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Zalor

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  1. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from Palas for a blog entry, I Am War: An Exploration of an Archetype   
    “War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.”
    ~Judge Holden (Blood Meridian)
    “My love is destruction. Its flames ache to devour all that exist: Heaven and Hell, God and Satan; all things in Creation, from the first universe that was, to the last that will ever be.”
    ~Reinhard Heydrich (Dies Irae)
     
    The archetype of a sentient embodiment of war continues to persist, and has morphed considerably from its mythological origins. Having finished Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, considered by some literary critics to be the great American novel. I am left transfixed by a particular figure, a haunting presence that defies death: the Judge, Judge Holden. The Judge is a complex figure, and there are many interpretations as to who he really is. One common interpretation is that he is the embodiment of war itself. This, along with his function in the novel, reminded me quite of bit of Reinhard Heydrich from Dies Irae.
    Reinhard proudly claims to be war itself, and so in this respect he is not subtle. What makes Reinhard standout as a villain, is how evil yet seductively charming he is. He wants destruction for its own sake, or really; for his amusement. To him war is fun, and an eternity spent warring couldn't be a more ideal form of the afterlife in his conception. He would be in complete agreement with the judge on this point:
    “Men are born for games. Nothing else. Every child knows that play is nobler than work. He knows too that the worth or merit of a game is not inherent in the game itself but rather in the value of that which is put at hazard. Games of chance require a wager to have meaning at all. Games of sport involve the skill and strength of the opponents and the humiliation of defeat and the pride of victory are in themselves sufficient stake because they inhere the worth of the principals and define them. But trial of chance or trial of worth all games aspire to the condition of war for here which is wagered swallows up game, player, all.”
    Easily some of the best parts of both Blood Meridian and Dies Irae are the speeches and dialogues given by Judge Holden and Reinhard respectively. At some point Reinhard in the midst of battle famously states, “I love everything, therefore I will destroy everything”. The judge says something essentially to that effect as well. Possessing a near expert level of knowledge on nearly every subject (something true of Reinhard as well), he is once asked by a fellow crew member why he always meticulously jots notes of artifacts they pass by. The Judge responds, “to expunge them from the memory of man”. What he's saying there is that he wants to record everything so that he can keep track of what he destroys, with his ultimate goal of destroying everything from the “memory of man”. This ties into another famous quote of his, “Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.” In order to have dominion over everything (to become a “suzerain” in his own words), you must first know everything. For you cannot conquer what you don't know.
    There is however a key point of contrast between these two characters who share this same archetype. Judge Holden is visibly terrifying, with the image I included in this post being my favorite depiction of him. Reinhard on the other hand, is gorgeous. Compared to the Judge's bald head and completely hairless body, Reinhard is characterized with a mane of flowing blonde hair. The importance of this contrast in outward appearances is that the two characters signify different aspects of war.
    Reinhard best represents the seduction of war, and the glory as well as rewards it promises. In the prologue alone, he convinces countless Nazi soldiers faced with imminent defeat and slaughter against the Russian troops storming Berlin, to instead give up their own lives and souls to him. Encouraging them to participate in a group suicide that would put the largest of death-cults to shame. They went along with his command, because he promised the glory that Hitler failed to deliver on. It is also noted when that happened, “This could not have been the first time.”
    If Reinhard is the seducer of war, then the judge is its rapist. Indeed, there are several instances in the novel where it is heavily suggested that the judge was responsible for a brutal rape, but it is never concretely confirmed. But his fetish for violence is no secret. While the judge is capable of persuasive charm, his preference for violence is clear. Even when he does display his persuasive abilities, the threat of violence that his domineering stature imposes must surely add a feeling of extortion to any request he makes. To list the unfathomably gruesome cruelty of the judge would still not accurately communicate how truly horrifying he is. I think the best example is when he was left in charge of the gang and a group of hostages when the gang leader, Glanton, had to leave for other business. When Glanton finally returns, one of the hostages comes desperately running to him only able to say, “That man, that man.” What Judge Holden personifies, is the horror of war itself.
    I suppose the last point of comparison I would like to touch on, is how both Reinhard and judge Holden are based on real people. Reinhard Heydrich was a high ranking Nazi official. They tie this in an interesting way in Dies Irae, but obviously the overall depiction of Reinhard in Dies Irae is mostly fictional. Judge Holden on the other hand is much more mysterious.
    Both the real and fictional Judge Holden was the second in command of the Glanton Gang; mercenaries who in 1849 temporarily worked for the Mexican government to genocide Apache Indians. However, the Glanton gang (lead by John Glanton) also slaughtered peaceful tribes in order to collect more Indian scalps which they could exchange for a higher bounty. At the end of 1849 the state of Chihuahua outlawed the gang, and put bounties on their heads. Samuel Chamberlain, who at one time worked for the Glanton gang wrote about his experiences with them in his memoir: My Confession: The Recollections of a Rogue. Mentioned several times in the memoir, it's the only document that attests to the existence of Judge Holden. In it he is described as, “a man of gigantic size called "Judge" Holden of Texas. Who or what he was no one knew but a cooler blooded villain never went unhung; he stood six feet six in his moccasins, had a large fleshy frame, a dull tallow colored face destitute of hair and all expression. His desires was blood and women.” In the memoir he also notes, “Holden was by far the best educated man in northern Mexico; he conversed with all in their own language, spoke in several Indian lingos, at a fandango would take the Harp or Guitar from the hands of the musicians and charm all with his wonderful performance.”
    It is the fact that the only testimony of the Judge's existence is in several pages of an obscure, forgotten memoir that makes him more terrifying for me. Given how similar the description of the real Judge Holden, and the fictional one is, it makes it that much more difficult to draw the line between fiction and reality.
    What can be said though is that “war endures”. As long as there are masses of people desperate for glory, then Reinhard will be there to seduce them. And as long as there are blood soaked battlefields, the towing silhouette of the judge will be there to lead men to their doom.
  2. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from Bolverk for a blog entry, I Am War: An Exploration of an Archetype   
    “War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.”
    ~Judge Holden (Blood Meridian)
    “My love is destruction. Its flames ache to devour all that exist: Heaven and Hell, God and Satan; all things in Creation, from the first universe that was, to the last that will ever be.”
    ~Reinhard Heydrich (Dies Irae)
     
    The archetype of a sentient embodiment of war continues to persist, and has morphed considerably from its mythological origins. Having finished Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, considered by some literary critics to be the great American novel. I am left transfixed by a particular figure, a haunting presence that defies death: the Judge, Judge Holden. The Judge is a complex figure, and there are many interpretations as to who he really is. One common interpretation is that he is the embodiment of war itself. This, along with his function in the novel, reminded me quite of bit of Reinhard Heydrich from Dies Irae.
    Reinhard proudly claims to be war itself, and so in this respect he is not subtle. What makes Reinhard standout as a villain, is how evil yet seductively charming he is. He wants destruction for its own sake, or really; for his amusement. To him war is fun, and an eternity spent warring couldn't be a more ideal form of the afterlife in his conception. He would be in complete agreement with the judge on this point:
    “Men are born for games. Nothing else. Every child knows that play is nobler than work. He knows too that the worth or merit of a game is not inherent in the game itself but rather in the value of that which is put at hazard. Games of chance require a wager to have meaning at all. Games of sport involve the skill and strength of the opponents and the humiliation of defeat and the pride of victory are in themselves sufficient stake because they inhere the worth of the principals and define them. But trial of chance or trial of worth all games aspire to the condition of war for here which is wagered swallows up game, player, all.”
    Easily some of the best parts of both Blood Meridian and Dies Irae are the speeches and dialogues given by Judge Holden and Reinhard respectively. At some point Reinhard in the midst of battle famously states, “I love everything, therefore I will destroy everything”. The judge says something essentially to that effect as well. Possessing a near expert level of knowledge on nearly every subject (something true of Reinhard as well), he is once asked by a fellow crew member why he always meticulously jots notes of artifacts they pass by. The Judge responds, “to expunge them from the memory of man”. What he's saying there is that he wants to record everything so that he can keep track of what he destroys, with his ultimate goal of destroying everything from the “memory of man”. This ties into another famous quote of his, “Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.” In order to have dominion over everything (to become a “suzerain” in his own words), you must first know everything. For you cannot conquer what you don't know.
    There is however a key point of contrast between these two characters who share this same archetype. Judge Holden is visibly terrifying, with the image I included in this post being my favorite depiction of him. Reinhard on the other hand, is gorgeous. Compared to the Judge's bald head and completely hairless body, Reinhard is characterized with a mane of flowing blonde hair. The importance of this contrast in outward appearances is that the two characters signify different aspects of war.
    Reinhard best represents the seduction of war, and the glory as well as rewards it promises. In the prologue alone, he convinces countless Nazi soldiers faced with imminent defeat and slaughter against the Russian troops storming Berlin, to instead give up their own lives and souls to him. Encouraging them to participate in a group suicide that would put the largest of death-cults to shame. They went along with his command, because he promised the glory that Hitler failed to deliver on. It is also noted when that happened, “This could not have been the first time.”
    If Reinhard is the seducer of war, then the judge is its rapist. Indeed, there are several instances in the novel where it is heavily suggested that the judge was responsible for a brutal rape, but it is never concretely confirmed. But his fetish for violence is no secret. While the judge is capable of persuasive charm, his preference for violence is clear. Even when he does display his persuasive abilities, the threat of violence that his domineering stature imposes must surely add a feeling of extortion to any request he makes. To list the unfathomably gruesome cruelty of the judge would still not accurately communicate how truly horrifying he is. I think the best example is when he was left in charge of the gang and a group of hostages when the gang leader, Glanton, had to leave for other business. When Glanton finally returns, one of the hostages comes desperately running to him only able to say, “That man, that man.” What Judge Holden personifies, is the horror of war itself.
    I suppose the last point of comparison I would like to touch on, is how both Reinhard and judge Holden are based on real people. Reinhard Heydrich was a high ranking Nazi official. They tie this in an interesting way in Dies Irae, but obviously the overall depiction of Reinhard in Dies Irae is mostly fictional. Judge Holden on the other hand is much more mysterious.
    Both the real and fictional Judge Holden was the second in command of the Glanton Gang; mercenaries who in 1849 temporarily worked for the Mexican government to genocide Apache Indians. However, the Glanton gang (lead by John Glanton) also slaughtered peaceful tribes in order to collect more Indian scalps which they could exchange for a higher bounty. At the end of 1849 the state of Chihuahua outlawed the gang, and put bounties on their heads. Samuel Chamberlain, who at one time worked for the Glanton gang wrote about his experiences with them in his memoir: My Confession: The Recollections of a Rogue. Mentioned several times in the memoir, it's the only document that attests to the existence of Judge Holden. In it he is described as, “a man of gigantic size called "Judge" Holden of Texas. Who or what he was no one knew but a cooler blooded villain never went unhung; he stood six feet six in his moccasins, had a large fleshy frame, a dull tallow colored face destitute of hair and all expression. His desires was blood and women.” In the memoir he also notes, “Holden was by far the best educated man in northern Mexico; he conversed with all in their own language, spoke in several Indian lingos, at a fandango would take the Harp or Guitar from the hands of the musicians and charm all with his wonderful performance.”
    It is the fact that the only testimony of the Judge's existence is in several pages of an obscure, forgotten memoir that makes him more terrifying for me. Given how similar the description of the real Judge Holden, and the fictional one is, it makes it that much more difficult to draw the line between fiction and reality.
    What can be said though is that “war endures”. As long as there are masses of people desperate for glory, then Reinhard will be there to seduce them. And as long as there are blood soaked battlefields, the towing silhouette of the judge will be there to lead men to their doom.
  3. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from Rose for a blog entry, I Am War: An Exploration of an Archetype   
    “War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.”
    ~Judge Holden (Blood Meridian)
    “My love is destruction. Its flames ache to devour all that exist: Heaven and Hell, God and Satan; all things in Creation, from the first universe that was, to the last that will ever be.”
    ~Reinhard Heydrich (Dies Irae)
     
