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a way to make visual novels more popular in the west


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A question for you if you are playing games. Do you like that games are mindless and easy to play? Or do you want games with challenges and hard decisions? They don't exist today because everyone no matter how braindead you are should be able to play games. That is a direction I don't want VNs to go. I don't personally like stuff which is indifferent and easy to beat. I understand why you do a game easier but I think it hurts the gaming industry in the core. 

It is the same with VNs. Yes I am sick of the cliche stories and characters sometimes. But then again we get something new and interesting once in a while on the English releases. You can't make something for everyone. If you do you have to sacrifice a lot. In this case I don't think you can make it for the "ordinary" person. A lot of people hate reading. No matter what. A lot of people got problem sitting still and reading something. I have tried bringing my friends into this medium, with traditionally VNs, JRPG, OEVLN and PS3 games. I got some of them into watching anime at most. I am fine with that. This isn't for everyone. Like soccer isn't for everyone either. But do I try to choke the Ice-hockey fans with my opinion of soccer? No. Yes I tease them and do some sporadic "shots fired" but I accept that they don't like what I do. 

I don't think and I don't recommend doing a specialized medium into something casually. I know a lot of people here played Katawa  Shoujo as their first installation into the genre. That's something influenced by the Japanese art. But itsn't made by Japanese people (what I know of).

 

Edit: We got the cliche things but we also got the diverse VNs/OELVN such as Black Sand, Cursed Sight and the Seed. I think we got a diverse medium but forcing it to change because other may like it isn't the way.

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16 minutes ago, gijimu said:

Well VN has potentials, but in my opinion, it depends on whether the people like reading or not, not because of art style thing. Japanese art style is very well known around the world that it's hard to find people who doesn't like it.

For me, romance, action, drama, and mystery are universal genre that most people like. There is no more universal genre than them. 

The conclusion is, it's back to people, whether they want to read VN or not, and thinking that people don't read VN because it is not appealing to them is wrong. It is like forcing someone who doesn't like racing game to play racing game. And your opinion sounds like "we have to change racing game so it can appeal to people who doesn't like racing game" to me. 

I normally don't like reading heavily. What got me into VNs? Ace attorney. But nothing was remotely close to what Ace Attorney provided. 

More importantly danganronpa was another game which wasn't that much of a VN but those we're the gateway to VNs for me. In the end though they we're games barely considered as VNs. 

So I know from experience that there is some VNs people will be interested in and some who don't. But are the great hidden gems are out there in the forefront? No they are in the sea of mediocre comical or satire VNs with a large group of Otome and dating sim style VNs. The is me looking for one in the app store and found literally dozens of the same kind. 

Mario kart was a fun game for a lot of people but not everyone who plays Mario kart plays grand turismo.

10 minutes ago, Amuzie said:

I'm not sure if this has been mentioned before if it has I apologize. But isn't one of the main reasons that VNs has a poor reputation because people relates the artstyle to "manga/anime= perverted stuff" which in turn drives some people away. Also VNs isn't a genre that a lot of people would enjoy. It's a lot of reading and no visual "action", VNs gives the reader emotions trough pictures and music. And they requires a lot of patience which can be a turn off for younger audiences. YouTube isn't really helping either with videos of famous youtubers playing VNs like Sakura Santa (Nerdcubeds video on Sakura santa.) which isn't really the best VN to represents all VNs out there. Which can make people think "VNs are peverted!!!" And instantly assume that every VN is like SSanta.

 

One thing that could really help VNs would be either a giant youtuber cover a VN like G-senjou or Clannad which doesn't have any real fanservice and acknowledging that it's great. It might not be enough but it would help. Or that a big company like Bethseda, Bioware etc makes a VN. This is highly unlikely but could be good for VNs. 

 

I'm one that wants VN to be fairly popular but I don't really want to change the VNs that I love so they can appeal to a bigger audience. If that's the case the I would rather have them stay a niche genre.         

Its not like previous released VNs like Clannad and  fate stay/night will be revised because of popular demand in the west. and it's not like previous VN developers will stop making the VNs you love. All it does is open up an area where VNs had potential market all along. But I want to destroy the idea that VNs have to be Japanese inspired in order to be VN. That they have to have the same otome or harem or typical genres we see in VNs a lot.

Honestly this thinking is selfish. People should try new ways to make VNs even if they aren't your preferred taste. 

The current style of VNs are in no real danger. But if people can see new genres and new ideas and new ways to make VN and still be a VN, then why say "I prefer a niche market". 

There is absolutely no benefit other than feeding the entitled ideology. Because VNs are small it's in danger if it we're ever to try something new.

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7 minutes ago, Lumaria said:

I normally don't like reading heavily. What got me into VNs? Ace attorney. But nothing was remotely close to what Ace Attorney provided. 

More importantly danganronpa was another game which wasn't that much of a VN but those we're the gateway to VNs for me. In the end though they we're games barely considered as VNs. 

So I know from experience that there is some VNs people will be interested in and some who don't. But are the great hidden gems are out there in the forefront? No they are in the sea of mediocre comical or satire VNs with a large group of Otome and dating sim style VNs. The is me looking for one in the app store and found literally dozens of the same kind. 

Mario kart was a fun game for a lot of people but not everyone who plays Mario kart plays grand turismo.

