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OELVNs: Their Past, Present and Future

Do you read OELVNs?  

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This poll is closed to new votes
  1. 1. Do you read OELVNs?

    • Yes, I've read a lot and am looking forward to seeing more
    • A few, not much
    • Very little
    • Ewwww, no. OELVNs are cancer. Only the great nation of Nippon can create VNs worth reading
  2. 2. What do you think about the future of OELVNs?

    • OELVNs will one day reach and maybe even surpass their Japanese counterparts
    • OELVNs will probably get better, but I doubt they'll ever be as good as Japanese VNs
    • Maybe they'll be readable one day
    • Nothing will ever even get close to the divine status of Japanese-made hentai games (desu desu)
    • Dude, have you heard of Winged Clould?


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@XReaper It's nice to know fuwanovel is so 'welcoming'.  You're statement reminds me of people on Steam. You don't like OELVN's? Fine. But don't go about saying most or all of them are shit and the creators behind them have no talent. Japanese visual novels are far from perfect either. A good number of japanese visual novels use the same tropes over and over again, characters are bland, and sometimes even a stupid story like a protagonist being in a all girl's school and is the only guy. Another thing annoying is the lack of diversity in the games from race to body type (both guys and girls). Yes Japanese visual novels at times outshine OELVN'S , but they are far from perfect. Dharkerstudios and Winged Cloud have given OELVN'S a bad rep. I get that. But not all of them are bad.

Honestly I came to this site to learn more about Japanese visual novels and maybe even get tips on how to to make a western vn more appealing. But reading things like this and some other threads, I often wonder if I'd be welcome here at all. I've noticed OELVN's, when posted in the game section, barely get looked at. I'm not saying OELVN's are perfect, far from it, but some of the things I read about them are toxic. Makes me feel like if I ever created something it would be instantly regarded as crap

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1 hour ago, infellune said:

@XReaper It's nice to know fuwanovel is so 'welcoming'.  You're statement reminds me of people on Steam. You don't like OELVN's? Fine. But don't go about saying most or all of them are shit and the creators behind them have no talent. Japanese visual novels are far from perfect either. A good number of japanese visual novels use the same tropes over and over again, characters are bland, and sometimes even a stupid story like a protagonist being in a all girl's school and is the only guy. Another thing annoying is the lack of diversity in the games from race to body type (both guys and girls). Yes Japanese visual novels at times outshine OELVN'S , but they are far from perfect. Dharkerstudios and Winged Cloud have given OELVN'S a bad rep. I get that. But not all of them are bad.

 

nah i did not mean oelvns are bad, as stated in my very first sentence above, but it makes me rage that most promising, or good works i´ve read are basically buried under a mountain of trash, hard to find and possibly even to read, in case someone new to the medium itself happened to first come across a 10-15$ cashgrab, consisting of 3-4h of literary nothingness and giving off the impression all oelvns are the same ergo not wanting to try going for other works as the result. this is what gets me angry the most, because those, who spam the oelvn market with trash, partly backed by the industry itself, do actually hurt the ones who keep doing things right.

edit: and yes, the vast amount of titles available are of no good literary quality. to me galge are a form of animated books and therefore having talent as a writer should definitely be a requirement. galge are no anime, or manga (even those require some sort of talent) but basically books, so if one cant write he/she is better off changing profession.

edit2: and i did no mention japanese media being the superior one by default, because a good story is a good story regardless of being written by whom.

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@XReaper I am sorry if my comment came off as a bit rude. I do understand what you mean. Japanese visual novels are better in a way. It's hard for me to get into them though, but I have been playing Clannad and some others. I guess what I am upset about honestly is, as you said, how OELVN's are flooded with garbage and yet that garbage is what's popular. And yes, a good number of us dev's are as talented as as the ero companies in Japan, but I believe we are growing. Like you I wish for OELVN'S to stop copy Japanese visual novels. As a creator myself it is hard I admit, but I'm hoping I'll be able to create something different. I will say I do like some of the BxG stories (like Clannad) as they help me with new ideas, but I don't want to copy them or have overused tropes. Sadly Steam is filled with a lot of bad vn's or those basically copying Japanese visual novels. People are 100% right in that creators need to do their own things and I also agree we have a lot to learn with our storytelling skills, but I think it's getting better. 