    The archetype of a sentient embodiment of war continues to persist, and has morphed considerably from its mythological origins. Having finished Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, considered by some literary critics to be the great American novel. I am left transfixed by a particular figure, a haunting presence that defies death: the Judge, Judge Holden. The Judge is a complex figure, and there are many interpretations as to who he really is. One common interpretation is that he is the embodiment of war itself. This, along with his function in the novel, reminded me quite of bit of Reinhard Heydrich from Dies Irae.
    Reinhard proudly claims to be war itself, and so in this respect he is not subtle. What makes Reinhard standout as a villain, is how evil yet seductively charming he is. He wants destruction for its own sake, or really; for his amusement. To him war is fun, and an eternity spent warring couldn't be a more ideal form of the afterlife in his conception. He would be in complete agreement with the judge on this point:
    “Men are born for games. Nothing else. Every child knows that play is nobler than work. He knows too that the worth or merit of a game is not inherent in the game itself but rather in the value of that which is put at hazard. Games of chance require a wager to have meaning at all. Games of sport involve the skill and strength of the opponents and the humiliation of defeat and the pride of victory are in themselves sufficient stake because they inhere the worth of the principals and define them. But trial of chance or trial of worth all games aspire to the condition of war for here which is wagered swallows up game, player, all.”
    Easily some of the best parts of both Blood Meridian and Dies Irae are the speeches and dialogues given by Judge Holden and Reinhard respectively. At some point Reinhard in the midst of battle famously states, “I love everything, therefore I will destroy everything”. The judge says something essentially to that effect as well. Possessing a near expert level of knowledge on nearly every subject (something true of Reinhard as well), he is once asked by a fellow crew member why he always meticulously jots notes of artifacts they pass by. The Judge responds, “to expunge them from the memory of man”. What he's saying there is that he wants to record everything so that he can keep track of what he destroys, with his ultimate goal of destroying everything from the “memory of man”. This ties into another famous quote of his, “Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.” In order to have dominion over everything (to become a “suzerain” in his own words), you must first know everything. For you cannot conquer what you don't know.
    There is however a key point of contrast between these two characters who share this same archetype. Judge Holden is visibly terrifying, with the image I included in this post being my favorite depiction of him. Reinhard on the other hand, is gorgeous. Compared to the Judge's bald head and completely hairless body, Reinhard is characterized with a mane of flowing blonde hair. The importance of this contrast in outward appearances is that the two characters signify different aspects of war.
    Reinhard best represents the seduction of war, and the glory as well as rewards it promises. In the prologue alone, he convinces countless Nazi soldiers faced with imminent defeat and slaughter against the Russian troops storming Berlin, to instead give up their own lives and souls to him. Encouraging them to participate in a group suicide that would put the largest of death-cults to shame. They went along with his command, because he promised the glory that Hitler failed to deliver on. It is also noted when that happened, “This could not have been the first time.”
    If Reinhard is the seducer of war, then the judge is its rapist. Indeed, there are several instances in the novel where it is heavily suggested that the judge was responsible for a brutal rape, but it is never concretely confirmed. But his fetish for violence is no secret. While the judge is capable of persuasive charm, his preference for violence is clear. Even when he does display his persuasive abilities, the threat of violence that his domineering stature imposes must surely add a feeling of extortion to any request he makes. To list the unfathomably gruesome cruelty of the judge would still not accurately communicate how truly horrifying he is. I think the best example is when he was left in charge of the gang and a group of hostages when the gang leader, Glanton, had to leave for other business. When Glanton finally returns, one of the hostages comes desperately running to him only able to say, “That man, that man.” What Judge Holden personifies, is the horror of war itself.
    I suppose the last point of comparison I would like to touch on, is how both Reinhard and judge Holden are based on real people. Reinhard Heydrich was a high ranking Nazi official. They tie this in an interesting way in Dies Irae, but obviously the overall depiction of Reinhard in Dies Irae is mostly fictional. Judge Holden on the other hand is much more mysterious.
    Both the real and fictional Judge Holden was the second in command of the Glanton Gang; mercenaries who in 1849 temporarily worked for the Mexican government to genocide Apache Indians. However, the Glanton gang (lead by John Glanton) also slaughtered peaceful tribes in order to collect more Indian scalps which they could exchange for a higher bounty. At the end of 1849 the state of Chihuahua outlawed the gang, and put bounties on their heads. Samuel Chamberlain, who at one time worked for the Glanton gang wrote about his experiences with them in his memoir: My Confession: The Recollections of a Rogue. Mentioned several times in the memoir, it's the only document that attests to the existence of Judge Holden. In it he is described as, “a man of gigantic size called "Judge" Holden of Texas. Who or what he was no one knew but a cooler blooded villain never went unhung; he stood six feet six in his moccasins, had a large fleshy frame, a dull tallow colored face destitute of hair and all expression. His desires was blood and women.” In the memoir he also notes, “Holden was by far the best educated man in northern Mexico; he conversed with all in their own language, spoke in several Indian lingos, at a fandango would take the Harp or Guitar from the hands of the musicians and charm all with his wonderful performance.”
    It is the fact that the only testimony of the Judge's existence is in several pages of an obscure, forgotten memoir that makes him more terrifying for me. Given how similar the description of the real Judge Holden, and the fictional one is, it makes it that much more difficult to draw the line between fiction and reality.
    What can be said though is that “war endures”. As long as there are masses of people desperate for glory, then Reinhard will be there to seduce them. And as long as there are blood soaked battlefields, the towing silhouette of the judge will be there to lead men to their doom.
  4. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from onorub for a blog entry, I Am War: An Exploration of an Archetype   
    “War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.”
    ~Judge Holden (Blood Meridian)
    “My love is destruction. Its flames ache to devour all that exist: Heaven and Hell, God and Satan; all things in Creation, from the first universe that was, to the last that will ever be.”
    ~Reinhard Heydrich (Dies Irae)
     
    The archetype of a sentient embodiment of war continues to persist, and has morphed considerably from its mythological origins. Having finished Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, considered by some literary critics to be the great American novel. I am left transfixed by a particular figure, a haunting presence that defies death: the Judge, Judge Holden. The Judge is a complex figure, and there are many interpretations as to who he really is. One common interpretation is that he is the embodiment of war itself. This, along with his function in the novel, reminded me quite of bit of Reinhard Heydrich from Dies Irae.
    Reinhard proudly claims to be war itself, and so in this respect he is not subtle. What makes Reinhard standout as a villain, is how evil yet seductively charming he is. He wants destruction for its own sake, or really; for his amusement. To him war is fun, and an eternity spent warring couldn't be a more ideal form of the afterlife in his conception. He would be in complete agreement with the judge on this point:
    “Men are born for games. Nothing else. Every child knows that play is nobler than work. He knows too that the worth or merit of a game is not inherent in the game itself but rather in the value of that which is put at hazard. Games of chance require a wager to have meaning at all. Games of sport involve the skill and strength of the opponents and the humiliation of defeat and the pride of victory are in themselves sufficient stake because they inhere the worth of the principals and define them. But trial of chance or trial of worth all games aspire to the condition of war for here which is wagered swallows up game, player, all.”
    Easily some of the best parts of both Blood Meridian and Dies Irae are the speeches and dialogues given by Judge Holden and Reinhard respectively. At some point Reinhard in the midst of battle famously states, “I love everything, therefore I will destroy everything”. The judge says something essentially to that effect as well. Possessing a near expert level of knowledge on nearly every subject (something true of Reinhard as well), he is once asked by a fellow crew member why he always meticulously jots notes of artifacts they pass by. The Judge responds, “to expunge them from the memory of man”. What he's saying there is that he wants to record everything so that he can keep track of what he destroys, with his ultimate goal of destroying everything from the “memory of man”. This ties into another famous quote of his, “Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.” In order to have dominion over everything (to become a “suzerain” in his own words), you must first know everything. For you cannot conquer what you don't know.
    There is however a key point of contrast between these two characters who share this same archetype. Judge Holden is visibly terrifying, with the image I included in this post being my favorite depiction of him. Reinhard on the other hand, is gorgeous. Compared to the Judge's bald head and completely hairless body, Reinhard is characterized with a mane of flowing blonde hair. The importance of this contrast in outward appearances is that the two characters signify different aspects of war.
    Reinhard best represents the seduction of war, and the glory as well as rewards it promises. In the prologue alone, he convinces countless Nazi soldiers faced with imminent defeat and slaughter against the Russian troops storming Berlin, to instead give up their own lives and souls to him. Encouraging them to participate in a group suicide that would put the largest of death-cults to shame. They went along with his command, because he promised the glory that Hitler failed to deliver on. It is also noted when that happened, “This could not have been the first time.”
    If Reinhard is the seducer of war, then the judge is its rapist. Indeed, there are several instances in the novel where it is heavily suggested that the judge was responsible for a brutal rape, but it is never concretely confirmed. But his fetish for violence is no secret. While the judge is capable of persuasive charm, his preference for violence is clear. Even when he does display his persuasive abilities, the threat of violence that his domineering stature imposes must surely add a feeling of extortion to any request he makes. To list the unfathomably gruesome cruelty of the judge would still not accurately communicate how truly horrifying he is. I think the best example is when he was left in charge of the gang and a group of hostages when the gang leader, Glanton, had to leave for other business. When Glanton finally returns, one of the hostages comes desperately running to him only able to say, “That man, that man.” What Judge Holden personifies, is the horror of war itself.
    I suppose the last point of comparison I would like to touch on, is how both Reinhard and judge Holden are based on real people. Reinhard Heydrich was a high ranking Nazi official. They tie this in an interesting way in Dies Irae, but obviously the overall depiction of Reinhard in Dies Irae is mostly fictional. Judge Holden on the other hand is much more mysterious.
    Both the real and fictional Judge Holden was the second in command of the Glanton Gang; mercenaries who in 1849 temporarily worked for the Mexican government to genocide Apache Indians. However, the Glanton gang (lead by John Glanton) also slaughtered peaceful tribes in order to collect more Indian scalps which they could exchange for a higher bounty. At the end of 1849 the state of Chihuahua outlawed the gang, and put bounties on their heads. Samuel Chamberlain, who at one time worked for the Glanton gang wrote about his experiences with them in his memoir: My Confession: The Recollections of a Rogue. Mentioned several times in the memoir, it's the only document that attests to the existence of Judge Holden. In it he is described as, “a man of gigantic size called "Judge" Holden of Texas. Who or what he was no one knew but a cooler blooded villain never went unhung; he stood six feet six in his moccasins, had a large fleshy frame, a dull tallow colored face destitute of hair and all expression. His desires was blood and women.” In the memoir he also notes, “Holden was by far the best educated man in northern Mexico; he conversed with all in their own language, spoke in several Indian lingos, at a fandango would take the Harp or Guitar from the hands of the musicians and charm all with his wonderful performance.”
    It is the fact that the only testimony of the Judge's existence is in several pages of an obscure, forgotten memoir that makes him more terrifying for me. Given how similar the description of the real Judge Holden, and the fictional one is, it makes it that much more difficult to draw the line between fiction and reality.
    What can be said though is that “war endures”. As long as there are masses of people desperate for glory, then Reinhard will be there to seduce them. And as long as there are blood soaked battlefields, the towing silhouette of the judge will be there to lead men to their doom.
  5. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from di.gi.wav for a blog entry, Serial Experiments Lain Is Our Current Reality   
    Instead of a blogpost I did this one as an amateur documentary. I'm 100% serious about my claim. It might sound crazy, but if you watch the video I'm sure you'll at least see that my claim has a logical foundation to it. You don't need to have watched Lain to follow the video either. So if the topic interests you by all means check it out. 
     