Well if you can't find any more VN like Ace Attorney or Dangan Ronpa, there's no helping then. The only option is to wait for next release or something of same genre. If you want to revolutionize VN because you don't find it suit your "way of VN", you'll get hard time. Don't act so spoiled because you can't find VN you want.

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But according to Mangagamer the VN market exploded during 2015. The best selling game of 2014 would't even made it on the top 10 of 2015 if I recall. Perhaps it was on the bottom of top 10 list. I think the market is thriving and evolving. MGs list of 2015's most popular games:

1. Princess Evangile
2. eden*
3. No, Thank You!!!
4. Imouto Paradise
5. Eroge! Sex and Games Make Sexy Games
6. Demon Master Chris
7. euphoria
8. Sweet Sweat in Summer
9. Ultimate Boob Wars!
10. Higurashi Hou Ch. 1 Onikakushi

Fun fact: nearly everything in the top 10 would have outranked 2014’s first-place ranking title!

So we got nukiges, BL, utsuges, moe, horror/suspense and psychological terror/torture here on the top 10 list. Yes it is still games which is influenced and made by the Japanese. But that's why we love it too.

Sekai founded Clannad, Grisaia and Muv Luv last year. That's nearly 1 million dollars from the community. We are also founding a lot smaller projects (WAS) and unknown companies (Mikandi Japan) which did a successfull campaign just a few days ago. Yes I know KS is a risk and the community may not have that amount of dedication later on. But I think it is in a good state at the moment. It doesn't have to be the biggest thing. It is more important that it evolve and keeping up with the evolving market. Which a lot of other things can't manage. 

JAST, MG, Sekai and other companies made a lot of new contracts and large announcements during last year about games and partners. What's so bad about a smaller hobby or interest? I don't see anything negative. What I can see everything seems fine and the market is evolving. 

If we turn the question around. Do you think the Japanese market would survive if they suddenly changed the style to more western influenced artstyle? No. I think the VN market would die pretty soon. I don't think west is ready for a "westernization" of the VN market. The biggest thing for VNs the past year is Steam. Clannad made a successfull Steam release. According to Steamspy 12 000 people own the game. Yes that's not a big amount. All credit to Clannad but the artstyle isn't that appealing if you don't know the medium. Remember the fan TL of the game could be a big hindrance for the sales and a lot of people already bought it from the Kickstarter. 

It all comes down to personal preferences. I like the anime style which Japanese use when creating games. I like JRPGs and other games on Playstation from Japan. I don't think you can make these games in a western artstyle and get away with it. Personally I would't be interested in the games. That's my opinion even though I am a gamer in my heart. 

 

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19 minutes ago, Lumaria said:

Honestly this thinking is selfish. People should try new ways to make VNs even if they aren't your preferred taste. 

I do agree that trying something new too reach to a broader market is good. As long as it works. 

Of course my thinking is selfish. It's something I love! So it only makes sense for me to want it to stay as I know and love it.

The main thing is who's going to want to risk making a VN aimed for people from the west who has no experience for VNs? It does sound like it could fail massively. I want someone to try it but I doubt a big company with a big audience will take that risk.

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14 minutes ago, SilverLi said:

A question for you if you are playing games. Do you like that games are mindless and easy to play? Or do you want games with challenges and hard decisions? They don't exist today because everyone no matter how braindead you are should be able to play games. That is a direction I don't want VNs to go. I don't personally like stuff which is indifferent and easy to beat. I understand why you do a game easier but I think it hurt the gaming industry in the core. 

It is the same with VNs. Yes I am sick of the cliche stories and characters sometimes. But then again we get something new and interesting once in a while on the English releases. You can't make something for everyone. If you do you have to sacrifice a lot. In this case I don't think you can make it for the "ordinary" person. A lot of people hate reading. No matter what. A lot of people got problem sitting still and reading something. I have tried bringing my friends into this medium, with traditionally VNs, JRPG, OEVLN and PS3 games. I got some of them into watching anime at most. I am fine with that. This isn't for everyone. Like soccer isn't for everyone either. But do I try to choke the Ice-hockey fans with my opinion of soccer? No. Yes I tease them and do some sporadic "shots fired" but I accept that they don't like what I do. 

I don't think and I don't recommend doing a specialized medium into something casually. I know a lot of people here played Katawa  Shoujo as their first installation into the genre. That's something influenced by the Japanese art. But itsn't made by Japanese people (what I know of).

 

Edit: We got the cliche things but we also got the diverse VNs/OELVN such as Black Sand, Cursed Sight and the Seed. I think we got a diverse medium but forcing it to change because other may like it isn't the way.

Any brain dead person can play a game because games have learned to be more and more immersive and convey it's gameplay better over time. For visual novels it's game play is rather simple, but its immersion and conveyance relies solely on the story aspects but it is an extreme boost for visuals as well. Don't try to dumb down games and make visual novels as a finer form of art when you know there is satire VNs and VNs that make fun of the common stereotypes it has.

 

With that said if difficulty is based on how long you can stay glued to the VN, then something is wrong (according to your comparison). 

Let me put an example that isn't a visual novel and more of a 3d graphic adventure: Life is Strange. In this game the main character saves her childhood friends life with her special rewind ability. It all leads to the end where she must choose the lives of everyone else vs the friend she's been constantly saving and bonding. 

