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a way to make visual novels more popular in the west


Lumaria
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To me @Lumaria, the slogan "Make Visual Novels Popular in the West"  is just that. It's just a subtitle to put under the name Fuwanovel. The truth is that visual novels are already popular in the West.

In 2012, Telltale released The Walking Dead. You probably already know this, but the game made quite an impact on not only the western gaming community, but also the youtube world. A lot of popular youtubers started playing it for their channel, ranging from your Pewdipies to your Harshly Criticals, everyone was playing it and everyone was watching it. 

Last year, the game that several gaming communities were talking about was Life is Strange. Similar to TWD, Life is Strange was nominated for several awards. 

You may disagree with my opinion, but I believe that visual novels are already popular in the West. Just because TWD uses character models instead of sprites does not mean that it should be disqualified as a visual novel. So what if Japan drinks coffee in a can, and so what if the West freezes it, drowns it in syrup, throws a fistful of sugar in it, dresses it with whip cream and calls it coffee. At the end of the day they're still considered coffee.

 

Now on the topic of your proposed VN concepts. If you want to create a visual novel, go for it. In fact, I implore you to do it, for I would gladly try out any visual novel that comes in my way, regardless of its method of execution.

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57 minutes ago, CeruleanGamer said:

Superheroes - See why Marvel keeps releasing all these superhero movies? They sell! And yeah can't wait on that Deadpool movie to come out!

Hmm... well, I think at least with superheroes, we get plenty of Japan's version of it in chuunige. If you want specific superheroes popular in the west (e.g., Marvel or DC characters), while it's probably not going to happen, I do feel like there's a substantial untapped market there, but you definitely aren't going to see Spiderman eroge as long as Disney owns Marvel.

Oh. Now there's a thought.

Disney eroge.

While it's even higher on the "will never happen" list, but it would be pretty amazing if it did happen and was done well.

Aladdin: NTR route, narrated by Jafar

Beauty and the Beast: Clearly an Otome game waiting to happen.

BRB, I think I hear Disney lawyers at my doorstep. Something about copyright thoughtcrime...

 

Anyway, the mystery one is true (obviously they do exist, but are much rarer than the western equivalent) and is kind of surprising to me, because Japan seems to love Sherlock Holmes as a character basis for various otaku media. But inevitably when they do make a character with that grounding, they rarely go after the investigation and deduction angle, and instead play the character for a straight action role (for whatever reason, Aria the Scarlet Ammo is what I have in my mind right now, but I swear I've seen this same bizarre treatment elsewhere as well). It's really weird. Next logical step: feature Hercule Poirot in an anime as a fussy Belgian dude with a nice hat and no role at all in the plot.

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10 minutes ago, B0X0R said:

To me @Lumaria, the slogan "Make Visual Novels Popular in the West"  is just that. It's just a subtitle to put under the name Fuwanovel. The truth is that visual novels are already popular in the West.

In 2012, Telltale released The Walking Dead. You probably already know this, but the game made quite an impact on not only the western gaming community, but also the youtube world. A lot of popular youtubers started playing it for their channel, ranging from your Pewdipies to your Harshly Criticals, everyone was playing it and everyone was watching it. 

Last year, the game that several gaming communities were talking about was Life is Strange. Similar to TWD, Life is Strange was nominated for several awards. 

You may disagree with my opinion, but I believe that visual novels are already popular in the West. Just because TWD uses character models instead of sprites does not mean that it should be disqualified as a visual novel. So what if Japan drinks coffee in a can, and so what if the West freezes it, drowns it in syrup, throws a fistful of sugar in it, dresses it with whip cream and calls it coffee. At the end of the day they're still considered coffee.

 

Now on the topic of your proposed VN concepts. If you want to create a visual novel, go for it. In fact, I implore you to do it, for I would gladly try out any visual novel that comes in my way, regardless of its method of execution.

Visual novels have a specific structure but are very close to the graphic adventure genre that most western market has. 

 

The slogan is just that, but I think it's possible. Not in he direct sense where everyone plays vNs but those who like story games play a VN that fits their tastes.

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4 hours ago, Lumaria said:

Visual novels have a specific structure but are very close to the graphic adventure genre that most western market has. 

Please @Lumaria, enlighten me. What are these specific structures that a form of media must have to be given the honor to be called a visual novel?

 

4 hours ago, Fred the Barber said:

Beauty and the Beast: Clearly an Otome game waiting to happen.

I was actually thinking more along the lines of a BL novel. Gotta get that BeastXGaston market involved somehow!