  6. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from Chronopolis for a blog entry, Serial Experiments Lain Is Our Current Reality   
    Instead of a blogpost I did this one as an amateur documentary. I'm 100% serious about my claim. It might sound crazy, but if you watch the video I'm sure you'll at least see that my claim has a logical foundation to it. You don't need to have watched Lain to follow the video either. So if the topic interests you by all means check it out. 
     
  7. Like
    Zalor reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Top Ten VN/Anime/video game villains/antagonists   
    In action stories, often the story's quality is determined by the quality of the antagonist as much as the quality of the main characters.  The antagonist acts and the main characters react, creating the drama that pulls at our heart strings and excites us.  The more complex the story, the more likely the need for a strong antagonist will exist, at least in modern fiction.  I decided to put down my top ten and my reasons for making them my top ten here.  These are my top ten, but there isn't a particular order to them, save for the top five being the absolute best.
    1- Shannon Wordsworth-
    2- Mercurius-
    3- Kefka- Final Fantasy VI's main antagonist.  He is frequently listed as one of the craziest bad guys in all of gaming history, with good reason.  He is the nihilistic result of experiments with granting humans magic, and as a result he gets the bright idea to destroy the world... and actually succeeds.  His psychotic laughter (in 16 bit sound) is familiar to anyone who played the game, and his psycho clown character traumatized an entire generation of gamers into thinking clowns are inherently evil.
    4- Christopher Valzeride- The heroic antagonist of Silverio Vendetta. 
    5- Reinhardt Lohengrin- Legend of the Galactic Heroes- While he can also be considered the protagonist of the massive space opera, he is also an ongoing antagonist.  Reinhardt is an ambitious young man whose meteoric rise in the militaristic and expansionistic Galactic Empire are driven by his twin desires to wrench his sister away from her position as the incompetent emperor's mistress and conquer the galaxy.  A fierce man with a warrior's demeanor that usually only serves to fuel his strategic and tactical victories, he honors both enemies and allies who show ability and contempt for those who rise above their level of competency.  As a ruler, he is ruthlessly fair with those of ability who are capable of loyalty and brutally ruthless with those who are incapable of it.  As an enemy, he is one of the most frightening (non-magical) men in any anime, game, or VN I've ever seen.
    6-
    7- Mikado Ruri-
    9-
    10-
     
  8. Like
    Zalor reacted to alpacaman for a blog entry, Blog: Why is everyone reading Umineko the "wrong" way? [spoilers]   
    If I had to summarize the experience I had when reading the first half of Umineko for the first time, it would go something like this: At least for the first three episodes I mainly tried to identify the culprit with a typical mystery reader mindset. Even when it became obvious the game told its story from a fantasy standpoint, my focus was on discerning which parts could be taken at face value and which were made up by Beatrice. Even as I was able to see how this approach was getting deconstructed, I was still waiting for Battler to come up with the one logic argument able to solve it all. Even as Beatrice kept repeating "without love it cannot be seen" (or WLICBS, as I am going to call it for the rest of this post)) I took this mainly as an incentive to look at all the romantic and fantastical scenes from the "detective" angle and tried to spot if anyone had unintentionally slipped up. I dismissed the scenes where "real" characters chatted with fantastical ones as merely character building because to me they weren't actually happening. If the discussions of Umineko on this forum and especially in the "What are playing" thread are anything to go by, most readers have a somewhat similar experience. Even the ones whose theories get quite close to the truth usually base them on secondary clues like character designs.
    Recently I started rereading Umineko, and well, now I know what the "it" in WLICBS is about. The scene where Maria is searching for the wilting rose isn't primarily setup for the first mini-mystery, namely who gave her the umbrella, it's a tale about a small girl who, being overwhelmed by the loss something precious to her and getting abused by the one who should console her, gets saved by love. The first hour or so of episode 2 isn't just Shannon and Kanon bonding with their love interests and a witch, it is important context for establishing the culprit's motive. Which is way more helpful when trying to figure out who is behind the Rokkenjima killings than guessing how the culprit could have killed someone inside a room locked with a key chain. Thinking about why Shannon and Kanon don't see themselves as full humans deserving of love brings you closer to the truth than pondering on some howdunnit.
    So why do most readers seem to not pick up on this the first time, even when it is right in front of them? Why is everyone reading Umineko the wrong way at first?
    Yeah I know, it is a polemic question. There is no objective right or wrong way to read something. However, more or less every piece of media contains some form of message or subtext, either explicitely stated or at least implied by its author, often intentionally although it doesn't have to be, and which can be read into.* Depending on your own view of the handled topics and which motive you assume the author to have, your interpretation can change (as well as your overall enjoyment of the work). To name one example and shamelessly plug one my other blog posts**, in my analysis about Steins;Gate I argue the common interpretation of its message that fate can't be changed doesn't really get at the core of S;G but that rather it's a story about growing up and learning to make your own fortune. I came to this conclusion based on the true ending contradicting the former reading. If you assume it wasn't included for some deeper reason, but rather the writers feeling like
    that is also valid, keeping the "inescapable fate" interpretation as the most reasonable one (although a message definitely becomes weaker when it gets contradicted by the story itself).*** Of course that doesn't mean all interpretations of pieces of media are created equal. They should be somewhat rooted in the plot, characters, themes and so on.**** If your main takeaway from Steins;Gate is that microwave radiation is evil, you are either a troll or should seriously work on your reading comprehension skills.*****
    So is there even one "correct" reading of Umineko? Not really, though luckily the game more or less directly states that it wants you to read "with love" for lack of a better term, and not just Umineko but in general. The concept is pretty complex and it takes Ryukishi07 the whole 60+ hours of Chiru to explain it. The basic idea is to base your mindset while reading on the motivations of the characters and the author. Umineko is not even secretive about this or makes it some unexpected twist. Beatrice says WLICBS for the first time at the beginning of episode 2, and over the course of the VN this sentence gets repeated many, many times. So why does it often take readers so long to adapt this mindset, besides it seeming somewhat abstract at first?
    I would say it is because Umineko intentionally tricks you into reading it as a mystery story at first. It deliberately frames itself as a murder mystery. This begins with its setting where a rich family fights over an inheritance while at a remote mansion with a mysterious backstory and then people start dying under strange circumstances. Of course you would want to know what is going on there and the seemingly easiest and most logical way to do so is to look for inconsistencies in the alibis and shown series of events. If Umineko wanted to be read as a story about love from the beginning it would have built up the interpersonal drama first and then culminated in the serial killings. Also each episode has a new set of murder mysteries, constantly giving your inner detective more fodder. After the first game board the battle of wits between Battler and Beatrice gets presented as the central conflict. The latter is a witch claiming to be the culprit and killing people in the most ridiculous and unrealistic fashion possible, so of course you would take the viewpoint of her opponent who tries to explain the killings as "real" murder mysteries and try to solve everything his way******. Umineko's structure caused me (and presumably others too) to not really think about what all the scenes of characters talking about the nature of love and miracles and such are trying to convey, but rather search them for clues for the whodunnits and howdunnits, which made me miss the core of the story.
    Which is the point of telling it this way: "Mystery literature" thought patterns don't just not help you to solve Umineko. In fact they get you further away from being able to see the truth, even though it is right in front of you the whole time. Umineko basically forces you into adopting the "mystery" mindset to make its deconstruction hit you harder. By gently, but decisively shoving you into taking a certain perspective you start to have a personal stake in the story, which makes the takedown of said viewpoint so much more effective.******* Only by utterly defeating your own seemingly logical default approach it becomes apparent why the alternative Umineko proposes is superior.********
    There is one huge downside to this approach though: Most readers wont get even half of what is going on in Umineko on the first reading. Which is a big deal when your VN is so long most people won't bother going through it a second time. Those that do though get rewarded with an experience that is even better than the first readthrough. Or as Kinzo would put it: The bigger the sacrifice, the greater the magic that results.*********
     
     
     