 

The choice is difficult not because it's hard to press a button, but because the story had forced one to choose both equally important decisions with consequences. 

I believe VNs have that capability of having that. But that's just to explain that video games aren't bad comparison all the time and ultimately holds no ground when video games are all about game play where VNs are not.

Ultimately people can play VNs for different reasons, and the reading doesn't necessarily need to be a make/break situation other factors are involved and make the experience better. Such as visuals, character development, overall story flow. Etc.

3 minutes ago, gijimu said:

Well if you can't find any more VN like Ace Attorney or Dangan Ronpa, there's no helping then. The only option is to wait for next release or something of same genre. If you want to revolutionize VN because you don't find it suit your "way of VN", you'll get hard time. Don't act so spoiled because you can't find VN you want.

I was using Ace attorney  and Danganronpa as examples to how I was introduced and that not everyone. 

 

VN have the capabilities of reaching all types of gamers without compromising what makes a VN (by it's definition, not the culture of the fan base). 

 

This isn't a reaction to me not finding the VNs I want. This is me seeing a clearly versatile medium limited by it's fans and refuse to try to expand. You all keep talking about change this and change that. You all go on deaf ears when I say it's nor about changing.

3 minutes ago, SilverLi said:

But according to Mangagamer the VN market exploded during 2015. The best selling game of 2014 would't even made it on the top 10 of 2015 if I recall. Perhaps it was on the bottom of top 10 list. I think the market is thriving and evolving. MGs list of 2015's most popular games:

1. Princess Evangile
2. eden*
3. No, Thank You!!!
4. Imouto Paradise
5. Eroge! Sex and Games Make Sexy Games
6. Demon Master Chris
7. euphoria
8. Sweet Sweat in Summer
9. Ultimate Boob Wars!
10. Higurashi Hou Ch. 1 Onikakushi

Fun fact: nearly everything in the top 10 would have outranked 2014’s first-place ranking title!

So we got nukiges, BL, utsuges, moe, horror/suspense and psychological terror/torture here on the top 10 list. Yes it is still games which is influenced and made by the Japanese. But that's why we love it too.

Sekai founded Clannad, Grisaia and Muv Luv last year. That's nearly 1 million dollars from the community. We are also founding a lot smaller projects (WAS) and unknown companies (Mikandi Japan) which did a successfull campaign just a few days ago. Yes I know KS is a risk and the community may not have that amount of dedication later on. But I think it is in a good state at the moment. It doesn't have to be the biggest thing. It is more important that it evolve and keeping up with the evolving market. Which a lot of other things can't manage. 

JAST, MG, Sekai and other companies made a lot of new contracts and large announcements during last year about games and partners. What's so bad about a smaller hobby or interest? I don't see anything negative. What I can see everything seems fine and the market is evolving. 

If we turn the question around. Do you think the Japanese market would survive if they suddenly changed the style to more western influenced artstyle? No. I think the VN market would die pretty soon. I don't think west is ready for a "westernization" of the VN market. The biggest thing for VNs the past year is Steam. Clannad made a successfull Steam release. According to Steamspy 12 000 people own the game. Yes that's not a big amount. All credit to Clannad but the artstyle isn't that appealing if you don't know the medium. Remember the fan TL of the game could be a big hindrance for the sales and a lot of people already bought it from the Kickstarter. 

It all comes down to personal preferences. I like the anime style which Japanese use when creating games. I like JRPGs and other games on Playstation from Japan. I don't think you can make these games in a western artstyle and get away with it. Personally I would't be interested in the games. That's my opinion even though I am a gamer in my heart. 

 

 

I often feel people don't think twice when they answer. I've consistently given the same answer. But you all give different answers that eventually don't contradict what I'm saying. 

look carefully at the top 10 VNs and tell me you dont see what i see. it's not about Japanese. But it's targeting more toward one specific audience.

Look i used to love japanese culture as much as the next otaku. But I learned one thing, all cultures have their ups and Downs, and all cultures deserve to be praised and condemned at times for their idealogy (remember I included praise).

But it became saturated. Visual novels by definition dont need to be japanese. WIth the seed and maybe other super rare gems of non japanese visual novels out there. 

There's absolutely nothing about VNs that actually make it better because it relies on Japanese tropes. Its so sad, some people are blind.

honestly there's this mental block VN community has. Where they ultimately just say they like it. I get it, I'm not here to change what you personally enjoy, but to help achieve what the communities slogan is. Not by using the culture of VN established by fans but rather the  structure and mechanics and what a VN relies on in order to be a VN.

14 minutes ago, MarcoCorvus21 said:

 

So how many VNs have you read ? 

I've played 3 that claimed to be VNs or VN elements. So with what I experienced and researching on what made a VN, I've played An additional 3 more until I found there was a huge transition phase in every game. 

And I've been testing out a lot of VNs but I noticed more and more of the same stereotypes with no diversity. Same VN, different shade, especially with fan made ones.

 

Not that it matters though. I'm jot here to change VNs but to change the misconception of VNs.

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2 minutes ago, gijimu said:

I don't see any wrong with how VN is being VN. Can you explain it in short?

Ultimately being VN is not allowing any true diversity when it can. According to this community. You all against the idea of having more diverse, less Japanese VNs.