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Here is a plot idea that hasn`t been mentioned until now, that could resonate well enough with a western audience: Classic european mythology. Many outside of the Otaku subculture can`t relate to Kitsune, Youkai and the like, but the labors of Hercules, the Odyssee or the story of Beowulf would probaly make a good basis should one want to undertake such an project

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6 minutes ago, flyingappels said:

Here is a plot idea that hasn`t been mentioned until now, that could resonate well enough with a western audience: Classic european mythology. Many outside of the Otaku subculture can`t relate to Kitsune, Youkai and the like, but the labors of Hercules, the Odyssee or the story of Beowulf would probaly make a good basis should one want to undertake such an project

I'm with you on that one. I was actually rather proud of my Norse mythology-inspired VN idea over in this other thread:

 

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@Lumaria

1 hour ago, Lumaria said:

Your last point was revolved on all the downsides. 

Correction - downsides AND: 1) explicit statement that I would like to see well-made Western VNs (that you dismissed as a lie), 2) summary of the evolution of VNs in Japan and a theory how they could realistically evolve on the West (that you ignored), 3) pointing out the risks that prevent bigger Western developers from creating high-quality VNs (that you ignored as well). Yeah, if you ignore 75% of what I write, you will be left only with downsides.

1 hour ago, Lumaria said:

Its not false. Its true. Even within the community admit it. There's no denying.

Okay, I have no idea what are you talking about here. Is this about your claim that VNs lack diversity? If that's the case, then I just brought up 6 examples showing that VNs ARE quite diverse already, both Western ones and Japanese ones.

Why they aren't more diverse? There are good reasons for that, and I already listed them (re-read the parts of my previous posts that you ignored). One of them is precisely what B0X0R mentioned - we are going more in the direction of interactive movies, like TWD or LiS, that most definitely are not novels.

 

31 minutes ago, Fred the Barber said:

But inevitably when they do make a character with that grounding, they rarely go after the investigation and deduction angle, and instead play the character for a straight action role

The new Sherlock Holmes series with that Cucumberbath dude (or something like that) did something kinda similar. :P

31 minutes ago, Fred the Barber said:

Next logical step: feature Hercule Poirot in an anime as a fussy Belgian dude with a nice hat and no role at all in the plot.

They already did one Poirot anime - http://myanimelist.net/anime/244/Agatha_Christie_no_Meitantei_Poirot_to_Marple, but apparently it wasn't THAT bad (that reminds me I wanted to watch it someday).

15 minutes ago, B0X0R said:

What are these specific structures that a form of media must have to be given the honor to be called a visual novel?

They must be text-based, written like novels, and have visuals?

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@CeruleanGamer you mentioned some good genres that almost everyone can use for VNs.

I will say Dr. Who is a piece of something bigger called Brittaphile. They are also more likely to be part of the same group that enjoy things from BBC. But there's nothing saying that a VN can take an alien/dead space approach. 

For zombies, yes, that is also a big big thing going on but I think people like the idea of what zombies provide than what zombies actually are. Zombies tends to be much bigger as a survival horror genre. Which could really work well with 

As for #4 and #5, I don't think theyll translate well into VNs unless taking the school days approach and it's all about the timing of the events. But some will most likely see through that and feel bored. 

But also think about this: in Japan the harem genre is comical, complete fantasy. But it can actually be a real, stressful situation. In a more westernize form, harem can really feel like real life. 

@B0X0R graphic adventures evolved from point and click and would even contain solving puzzles. Telltales isn't a novel format. Tell tales more or less usually leads to the same ending anyways as much as they make one believe that they do. 

VNs are visualistic but it's more of how the visuals just emphasize the main core aspect that feels like a novel.

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41 minutes ago, Lumaria said:

graphic adventures evolved from point and click and would even contain solving puzzles. Telltales isn't a novel format. Tell tales more or less usually leads to the same ending anyways as much as they make one believe that they do. 

VNs are visualistic but it's more of how the visuals just emphasize the main core aspect that feels like a novel.

Forgive me if I am mistaken, but aren't visual novels a sub-genera of point and click games?

Yup

Edited by B0X0R
Confirming my thoughts
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Specific definitional arguments about pretty much anything are generally both fruitless (nobody can agree, because, for example, the Platonic ideal Visual Novel doesn't exist) and useless (they won't actually inform the situation).

