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phantomJS

MangaGamer has an android app? O.O....

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https://fansubbing.com/2018/04/12/judge-jukey-mangagamer-android/

Interesting idea, but personally I think it's a bad business decision. It looks like it will take months (possibly years) to iron out all the kinks, and porting Vns to androids feels like it will have many potential problems. In the mean time, they are gonna leave a bad taste in people's mouth if they don't improve the user experience and get rid of all the bugs soon.

Thoughts on this?

Edited by phantomJS

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Personally I am not interested in VNs on android or ios, but at least I hope it doesn't end up as a horrible buisness decision since i like MG. I gues it is difficult to know how well it will do since I gues the potential size of the market is pretty unknown. Pretty sure there aren't that many eroge available on android or ios in english at least. Having made a list of the VNs released in the west most ios and android VNs seemed to be all ages otome games.

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If they can get the technical problems with the app sorted out I don't really see a way in which it would be a bad thing - the early version might be a mess, but it doesn't have to stay this way and I really like having VNs on my tablet . Mobile devices are a convenient platform and might open some new possibilities for MG (let's not forget, there's literally hundreds of millions of Android devices out there), I also wouldn't expect costs of porting the games being high enough to make it an huge risk financially - even if it flops, it won't be some kind of life-threatening disaster for the company. For the time being, I just wish them luck, it will take some time before we can reasonably evaluate whether it's in any way successful.

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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Back when MG started out, they had to announce they had the proofreaders they need. They had received emails from hundreds of people or something because based on the quality of their first two releases, they would need proofreaders. They did some changes internally and ensured they used proper editors or something. At least they recovered just fine and MG is no longer known for the worst quality editor work in VNs.

 

Now they have decided to go into the handheld business. I have sort of mixed feelings about it. Personally I will never play a VN on anything handheld. A computer is the way to go and that is not debatable. I will get upset if their android department is at the cost of the windows releases in any way, including releasing using proper engines., but not limited to porting VNs to ren'py and then use that one to release for both computers and android. Most of the time VNs work best on the engine they were originally made for.

 

On the other hand, from a business point of view, I suspect android could be a good move for MG. There is a general move from computers to handheld devices, meaning the amount of consumers reachable only on handheld is rising. It looks to me like MG predicts it to become even bigger and end up with a VN market of a size, which makes it interesting relative to the size of the market of computer VNs. They want to be the big player there and it can likely turn out to be profitable, at least in the long run. It's entirely possible that they expect to run with losses for a number of years, but when it turns profitable, other companies will show up, but at that time MG has an established name in a new and growing type of VN community. Odds are that MG has made a lot of calculations and know how far they can push an android division without risking taking the computer part down.

 

Will this affect VNs for computers? Presumably not in the short run. In the long run, there is the risk that they will port VNs to new engines, which works on all the platforms they release for. If done right, the windows users can't tell the difference. If the android customers are "extra" as in it isn't windows users moving to android, then the cost of translating a VN will be spread across more end users, which might lower the price for windows releases. It might also maintain the prices, but with a higher profit for each copy, MG is more likely to stay in business. Maybe it can affect price and availability of licenses as well, allowing some releases for multiple platforms, which wouldn't have been made without android support.

 

The worst case scenario I see is if MG finds android to be so profitable that they abandon all other platforms. I find it unlikely though. I do find it likely that they have a plan, which says to not spend more on android than MG can handle in case androids fail completely and never brings any income at all. Overall I'm not happy with them being interested in android, but I'm not really worried either.

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26 minutes ago, Kiriririri said:

There is plenty of eroge on android in Japan so why not

Well in Japan their phone is their life, so ofc there are lots of eroge there, it doesn't neccesarily mean there is a huge market for it in the west. Though because of this there is probably much easily available knowledge about efficiently porting VNs over to android.

Edited by bakauchuujin

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I think this is a good idea for the most part because I kinda like reading VNs on mobile. It's going to be on Android first because mainly it's open-source and the play store is kinda a wild west for apps.