The problem is that VNs are not by definition Japanese. They are from Japan, but nothing about it's structure says it has to be  pushed Japanese culture, tropes, stereotypes. 

I don't know how many times I have to say it. Hut just because you personally define it as such, doesn't mean you should ignore what literally makes a VN.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, Palas said:

I see where you're coming from, @Lumaria, but there is a crucial thing you're missing altogether. That is, it's a market we're talking about. This means it's a collective construction made of individual interests. Thus, changing individual interests (or even perspectives) is impossible and, even if it could be done, it would be a lot more effort than you'd like. If people here say they like VNs the way they are, they're in fact saying that is the kind of product they will buy. And that's it. Nothing you can do about it. You're basically approaching the issue backwards.

Let me ask you why VNs haven't been westernised as you prescribe yet. It would be far too easy to claim it's because "VNs come from Japan, are consumed by otaku and otaku are narrow-minded/dumb/hysterical people, so let's change their perspective". I'll give you a hint - the key is in the developers, not in the audience. The idea to make visual novels for people who don't play visual novels is as sound a business idea as throwing money in a well and expect a fairy to multiply it for you, you see. Who exactly are these people you're talking about? What in the world is a "more universal art style"? I'm pretty sure there isn't one. So you've got to give us a more solid strategy. You have to give ideas to establish a healthy production chain, not simply drop an aesthetics and expect it to make it big by itself.

A lot of games became popular and we're born being Indie games. Such as higurashi and hatoful boyfriend. 

 

But let's make it clear on how a solid campaigns can work. First off, announcing the campaign once it begins. Making it known the goals and intentions, even if people aren't interested right away. places like siliconera and google play store. If really want your money ahead of time for living expenses indiegogo or kickstarter (but with the salespitch that we are making something that shouldve existed a long time ago). The idea is to prime them when they gain more info about the project. Also don't think that the campaigns is designed to immediately create a market, because the devs ultimately create their audience over time, but the campaigns essentially will let other devs know "it's possible". 

When things about goals, and how one sees VNs and how western VNs have potential to be better, interviews can become a quick and easy way for people to gain an interest. Tells viewers how the approach is being done, an idea of who you ate. Additionally give a little taste on how the VNs will be different and save surprises.

Trailers would be good of a compilation of the games. Oh how these VNs feel. 

 

As for actually designing the western VNs. We can discuss that separately.

 

Also dividing the campaigns in realistic phases and announcing them. Such as phase 1 is releasing three distinctly different VNs, phase 2 is making three more with more focus on player feedback. But this is open to discussion.

Building communication is key. Listening to things people disliked about japanese centric VNs that they would not like to see or focus on things that VNs rarely do. Even if they don't like the idea at first, people will eventually attempt to humor it and can get interested in it if they gain a response out of it. 

 

When I said universal artstyle I meant a style not specifically based of the west nor east. I tend to believe photo realistic with a touch of surreal tends to be on both ends of the spectrum. But not all of them should have the same art. Each VN should have it's own distinct style. 

 

If you look at G5 they have a clear audience for their graphic puzzle adventure games. Great art style but super cheesy voice acting and yet, they don't care so much. My personal favorite is Nightmares from the Deep 2. 

 

Ultimately it will make it known that it's possible. Market wise or not. Fans will try different approaches.

1 minute ago, Palas said:

Here's a fun fact: there's absolutely nothing that defines a VN.

Now, this is biased coming from me: I'm all for changing VNs and westernise them. There are games (and I consider VNs to be games through and through, which, you might be surprised to find out, is not the case with many people within the community) I count as VNs that vndb doesn't and they're somewhat strict about it. I'm all for defining Western genres for VNs instead of relying on the ones we imported from Japan. I'd really like to rebuild the concept of a visual novel from scratch, because I don't really think they are a thing in the West.

But really, VNs have literally zero a priori definitions. It's a presentation style, if anything, and even then it's perfectly possible to be subverted and still be considered a VN (take Emily is Away as an example). They may not have choices, novel narrative, sprites or text boxes. So if we're talking about perspectives, listen up - the bottom of the issue is still lots of jumps away.

 Visual novel is a medium more than a genre. Its a form of interactive novel put in video format. Which by default makes it a video game. 

Text oriented and player choice. You can play devils advocate but there are legitimate definitions. And None of them are backed by Japanese culture. 

You see people look for the more general principle definition rather than what literally makes a VN.

And that's what I want to focus on. Western VNs can easily be just regular VNs that aren't targetted toward Japanese and still feel like a VN.

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I liked VN the way they are. We can't make something that pleases everybody. For example one of my friend see VN as a joke, he told me to play Battlefield 4 instead.

The problem is market, money, how much money spend, how many profit gained, do "West VN" can attract many people to get interested in it, etc.

Don't worry, if particular gaming company seeing VN as you do, someday your dream will come true. 

36 minutes ago, Kiriririri said:

I am not interested in making VNs popular in the west. I want Japanese porn games with cute anime girls to become more popular.

^This

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First off nowhere in he'll does VN say Japanese culture centric. Nowhere.in.hell.it's stupid, it's naive, and people need to seriously grow some perspective. VNs are not Japanese centric. The developers choose to, but the medium itself isn't. Period. 

