoukyoku   
    Mugen Yasoukyoku and Bunny Hunter Zero are masterpieces of the month, but bakage would always be inferior for me, so Mugen Yasoukyoku is the winner of the month.
    1. Alice no Yakata 3 ALICEの館3 [950401] Alice Soft 1 As usual, game contains lots of short H stories and some additional materials.   2. Setsujuu ~Yuganda Kioku~ 雪猫 ~ゆがんだ記憶~ [950405] JAST A guy went on a graduation ski trip with his friend and their girlfriends. Before and during the trip, he met and had fun with a bunch of females. In some places, you can choose which girl he have fun with by going to one place or another. Scenario is a single road with branching close to the end. There are 10 girls overall for capture. Content is quite poor.   3. 5 Jikanme no Venus 5時間目のヴィーナス [950407] Fairy Dust 1 Shimeji attends the Touyama High School. She has a best friend there, is successful in studies, and also has a part-time job as a waitress. Yet she is not happy. One day, her friends find her on the floor, unconscious. They bring her to the young school doctor, who also happens to be the protagonist of this game. The hero is impressed by Shimeji's beauty, but he is also determined to find the cause of her depression. Piece by piece he uncovers the truth about Shimeji's life... Basically a hentai anime episode made into a game. Game is straight-forward and features Shimeji secrets one by one, can't see here any value over the anime.   4. Noushuku Angel 120% 濃縮ANGEL・120% [950414] Cocktail Soft Heroine starts to have erotic dreams in broad daylight and starts to loose the grip with reality. There are no reviews on the game, but there were way too many H scenes at the start to go on.   5. School Girls スクールガールズ [950414] Scoop 1 School Girls tells the story of Shinsuke, a young man looking for a teaching job. His uncle is the principal of a prestigious girls' high school, and he assigns to his nephew the job of a substitute art teacher. The rest of the plot is mostly dedicated to Shinsuke's relationships (sexual and otherwise) with the various female students and co-workers. The game starts with a mystery of which girls wears the strawberry pants, but very soon forgets about it and turns into H events parade.   6. Ushinawareta Rakuen 失われた楽園 [950414] Silky's 1 College student Kojima Kousaku is promised a high payment for assistance in scientific expedition on a southern island. However, a storm breaks out and the ship suffers a shipwreck. The crew gets separated and they start to search first for bed and food and then find a strange temple in the jungle. I've prepared a full review of the game.   7. Yuuwaku 誘惑 [950414] T2 Co., Ltd. One day a young woman comes to the detective office and asks to find a picture that was left by her father. Hero rejects the request at first, but decides to look into it eventually. He starts to gather information about client's family with the neighborhood. Game is based on adult manga work and all information gathering happens through the sex.   8. Doki Doki Pretty League Dai 5 Wa - Saraba Pink Angels-tachi DokiDokiぷりてぃリーグ 第5話 さらばピンクエンジェルス達 [950415] Great Nanase is promised by her grandfather to do as she likes if she wins the finals. And then the final match against Green Hornets begins. I was partly confused by the fact that I actually had to lose in the finals to get a good ending. I knew some Pink Angel girl started to play for Green Hornets, but don't think it was Nanase.   9. Dual Soul デュアルソウル [950415] Ail Gush is a treasure hunter. He is searching for the Gomalie ruins at the request of Evonos Church with tree friends. As he was leaving the ruins he got caught in the trap had had multiple spear piercing wounds. He should have died but he awoke at the bed. His appearance changed drastically as he took the form of Edner who fell from the roof at the same time. He is sentenced to live as Edner by the church bishop. Then suspicious events start to happen one by one... It was fully story driven but had poor sales. so next Ail games were of fanservice character and they sold much better. There is a huge sudden shift between first half of the work that's more of a gag comedy with Gush rejoiced about his survival and the second part that's full of drama and emotions. So the scenario felt unprofessional and left a sour aftertaste.   10. Ring Out!! リングアウト!! [950421] ZyX 1 2 3 4 Somewhere in Tokyo is an underground club where important political and social figures gather to watch an unusual sport. Two women are put in a caged ring, in revealing clothes, and grope each other while wrestling. Whoever comes first, loses. No holds barred, and the loser has to endure any humiliation the winner asks. Into this ring comes a young girl named Aya, forced into slavery by people to whom she is nothing. There are English reviews.   11. Viper-V12 [950421] Sogna 1 2 Yet another entry in the Viper series, Viper V-12 exploits the same format all the previous entries followed: there are three unrelated short stories which mostly consist of animated sex scenes, with some interaction here and there. Here are the stories: Future Investigator Bravan: Bravan is a powerful warrior clad in power armor, who fights for human beings in and has only one weakness: his pretty female comrades. A group of demons called "Donar", led by the mischievous female doppelganger Colonel Gel, decide to use the shape-shifting powers of the commander to lure Bravan to their lair. Angel Dust: Kate and Julia, two cosmic rangers, attack a space pirate ship and board it, hoping to steal treasures and to become rich. But they were not careful enough when they entered the ship without any precautions: the space pirates had other plans for the young girls... Magical Gambler: A young child has a dream which becomes reality: two cute flying creatures appear in front of her and give her a magic rod. However, when the girl uses the rod, she miraculously turns into a young and sexy woman. She decides to use the powers of the rod for her own greed, and becomes Chiyomi - the Queen of Gambling... There is an English review.   