Here's a more useful phrasing of the question to argue: is the experience of playing a Telltale Games release similar enough to the experience of playing a visual novel that people who enjoy the former will likely also enjoy the latter? If arguing for, ideally present a VN with a substantially similar experience (differences, if any, should be reasonably excusable as not central to the experience); if arguing against, present differences vs. all other VNs that make for a substantial enough change in the experience as to render it not enjoyable for the (rather large) western audience for Telltale Games. The former case is probably quite a bit easier than the latter, but, well, that's the nature of the argument here... I've actually never played a game by Telltale Games before, so I offer no argument either way.

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3 hours ago, B0X0R said:

Forgive me if I am mistaken, but aren't visual novels a sub-genera of point and click games?

Yup

In the context of all games on pc where we click anything. 

 

55 minutes ago, Fred the Barber said:

Specific definitional arguments about pretty much anything are generally both fruitless (nobody can agree, because, for example, the Platonic ideal Visual Novel doesn't exist) and useless (they won't actually inform the situation).

Here's a more useful phrasing of the question to argue: is the experience of playing a Telltale Games release similar enough to the experience of playing a visual novel that people who enjoy the former will likely also enjoy the latter? If arguing for, ideally present a VN with a substantially similar experience (differences, if any, should be reasonably excusable as not central to the experience); if arguing against, present differences vs. all other VNs that make for a substantial enough change in the experience as to render it not enjoyable for the (rather large) western audience for Telltale Games. The former case is probably quite a bit easier than the latter, but, well, that's the nature of the argument here... I've actually never played a game by Telltale Games before, so I offer no argument either way.

A good question. 

Telltale games to my knowledge makes exclusive episodic point-and-click side stories to existing IPs. The games are mostly seeing a story play out in full audio and some freedom to roam around and use a combination of quick time events with number of options (to add pressure to your choice). They are the opposite of a novel. They are far more game oriented. VNs have a more measure side. Taking your time to read and enjoy whatever it is.

 

One key point is that I have never seen a telltale game for a brand new exclusive unique story. Thats not to say they can't, but that's uncharted water they are not willing to try because logic. 

However, people who've played games like Ace Attorney are more likely to try out VNs just by the general knowledge of what makes a VN with the execution of Ace Attorney's VN qualities, and even just by the restrictions ACe Attorney had by the aspects that werent exactly VN.

Allow me to explain:

Ace Attorney is 80% text based and you read everything. THe only thing you dont always read is the evidence. But because Ace Attorney is more of a graphic adventure, it doesnt have an over branching story. INstead it offers one legitimate way to proceed.

Ace Attorney however demanded critical thinking and but no shortcuts or harder ways to succeed or the legitimate option of failing. As a VN or at least closer to one, Ace Attorney would offer crazy ammount of replayability. 

 

ANd im positive players saw VNs a little lighter by what Ace Attorney offered. Plus witty and surprising characters.

 

back to telltale games. I see VNs able to succeed in what telltales does. Although extremely popular, telltale games does get some flak. But it succeeds because it executes well on finding its market. Thry target popular IPs and tease their players with mystery behind the games. 

I can see VNs working in the sense that just like theres a telltale game for every popular IP, there can be a VN for every different type of person, so long as that the person can tolerate some of the core aspects. IT works for telltale games.

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43 minutes ago, Lumaria said:

I can see VNs working in the sense that just like theres a telltale game for every popular IP, there can be a VN for every different type of person, so long as that the person can tolerate some of the core aspects. IT works for telltale games.

You are right about what makes telltale games sucessful, but simply saying that you can make a vn for every different type of person isn't going to cut it. Targeting a niche of a niche market won't really pay of, and you still would have to reach your audience. And you haven't answered who should produce those vns.

These three things (How big is your market? How would get that market to buy&try vns? Who has a reason to and will produce them?)  are much more important than plot ideas

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1 hour ago, flyingappels said:

You are right about what makes telltale games sucessful, but simply saying that you can make a vn for every different type of person isn't going to cut it. Targeting a niche of a niche market won't really pay of, and you still would have to reach your audience. And you haven't answered who should produce those vns.

These three things (How big is your market? How would get that market to buy&try vns? Who has a reason to and will produce them?)  are much more important than plot ideas

VNs are niche because of the refusal to try and aim for other audiences. VNs audience at it's most broadest is anyone who A) enjoys novels or doesn't mind a significant amount of reading. B) doesn't mind visuals. C) anyone who is willing to try things  (and I'll get into that). 

And that's it...for everything else the bigger markets exist. Just how telltale relies on those bigger IPs to be successful. 