The hugest problem is screen optimization. Android is werid. And when you're developing on the platform, you have to learn that every single android device has a varying resolution issue.

So when people develop apps on Android, they have to resize certain elements into usually four categories.

Another problem is that what I learned in my previous topic post about database and whatnot.

You can query from a website it's information to solve that issue.

I like this idea because a handful of JVNs are usually ported to mobile anyway.

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It's plenty interesting if they can sort out the technical issues and get some android ready vns to have on the go for those who are interested, you'd be surprised how many people would read on the go if they could.

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Interesting I guess, although my handphone is still small though so unfortunately it won't store much VNs. Besides if we talk about the display and storage, PC and laptop still have the big advantage over that. Although it might be changed in the future though, I'll just wait and see for this. If anything at least I already get used by browsing using android/handphone.

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Reading Visual Novel on Android huh.... 

Not bad, but I doubt it can go well. Many factors in Visual Novel need to be evaluated until the visual novel can be stable in Andoid or iOS.

Some bug and requirements problems can't be avoided.

I once tried one of Moenovel's products, "If my heart had wings" on android (downloaded via PlayStore), I went crazy because of their fckin bugs. Even with Samsung Galaxy s4, lots of lag and questionable bugs attacking my phone. (I deleted it less than 20 minutes after I downloaded it ...)

Japanese Original Publishers "If my heart has wings" did not release their VN for Android Devices, so it came from Moenovel.

So, I think the same problem will happen with MangaGamer.

I think Playing VN with Emulator or Unofficial apk can be really bad idea. (PPSSPP for exclusion) . EXCEPT, that Visual novels are certainly made for android device ( Like build by Ren'py engine, etc  ) . 

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11 hours ago, tymmur said:

Now they have decided to go into the handheld business. I have sort of mixed feelings about it. Personally I will never play a VN on anything handheld. A computer is the way to go and that is not debatable. I will get upset if their android department is at the cost of the windows releases in any way, including releasing using proper engines., but not limited to porting VNs to ren'py and then use that one to release for both computers and android. Most of the time VNs work best on the engine they were originally made for.

While it is subjective to individuals, I personally agree with you with never playing any VN on a handheld. I'm just afraid that the highlighted points will come true as MangaGamers are not a very company with a lot of spare cash resources to burn on failed projects/ideas. Coupled with the fact that VN are not a very profitable business to being with, should they decide to focus on Android, they will need to reallocate their limited manpower and resources and their windows releases may suffer as result :unsure:...

12 hours ago, tymmur said:

On the other hand, from a business point of view, I suspect android could be a good move for MG. There is a general move from computers to handheld devices, meaning the amount of consumers reachable only on handheld is rising. It looks to me like MG predicts it to become even bigger and end up with a VN market of a size, which makes it interesting relative to the size of the market of computer VNs. They want to be the big player there and it can likely turn out to be profitable, at least in the long run. It's entirely possible that they expect to run with losses for a number of years, but when it turns profitable, other companies will show up, but at that time MG has an established name in a new and growing type of VN community. Odds are that MG has made a lot of calculations and know how far they can push an android division without risking taking the computer part down.

Even after subtracting out those low ends which are unable to run VNs, there are still far more android devices than PCs, so on paper it looks very enticing. Problem is if MG pulls a Konami and decides focus on mobile devices instead. If it goes well, fine and dandy. If not, they could very damage their entire business and everyone (including us consumers) suffers as result.

12 hours ago, tymmur said:

The worst case scenario I see is if MG finds android to be so profitable that they abandon all other platforms. I find it unlikely though. I do find it likely that they have a plan, which says to not spend more on android than MG can handle in case androids fail completely and never brings any income at all. Overall I'm not happy with them being interested in android, but I'm not really worried either.

  I agree, and from a very selfish point of view, I hope the android does not succeed :P. At the very least, I hope they do not abandon other platforms no matter what happens...

 

28 minutes ago, Orakana Newbie said:

Reading Visual Novel on Android huh.... 

Not bad, but I doubt it can go well. Many factors in Visual Novel need to be evaluated until the visual novel can be stable in Andoid or iOS.