    * This topic does a great job exposing (probably, hopefully) unintentional subtext in a certain subgenre of VNs. Not to say this only happens in trashy media, whenever something is considered to "not have aged well" it usually has to do with some its implicit assumptions about how the world works not being considered acceptable anymore in today's society.
    ** Originally I thought about naming my blog "Paca Plugs" which would have been an amazing pun, if I dare say so myself. I decided against it because I didn't actually plan on doing any plugging. I don't orgle on here either though so maybe I should have gone with my original idea…
    *** I have to admit that after having read Steins;Gate 0 and Chaos;Child, both of which seem very confused about what they want to communicate, I've become much more inclined to accept this admittedly more cynical interpretation, and have started to see Steins;Gate as more of a case of a broken clock showing the right time twice a day within the SciAdv series. I hope Robotics;Notes manages to prove me wrong…
    **** I mention this mainly for the sake of completeness, to preemptively invalidate the "if any interpretation is possible, no interpretation can be true, thus interpretation is pointless" argument, not because it ties into where this post is going.
    ***** Here, have another footnote where I apologize for the length of the sentences in this paragraph and for adding so many footnotes. There's just too many possible ways to get sidetracked with this topic. I thought about adding another one later on where I would rant about Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi and why I thought the way it forces the reader into becoming complicit doesn't work, especially when compared to how clever Umineko achieves this, but then decided not to.
    ****** One of the greatest ironies in Umineko is that the "real" murder mysteries in the games are just as made up by Beatrice as her fantasy explanations. And just like she keeps adding characters to a closed circle, I keep adding footnotes to a post that would work just as well without them. Without my boredom during proofreading "it" cannot be seen.
    ******* So about why Totono doesn't work in comparison: Where Umineko lets you make the choice how you want to read it in your head, Totono literally forces you to take the approach to its choice system it is trying to deconstruct if you want to progress beyond its first few hours. Because of this it is easy for you to divorce yourself from your in-game decisions. So when the game scolds you for picking them, you can rightfully shrug it off because your only alternative would have been dropping the VN. I can't imagine Nitroplus praising you for asking for a refund in that case though.
    ******** The more I think about Umineko's concept of love, the more I find myself actually disagreeing with it. No, I won't go into more detail here because it would take me another blog post of this length to properly explain why. Weirdly enough despite this my enjoyment of the VN hasn't suffered at all.
    ********* Oh my, this post has gotten really really long. Thanks a lot to everyone who actually bothered to read through all of it! Yes, all three of you!
  9. Like
    Zalor reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Thank you all for coming along for this ride! (Indefinite Hiatus)   
    Hey there all!
     
    I will start with saying  that I really treasure my time spent writing this blog and interacting with various people involved in the EVN community. You guys were awesome company in this journey and despite the obscurity of this project, I feel like it benefited me personally in many ways and maybe even helped people appreciate the value within the non-JP visual novel scene. I'm really thankful to all the people that read my blog, the devs that offered me their time and gave me their games for review – they all made these 2+ years into something special.
    When I started this project, there were two main things that motivated me. The first one was the frustration over dismissal of EVNs which is still common sense in the large parts of the VN fan community – belittling of the very games that made me fall in love with the visual novel formula. I wanted to create a space that is fully dedicated to discussion and promotion of EVNs as worthwhile and significant part of the genre. The second part was even more personal – my personal struggles with video game addiction and other issues, my ambition to shift my focus into a more challenging and creative activity. In many ways, I consider both my goals relative successes. While slowly, the perception of EVNs is changing and the scene evolving in interesting ways – while it shares pretty much all the suffering of other indie niches, with PC gaming in general being oversaturated and hard to navigate, I feel that it at least established itself as a significant formula that is attractive for story-oriented devs and appreciated by a significant audience. In other words, EVNs are here to stay and in time fewer and fewer people will be able to easily dismiss them as poor imitations of Japanese games. Whether my work had any impact in this regard? Apart from a bunch of people on Fuwanovel that I know I influenced in personal interactions, I honestly have no idea. I want to think there was some minor impact, but I had enough fun in the process and learned enough that I don't mind either way. I did my best and changed a few things about myself, which was the most important part for me.
    Of course, I'm in no way saying that I'm putting the blog on hiatus because my job here is done. The real reason is much more prosaic – I just can't keep up with it. The last month was particularly devastating in this regard, with very little time for me to either read or write. And while an obvious answer would be to just work at my own pace and publish stuff whenever I'm able to, it's not really something that would work out for me. Missing deadlines, thinking about future projects, it all became a source of stress rather than a source of fun, and I feel it would only get worse with time. While I really wanted to keep the project alive, I don't want to do so at any cost. I feel burned out. I barely read VNs for fun. I don't watch anime for a few months now. I need a change of pace and ability to rediscover my love for these hobbies. The blog, sadly, became a prime obstacle in this.
    So, what's going to happen now? The blog will cease to get updates, unless something special happens. I might still do game jam summaries, as those are something I massively enjoy. I might also publish something on Fuwanovel from time to time – I'm theoretically still an editor there. The one part of the project that's definitely here to stay is the Steam Curator account. The devs that sent me their games deserve to at least get a Steam review and, generally, an evaluation of their work. I will also use my Twitter to publish updates about new games listed on the Curator account. The Steam reviews themselves will likely be a bit more polished – not that much though, I don't want to jump straight into the same burnout-inducing rabbit whole.
     