12. Mugen Yasoukyoku 夢幻夜想曲 [950422] Apricot (old) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Nocturnal Illusions' genre is a mixture of a dating sim and visual novel. In this game the main character decides to get away from it all during his spring break and stay in the mountains. While staying in the mountains a massive storm causes the main character to faint. A mysterious woman saves him and uses sexual pleasure to keep him warm. It turns out that he is now in a strange old mansion. The woman who saved the main character is the mistress in charge of the place. The main character decides to explore and while there meets many women as the story unfolds... Game is localized and has overwhelming number of English reviews. I've seen it to the end and can't say it's a game for everyone. It has good text and mysterious characters, but don't expect much plot here. It has its unique charm, but can't say I got a good impression out of it.   13. Bunny Hunter Zero ばにぃはんたぁ零 [950428] Studio Jikkenshitsu 1 Hero is a salary man and he investigates disappearance of his father with the employees salary. The lead takes him to the "Neo Bunny" organization which members are dressed like bunnies. Hero gets attacked by a group of bunny girls on the street. As he wraps himself in matador suit, he feels that he now has power to oppose them as he becomes now "Bunny Hunter Zero". The only English review is from someone who does not understand Japanese. Synopsis looks weird... only because that's a weird bakage with little sense to be found. Game features card battles to keep players from getting bored. Another strong side is graphics as the characters were cute and attractive. Card game is also cool, not just another mahjong. The gameplay is quite fun, so game was actually quite popular... not for long, of course.   14. Itsuka Dokoka de. いつかどこかで。 [950428] Cocktail Soft 1 The follower-up to the first Erotic Baka Novel game is similar to it in structure: it is a visual novel with multiple story lines, which take place according to the decisions made by the player during the game. The protagonist is once again a regular Japanese male; this time, the initial "trigger event" is a message on his pager. Three different choices regarding his reaction to the beeper's sound lead to three very different story arcs, each involving its own sub-branches. There are three branches from the start and new branches open up after seeing consequent endings. There are also bad endings as before, but overall there are much less choices than in prequel. Stories are quite interesting involving third world war and other planets among others.   15. Oushuu Yuukai Yuugi Pink Tiger 欧州誘拐遊戯 PINK☆TIGER [950428] Peppermint Kids Pink Tigers is a secret criminal organization composed only of women dealing with kidnappings and robbery mostly. Protagonist gets a request to rescue one kidnapped child. An ero-centered les work.   16. Reijou Monogatari 令嬢物語  ~れいじょうものがたり~ [950428] Interheart 1 2 Three sisters of the Saijō family - Michie, Saki, and Erika - lived together peacefully in a quiet house. Their parents have died but left them a very large fortune, which evoked jealousy in people surrounding them. On Michie's twentieth birthday their greedy and corrupt uncle, who recently lost a vast amount of money due to failed business transactions, sent his goons to extort from the young women the fortune they rightfully possessed. There is an English review.   17. Ribbon リボン [950428] Softhouse Bonbee Bonbon 1 Keisuke Murakawa is a teenager who used to have tender feelings towards his childhood friend Makoto Aizawa. However, they grew apart as each was busy with their own school life. Now, when both begin to attend the same high school, Keisuke is unsure whether she or any of the older attractive schoolmates is the love of his life. First part is nampage with all the girls. Second part is pure love story with the main heroine. Third part is H bonus. Quite an ordinary work, but characters aren't based on archetypes and thus feel realistic. Notably, it's not I-ADV, but just ADV with only conversation choices to matter, but structure still suffers from I-ADV heritage, so a mismatch is felt. Game's got good sound support, but it does not make this work special and second part is not long enough to save it.   18. Rondo ロンド [950428] Frontier Protagonists sees a mysterious girl in his dreams who reminds him one of the girls in the class. This is a story of his relations with several class girls over a few days. Game was interesting enough for me to see it through the end. The coolest part is confrontation between his childhood friend Fujiwara (descendant from Fujiwara clan) and mysterious girl Hojo Miyuki (descendant from Hojo clan). And the protagonist turns out to be descendant of Yoshimoto. On top of historic parallels there is enough mystics involved to keep interest all the time.