Here's how I would personally try doing. Work with a few VNs exclusively designed for a specific specific audience that I know is safe. The seed was successfully funded on kick starter, so survival / horror games is an easy place to start. 

Try out steam or Google play store. Anywhere where I can offer  a demo for free. Or make it free already with non intrusive ads.

Do a lot and  mean a lot of beta testing with people who bare new to the genre. Or just the casual of most casual players and see how quick or how slow they become engaged. Use their feedback and see if it can be done. The next would definitely be romance, and depending on the success, more can come.

 

Once that's done, and there's a trending sale, make more VNs for that. Most likely a sequel or even a trilogy. Once it's been established, time to slowly break into new territory. 

I asked permission from a friend but he was writing a novel specifically aimed at people in the US who are otakus in a sense. And I got permission to use his idea for a VN. And he even stated that it would need to present themselves as real characters not anime. 

But this idea can bridge the gap. Especially for otakus to try something they can "truly" relate to without it resembling the very thing they obsess over.

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So isn't games like Dark Souls very niche too? It is a trial and error game where you die at least a couple of hundreds of times. You save every time you can but the community still loves the game. That game isn't for everyone because it is something for people who enjoy restarting and get a game over whenever you die. Why can't VNs be a niche thing that we who truly enjoy some parts of it could still do that? I still think that if we are going to make the VN market more mainstream we are no different from anything else.

I know I have already said it before but no matter how something looks like you can't really change it. You may lose old customers for new ones? Who can tell if a more mainstream medium is successful? That's why the small steps we take every year is important. We get recognition on Steam, in PC reviews on sites such as PC gamer. A lot of games got two different sides with an 18+ release and all ages release. I think 2016 is yet another year we get more exposure and evolve this market.

Could you tell us some small things of this idea of yours. You don't have to spoil anything but if you think we are "small minded" and can't grasp the "big revolutionary idea" you got we can't give you constructive feedback. So what if you want to do a game with real characters, go ahead. Please give us some information about it and we maybe can help you on your way. And who says we can't enjoy OELVN in different forms? Fuwareviews review anything from any part of the world. Discussions occasionally appears here about titles released in the west. So we aren't blind of the market in the west.

Edit: And I like the artstyle. It is simple as that too. 

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My Grandfather smoked his whole life. I was about 10 years old when my mother said to him, 'If you ever want to see your grandchildren graduate, you have to stop immediately.'. Tears welled up in his eyes when he realized what exactly was at stake. He gave it up immediately. Three years later he died of lung cancer. It was really sad and destroyed me. My mother said to me- 'Don't ever smoke. Please don't put your family through what your Grandfather put us through." I agreed. At 23, I have never touched a cigarette. I must say, I feel a very slight sense of regret for never having done it, because your thread gave me cancer anyway.

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Because most of this thread has mostly been fluff, in the way that it's been unending discussions that don't seem to move forward, I want to ask this of OP. In your opinion where do VNs lack diversity(in terms of what themes and/or genres they approach), here in the "west" or in Japan?

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11 hours ago, Fred the Barber said:

Here's a more useful phrasing of the question to argue: is the experience of playing a Telltale Games release similar enough to the experience of playing a visual novel that people who enjoy the former will likely also enjoy the latter? If arguing for, ideally present a VN with a substantially similar experience (differences, if any, should be reasonably excusable as not central to the experience); if arguing against, present differences vs. all other VNs that make for a substantial enough change in the experience as to render it not enjoyable for the (rather large) western audience for Telltale Games. The former case is probably quite a bit easier than the latter, but, well, that's the nature of the argument here... I've actually never played a game by Telltale Games before, so I offer no argument either way.

I saw youtube videos of GCN: https://www.youtube.com/user/GameCareNetwork/videos 

pointing out all the gaming sins of Telltale's The Walking Dead and it's freaking appalling that this game manages to get away with all the illusion of giving a player a choice and this cause and effect gameplay when it's really non-existent. Went back to play it again and definitely saw many logical flaws with the game to the point I took back my 9/10 review (because I was a TWD fangirl) about the game on Steam to 3/10. 

Now I have to be careful with all these games promoting player choice and consequence and look at the plot/storyline/characters in a more critical way. Because sometimes, the player choices may be diverse and look different at first but when it all ends up in the same path later anyway, then they are fucking pointless. 

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On 1/22/2016 at 11:35 AM, 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..