 

 

Second, when I said something not eastern or western. I meant something I see in both areas but not defined by it. Primarily video game art. A lot of triple a video game art both in the west and Japan hold similar styles. But doesn't matter. All VNs will need a distinct artstyle.

third, you are far too rapped up in actively making a business out of it instantly. I know the bast majority of VNs started out as hobby developers who instantly became cult hit. Hell VNs aren't even all that high and mighty form of art, and I know some of you play some VN out of morbid curiosity. So I dont believe I have the wrong audience. i believe some of the audience is here in this forum whether they want to admit it or not. And believe it or not curiosity and demand for feedback whether casual or not is informative. Even when they think they are trolling.

 

but as for this community, they just need to see what a Western VN looks and feels like. BEcause their otaku minds, some of them cant comprehend what a western VN would look like. In terms of style, i say imagine Life is Strange. Thats the best example of what a visual novel can be, both visually and story-wise. not in terms of mechanics just to be clear. The audience is gamers, primarily gamers who follow gematsu and siliconera, the leading front in more Indie style and Visual novel centric areas. They  are the perfect place to share these type of games. I've seen worst games come to life and gain success.

 

Otakus act like they own VN Genre, both developers and fans. There are rare gems out there such as The Seed. We also see games like Zombie run where players use story to exercise. 

I don't believe there is no market for western VNs. Because to argue that is to argue all Indie campaignes. I honestly think it has a real chance.

 

Maybe it's the otaku in some of you that feel anything non Japanese is inferior. But there is real room for novel-level story. And grade-a deep emotional characters and heavy decision making. The problem is people have some misconception that it has to be Japanese. I honestly believed we we're moving past it. That people we're appreciating all cultures not just Japanese. 

 

I don't care what anyone personally defines VN, it's not reliant on Japanese culture. Thats just a trend. a trend that can change over time. All it takes is one person to show them it can be done.

 

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12 minutes ago, Lumaria said:

Maybe it's the otaku in some of you that feel anything non Japanese is inferior. But there is real room for novel-level story. And grade-a deep emotional characters and heavy decision making. The problem is people have some misconception that it has to be Japanese. I honestly believed we we're moving past it. That people we're appreciating all cultures not just Japanese. 

Well so far everything non Japanese has been inferior (KS is an exception but it's based on Jap. culture). I am not aware of any others that are good, besides "The Seed" which I played a short snippet of from their beta (I srsly think this one will be a game changer).

You mentioned "Life Is Strange", and I'll add that anything from Telltale Games is very good. Their form is not of a VN, but it could be..

12 minutes ago, Lumaria said:

I don't care what anyone personally defines VN, it's not reliant on Japanese culture. Thats just a trend. a trend that can change over time. All it takes is one person to show them it can be done.

Yes, I agree. I think most people would agree with your statement, but there hasn't been anything else that compares...yet.

 

BUT we can still have personal preferences, some may prefer VN's based on Japanese culture.

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7 hours ago, kingdomcome said:

Well so far everything non Japanese has been inferior (KS is an exception but it's based on Jap. culture). I am not aware of any others that are good, besides "The Seed" which I played a short snippet of from their beta (I srsly think this one will be a game changer).

You mentioned "Life Is Strange", and I'll add that anything from Telltale Games is very good. Their form is not of a VN, but it could be..

Yes, I agree. I think most people would agree with your statement, but there hasn't been anything else that compares...yet.

 

BUT we can still have personal preferences, some may prefer VN's based on Japanese culture.

I'm not arguing about personal preference...ANd ive continuously been stating that. but where do some of these people get off believing Japanese is superior when it's all based on preference. 

You don't need a full fledged English VN just to see the potential it has. There are games out there that can be great VN. 

 

Additionally, Palpas thinks I contradicted myself when mentioning referring to Life is Strange simply because it wasn't made As a hobby. But if taken the VN approach, it could have easily been a VN and not spend any real money. 

Telltale games usually takes the episodic route to save time but their development. 

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@Lumaria Can a Western VN be good? Of course it can. It's just a storytelling medium, not something that cannot work outside of Japan.
Can a Western VN, created in this modern day and aimed at wider Western audience, be good? No, I don't think so.

The main problem with the wider Western audience, is that it kinda hates reading. People don't want complex storylines (or storylines at all). They want simplicity, random explosions and action.
Japanese audience has it's own issues (you know, moe and stuff), but those aren't critical for the genre itself.

Above everything else, VNs are novels. Not games (like Ace Attorney, that's 100% adventure game). They are all about the story, characters, and writing (and/or porn in some cases). Choices are supposed to serve the story, allow more branches and so on. They are not the key element by themselves. Good VN requires a good writer. It can have simple art, generic music, no voice acting or no choices - as long as it doesn't look/sound horrible and the story delivers, it will be decent (just one random example - https://vndb.org/v103). The problem with Western VN scene and audience is the severe lack of good writers, and the very low demand for good writing, respectively.
The fixation of VN creators on Japanese themes (as already mentioned) is only a secondary problem - a good writer familiar with Japanese culture can write such a setting just fine (Katawa Shoujo completely failed at this, but for example https://vndb.org/v10754 has Japanese setting that actually works).