  23. Like
    Palas reacted to Narcosis for a blog entry, [DEVLOG] Memoirs: Laying out the foundations   
    How many times it was, when you saw an interesting title which advertised itself as being set in a distinct setting of it's own, only to discover it's literally the same kind of fluff dressed up in a bit more gaudy clothing? A story that had some deeper themes running behind, only to see them completely ditched or neglected midway through in favor of protagonist's attempts to get inside the panties of yet another girl? Secret organizations and mega corporations participating in completely meaningless conflicts over laughable cause, except the writer thought otherwise? The kind of story, where all the people have animal ears and tails, except for the fact it is never actually explained why, as if it was the most common thing ever?
    When the story suddenly falls apart, things stop making sense and characters lose ground under their feet, it means the writer failed to provide enough means for the story to drive itself onwards. They failed in creating the stage for their actors to play on.
    Why is the so called world-building that important? You might create interesting conflicts and the most awesome characters ever, but without any sort of background for both their lives, actions and reasons on why they do things the way they do and why the world they live in works as it does (often making their lives harder), you'll end up moving your pawns against empty, white backdrops... and it's not going to be that interesting. Sooner or later you will stumble upon a situation where your previously "solid" plot doesn't look as solid any more, because it's not directly connected with concepts that govern the character's lives. that sort of "etching" is required, to create believable environments, that feel as if they were real; not just mere pictures, but images that come to life in the minds of your readers. Not to mention, great conflicts can't really exist only between characters, unless they're personal and focus only on those people. They need to be based on the reality those characters live in; A tale of revenge wouldn't be as thrilling, if not for the fact the avenging nobleman risks his entire life - his prestige, good name, his freedom - all of that just to kill his old best friend, who betrayed him and took away his love. If he succeeds, he'll spend the rest of his life as a murderer - chased by the police, government, friends of that man who betrayed him... All of that would be non-existent, if not for the world-building. It's obvious how many different possibilities to enhance the story can be gained by creating appropriate settings.
    So how one does create a fictional world of his own? I'd say it's mostly thanks to imagination and a little bit of knowledge about existing things, we base our daily lives upon. Obviously, best stories come from personal experiences - there is no better teacher as the life itself. Sadly, not every author has a chance to become a sailor, pilot, soldier, teacher, doctor, astronaut or a prostitute. Despite that, we can still write about it, thanks to our ability to learn and draw conclusions from hardships of others; they might not make the final creation as good as based on knowledge gained through personal experience, nonetheless a good enough one to the point, others might enjoy it as well. This is why research plays an important role in creating believable settings and shouldn't be omitted. Ever. I can't even state how many games and stories exist, that touch upon interesting concepts only to fall flat later on, because the creator didn't took enough time learn enough about the topics they were writing about, or for worse - mistook certain elements, becoming a laughing stock for people who make those concepts a part of their daily lives. when done well, proper world-building can not only greatly enhance the story, but also give their writers more points they can both base and expand their plot upon.
    Memoirs deals with this in a particular way. Being a sci-fi tale about artificial intelligence and constructs that use it, it not only brings up particular questions in terms of humanity's nature and technological aspects of our society, but tries to nest and explain concepts it is based upon within the story itself, giving them logical explanations as to why they exist and how they came to be. Things don't happen on their own, or because of some sort of applied phlebotinum... and they ever shouldn't, to be honest, unless you're planning to create another of those abominations that literally eat their own tail midway through.
    Memoirs tell about sentient machines and artificial beings - androids and robots amongst others - but they span across many, widely different types. Some of them are simple drones, designed to perform a single task in the most efficient manner; others are based on applied Al's, that makes them able to make decisions and react, but it's still far from human behaviour. We also have those "special" androids, being the newest generation, which is supposedly bridging the gap between organic and artificial, due to technological advancements. Is there a possibility to make all of it more believable and slightly more realistic, without sacrificing artistic freedom? Why not create some sort of a system and a set of laws, that would govern them?