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1 hour ago, Narcosis said:

You didn't really brought up anything, that breaks the mold....

...Moving the setting from a generic japanese high school to a generic western high school isn't much of a change; same with moving setting from Japan in general to America or Europe. Military school with giant robots in US? Why not? Of course, our protag has to run late with a toast in her mouth and let's not forget about the obligatory bump into her dear sempai, whom she's secretly in love with! :makina:

What's the point of creating a western vn, when you actually don't talk about western-related things, issues or problems? Don't use the setting to the story's advantage? Do not build upon it? Is it supposed to be just a preety backdrop to make western players less hesitant and more willing to fork over their money?

This would be a great point if it wasn't exactly what I was talking about in my initial post though. That is, making these sweeping conclusions that aren't actually accurate.

None* of the five games that I listed are "generic high school slice of life" stories, set in Japan or otherwise.

-Highway Blossoms is about a roadtrip across the southwestern United States on a treasure hunt, and includes lots of national landmarks like the Grand Canyon, Arches, and more.

-Asphyxia is technically about school girls, but very little if any (it's been a while since I've read it) of the story actually takes place in a school. More importantly, the characters are based off of prominent (well, relatively) figures in Western literature.

-Menagerie I once again don't want to speak for and misrepresent.

-Selenon Rising is an investigative mystery story about an alien invasion, which is pretty far removed from high school drama.

-Caramel Mokaccino admittedly focuses on school life, but it's university life as opposed to high school, and deals more with adult struggles (finding a job, establishing independence, etc.) than adolescent ones. At least to my understanding, since the game isn't out yet.

And that's only 5 games off the top of my head. There are plenty of others out there - and even some of pretty nice quality. Yeah, at the moment there's no sprawling, multi-part fantasy story with volumes worth of worldbuilding and stuff, but a big part of that is because 99% of EVN devs (and I only leave that 1% open as a margin of error; I don't know of any exceptions) are indie devs or are backed by small-ish companies, and don't really have the budget to make something huge. I've been pretty open about the fact that Highway Blossoms was made on a budget of just about $10k, and that came with a lot of discounts from working with friends and people we know. The reason you're seeing most EVN's be rather short with less branching, as opposed to vast, epic stories, are because that's largely what's affordable to make. VN's in general are a niche market, and EVN's don't have the luxury of being able to charge a premium like popular JVN's can. For most developers, it's not feasible to sink your entire life's savings into a game that will recoup a fraction of the cost. Making shorter games with lower overhead that manage to break even or just barely profit is currently the safest and most stable way to do it.

There are some groups/people like Hanako Games that make a living entirely off of VN and dating sim sales, but they're few and far between and are generally individuals or pairs, as opposed to fully-staffed production companies.

 

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What's your favourite OELVN? Katawa shoujo like most users did

Will OELVNs ever be as good as Japanese VNs? in 5-10 years? or 100 because they busy making a great game or something

Why are OELVNs generally considered worse than Japanese VNs? Dont know as i read a VERY FEW OELVNs

What are the attributes that make OELVNs stand out (in a positive way) from their Japanese counterparts? ehrmmmm sakura positive? comming next year.

Recommend a random (relatively unknown) OELVN : other age, x-note, area x, voices of the sea (not sure if that list is good tho but im confident about other age)

Is Undertale an OELVN? And of so has it already made VNs popular in the west?... And if so has Fuwanovel lost its purpose of existence?! thats is definetly  a game!!!!

Quote

Dude, have you heard of Winged Clould?

 kek

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What's your favourite OELVN? - Analogue: A Hate Story

Will OELVNs ever be as good as Japanese VNs? - As a medium, No. There's too many structural limitations for western VNs to be better than the Japanese industry as a whole.