I think that making VNs aimed for a wider Western audience is a step in the WRONG direction in this regard. Like I said, reading isn't exactly "popular" on the West. Contrary to what you said, RPG genre starts relying on text less and less. Look at Fallout 4 - this extremely dumbed-down shooter is what counts as """"RPG"""" these days.
Mainstream movies are even worse - Hobbit, Star Trek reboot, Star Wars: The Farce Awakens - those films made craploads of $$$, even though their plots (in case of The Hobbit - parts that weren't in the original book) make much, MUCH less sense than a script from a shitty nukige raped by Google Translate. But people don't mind that - apparently the majority will swallow everything, as long as it's filled with lens flares and CGI, and random shit constantly explodes.
I sure don't want one of my favorite mediums to get dumbed-down to meet the extremely low standards of modern Western storytelling. That would make actually readable stuff even more niche than it is today, with all those generic moeges flooding the market (though after watching the new Star Wars, something like Shuffle suddenly seems like a great literary masterpiece...).

There's one more issue. Can a VN meant for a wider Western audience contain explicit sexual content? Or any themes that are not 100% politically correct?
VNs can have both decent stroyline and explicit sex. All those generic moeges feature romance that doesn't end at holding hands. And those are usually kinda crappy VNs where sex can be written quite poorly. But there are also plenty of titles (usually not translated) that feature both interesting storylines and well-written, fitting sex-scenes. Including extremely dark and hardcore scenes that don't appear anywhere else (save for ero-mangas). Porn with plot is something almost exclusive to the VN medium (some ero-mangas have solid stories, but those are rather rare).
But you can't do this on the West, if you want to target wider audience. Even pure porn, like Sakura series, can't have actually explicit sexual content. That's my problem with Western culture - it makes too many interesting topics a taboo. It's too "safe" and politically correct (as long as things aimed at general audience are concerned, there are niche things, but that's beside the point). I would certainly welcome Western VNs breaking those dumb restrictions (without turning into a copypasta of JP themes). I'm not interested in VNs aimed at general Western audience. Well, I'm not exactly interested in typical moeges made for general otaku audience either, but that's a different story. :P

In short - I like the concept of a Western VN that's well written, has high quality Western-style artwork, and music, features original characters and themes rarely present in JP titles, and that doesn't succumb to stupid cultural restrictions and political correctness. But I highly doubt anything like that will be created anytime soon.

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The idea that 'people don't like to read' in the West is a simplistic and false argument put forward by those who don't want to address the actual issues. There are more readers in the West than there are in Japan (going by sheer weight of numbers if you don't want to talk percentages) and book sales are higher in the West than in Japan (the highest selling book in Japan in 2013 moved 900,000 copies, which is matched by UK charts alone without having to bring in America.) So there is obviously a larger market of 'readers' in the West than in Japan. At the end of the day, the argument that 'the West doesn't play VNs because it doesn't like to read' is false. Data shows plenty of people still like to read (and the majority of these are women, btw.) The idea that the West doesn't like complex storylines is also false, considering the sale figures of books with complex storylines are still high. 'Pandora's Star' is an example. The idea that modern Western storytelling is bad because some very popular Western movies have bad writing is another false argument, it's like me pointing at Naruto and making generalisations about Japanese writing.

People in the West would rather not read on a computer screen is certainly a valid argument (so VNs are predominantly targeted at gamers and not readers.) People in the West don't want to read stories predominantly about romances set in a Japanese high school is another (especially considering the romance market in the West is predominantly targeted at women, and romance VNs predominantly at men.) They see the market flooded by sex scenes and are put off is yet another argument you could make. The idea that people don't like to read while playing games is debatable. 

And don't get me started on RPGs. RPGs aren't meant to feature heavy stories, RPGs were traditionally about 'user defined' stories. Technology being unable to mimic this trait has lead to different versions of what could be called an RPG. 'Avadon' still has plenty of text though (although crappy graphics.)

And no, Shuffle is nowhere near the quality of B grade movies, let alone 'The Force Awakens.'

At the end of the day, over 700,000 people own 'An Everlasting Summer' on Steam. Even though it's free, that's not bad for a no-name medium that's just started to ascend into the public's awareness.

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Now that I remember, my very first topic on the forums I wanted to basically say this, but worded things... Poorly, to say the least :P

First, I must say that this is a wonderful thread Lumaria. I've always had this idea of yours, yet I was more or less unsure of how to organize my thoughts into a thread like this one... That, and I'm a little scared of opening the subject lol.

Scared? How exactly is this scary?

Change. Change is a very scary thing, and as you've exactly described, the culture of Japanese VNs has become a part of what VNs are to most people here. Fuwanovel, as a community, glorifies and tries to spread translated Japanese VNs, while the OELVN scene is still ridiculed and made fun of here. That ridicule is partly justified, because most OELVNs are just shitty attempts to make something as close as possible to Japanese VNs, or outright jokes like Sakura Spirit.

You see, as a VN developer, I can make a cute little Japanese-copy-pasta VN and at least get a guaranteed small audience that is the current VN customers. Or I can make something new, that has the chance of getting like, no sales at all. It's simply riskier.

There are quite a few new promising OELVNs out there, but really how many aren't set in high school? How many don't have anime art style? Not much, the only one I can think of off the top of my head is Black Sands. There was also "over the hills and far away"  and to a lesser extent Cursed Sight a while back. How much are those talked about around here?