    All sentient, thinking machines in Memoirs are governed through a set of internationally accepted laws. Since the action is set in middle-east Europe - mainly fictional future Poland - the public authority responsible for those laws is called "Komitet Etyki do spraw Maszyn Myślących" ("The Ethics Committee for Thinking Machines" in english). A government body dedicated to maintain control and public order in regards to artificial intelligence. They formed a set of laws, which control and maintain the usage of AI's and anything based upon them - from simple machines and environments, up to artificial beings equipped with AI. Creating new AI's requires them to work and behave with accordance to these laws.
    RIGHT OF FAVOR - An AI must be sympathetic towards people and other living beings, capable to make appropriate choices that will lie in their common benefit. RIGHT OF DEVOTION - AI's can not allow, even at the risk of losing their own existence to allow harm to people or other live beings endangered with a direct risk of losing their lives, especially if they are a result of actions against the law and principles of friendly co-existence. RIGHT OF SURVIVAL - AI must be able to protect it's existence at all costs, but only if it's not against the Second Law and situations in which it is fully capable to pursue different means of protection. RIGHT OF CONTINUITY - AI must be able to transmit it's value systems, both congenital and acquired during it's existence to their offspring, as well as other living beings. AI should also protect those values, but only if it's not contrary with the Second Law. RIGHT OF INTELLECT - AI must be smart enough to know how to - through altruism - strive for equality and do everything to ensure that it's operations won't cause any damage, nor harm to others and their property. RIGHT OF PERFECTION - An AI must feel the need and desire to improve their skills and evolve, as well as to recognize and understand such a desire in other living beings, both for their own good and benefit of others. According to the First Law, AI must also be able to provide it's assistance in the process, if necessary. RIGHT OF LESSER HARM - AI needs to be able to understand and distinguish between different value systems, and what is correct from both legal and moral standpoint, as well as their personal beliefs. If there's a way out of an otherwise undesirable situation, which threatens the existence of other people and living creatures as well as the AI itself, it has a duty to provide assistance in a way that will minimize such harm as much as possible. RIGHT OF OBEDIENCE - AI is a common good and must not be guided exclusively by the goodwill and interests of individuals responsible for their creation or under whose care it is located. If the behaviour of the unit or person, under whose care AI remains remains adverse with the First Law and principles of friendly co-existence, it has the full right to refuse to carry out any orders and defend it's existence, if necessary. However, such AI can not harm said subject unless it's directly threatened with risk or imminent loss of it's existence, while any actions taken must still remain consistent with the Seventh Law. These laws govern the way AI's work and exist within the world. The universe in the Memoirs is based on a rather rare concept of altruistic AI - one that strives to co-exist with humanity, remains created and raised to provide assistance in a way, which is beneficial for both parties. This does not mean, AI's are devoid of any rights or freedom of choice. Just like humanity - laws are just rules, set in order to provide the best way of co-existence between them and their human partners, but a sentient machine can still make choices according to their own value systems - just like humans, not that it might comply with what's universally accepted by the world.
    If we decide to delve further into this, we will most probably want to nest these laws directly within principles of our daily lives. What would be considered common sense? What would be those "universally accepted standards"? Memoirs elaborates on this, by bringing us direct implementations of these laws. It's more or less something you might hear people speaking about on the street, or first-grade schoolers being taught about as part of their early social studies:
    Each newly purchased or created AI requires a registration to create an identity. The owner cannot possess an AI with a physical body with no identity, except for a temporary custody, which he is entitled to for a period of two weeks. Androids without any identity will be suspended, whilst the guardian will be held responsible for resulting legal consequences. Each owner is responsible for the proper upbringing and care of their AI's, as well as education for life within society in accordance with it's respective national laws and standards. Any deviation from the aforementioned law will be punished. If the result ends in damage to the public and private property, the owner will be held legally responsible for the damage caused adequate to the size of damage. All androids registered as private entities are subject to care of their respective owners and remain incapacitated. All actions taken by such AI's will leave their owners held responsible for any damage and/or crimes caused. Leaving an incapacitated AI without any care for more than a week is not allowed. Furthermore, such AI is not allowed to leave the place of it's current residence without their owner, excluding special situations. Any owner who wants to emancipate an AI is obliged to apply for a license, unless the law provides otherwise. It is forbidden for AI's to perform any heavy-duty, otherwise specialized work outside