I do agree, Most non japanese Vn's have been inferior to the japanese ones with very few exceptions

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4 minutes ago, CeruleanGamer said:

I wonder if Game of Thrones would make for an awesome visual novel?

No it wouldn't, and it would be 1000 hours long.

As far as OELVN go, I liked very much "Sepia Tears", a well written, simple one, without convoluted or haggard ideas or gimmicks. Just the simple kind of thing that works. Not groundbreaking, but who cares? Myra = my waifu.

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10 hours ago, Lumaria said:

Here's how I would personally try doing. Work with a few VNs exclusively designed for a specific specific audience that I know is safe. The seed was successfully funded on kick starter, so survival / horror games is an easy place to start.

That's precisely what Western VN creators are doing right now - aiming their VNs at retarded weeaboos, because that's the safest audience. Targeting any kind of "safe" audience is the last thing you do when you are thinking of expanding any market. This is always a very risky business.

"Try out Steam or Google play store"? Yeah, great advice. VN creators are already doing that for a while. And if stuff they put there isn't some otaku-pandering thrash, or an otome game very similar to Japanese titles, nobody cares about it.

If The Seed will be successful, AND people will explicitly praise it as a reading experience, it may give a signal that there's a possible wider market for VNs. However, it can also spectacularly backfire - if several people will complain that it has too much reading and not enough gameplay, it will be a clear signal to developers to stay away from VNs (whether it's successful or not).

10 hours ago, Lumaria said:

VNs are niche because of the refusal to try and aim for other audiences. VNs audience at it's most broadest is anyone who A) enjoys novels or doesn't mind a significant amount of reading. B) doesn't mind visuals. C) anyone who is willing to try things  (and I'll get into that).

If it was THAT simple, we would have a crapton of VNs already. Ask yourself a question - why VNs didn't appear on the West? There was the time when they didn't exist in Japan either. But they evolved from their adventure games, while our adventure games went in the opposite direction. Why we didn't create out own VNs back then, like it happened with RPGs and jRPGs? Was it because Western developers are dumb and they didn't come up with that idea? No - they actually tried to do something like that (Sinkha Project was already mentioned here). But it wasn't exactly popular, was it? Developers experimented with this genre long before Japanese pop culture spread on the West, but it just didn't work here.
There are also choose-your-own-adventure books, with similar mechanics as VNs. There was a small boom for those, but this genre generally stayed as children's books and never managed to appeal to a wider audience. There were adventure gamebooks or solitaire role-playing adventures, but those genres also turned niche after a brief boom.

Do we really have a potential market for VNs as a medium here? Or are Japanese VNs somewhat popular mainly because of their content, that just happens to fill the niches among Western fiction? I'm not sure, but I think interactive movies and such might have a brighter future here.

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VNs generally appeal to people keen on anime (because of the art used), and are destined to the people with the time to play them and try a lot of them. Common people with job, family, and other burdens don't even find the time to game or read a regular book, so they're pretty forfeit for this market. As for the art, there could be other different styles, but by now VNs are largely associated with anime.

I used to be in the tabletop RPG crowd, and VNs are something completely different, but in the end it's telling a story you can enjoy. Since VNs only require having a medium to run them and no preparation, unlike RPGs, they can be a nice 1-player experience without having to coordinate multiple people; thus D&D and most RPGs are pretty dead, and VNs are a growing thing. I know I should be playing MMOs but for some reason they don't appeal to me.

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40 minutes ago, Okarin said:

VNs generally appeal to people keen on anime (because of the art used), and are destined to the people with the time to play them and try a lot of them. Common people with job, family, and other burdens don't even find the time to game or read a regular book, so they're pretty forfeit for this market. As for the art, there could be other different styles, but by now VNs are largely associated with anime.

I used to be in the tabletop RPG crowd, and VNs are something completely different, but in the end it's telling a story you can enjoy. Since VNs only require having a medium to run them and no preparation, unlike RPGs, they can be a nice 1-player experience without having to coordinate multiple people; thus D&D and most RPGs are pretty dead, and VNs are a growing thing. I know I should be playing MMOs but for some reason they don't appeal to me.

To add to your point Okarin,

What's great about VNs is you don't need 60 FPS/1080p nonsense that most gamers are crying and whining and bitching about with other kinds of games. They can run even with the shittiest, lowest end machines. That's what makes them a superior gaming genre for anime/Japanese animation lovers. If you can read and understand a little bit of Japanese culture (you're not a dumb ass fucktard calling people pedophiles on the internet for liking loli girls), you can play visual novels with ease and with no prior experience needed. 

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