    So, once more, thank you for sticking around and I hope my project gave you some amusement. And, of course, see you around – I'm not giving up on EVNs and the community around them any time soon.
  10. Like
    Zalor reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Reflecting on my Otaku Origins   
    I took my first steps onto the road of the otaku in 1992, when I watched the poorly dubbed (all dubs were godawful back then) Record of Lodoss War Volume 1 OVA VCR tape.  Now, I was already a heavy fantasy addict, having been introduced to the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance in 1990, and my obsession was at its peak at the time.  When I watched Record of Lodoss War, I saw the typical 'elven maiden with human hero' romance in a new way (incidentally, this is a pretty typical romantic theme in those days, less so nowadays).  I also saw oddities that stood out as odd to me precisely because of the oddly black and white point of view enforced on one by the various D&D universes.  
    Of course, I was a chuunibyou brat by that time, already, so it should surprise no one that I got obsessed.  It got ten times worse, however, when I encountered Chrono Trigger as it was played on my cousin's SNES.  Chrono Trigger is still, to this day, one of the single best rpgs ever made.  Looking back, considering all that has been done since then, it is almost TERRIFYING that someone was able to do what was done with Chrono Trigger with the limitations placed by using the SNES system.  The story, the world, and the various layers of time were put together into such a subtly complex experience that, to this day, I've yet to see any other rpg manage it.  Chrono Cross would manage to imitate some elements of this with its parallel world jumping, but Chrono Trigger's jumping around in time gave you impetus to explore how every aspect of the world could change based on how and when you did certain things.  Rumors constantly abounded that there were secret endings (such as the infamous 'vampire Chrono' or 'Save Schala' fake rumors, which some believe led to the way the Chrono Cross storyline was handled), and people - such as me - would play the game repeatedly, using all the meager saves allowed by the cartridge limitations of the time, in hopes that they might trigger those endings or find a way to discover something new.  
    In all honesty, Chrono Trigger being the game that got me into jrpgs probably ruined me for life.  It set my standards to a ridiculously high level on a subconscious plane, resulting in me comparing every single jrpg experience since then to it.  Aesthetically, musically, and structurally, it was a true jrpg kamige.  It was also the game that turned jrpgs into my second otaku obsession.
    During the SNES-PS2 eras, I literally bought and played EVERY jrpg that came out.  I still own them, in fact.  I played most of the PS1 and SNES era games multiple times.
    However, it was also in the PS2 era (often called the 'dawn of the mainstream jrpg') that jrpg quality began to fall off drastically.  The kind of genius and artistic flair using minimal resources you saw in previous eras was lost entirely within a few years of the release of FFX (FFX being a good game that also turned VO from a curiosity to a mainstream 'thing').  Musical direction, a role differing from composition, where someone was assigned to decide the timing of using a musical score and which ones fit which dungeons, which story scenes, disappeared in the middle of the PS2 era, as VO was used to fill the gaps of emotionality.  However, this also meant that the subtlety of previous eras was lost with a swiftness that left me bewildered at the time.  
    By the time the PS3 era came around, jrpgs were slowing down, due to what I now call 'flashy kusoge fatigue'.  Oh, a few sub-genres, such as the Atelier series' alchemy obsessed SOL titles and the more action-based titles continued to be prolific, but what were called 'console-style rpgs' started to vanish.  MMO elements were introduced into normal jrpgs, making progression and gameplay less interesting as a result (mostly because it seemed to have been done primarily to draw the WoW crowds into solo rpgs).  Storytelling was dying a surprisingly swift death, as tedious gameplay elements (for loot and level-obsessed completionists) began to devour higher and higher proportions of each game's overall playtime.  
    There is a very good reason why people go back and play so-called 'retro' jrpgs so much.  There simply aren't that many more recent jrpgs that have that kind of flair and subtle genius.  I know for a fact that one of the best ways to get people addicted to jrpgs is still just to let them play Chrono Trigger.  
    Ironically, it was VNs that saved my soul.  This was back in 2008, four years before I joined Fuwa.  I was introduced to Tsukihime by a fellow anime fansubber, and, for the first time in over three years, I had something interesting enough (story-wise) that I was given a perspective on the nature of my growing irritation and fatigue with jrpgs in general.  At the time, the JVN industry was still as vital and full of genius as the jrpg industry was in the PS1 era.  Tsukihime and a few other major classics put out near the turn of the century had created the potential for a market of story-focused VNs that had allowed more and more creative people to get into the medium.  Masada was releasing his latest version of Dies Irae, and there were literally hundreds of potentially interesting VNs for me to try.
    Needless to say, I lost my mind almost as badly as when I first played Chrono Trigger.  I must have blown four grand of my meager savings on VNs within the first year, and I didn't regret a penny of it.  Yes, roughly two-thirds of what I bought was pure crap.  However, the gems I discovered gave me a taste of the potential of the medium in a way that was horribly addictive.  Moreover, after a few years of being starved of any decent new stories, even the worst VNs had something that I could find I liked about them.  
    In retrospect, I have an addictive personality.  I get addicted to things easily, especially when they scratch my story bug.  People have said to me, when it came to my jrpg obsession 'if you want a good story, why don't you read a book?', to which I usually gave them a blank stare and said 'I'm already reading good books.  I just want stories in my games too.'  
    Interestingly enough, there were a few bursts of true creativity in jrpgs in the years since, like Tales of Berseria and Nier: Automata, but they partially stand out due to the sheer bleakness of the genre landscape.  People praise Octopath Traveler and Dragon Quest XI with intensity, and they practically worship Bravely Default.  However, I have been shocked at how low-quality the presentation of these stories has been.  It's like an entire generation has gotten used to ineptness in presentation to the point where they can be charmed by backhanded efforts at retro-nostalgia.  Octopath has all the grind of the old SaGa Frontier games with none of the charm, the best part of each of the paths being at the beginning.  Dragon Quest XI retains the horribly grindy nature of Dragon Quest games without improving on the formula in any real way.  Moreover, locking so much content into the post-game annoys the hell out of me (I prefer new game +, obviously).  
    JVNs have suffered their own decline, which is ironically due to the same demographics that inflated the medium in the first place (the dominance of the moe/charage lovers).  VNs were always destined to be a niche medium, but the over-specialization of the industry has led to an inability to adapt to changing spending habits and demographics.  Even if they wanted to regear for a new generation of consumers, most companies no longer have the access to the necessary talent to do so.
    I'm fairly sure that jrpgs suffer from a similar lack.  Yes, there are some excellent composers and graphic designers in the jrpg industry, as well as access to the solid voice-acting industry of Japan and the growing one here in the US.  However, there is a severe lack of writers capable of bringing a story to life, and there is no point in a top-tier OST that has no one to properly coordinate its use.  The very fact that something like Undertale could bury so much of the commercial rpg industry, in the eyes of rpg fans, says everything about how far the industry has fallen.
    So what am I getting at?  Not really anything, in truth.  I just needed to blow off some steam.  Thank you for reading.
  11. Like
    Zalor reacted to alpacaman for a blog entry, Umineko's opening scene   
    The recent discussions about Umineko here on the forum made me want to pick up the whole damn thing again. Only this time I'm going spend even more time on it because I'm taking notes. I'll take the game's advice though and not focus on the howdunnits (which it argues are trivial and unimportant), but rather on what meaning is hidden inbetween. I'm doing this mostly for myself, though every now and then I might feel like turning my thoughts and interpretations into a blog post like this one.
    The German realist author Theodor Fontane (1819-1898) once said "the first chapter is always the main point, and within the first chapter the first page, almost the first line." While I think he is exaggerating a little bit and tbh I only opened with a quote of his to get a chance to mention how much I hate his writing (some of his novels are required reading in high-school in parts of Germany), it is true that the opening to a novel or any piece of fictional media can be a more important part of the work than it is often given credit for. Which brings us to Umineko's first scene. While it might not be the most spectacular example out there, I think it does what it sets out to do so well that it is worth taking a look at it from an analytical standpoint. I'm going to mention one or two twists that happen at later points in the VN, so you might not want read any further if you do not want to get spoiled.
    The scene takes place at an unspecified point in time in Kinzo's study with him, Nanjo (his doctor) and Genji (his head servant) present. It starts out with Nanjo telling Kinzo to lay off the alcohol as the medicine he prescribed to keep him alive won't work otherwise. Kinzo responds by saying the liquor (which has a sweet scent and a venomous green colour) has been with him longer than Nanjo, and that it is what is actually keeping him alive, not the medicine. Then he orders Genji to serve him another glass, but water it down a bit. Kinzo asks Nanjo how much time he has left, to which the doctor replies by comparing it to their chess match which is apparently entering its final stages and where Kinzo managed to corner Nanjo's king.  The physician suggests Kinzo should write a will, which the latter one heavily objects to: "...And what is a will, Nanjo? Handwritten instructions to the vultures on how to devour and scatter my corpse?" He wants to leave nothing behind and insists everything he built up during his life shall disappear with him, as it is part of the deal he made. He goes on to speak about his only regret, which is not being able to see the smile of the witch Beatrice once more, resulting in him screaming at thin air offering his remaining life to her for her to appear before him one last time. Opening Credits roll.
    The main thread running through the scene is a lingering conflict between what is "real" and what isn't, already introducing one of the main themes of the VN. This starts with the setting and props: There is no real indication if what you see takes place in the real world or some fantasy realm nor does it properly fit into any specific timeframe. The occult study, Kinzo's gown and the venomous green liquor all make the whole scene look surreal, but then there is also a real world physician doing standard medical examinations. In this sense the whole dialogue between Nanjo and Kanzo can be read as a conflict between material reality and fantasy, with Nanjo and his medicine or science representing the former and Kinzo having completely embraced the latter. Nanjo tries to bring Kinzo to care about his own physical wellbeing and his remains (stand-ins for material reality), both of which the latter one doesn't care at all about. The liquor in this context is basically a metaphor for fantasy. It has an inviting scent but looks like venom. It poisons Kinzo and according to him is what actually keeps him alive at the same time. His addiction turns his health and life miserable (as well as those of his children), while it is also what keeps him going. The booze or rather fantasy keeping him alive is also rather funny imo considering we later learn that, while he is part of all the "non-real" scenarios, in "real life" he has already been dead for quite a while. [It has been some time since I read the VN the first time so I don't really remember if the booze motif gets used at other points but it is one of the things I am going to keep an eye on this time around.]
    One of the main and more obvious purposes of an opening scene is to make the audience want to read on, usually by using a narrative hook. In this case it is the question about Beatrice's existence. You immediately ask yourself what the deal is with a witch that might or might not be real and that some weird and menacing old man is apparently trying to summon. Her (non-)presence is one of the main threads running through the whole VN and it gets established in the very first scene. This hook also ties right back into the overarching uncertainty of the scene about what is "real" and thus one of the main themes of the VN.
    The whole scene imo exemplifies pretty well what Umineko excels at, namely tying its separate narrative layers together. From the outset, characterization, plot, horror, fantasy, metaphor and theme are never truly separable but form a coherent and interwoven whole. I only implicitely talked about characterization and didn't even talk about why Genji is present in the scene at all or about the introduction of the chess motif (or the Kinzo being dead before the end of the game part). But since I already spent too much time writing this I'll keep it with one of Umineko's core messages and let you figure out how these things tie into the rest yourselves.
  12. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from Mr Poltroon for a blog entry, Umineko Final Impressions (Spoiler free)   
    I literally just finished reading Umineko around an hour ago. So these are my raw thoughts and immediate reflections after completing it. I will probably do a more comprehensive overview of Umineko after I've had it digest for a couple of days.
    What a beast... I first began this journey in mid May, and I've just finished it now. So in around 4 months time, I have clocked in at a total play time of 141 hours. In that time I've not only finished University, worked on multiple projects (both personal and academic), read several books, but I've also moved and started a job. This is to say, I've been quite busy in between reading Umineko. And I've taken multiple breaks from it. It has not been a completely consistent ride from beginning to end. But also, it feels weird to part with it now. Even if I wouldn't touch it for a stretch of weeks sometimes, in the back of my mind it was always present and I felt a pressure to get back to reading it whenever I could.
    The ending was fantastic, and I feel fully satisfied with it. But now it feels like I have to part with a friend I got to know very well. And despite being quite happy with most of the twists this story had to offer, I can't deny that at times it was a slog. Reading the last part of Ep.8 today I thought I was nearly finished, and yet it still took me ~4 hours to complete. This was mostly due to a very dragged out fight/battle sequence that while interesting in parts (especially at its end), mostly felt bloated. And this criticism of bloat is by no means reserved for only this part, but rather is a consistent issue throughout. The highlights of Umineko are so great, that when you do get to those parts often you instantly forgive the frequency of tedious and dragged out scenes you had to suffer through in order to get to the truly exciting bits. Yet none the less, even if forgivable, these bloated scenes are no joke.
    If you have an average reading speed like I do, these tedious sections can sometimes take up hours of your time. This was part of the reason I frequently took breaks from Umineko. As often I would finish a fantastic climactic scene and call it a day. But then I knew that the next part would be one of those mundane sections which made it hard to get back into reading the VN the next day. I would actually procrastinate reading Umineko at times precisely because I knew I was facing a part that would be dull and stretch out for a couple of hours. And when its a nice Saturday evening and you can do literally whatever you want, resigning yourself to reading something that you know will be boring for the next 2 hours is a hard decision to make. Even if you know that by powering through those 2 hours of boredom, you will be rewarded thoroughly in the 3rd or 4th hour.
    If Ryukishi07 got himself a decent editor I think Umineko could have been a quarter or maybe even half as long, and still be just as good. Actually it would probably be better, because then you wouldn't have the unnecessary excess anymore. Despite that though, when Umineko is good it truly is at the level of masterpiece. There really is nothing like it.
    The entire cast, for the most part, is very strong and memorable. I think that is Ryukishi07's greatest strength as a writer. He consistently creates very interesting characters. And even if his writing often drags on, you still put up with it because you want to see more interactions with these characters and what will happen to them.
    The introduction of Furudo Erika in the second half was a great treat, and I enjoyed her sadistic and incredibly cruel personality immensely. It was great fun to watch her do intellectual battle and make enemies with everyone. Then there was also Bernkastel, who has been a favorite of mine since early on. In general, all of the witch and supernatural characters were great in my mind.
    George, Jessica, Kanon, and Shanon never quite fully grew on me, though I did eventually grow more sympathetic to them. However, I definitely found the parts that focused on them the least interesting bits.
    From episode 1, watching what seems to be the setup for a typical murder mystery evolve so much in scope over the various episodes, I am at awe reflecting on it all now. The story goes in so many different directions, and yet it feels entirely consistent with itself. It's a mystery like no other. It manages to literally breaks all the rules, and yet somehow sticks to them. That in itself, honestly, is proof to me that magic exists.
    For anyone that enjoys great fiction, Umineko is certainly a work worth reading.
  13. Like
    Zalor reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Synergia (Yuri VN Review)   
    Have you seen Blade Runner 2049? The cyberpunk epic that charms the viewer with its climate and polished visuals, but is probably a bit too convoluted for its own good and offers relatively little payoff for its massive, multi-layered plot? Now, imagine watching that movie without the context of original Blade Runner and accompanying shorts, all offering crucial pieces of worldbuilding and linking the main entries in the franchise together. How much meaning the sequel would lose and how hard to follow some of its subplots would be?
                    This “Blade Runner 2049 without context” metaphor is the best way to explain my feelings about Synergia, the long-anticipated cyberpunk EVN by Radi Art. First announced in mid-2017, the project gathered a lot of attention with its well-defined, gloomy aesthetic and an appealing story outline. After that, it went through a number of hiatuses, with the creator behind it often going silent for long months and many assuming the project was dead. In mid-2019, however, the full development of the game was resumed and after a successful Kickstarter campaign (and another series of delays), we finally received a finished product in August 2020 – one that, in my opinion, proved way less mystery-filled and more flawed than the promotional materials made us hope for. But why is that exactly and to is this game actually bad, or just not living up to the hype?