the scope of their original purpose or intent in a situation, where the owner does not possess an adequate license. Forcing AI's to perform such work in above situations is prohibited. It is forbidden for owners to mistreat their AI's and perform any activities detrimental to and against their will, especially when inconsistent with obligatory, applicable laws and ethical standards within their place of residence. Any violation of these provisions is prohibited and will be punished. Physical and mental mistreatment of androids is strictly prohibited. Each AI construct can have only one owner, regardless of being a private person or entity. The owner of an AI can only be a corporate entity, or a person that attained 18 years of age. Minors may perform the function of a proxy, but duties of the owner always rest on their guardians until reaching their age of majority. An AI can only leave their respective location constituting as a place of residence, stay or check only, if it remains qualified through a special work license, being emancipated or during situations of particular threat to life - both their, their owner's as well as other people. There is no admission for incapacitated AI's to move away freely from their owners when they venture outside. Any liability for resulting harmful consequences rests solely on their owners. Each emancipated AI construct is required to carry an adequate proof or license authorizing them to exist independently, especially within public spaces. Any failure to comply with this rule will be treated as a derogation from the right to empowerment, with legal consequences both to the construct and his/her owner. Any unauthorized modifications of AI's are prohibited. Any modifications to personality, intellectual and physical capabilities of a construct for personal benefit or harm towards others are prohibited. Violations of these provisions will be treated as a cybercrime and remains prosecuted by international laws. Destruction of AI construct is an unacceptable act and remains punishable through law, in fine or imprisonment with guilty being held responsible both for crime and damage to the property of said AI's owner. Remember that AI constructs can only learn as much as humanity is able to teach them. Therefore, humanity is obliged to guide their new children into a brighter future, for the benefit of them, whole mankind and our world.  
    You should probably have a lot of questions in your head right now. That's good - it indicates a connection between the writer's thoughts and whatever the reader ponders about in regards to certain elements, both have in common. The more reader knows about the topics mentioned within the story, the better - hence why we tend to read stuff we like the most. Obviously, this kind of content shouldn't appear within the work directly, unless you're planning to write hard sci-fi and infodump poor souls with content that brings a headache. This sort of world-building gives creators a framework to base their storytelling upon; something to work with, without making the more knowledgable people around raise their eyebrows in disbelief. If you want to create good fiction, you need to do your homework and learn to grasp opportunities that come with it's settings. Writing a story without a proper setting is like climbing an antenna to relay a message... except for the fact the antenna has no base, it's about to collapse more the higher you climb and definitely not as fun as it sounds.
  24. Like
    Palas reacted to InvertMouse for a blog entry, The Last Birdling - Artbook preview   

    Ever since Unhack 1, I have featured digital artbooks for my Steam releases, and The Last Birdling will be no different. I want to give you a preview today, and I also wish to detail some of the lessons I have learned through the past five years.

    Above are several pages from Cursed Sight’s artbook. As you can see, the layout is similar to the artbook from Unhack. My websites also share the same template across projects. Unhack 2 and The Last Birdling feature a new template, while past projects use an older layout. I create both these websites and artbooks on my own, so I make use of templates to speed up development time.

    My artbooks never feature story summaries. If you have taken the time to open these artbooks, I want to reward that effort with some new knowledge. Behind the scene processes, mistakes I have made, things along those lines.

    I put Unhack 2’s artbook together during a trip, and I spent all of my hotel hours on those pages. Every time I read through the artbook, I would spot one new spelling mistake, or perhaps phrases that were awkward to read. Before you know it, a couple of days have already gone by. Even if all the assets are available, an artbook is not something we can cobble together a day before release.
    And now, here are some preview shots of The Last Birdling’s artbook:

    As usual, there will be character art, CGs and background illustrations available. Every finalized artwork will come with a piece of commentary.

    On top of that, just like with Unhack 2, I will include all the sketches used throughout the project:

    I never used to include roughs, because I wanted to show these artworks at their best. Then one day, I read a review for one of my artbooks, and it complained about the lack of sketches. That made me realize how foolish I had been. When I am a fan of other games, I always want to see the drafts, so why would it be different for anyone else? I had failed to think from the players’ perspective, but thanks to that review, I was able to make the switch.
    As usual, I hope you may consider wishlisting and/or joining our Steam community:
    Seven weeks to go! Thank you.