Is it sad? Yes, the VN medium can reach much more people if we would simply make suitable VNs for those people. But can you really demand  developers take that path? It's a very, very tough decision to make as a developer. You're basically starting at 0. It's brave, it's good, from almost every point of view I can think of it's the right decision to make. I hope the VN I plan to make in the future will be unique and and actually good lol, but things rarely go that easily...

You can still suggest this path to developers, sure. But you can't really blame them for taking the easy route either. That, and some people just want to make a Japanese copy-pasta VN lol, this very culture that's a barrier to some is the main attraction to others. It's definitely not wrong to do so. With all that in mind, make watevs VN you want man. If you want to make something new and unique, go for it, just know the risks. Want to make another HighSchool moe blob VN? Go for it too, just try to make it good pls... Want to make another Sakura spirit game? kill yourself w

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Remember the idea is to plant the idea. Right now people can't e that VN community is the same  otaku community. So people can't think up that maybe somewhere else someone would like to use the medium to aim at a completely different audience. Maybe, just maybe, at an audience that isn't about games.

 

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4 minutes ago, WinterfuryZX said:

There's already been some experiments, for exhample this is older than YU-NO, created way before the first attempts in bringing japanese VNs to the west (Himeya-soft in late 90s):

https://vndb.org/v3836

VN actually existed a little earlier as well for PC. but the thing is most people see it as those as expriements because no one sees it as a defined medium. At least in terms of western audience. 

 

But still the idea is to plant the idea that this medium can work with other stories. People seem to have backed off and I hope those who wrote it off are starting to have some gears turn. 

For me, when I hear VN turning to ball audiences, I see a good thing  I see unique stories and characters coming to life in VNs. 

 

Im very sour by how some people here have treated VN. Even to the point that I feel they don't know what a VN is.

Subconsciously I think people define VN with Japan ophile tendencies. 

 

But that will grow out eventually. With games like akibas trip which is a poor wordplay with akiba strip. And Senran Kagura. 

then again I don't doubt that a significant group of people who enjoy games control a certain percentage of the VN community too. I mean why have porn adventures in the guise of VNs? Those exist in the west too, they just don't call them VNs.

 

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@Palas & Rooke

Yeah, I did make a sweeping generalization there. But that's the picture I get when I look at the most popular games, movies and even some books. And it annoys me to no end, so I'm prone to exaggerating a little. :P

Obviously, there's a much larger pool of avid readers on the West than in Japan. Some of them already read VNs and others stick to books because they don't like the VN as a medium. Those who either aren't aware of VNs or don't like certain aspects of JP VNs specifically (ero, highschool romance and so on), are the potential new audience for Western reader-targeted VNs. But it's a relatively small group (and like Rooke mentioned, largely female), not exactly something I would label as "wider Western audience". And hey, guess what? There are plenty of OELVN otome games, and some of those seem comparable with their JP counterparts (I can't say much since I didn't read them, but just look at http://zeiva.net/otome/area_x_story.html - just something I picked completely at random).

But... I'm a guy. I'm open-minded and I can read something targeted at female audience, I don't mind gender-neutral stuff at all, but I do like things aimed at guys (duh). That's one of the reasons why I usually don't enjoy typical Western romance stories all that much, and I have more fun reading a generic charage (even if it's objectively a bit worse). I do like Western storytelling - I have read far more Western stories than JP ones in any medium after all (what I was complaining about was the popular, mainstream storytelling - I should have specified this), but I find the Japanese approach to certain things a bit more interesting (well, that's why I got into anime in the first place).

Those are some of the reasons why I don't exactly like the concept of "popular Western VNs". When it comes to popular garbage, I simply prefer the Japanese stuff by far. They don't neglect story THAT much. Even Naruto or some thrashy ecchi-harem-bullshit has a basic plot and characterization, that occasionally even make some sense. Popular, high-budget Western movies or games? Screw story, fuck logic, have some explosions (yes, a sweeping generalization again - there are some exceptions on both sides :P). A lot of people don't have a problem with this, but I simply can't turn off my brain and enjoy stuff that makes no sense whatsoever (even in case of nukiges...).

Again, I certainly wouldn't mind a Western-style story written in a VN format, but I don't think this is something I'd label as a "popular VN".

4 hours ago, Rooke said:

And don't get me started on RPGs. RPGs aren't meant to feature heavy stories, RPGs were traditionally about 'user defined' stories. Technology being unable to mimic this trait has lead to different versions of what could be called an RPG. 'Avadon' still has plenty of text though (although crappy graphics.)

Yeah, they don't have to be story-heavy. Actually, most RPGs have rather basic storylines, and they work just fine. But that wasn't my point. Fallout in particular WAS story-heavy and reading-heavy. I was talking specifically about this aspect of RPGs. Story-heavy and text-heavy titles are getting pushed aside, into kinda niche and/or indie territory. This usually means crappy graphics and low production values in general (like you pointed out in case of Avadon). Because budget and professional resources are pumped into things that are popular (= sell more).

5 hours ago, Rooke said:

And no, Shuffle is nowhere near the quality of B grade movies, let alone 'The Force Awakens.'