    The few characters central to the Synergia’s plot showed great promise, however, most of them remained relatively unexplored and their stories left without closure
    Synergia tells the story of Cila, a police operative and negotiator specialized in dealing with androids, living on a far-future, desert-covered colony planet. Serving as a private contractor to the oppressive imperial government, the dominant polity of the unnamed world, she’s depressed and demotivated, barely managing to fulfil her duties despite being highly-trained and skilful in dealing with both AI and augmented humans. Soon after the game's start, however, her apathetic routine is broken when her best friend Yoko, a shady android merchant and gang leader, gifts her a replacement to her recently-defunct companion android. The new robot, Mara, seems incredibly advanced and human-like – arguably more human than the repressed and corrupt population of the imperial capital – and astonished Cila with her unpredictable and independent behaviour. Soon her unclear origins and level of intelligence, suggesting the use of illegal forms of AI, become signs of trouble, which Cila is unsure how to deal with. However, even she does not expect the real depth of the conspiracy and the significance the android might have to the future of her country (and, possibly, the whole colony).
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  14. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from Chronopolis for a blog entry, The Other 4chan VN   
    Lesser known than its more popular sister, The Dandelion Girl is another VN that at least started its development by anonymous users on 4chan. And like Katawa Shoujo it's quite good, although very different. And in fact, I think it contrasts quite nicely with Katawa Shoujo.
    Katawa Shoujo very intentionally strove to conform to the standard visual novel formula. Hence why it takes place in Japan, in a high school, has branching routes with various heroines, and even included H-scenes. I think the goal of Katawa Shoujo was to make a solid entry in the visual novel landscape within the standards commonly set by the High School romance genre it chose.
    The Dandelion Girl on the other hand is not an original story, being an adaptation of a short-story of the same name by Robert F. Young. To me this was a breath of fresh air, as I always welcome VNs that see themselves more as digital books then as games. The early to mid 2000's doujin scene seemed to embrace this mentality a bit with works like Narcissu and True Remembrance, and accordingly the art style of The Dandelion Girl somewhat reminds me of True Remembrance.
    In fact as a whole the Kinetic Novel genre/medium seems to be a weird bastard child of VNs that probably would see more success with print novel readers rather than with it's current target demographic of VN readers. Which is probably at least among the reasons that The Dandelion Girl seems to be languishing in relative obscurity. But it is a solid adaptation which really places the reader in the world of the original short story.
    Its opening scene where the screen fades into a view of a blue sky with a melancholic piano piece playing in the background creates a strong ambiance which contextualizes the writing quite nicely. Overall the music and visuals do a good job supporting the writing. Never interfering with it by being overly flashy, nor contradicting the mood of the prose. It serves its purpose by distracting your eyes and ears, and allowing your mind to effortlessly focus on the story. And before you know it, you'll be finished with the heart warming tale and left with a cozy feeling inside.
    If Katawa Shoujo is nice meal, than The Dandelion Girl is a nice evening snack to accompany your tea.
  15. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from alpacaman for a blog entry, The Other 4chan VN   
    Lesser known than its more popular sister, The Dandelion Girl is another VN that at least started its development by anonymous users on 4chan. And like Katawa Shoujo it's quite good, although very different. And in fact, I think it contrasts quite nicely with Katawa Shoujo.
    Katawa Shoujo very intentionally strove to conform to the standard visual novel formula. Hence why it takes place in Japan, in a high school, has branching routes with various heroines, and even included H-scenes. I think the goal of Katawa Shoujo was to make a solid entry in the visual novel landscape within the standards commonly set by the High School romance genre it chose.
    The Dandelion Girl on the other hand is not an original story, being an adaptation of a short-story of the same name by Robert F. Young. To me this was a breath of fresh air, as I always welcome VNs that see themselves more as digital books then as games. The early to mid 2000's doujin scene seemed to embrace this mentality a bit with works like Narcissu and True Remembrance, and accordingly the art style of The Dandelion Girl somewhat reminds me of True Remembrance.
    In fact as a whole the Kinetic Novel genre/medium seems to be a weird bastard child of VNs that probably would see more success with print novel readers rather than with it's current target demographic of VN readers. Which is probably at least among the reasons that The Dandelion Girl seems to be languishing in relative obscurity. But it is a solid adaptation which really places the reader in the world of the original short story.
    Its opening scene where the screen fades into a view of a blue sky with a melancholic piano piece playing in the background creates a strong ambiance which contextualizes the writing quite nicely. Overall the music and visuals do a good job supporting the writing. Never interfering with it by being overly flashy, nor contradicting the mood of the prose. It serves its purpose by distracting your eyes and ears, and allowing your mind to effortlessly focus on the story. And before you know it, you'll be finished with the heart warming tale and left with a cozy feeling inside.
    If Katawa Shoujo is nice meal, than The Dandelion Girl is a nice evening snack to accompany your tea.
  16. Love
    Zalor got a reaction from Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, The Other 4chan VN   
    Lesser known than its more popular sister, The Dandelion Girl is another VN that at least started its development by anonymous users on 4chan. And like Katawa Shoujo it's quite good, although very different. And in fact, I think it contrasts quite nicely with Katawa Shoujo.
    Katawa Shoujo very intentionally strove to conform to the standard visual novel formula. Hence why it takes place in Japan, in a high school, has branching routes with various heroines, and even included H-scenes. I think the goal of Katawa Shoujo was to make a solid entry in the visual novel landscape within the standards commonly set by the High School romance genre it chose.
    The Dandelion Girl on the other hand is not an original story, being an adaptation of a short-story of the same name by Robert F. Young. To me this was a breath of fresh air, as I always welcome VNs that see themselves more as digital books then as games. The early to mid 2000's doujin scene seemed to embrace this mentality a bit with works like Narcissu and True Remembrance, and accordingly the art style of The Dandelion Girl somewhat reminds me of True Remembrance.
    In fact as a whole the Kinetic Novel genre/medium seems to be a weird bastard child of VNs that probably would see more success with print novel readers rather than with it's current target demographic of VN readers. Which is probably at least among the reasons that The Dandelion Girl seems to be languishing in relative obscurity. But it is a solid adaptation which really places the reader in the world of the original short story.
    Its opening scene where the screen fades into a view of a blue sky with a melancholic piano piece playing in the background creates a strong ambiance which contextualizes the writing quite nicely. Overall the music and visuals do a good job supporting the writing. Never interfering with it by being overly flashy, nor contradicting the mood of the prose. It serves its purpose by distracting your eyes and ears, and allowing your mind to effortlessly focus on the story. And before you know it, you'll be finished with the heart warming tale and left with a cozy feeling inside.
    If Katawa Shoujo is nice meal, than The Dandelion Girl is a nice evening snack to accompany your tea.
  17. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from Fuez for a blog entry, The Other 4chan VN   
    Lesser known than its more popular sister, The Dandelion Girl is another VN that at least started its development by anonymous users on 4chan. And like Katawa Shoujo it's quite good, although very different. And in fact, I think it contrasts quite nicely with Katawa Shoujo.
    Katawa Shoujo very intentionally strove to conform to the standard visual novel formula. Hence why it takes place in Japan, in a high school, has branching routes with various heroines, and even included H-scenes. I think the goal of Katawa Shoujo was to make a solid entry in the visual novel landscape within the standards commonly set by the High School romance genre it chose.
    The Dandelion Girl on the other hand is not an original story, being an adaptation of a short-story of the same name by Robert F. Young. To me this was a breath of fresh air, as I always welcome VNs that see themselves more as digital books then as games. The early to mid 2000's doujin scene seemed to embrace this mentality a bit with works like Narcissu and True Remembrance, and accordingly the art style of The Dandelion Girl somewhat reminds me of True Remembrance.
    In fact as a whole the Kinetic Novel genre/medium seems to be a weird bastard child of VNs that probably would see more success with print novel readers rather than with it's current target demographic of VN readers. Which is probably at least among the reasons that The Dandelion Girl seems to be languishing in relative obscurity. But it is a solid adaptation which really places the reader in the world of the original short story.
    Its opening scene where the screen fades into a view of a blue sky with a melancholic piano piece playing in the background creates a strong ambiance which contextualizes the writing quite nicely. Overall the music and visuals do a good job supporting the writing. Never interfering with it by being overly flashy, nor contradicting the mood of the prose. It serves its purpose by distracting your eyes and ears, and allowing your mind to effortlessly focus on the story. And before you know it, you'll be finished with the heart warming tale and left with a cozy feeling inside.
    If Katawa Shoujo is nice meal, than The Dandelion Girl is a nice evening snack to accompany your tea.
  18. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from Narcosis for a blog entry, The Other 4chan VN   
    Lesser known than its more popular sister, The Dandelion Girl is another VN that at least started its development by anonymous users on 4chan. And like Katawa Shoujo it's quite good, although very different. And in fact, I think it contrasts quite nicely with Katawa Shoujo.
    Katawa Shoujo very intentionally strove to conform to the standard visual novel formula. Hence why it takes place in Japan, in a high school, has branching routes with various heroines, and even included H-scenes. I think the goal of Katawa Shoujo was to make a solid entry in the visual novel landscape within the standards commonly set by the High School romance genre it chose.
    The Dandelion Girl on the other hand is not an original story, being an adaptation of a short-story of the same name by Robert F. Young. To me this was a breath of fresh air, as I always welcome VNs that see themselves more as digital books then as games. The early to mid 2000's doujin scene seemed to embrace this mentality a bit with works like Narcissu and True Remembrance, and accordingly the art style of The Dandelion Girl somewhat reminds me of True Remembrance.
    In fact as a whole the Kinetic Novel genre/medium seems to be a weird bastard child of VNs that probably would see more success with print novel readers rather than with it's current target demographic of VN readers. Which is probably at least among the reasons that The Dandelion Girl seems to be languishing in relative obscurity. But it is a solid adaptation which really places the reader in the world of the original short story.
    Its opening scene where the screen fades into a view of a blue sky with a melancholic piano piece playing in the background creates a strong ambiance which contextualizes the writing quite nicely. Overall the music and visuals do a good job supporting the writing. Never interfering with it by being overly flashy, nor contradicting the mood of the prose. It serves its purpose by distracting your eyes and ears, and allowing your mind to effortlessly focus on the story. And before you know it, you'll be finished with the heart warming tale and left with a cozy feeling inside.
    If Katawa Shoujo is nice meal, than The Dandelion Girl is a nice evening snack to accompany your tea.
  19. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from Palas for a blog entry, The Function of Ellipses in VNs   
    VNs sometimes get criticized for their overuse of the ellipse (…). And I suppose I'll start my defense of the use of ellipses in VNs, by extending an olive branch. VNs do misuse the ellipse to an astounding degree, and I have an interesting little anecdote demonstrating this point. In college, me and some friends decided to spend a Friday night getting drunk and reading the worst VNs we could find. We stumbled upon Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme. There is a LOT wrong with this VN, but a glaringly consistent detail of bad writing we all noticed was the excessive use of ellipses. After we all collectively noticed and pointed out how often ellipses were being used, we decided to start counting every instance of an ellipse we spotted. Keep in mind, they had already been used plenty before we even started to count. Before we even reached a total playtime of 1 hour, we counted over 100 uses of ellipses, and gave up counting after that. I share this anecdote for two reasons. Firstly, as a petty example that Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme is horrible and I almost want to say it has no right to exist. And secondly that overall I am in agreement that ellipses do get misused often in VNs. So I am not entirely attacking this point of criticism, but I do think that many who do champion this specific criticism of VN writing miss one very important function that the ellipses achieves in VN writing, that it can't achieve in traditional print.
    The written word as it is presented in VNs is transient. With each click you typically receive one line at a time. And after a certain point all the lines disappear and you are greeted with fresh words from the top of the screen if NVL, or the top of the dialogue box if ADV. Furthermore often (though not always), sentences aren't displayed whole at once. But rather they get displayed in a sort of typewriter effect. This means that regardless of whether the narrative is in past tense or present tense, the occurrence of the text and the story to the reader will always be in the present. Character dialogue, internal monologues, narrative descriptions, it is all being presented to us in real time.
    A book on the other hand has everything written out and open to display. You can scan the whole page as well as the next page, and you have equal access to every page of the book at any given time. Want to skip to the ending? Well the medium can't stop you. This is not true of VNs. You can fast-forward, but you can't just skip to the end. The only way you can typically access specific parts of a VN is by creating a save point and therefore being able to load it up whenever you want. But you only have that option for everything you already read, you can't just pick and load sections you haven't experienced yet. Because for all intense and purposes, that's in the future. It hasn't happened yet. In other words, there is a sense of time in how the narrative of a VN gets expressed.
    Well in VNs, the ellipse can be used to demarcate time and expression. In this way, VNs can literally show the passage of time, without having to tell it. And I always thought the golden rule of writing was “show don't tell”, in this function the ellipse is being used optimally to show and not tell.
    Here is an example of how I would write a certain passage if I were writing it for a book/short-story, and then I will proceed to rewrite it for a VN.
     