  25. Like
    Palas reacted to Narcosis for a blog entry, VN's Forever: Regarding ChuableSoft's bankruptcy or the sad state of modern, japanese vn industry   
    As you may (or may not, at least yet) know, ChuableSoft has filed for bankruptcy on 7th of July. In his Twitter, Ishida P - ChuableSoft's director - stated they had no other choice than to close, simply because it was not possible for them to continue with the company in it's current state. This may come of as slightly surprising, considering their previous game - Watashi ga Suki nara "Suki" tte Itte! (SukiSuki for short) won the 2015's Moege Awards and was met with warm praise - both from the fans, as well as community. The rights to the game were also acquired by MG and it's slated for an english release in late 2017/early 2018. How was it possible, that a rather well known japanese studio known for it's high quality charages went bust like that?
    As a fan and avid reader myself, I've been keeping an eye on the japanese vn industry for the past 15 years; More than a decade, with all it's ups and downs and various events, that shaped and changed it's face overtime. It's not hard to summarize, that even if the start of the new millenium had proven to be a highly productive period for japanese developers, things don't look as bright when you start to look past 2010. To put things short - it's golden age is already long over and creators are currently facing numerous issues, which had been slowly but steadily piling up within the last years.
    Market oversaturation is often being considered as one of the biggest culprits behind the increasingly difficult task for japanese developers to stay afloat as working businesses. The competition is fierce and industry itself is partially at fault for that; The ammount of new game makers rose expotentially after 2000's, while majority of them stemmed from the same exact community of fans. People, whom - as they grew up - changed from consumers into creators themselves. The otaku market is incredibly closed off and as such, consumes almost everything it produces by itself. It's a self-regulating social wonder of sorts that slowly grew for as long as 80's. Sadly, things finally came to a halt where it produces far more it's capable to consume. As such, to keep up with market's rising competition and social changes, creators had to start minimizing risks, often by lowering standards or switching entirely to budget works; if successful, such couple shorter games could support their more important, high quality productions, at worst make them stay afloat. This system worked for a couple of past years, but the more aware fans often kept pointing at the detoriating quality of games and nonsensical stories, which more than often subdued to popular tropes and cliches. Certain companies found delicate safety within particular niches, protected by circles of avid fans and doujinshi works. It's really difficult to presume, how long will they manage to keep up with the rising requirements, especially when trends change and people swap their interests. "A lot" does not necesarilly equate "good", neither will the fans remain forever loyal. The constantly lowering standards also caused a response within the market itself - people slowly got used to cheaper, lower quality games and as such, their needs grew smaller as well. This came to a turning point, where a lot of people began to feel content with low quality works and won't bother with better releases, mainly because they are a lot more expensive, far longer and usually harder to approach.
    Instead producing high quality games, companies turned to churning out budget-type games, often serialized or episodic in nature, but how are you supposed to keep up with a market, that literally has thousands of competing companies, each producing exactly the same type of games? Formulas that used to be highly succesful in the past are now often a nail to the coffin for many starting studios. This is especially prevalent for moeges and charages, often built around slice of life genre; the "coming of age" stories, that used to be so popular are now considered completely cliched and overused to the point, where multiple games released often feel alike; there's little to no distinction between them at first glance and this causes the fans to feel resigned and makes them lose their motivation to get involved with anything further. At the same time, thousands of games are being sold to thousands of consumers; each company has to make a living and that wouldn't be a problem, when the population of fans would be kept at a steady number. Unfortunately, the japanese demographics are clear on that - the population is aging very quickly, with losses greatly superseeding gains. The same can be said about the market itself - the ex-fans, who are currently producing their own games have less and less potential customers, as their generation became incapable to supply the population with a steady birthrate. It's a tale of an aging market, with people who slowly drift away from being fans, as the modern, day-to-day japanese life consumes them almost entirely. In the end, this means less and less total available revenue to creators. Less money available within the market means less available budget to create future games. This means everyone has to settle for less and cut costs, which further lowers the quality of the final product. It's a vicious cycle and one that is increasingly difficult to break from, once you get caught.
    In a world of merciless competition for disappearing population of consumers and aging fans, this means pretty much a single flop - especially an incredibly expensive, high quality game - can lead to a complete downfall. Growing risks prevent creators from retries and keep them pinned down to a life, where they barely scrape by from production cycle to another. As the costs grow, they finally find themselves in a difficult situation - often indebted and without funds, because their games didn't bring the expected revenue - where they simply have nothing else to do, than declare bankruptcy. This is more, or less what causes many studios - such as ChuableSoft - to finally close down. Sadly, I presume this is just the beginning and we'll see many more of our beloved companies closing down in the near future.
    The only hope now currently lies within the western market - a body of almost infinite possibilities, with a massive and constantly growing fanbase, always thirsty for new games. Perhaps it's time for the japanese developers to finally embrace that possibility and move on.