The nature of VNs are inherently more Japanese in nature:

  • Show Vs Tell (West prefers show, Japanese prefer tell)
  • The west isn't all that keen on reading
  • The west has established mediums to tell longform stories like radio shows/podcasts, TVs, actual books, etc.
  • VNs are essentially a YA medium in Japan that's highly linked to weeb culture, Doubt the west could tackle that.
  • Even if OELVNs got popular in the west it would probably be classified as adventure like the Telltale games mentioned in the podcast.

Outside of the nature of VNs, I think that it would be very hard for the west to create a comparable industry of VNs to Japan. Japan can make VNs targeting the Japanese market and there will be a market in the west for it. The west doesn't have that advantage, and Due to the fact that the market is so predominately Japanese focused and has Japanese tendencies, I have a hard time believing it could pull away and thrive without the Japanese market like we have in games. There's also the fact that we have many established development studios in japan able to pour large budgets into the games, while it would take a lot for the western market to catch up, which I just don't see happening.

Individual titles? Hell yeah. Just because one's from a specific country doesn't make them inherently superior at making a work of art that's better than others. While sparse, there's already great OELVNs that are as good as Japan like Katawa Shoujo and
Analogue.  

Why are OELVNs generally considered worse than Japanese VNs? - They're almost all indie, low budget affairs which inherently leads to lower quality. There's also the fact that while not all of them, quite a lot of them try to emulate the Japanese style with Japanese tropes, an approach that usually fails. There's also the fact that we're weebs and some weebs are elitist scum.

What are the attributes that make OELVNs stand out (in a positive way) from their Japanese counterparts? - Uh, idk. The only real difference should be who makes them. There's no inherent reason why OELVNs should have an atribute better than Japanese VNs or vice versa. Though, from what i've played, I'd have to say that they tend to tackle social issues that are more relevant to a western reader, and that they seem to have more stylistic liberties. 

Recommend a random (relatively unknown) OELVN - Even though I've mentioned it a fair amount of times in this post, gotta give more love to Analogue: A Hate Story  or anything by Christine Love for that matter. (See what I did there? See it? You weren't impressed by my bad pun? aww...)

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A lot of OELVN's have some side gameplay element. Unless it's well-integrated or unobtrusive that's a turn off for me, OELVN or JPVN.

 

Quote

I'd have to say that they tend to tackle social issues that are more relevant to a western reader, and that they seem to have more stylistic liberties. 

This is because the JPVN's we know about are commercial releases, because of that, there's almost always a certain standard of conformity. If you go to japanese doujin games you get a similar increase in breath of possible story types and style choices.

There are many different kinds of stories and some just don't interest me. Romcom's, school slice of life, punky cyberpunk, intrigue, modern world historical, pure mecha are all out.

It's hard to tell whether a story is good. The best way is by reliable word of mouth, so you know that the work will either have something you'd enjoy, something good you'd appreciate, or something good to appreciate.

The best I can do when I see an advertisement in a genre I'm interested in, is to look for hints that the author has an idea of what they're doing. Example: Elisa the Innkeeper

If a story is a type that interests me, and I see a sign that author looks like they have a handle on the story, then I would consider reading the story or supporting the kickstarter. Or just general positive reception from people who aren't blindly fanboying. Such is the case for One Thousand Lies, which I have firmly backlog'd.

 

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22 minutes ago, Rockmandash12 said:

The west isn't all that keen on reading

False. And I can bring out the graphs and studies to show that the West reads more than Japan. Like this one:

Bhk5M_GIAAEYK_f.jpg 

That people keep spreading this rubbish makes me want to facedesk xD

Whether the West are more willing to read IN GAMES is another matter. But seeing as the sales of IF in the West are at least comparable to the sales of VNs in Japan, which is still niche, then I would wager against that also. I would wager this is more complicated than people want to believe, and will therefore reach for the simplest answer (the West doesn't appreciate these masterpieces because they don't like to read) rather than face up to the actual reasons, which is partly that maybe these VNs are a little overhyped and struggle to reach an actual sizeable part of the community because they're not very good or relatable. Especially when half the time the translation is dodgy :) 