    Novel/Short-story:
    “I don't know about that,” she briefly paused while biting her lip, “you sure it will be okay?”
    Visual Novel coded in Renpy:
    “I don't know about that...{w=1.5} you sure it will be okay?”
     
    The {w=1.5} is a wait command in Renpy that pauses the text for 1.5 seconds before resuming the rest of the line. Without having to tell the reader “she briefly paused”, we literally showed the pause by manipulating the speed in which the text gets displayed. The ellipse helps signal to the reader that the character is hesitating to express her thoughts, while the {w=1.5} command is running in the background.
    Now if the detail of “biting her lip” is also important to you. You would have to script things slightly differently, but you could make it that after the ellipse her sprite changes and bites her lip and you hold on that image for 1.5 seconds, before transitioning back to her previous expression and continue the text. So now you not only showed her hesitation and the gap in time it took for her to finish her thought, but you also showed her expression change. This is a way you can “show and not tell” with VNs that you could never achieve when writing for traditional print media.
  20. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from Palas for a blog entry, Visual Novels are a Hot Medium   
    Firstly, by “Hot” I mean purely in the Mcluhanistic sense of the word. Though I think we all acknowledge that VNs can be a very “hot” medium in the erotic sense as well. But seriously speaking, VNs are a hot, highly intensive medium; and this is precisely why I see so much artistic potential in them even if relatively few as of yet have fully capitalized on this potential.
    To provide a brief definition of hot and cold media I think the simplest explanation is the more immersive a medium is the more hot it is. The less immersive, and the more causal the experience of it is, the more cool it is. Reality TV is probably the best example of cold media. You can enjoy an episode of Terrace House or Jersery Shore or whatever (insert reality TV show) while paying relatively little attention to it. In fact dumb television's appeal is precisely because you can passively enjoy it while watching it with friends and family. Honestly this is why I think most Japanese TV (I'm intentionally exuding anime here) is so bad, but that's probably a rant for another time.
    Hotter media require more focus and attention from the participant. The best example of this would be literature. While reading a book, you need to pay sole focus to the words. And so this involves a hyper concentration. Hence it is high intensity, thus hot (seriously I didn't come up with these terms, famed academic Marshal Mcluhan did half a century ago).
    So then why do I do think, and more importantly why do I boldly claim that VNs are fundamentally a hot medium. Well, because for the best VNs and and the most memorable experiences VNs induce, we are highly involved in the moment. Practically there ourselves. And this is because the combination of text, audio, and visuals create a sensory experience which practically places us in the fictional scenes that are being depicted. It's the same reason why Lets Plays of Visual Novels just don't feel right to most VN fans. At least not as a first time experience to a particular VN. Because the first time you experience a particular VN it is a deeply intimate experience.
    I mean sure there are kusuge which are probably more fun to play with friends or in a live stream then they are to read individually. But then again they are called kusuge for a reason. Precisely because they aren't good, and more specifically don't conform to the medium's strengths. 
    So where am I going with this? I don't exactly know. Maybe to start a discussion about VNs as a medium of their own; which I think they are. That is to say I think they exist in a separate category from video games. Though I acknowledge there can be VNs with gameplay. I think a “VN with gameplay” is very different from a “game”. And I suspect most gamers would also agree.
    Anyway, its in my nature to make bold claims when I believe something. But if you disagree with me I'd be happy to discuss it with you. More then anything I like to create conversation about concepts which interest me. And if you agree with me, well I'll be happy to know I'm not alone.
  21. Thanks
    Zalor got a reaction from Dreamysyu for a blog entry, The Function of Ellipses in VNs   
    VNs sometimes get criticized for their overuse of the ellipse (…). And I suppose I'll start my defense of the use of ellipses in VNs, by extending an olive branch. VNs do misuse the ellipse to an astounding degree, and I have an interesting little anecdote demonstrating this point. In college, me and some friends decided to spend a Friday night getting drunk and reading the worst VNs we could find. We stumbled upon Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme. There is a LOT wrong with this VN, but a glaringly consistent detail of bad writing we all noticed was the excessive use of ellipses. After we all collectively noticed and pointed out how often ellipses were being used, we decided to start counting every instance of an ellipse we spotted. Keep in mind, they had already been used plenty before we even started to count. Before we even reached a total playtime of 1 hour, we counted over 100 uses of ellipses, and gave up counting after that. I share this anecdote for two reasons. Firstly, as a petty example that Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme is horrible and I almost want to say it has no right to exist. And secondly that overall I am in agreement that ellipses do get misused often in VNs. So I am not entirely attacking this point of criticism, but I do think that many who do champion this specific criticism of VN writing miss one very important function that the ellipses achieves in VN writing, that it can't achieve in traditional print.
    The written word as it is presented in VNs is transient. With each click you typically receive one line at a time. And after a certain point all the lines disappear and you are greeted with fresh words from the top of the screen if NVL, or the top of the dialogue box if ADV. Furthermore often (though not always), sentences aren't displayed whole at once. But rather they get displayed in a sort of typewriter effect. This means that regardless of whether the narrative is in past tense or present tense, the occurrence of the text and the story to the reader will always be in the present. Character dialogue, internal monologues, narrative descriptions, it is all being presented to us in real time.
    A book on the other hand has everything written out and open to display. You can scan the whole page as well as the next page, and you have equal access to every page of the book at any given time. Want to skip to the ending? Well the medium can't stop you. This is not true of VNs. You can fast-forward, but you can't just skip to the end. The only way you can typically access specific parts of a VN is by creating a save point and therefore being able to load it up whenever you want. But you only have that option for everything you already read, you can't just pick and load sections you haven't experienced yet. Because for all intense and purposes, that's in the future. It hasn't happened yet. In other words, there is a sense of time in how the narrative of a VN gets expressed.
    Well in VNs, the ellipse can be used to demarcate time and expression. In this way, VNs can literally show the passage of time, without having to tell it. And I always thought the golden rule of writing was “show don't tell”, in this function the ellipse is being used optimally to show and not tell.
    Here is an example of how I would write a certain passage if I were writing it for a book/short-story, and then I will proceed to rewrite it for a VN.
     
    Novel/Short-story:
    “I don't know about that,” she briefly paused while biting her lip, “you sure it will be okay?”
    Visual Novel coded in Renpy:
    “I don't know about that...{w=1.5} you sure it will be okay?”
     
    The {w=1.5} is a wait command in Renpy that pauses the text for 1.5 seconds before resuming the rest of the line. Without having to tell the reader “she briefly paused”, we literally showed the pause by manipulating the speed in which the text gets displayed. The ellipse helps signal to the reader that the character is hesitating to express her thoughts, while the {w=1.5} command is running in the background.
    Now if the detail of “biting her lip” is also important to you. You would have to script things slightly differently, but you could make it that after the ellipse her sprite changes and bites her lip and you hold on that image for 1.5 seconds, before transitioning back to her previous expression and continue the text. So now you not only showed her hesitation and the gap in time it took for her to finish her thought, but you also showed her expression change. This is a way you can “show and not tell” with VNs that you could never achieve when writing for traditional print media.
  22. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from Narcosis for a blog entry, The Function of Ellipses in VNs   
    VNs sometimes get criticized for their overuse of the ellipse (…). And I suppose I'll start my defense of the use of ellipses in VNs, by extending an olive branch. VNs do misuse the ellipse to an astounding degree, and I have an interesting little anecdote demonstrating this point. In college, me and some friends decided to spend a Friday night getting drunk and reading the worst VNs we could find. We stumbled upon Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme. There is a LOT wrong with this VN, but a glaringly consistent detail of bad writing we all noticed was the excessive use of ellipses. After we all collectively noticed and pointed out how often ellipses were being used, we decided to start counting every instance of an ellipse we spotted. Keep in mind, they had already been used plenty before we even started to count. Before we even reached a total playtime of 1 hour, we counted over 100 uses of ellipses, and gave up counting after that. I share this anecdote for two reasons. Firstly, as a petty example that Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme is horrible and I almost want to say it has no right to exist. And secondly that overall I am in agreement that ellipses do get misused often in VNs. So I am not entirely attacking this point of criticism, but I do think that many who do champion this specific criticism of VN writing miss one very important function that the ellipses achieves in VN writing, that it can't achieve in traditional print.
    The written word as it is presented in VNs is transient. With each click you typically receive one line at a time. And after a certain point all the lines disappear and you are greeted with fresh words from the top of the screen if NVL, or the top of the dialogue box if ADV. Furthermore often (though not always), sentences aren't displayed whole at once. But rather they get displayed in a sort of typewriter effect. This means that regardless of whether the narrative is in past tense or present tense, the occurrence of the text and the story to the reader will always be in the present. Character dialogue, internal monologues, narrative descriptions, it is all being presented to us in real time.
    A book on the other hand has everything written out and open to display. You can scan the whole page as well as the next page, and you have equal access to every page of the book at any given time. Want to skip to the ending? Well the medium can't stop you. This is not true of VNs. You can fast-forward, but you can't just skip to the end. The only way you can typically access specific parts of a VN is by creating a save point and therefore being able to load it up whenever you want. But you only have that option for everything you already read, you can't just pick and load sections you haven't experienced yet. Because for all intense and purposes, that's in the future. It hasn't happened yet. In other words, there is a sense of time in how the narrative of a VN gets expressed.
    Well in VNs, the ellipse can be used to demarcate time and expression. In this way, VNs can literally show the passage of time, without having to tell it. And I always thought the golden rule of writing was “show don't tell”, in this function the ellipse is being used optimally to show and not tell.
    Here is an example of how I would write a certain passage if I were writing it for a book/short-story, and then I will proceed to rewrite it for a VN.
     