Shuffle has worse writing than B movies, but MUCH better than new Star Wars. Come on, the script of that movie is a writing disaster. Chaotic, nonsensical, inconsistent, filled with awfully written characters, plagued with ridiculous dei ex machina, has the dumbest MacGuffin I have seen in a while, and it's as unoriginal as it gets. Honestly, even the crappy, generic moeges can offer something better. But I'll leave it at that, I don't want to write a huge rant about it.

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@Pabloc  There are many issues with what you said. But i will just clear up one misconception. It was clear that the subject was talking about making VNs (in general) popular in the west, as in more well known, more recognizable, and more accessible medium. which the solution is stop making VNs feel so exclusively toward japanese.We are not talking about "popular western VNs". that's not even a thing, (yet) so you can discriminate something that hasn't existed. Heck VNs as they are now aren't even popular at all. 

Everything else was plain wrong...you talk like an otaku, and otakus are always the most bias ones.

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Lumaria said:

It was clear that the subject was talking about making VNs (in general) popular in the west, as in more well known, more recognizable, and more accessible medium. which the solution is stop making VNs feel so exclusively toward japanese.We are not talking about "popular western VNs".

But to make VNs "popular on the West", you have to create something that will become a "popular Western VNs". Otherwise, they will stay niche.

Western VN creators could do what Palas said and target readers. Actually, that would be awesome - an average Western reader has a far better taste than an average JP otaku, who only wants moe waifus. I'm willing to bet that a good, high-budget Battletech-themed VN would have eaten Muv-Luv for breakfast. But I just don't see this happening.

There's a very good reason why VNs evolved from games, not from books. To create a book, you need a talented writer. Every essential part is done by one person, others (editors, publishers etc.) only help.
In case of VNs, you need a team (realistically speaking). Writer is essential, but if you want to make something decent, you need an artist too. And a programmer, to put everything together. Musician and voice actors would be ideal, too. Even "just" writing a good story is a considerable challenge, but in case of VNs, you have to deal with several other things. This process is comparable with a development of a videogame, but with main focus on writing instead of designing gameplay mechanics. So, while making VNs a natural evolution of e-books would be good for the medium, I think it probably won't happen that way.

Why VNs are a thing in Japan, but not on the West to begin with? It's an element of much wider cultural differences, that led to different evolution of various videogame genres, like text-based adventure games. On the West, their evolution was focused on expanding puzzles and point-and-click gameplay elements, at the expense of writing and storylines. In Japan, this genre went in a completely opposite direction - it gradually lost gameplay elements, and was left with pretty much raw stroy (with choices). Similar thing happened with the development of the RPG genre - generally, Western RPGs are more focused on mechanics, while jRPGs are more focused on characters and storylines.

Logically, a VN for Western audience should evolve from story-driven game genre. RPGs? No - they are going in a completely opposite direction. Maybe adventure games? TellTale-like stuff can seem like a promising sign. But while they do get rid of most gameplay mechanics and put more weight on storytelling, they don't go in the direction of interactive novels. They follow the patch to interactive movies. And that's what I think is realistic here - interactive movies that rely on cinematic elements to convey their stories. Not visual novels that rely mainly on writing. Saying that Western audience hates reading was obviously a huge exaggeration, but we generally tend to prioritize other aspects of media (like visuals or gameplay).

So, I don't really see Western VNs evolving from either games or books. All that's left is adapting the existing JP genre.
This could work (give me a good Battletech or Warhammer VN, and I'll gladly throw my money at it). But it's a very risky business - you already have established competition (in the form of professional Japanese VNs), so it will be hard to make something that could compete with it, without risking a considerable amount of money. This is a barrier that will be hard to break - it scares off professionals, and leaves only low-budget, amateur projects (that often make the same stuff as Japanese developers, only much worse).
But there's an easy way to bypass this obstacle - catering to a "wider Western audience", like gamers for example, instead of much smaller groups like current VN fanbase or readers. I think it's the most realistic approach from the business perspective, but I already explained why I think it will be awful for the medium. VNs would have to be devolved to meet the expectations of an average gamer, and they would end up more like adventure games (with shortened storyline and added gameplay elements to make sure people won't get bored by too much reading).

If general Western audience really wanted VNs, there's no reason why they wouldn't be widely popular already. But those that did appear in the past, ended up as some little curiosities, nothing else.

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@Palas you would be surprised in the Google play store how much is considered a game and doesn't offer any real game play (and with good reviews too). With how VNs are some will take the less is more approach, and leave more to the animation but have good story. but others would naturally make a quality VN just by knowing what they have to work with. 

VNs are just like adventure books. They just rely a little more visuals.  Some will market it more as a story than a game, and  that isn't a bad thing...at it's core, it will be a game. VNs just offer more interactivity than adventure books, and some will see it. Also see things current VN community doesn't see, like how to get a 

 

@Pabloc  

 

No, we don't need a popular western VN to make VNs popular in the west. Thats still thinking like the current community. You don't understand that VNs will never explicitly be popular but at least an accepted medium. You still see it like VNs have to feed your otaku needs. You can't see how VNs can fulfill other peoples desires. 

You say so many thing that need to be refuted but because I'm limited to smartphone.I can't gonin detail. Plus have not been able to split up a quote.

But it doesn't matter how VNs and here. You're not japanese, and that's enough for me to say it is possible.

 

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