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18 minutes ago, Rooke said:

False. And I can bring out the graphs and studies to show that the West reads more than Japan. Like this one:

Bhk5M_GIAAEYK_f.jpg 

That people keep spreading this rubbish makes me want to facedesk xD

Whether the West are more willing to read IN GAMES is another matter. But seeing as the sales of IF in the West are at least comparable to the sales of VNs in Japan, which is still niche, then I would wager against that also. I would wager this is more complicated than people want to believe, and will therefore reach for the simplest answer (the West doesn't appreciate these masterpieces because they don't like to read) rather than face up to the actual reasons, which is partly that maybe these VNs are a little overhyped and struggle to reach an actual sizeable part of the community because they're not very good or relatable. Especially when half the time the translation is dodgy :) 

People keep bringing it up probably because of subjective experience, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ the numbers don't lie, sorry about saying something that was wrong. Just to be clear, this wasn't me trying to reach for the simplest answer like you said, just a subjective observation that happens to be false. Sorry bout that.

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1 hour ago, Rooke said:

False. And I can bring out the graphs and studies to show that the West reads more than Japan. Like this one:

Bhk5M_GIAAEYK_f.jpg 

That people keep spreading this rubbish makes me want to facedesk xD

Whether the West are more willing to read IN GAMES is another matter. But seeing as the sales of IF in the West are at least comparable to the sales of VNs in Japan, which is still niche, then I would wager against that also. I would wager this is more complicated than people want to believe, and will therefore reach for the simplest answer (the West doesn't appreciate these masterpieces because they don't like to read) rather than face up to the actual reasons, which is partly that maybe these VNs are a little overhyped and struggle to reach an actual sizeable part of the community because they're not very good or relatable. Especially when half the time the translation is dodgy :) 

well the evn's are catering to japanese markets in america. All moe and tits.

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Great replies! I'm happy so see this much discussion. I hope Fuwanovel continues to be a welcoming place for EVN devs. Here's a list of (most) of the good EVNs we mentioned in our podcast, if you're looking for some good stuff:-

Nanolife

SC2VN

One Thousand Lies

Cursed Sight (or anything made by the great @InvertMouse sama)

Always the Same Blue Sky

Autumn

Katawa Shoujo

Lucid9

Sunrider

When you add up all the other good EVNs that were mentioned in the thread, you have quite a lot of good stuff out there. I think that we, as a visual novel community, often fail to recognize how far EVNs have come, in contrast to how we don't skip a beat in calling out any garbage that comes our way. This gives the false impression that we somehow generally dislike EVNs, which horribly discourages actual EVN devs, many of whom browse this very site.

So to all those devs (or future devs) that happen to see this: Keep doing what you're doing man. I personally want to see the rest of Lucid9, longer versions of Cursed Sight and nanolife, a squeal to SC2VN, the release of Black Sands. Just from looking at the poll I can tell that a lot of us also want to see more from you guys. I don't really need to tell you to git gud, because ya'll are already steadily getting better. So just keep it up and don't let them haters get to you :sachi: 

 

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These polls, every time...

 

What's your favourite OELVN?

VA-11 HALL-A / Sepia Tears

Will OELVNs ever be as good as Japanese VNs?

Ehh. They should chase two different things, not the same, thus any kind of rating that puts one behind the other is absolutely worthless

Why are OELVNs generally considered worse than Japanese VNs?

Because they most of the time choose to chase after what Japanese VNs try to achieve, and more often than not, the aftermath is a weebish mush of utter garbage. Once devs realize that Western themes work much better and that it actually strikes home unlike some random Japanese themes and bentos. They're getting there, like with One Thousand Lies, VA-11 HALL-A, and Sepia Tears, but there's still a long way to go. Like with JRPGS, those made in Japan tend to be more enjoyable, so Westerners should try to strive for something original.