    Novel/Short-story:
    “I don't know about that,” she briefly paused while biting her lip, “you sure it will be okay?”
    Visual Novel coded in Renpy:
    “I don't know about that...{w=1.5} you sure it will be okay?”
     
    The {w=1.5} is a wait command in Renpy that pauses the text for 1.5 seconds before resuming the rest of the line. Without having to tell the reader “she briefly paused”, we literally showed the pause by manipulating the speed in which the text gets displayed. The ellipse helps signal to the reader that the character is hesitating to express her thoughts, while the {w=1.5} command is running in the background.
    Now if the detail of “biting her lip” is also important to you. You would have to script things slightly differently, but you could make it that after the ellipse her sprite changes and bites her lip and you hold on that image for 1.5 seconds, before transitioning back to her previous expression and continue the text. So now you not only showed her hesitation and the gap in time it took for her to finish her thought, but you also showed her expression change. This is a way you can “show and not tell” with VNs that you could never achieve when writing for traditional print media.
  23. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from Bolverk for a blog entry, The Function of Ellipses in VNs   
    VNs sometimes get criticized for their overuse of the ellipse (…). And I suppose I'll start my defense of the use of ellipses in VNs, by extending an olive branch. VNs do misuse the ellipse to an astounding degree, and I have an interesting little anecdote demonstrating this point. In college, me and some friends decided to spend a Friday night getting drunk and reading the worst VNs we could find. We stumbled upon Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme. There is a LOT wrong with this VN, but a glaringly consistent detail of bad writing we all noticed was the excessive use of ellipses. After we all collectively noticed and pointed out how often ellipses were being used, we decided to start counting every instance of an ellipse we spotted. Keep in mind, they had already been used plenty before we even started to count. Before we even reached a total playtime of 1 hour, we counted over 100 uses of ellipses, and gave up counting after that. I share this anecdote for two reasons. Firstly, as a petty example that Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme is horrible and I almost want to say it has no right to exist. And secondly that overall I am in agreement that ellipses do get misused often in VNs. So I am not entirely attacking this point of criticism, but I do think that many who do champion this specific criticism of VN writing miss one very important function that the ellipses achieves in VN writing, that it can't achieve in traditional print.
    The written word as it is presented in VNs is transient. With each click you typically receive one line at a time. And after a certain point all the lines disappear and you are greeted with fresh words from the top of the screen if NVL, or the top of the dialogue box if ADV. Furthermore often (though not always), sentences aren't displayed whole at once. But rather they get displayed in a sort of typewriter effect. This means that regardless of whether the narrative is in past tense or present tense, the occurrence of the text and the story to the reader will always be in the present. Character dialogue, internal monologues, narrative descriptions, it is all being presented to us in real time.
    A book on the other hand has everything written out and open to display. You can scan the whole page as well as the next page, and you have equal access to every page of the book at any given time. Want to skip to the ending? Well the medium can't stop you. This is not true of VNs. You can fast-forward, but you can't just skip to the end. The only way you can typically access specific parts of a VN is by creating a save point and therefore being able to load it up whenever you want. But you only have that option for everything you already read, you can't just pick and load sections you haven't experienced yet. Because for all intense and purposes, that's in the future. It hasn't happened yet. In other words, there is a sense of time in how the narrative of a VN gets expressed.
    Well in VNs, the ellipse can be used to demarcate time and expression. In this way, VNs can literally show the passage of time, without having to tell it. And I always thought the golden rule of writing was “show don't tell”, in this function the ellipse is being used optimally to show and not tell.
    Here is an example of how I would write a certain passage if I were writing it for a book/short-story, and then I will proceed to rewrite it for a VN.
     
    Novel/Short-story:
    “I don't know about that,” she briefly paused while biting her lip, “you sure it will be okay?”
    Visual Novel coded in Renpy:
    “I don't know about that...{w=1.5} you sure it will be okay?”
     
    The {w=1.5} is a wait command in Renpy that pauses the text for 1.5 seconds before resuming the rest of the line. Without having to tell the reader “she briefly paused”, we literally showed the pause by manipulating the speed in which the text gets displayed. The ellipse helps signal to the reader that the character is hesitating to express her thoughts, while the {w=1.5} command is running in the background.
    Now if the detail of “biting her lip” is also important to you. You would have to script things slightly differently, but you could make it that after the ellipse her sprite changes and bites her lip and you hold on that image for 1.5 seconds, before transitioning back to her previous expression and continue the text. So now you not only showed her hesitation and the gap in time it took for her to finish her thought, but you also showed her expression change. This is a way you can “show and not tell” with VNs that you could never achieve when writing for traditional print media.
  24. Like
    Zalor got a reaction from Deep Blue for a blog entry, The Function of Ellipses in VNs   
    VNs sometimes get criticized for their overuse of the ellipse (…). And I suppose I'll start my defense of the use of ellipses in VNs, by extending an olive branch. VNs do misuse the ellipse to an astounding degree, and I have an interesting little anecdote demonstrating this point. In college, me and some friends decided to spend a Friday night getting drunk and reading the worst VNs we could find. We stumbled upon Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme. There is a LOT wrong with this VN, but a glaringly consistent detail of bad writing we all noticed was the excessive use of ellipses. After we all collectively noticed and pointed out how often ellipses were being used, we decided to start counting every instance of an ellipse we spotted. Keep in mind, they had already been used plenty before we even started to count. Before we even reached a total playtime of 1 hour, we counted over 100 uses of ellipses, and gave up counting after that. I share this anecdote for two reasons. Firstly, as a petty example that Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme is horrible and I almost want to say it has no right to exist. And secondly that overall I am in agreement that ellipses do get misused often in VNs. So I am not entirely attacking this point of criticism, but I do think that many who do champion this specific criticism of VN writing miss one very important function that the ellipses achieves in VN writing, that it can't achieve in traditional print.
    The written word as it is presented in VNs is transient. With each click you typically receive one line at a time. And after a certain point all the lines disappear and you are greeted with fresh words from the top of the screen if NVL, or the top of the dialogue box if ADV. Furthermore often (though not always), sentences aren't displayed whole at once. But rather they get displayed in a sort of typewriter effect. This means that regardless of whether the narrative is in past tense or present tense, the occurrence of the text and the story to the reader will always be in the present. Character dialogue, internal monologues, narrative descriptions, it is all being presented to us in real time.
    A book on the other hand has everything written out and open to display. You can scan the whole page as well as the next page, and you have equal access to every page of the book at any given time. Want to skip to the ending? Well the medium can't stop you. This is not true of VNs. You can fast-forward, but you can't just skip to the end. The only way you can typically access specific parts of a VN is by creating a save point and therefore being able to load it up whenever you want. But you only have that option for everything you already read, you can't just pick and load sections you haven't experienced yet. Because for all intense and purposes, that's in the future. It hasn't happened yet. In other words, there is a sense of time in how the narrative of a VN gets expressed.
    Well in VNs, the ellipse can be used to demarcate time and expression. In this way, VNs can literally show the passage of time, without having to tell it. And I always thought the golden rule of writing was “show don't tell”, in this function the ellipse is being used optimally to show and not tell.
    Here is an example of how I would write a certain passage if I were writing it for a book/short-story, and then I will proceed to rewrite it for a VN.
     
    Novel/Short-story:
    “I don't know about that,” she briefly paused while biting her lip, “you sure it will be okay?”
    Visual Novel coded in Renpy:
    “I don't know about that...{w=1.5} you sure it will be okay?”
     
    The {w=1.5} is a wait command in Renpy that pauses the text for 1.5 seconds before resuming the rest of the line. Without having to tell the reader “she briefly paused”, we literally showed the pause by manipulating the speed in which the text gets displayed. The ellipse helps signal to the reader that the character is hesitating to express her thoughts, while the {w=1.5} command is running in the background.
    Now if the detail of “biting her lip” is also important to you. You would have to script things slightly differently, but you could make it that after the ellipse her sprite changes and bites her lip and you hold on that image for 1.5 seconds, before transitioning back to her previous expression and continue the text. So now you not only showed her hesitation and the gap in time it took for her to finish her thought, but you also showed her expression change. This is a way you can “show and not tell” with VNs that you could never achieve when writing for traditional print media.
  25. Like
    Zalor reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Stellaren II (Western VN Review)   
    Stellaren, released exclusively to mobile devices in 2017 was an important game in my engagement with VNs. A dark sci-fi adventure with a captivating setting and a tense, at times brutal story stood out significantly from most other visual novels available for smartphones and I think to this day is one of the best dedicated Android/iOS games of its kind [you can find my detailed review of it here]. It also cemented my love for VNs as a storytelling formula and while some of that infatuation was definitely connected to me being a fairly inexperienced reader, many elements of Stellaren’s worldbuilding and character development are genuinely bold and interesting – and to the point where I wasn't even bothered by its rough edges and clunky gameplay elements.
                    Because of all this, it is an understatement to say I was excited to hear about the release of Stellaren II July this year, coming out not only for mobile devices but also on Steam. Promising heavily updated visuals, a set of better-polished gameplay elements and a substantial, conclusive story (its predecessors had a tendency to end on cliffhangers), it seemed like a massive treat for someone like myself, already in love with this universe. What I found was both different and more complex than I expected – but did it capture the charm and stomach-gripping qualities of the original?
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
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