What are the attributes that make OELVNs stand out (in a positive way) from their Japanese counterparts?

Different themes, fresh ideas, and new ways to go with the storytelling than just the standard formula.

Recommend a random (relatively unknown) OELVN

I used to loathe Western VNs like many others, but Sepia Tears rejuvenated my faith in the "OELVN" industry. You should play it; it's heartwarming, quite ewll written, and will tug your heartstrings.

Is Undertale an OELVN? And of so has it already made VNs popular in the west?... And if so has Fuwanovel lost its purpose of existence?!

Sure, Undertale has some VN-ish elements, but I'm neither absolutely brain-dead nor a memer, so I will never think Undertale as a VN, and if you for some reason do, you're just more ignorant than a three-year-old. 

The OST's good though.

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4 hours ago, Rockmandash12 said:

The western otaku isn't all that keen on reading.

Fixed.

You can pretty much get confirmation of this by checking this demographic buying habits,

Anime? Fine.

Manga? Fine.

Video games? Fine.

Novels? Aw hell nawh!

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What's your favourite OELVN? Ramsay Butter me Up

Will OELVNs ever be as good as Japanese VNs? Never, the level of writing are too far apart, and besides look at the producers and quality of OELVNs being released, eww m9.

Why are OELVNs generally considered worse than Japanese VNs? Level of writing gap, art, sound track (They have no production fees) It's in English.

What are the attributes that make OELVNs stand out (in a positive way) from their Japanese counterparts? No. Pfft Winged Cloud

Recommend a random (relatively unknown) OELVN I don't know.

Is Undertale an OELVN? No, it's just a western JRPG thing.

And of so has it already made VNs popular in the west?... And if so has Fuwanovel lost its purpose of existence?! Making VNs popular in the west created a cancer fan base in the west too, so err let me shield myself with Japanese barrier.

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On 9/20/2016 at 9:36 AM, Nier said:

Basically what you're asking is akin to this "Can western made JRPGs ever be as good as made in Japan JRPGs?"

Ain't that the truth.

Once upon a time, in the late 2000's, I started learning Japanese.  I was sick and tired of all the good Japanese-developed video games that I couldn't play.  At that time, nearly all console games were Japanese.  Most of the Western-developed ones kinda sucked.  However, a funny thing happened.  The market changed; over the course of the PS2's lifespan, console games started shifting away from being an almost entirely Japanese production.  English developers gradually stepped up their game, and kept stepping it up, and now all the best-selling titles on consoles are Western-developed (unless you're Nintendo).

Now, if I'm not mistaken, the Japanese VN market is in a serious crisis right now.  Sales have plummeted compared to where they were ten years ago, and seem to have reached a new stable point.  Naturally, this will affect product quality.  OELVN developers also have not had very long to mature compared to the Japanese market.  So in the future, I would be very surprised if the OELVN market did not significantly improve from where it is now.  It just depends on what kind of timeframe you're talking about.  Six months from now probably looks a lot like today.  Six years?  Not so much.  Six decades?  The Japanese VN industry isn't even six decades old yet!  Who the hell knows?

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I think, aside from the well-drawn CGs, there's also the animated cutscenes and OPs, and of course the voice-acting that affect my interest in whether if I would buy a Japanese VN or an English one. Because honestly right now, lots of OELVN just don't have the production-quality to warrant my money, particularly the voice-acting aspect which I feel is very important in a VN (to me). The stories have to be good, of course, but if you want me to sit my ADD ass down for several hours reading text, you should probably have something engaging in return to keep my attention occupied. lol

That said, the only OELVN I could remember reading was Thousand Dollar Soul, and that was a really good story. The lack of voice acting didn't bother me in the least, but that's probably because my ADHD wasn't as bad back then. But yeah, it was a good example of what an OELVN can do. Hopefully, more OELVNs in the future can follow in that example instead of copying the Japanese VNs' 'high school life' setting because that's just getting old.

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