Some bug and requirements problems can't be avoided.

I once tried one of Moenovel's products, "If my heart had wings" on android (downloaded via PlayStore), I went crazy because of their fckin bugs. Even with Samsung Galaxy s4, lots of lag and questionable bugs attacking my phone. (I deleted it less than 20 minutes after I downloaded it ...)

 Agree. I foresee too many potential problems for the app to succeed, sadly....

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31 minutes ago, phantomJS said:

Problem is if MG pulls a Konami and decides focus on mobile devices instead.

I don't think it will be that bad. They get a license for android releases, they get a translation and they port to ren'py (I think they mentioned that as their plan) and then release that. Now that they have the translated VN running in ren'py, the only cost in releasing for windows, mac, whatever would be the license. If the license is just an expansion of the android license and say it's no money up front and a fixed amount for each download, the startup expenses would be just the work in adding it to the store. As I wrote, I fear future releases for windows will be ren'py ports rather than the proper engine for the VN in question.

 

If they end up porting everything to ren'py, then I see a dark future for any VN with minigames or hybrid games, or just VNs using engine features not supported by ren'py.

48 minutes ago, phantomJS said:

MangaGamers are not a very company with a lot of spare cash resources to burn on failed projects/ideas.

This goes back to the question of how much they dare to risk on android in the first place. Are they willing to risk sales for windows by releasing a VN, which potentially became buggy in the engine conversion? Odds are that they are aware of these risks and will be careful not to hurt their source of income by looking into android.

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45 minutes ago, tymmur said:

I don't think it will be that bad. They get a license for android releases, they get a translation and they port to ren'py (I think they mentioned that as their plan) and then release that. Now that they have the translated VN running in ren'py, the only cost in releasing for windows, mac, whatever would be the license. If the license is just an expansion of the android license and say it's no money up front and a fixed amount for each download, the startup expenses would be just the work in adding it to the store. As I wrote, I fear future releases for windows will be ren'py ports rather than the proper engine for the VN in question.

What I mean is if they decide to focus squarely on mobile. The costs saving are quite big and the user base is far higher. Very attractive on paper if they can get their mobile platform running smoothly, but, well, you don't like it, I don't like it, and I'm pretty sure a lot of others think similarly... 

 

45 minutes ago, tymmur said:

This goes back to the question of how much they dare to risk on android in the first place. Are they willing to risk sales for windows by releasing a VN, which potentially became buggy in the engine conversion? Odds are that they are aware of these risks and will be careful not to hurt their source of income by looking into android.

A simple answer may be: No risk, no reward. Someone at the top of the hierarchy may decide to go for it despite the fact that if it fails, they will suffer financial consequences. I do agree that they probably won't had went for it if it's too risky otherwise. Plus, the potential reward is HUGE. Perhaps using this a catalyst, they became fairly confident that they will succeed. They have capable / can get capable people and will just need to make small comprises to the entire business operation to get this project going. 

If my hypothesis is true, the I would say I strongly disagree as I'm a natural pragmatic person. Oh well, wish them all the best I guess :)

Edited by phantomJS

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7 hours ago, phantomJS said:

What I mean is if they decide to focus squarely on mobile. The costs saving are quite big and the user base is far higher.

Time for a game engine history lesson. It's clearly needed right now to clear up confusion.

At first games were coded in assembler. This was CPU specific and the commands also gave commands directly to the hardware. Ideal when you really need to get everything you can out of slow hardware, but it meant porting a game would require writing the game again from scratch and releasing for two systems were approaching twice the development cost.

Windows 95 introduced solid API to make coding games easier. Shortly after that Java followed with the idea that one code can run on multiple systems. Disappointed with the slow java (and other issues), other people developed libraries for C++ to reach the same goal, but with better runtime performance. Now it became possible to use the same code on multiple platforms, but it required planning and a lot of testing on each platform because the system is full of traps, which will render some code buggy on just some platforms.

Next came cross platform game engines. While game engines has existed since the 80s, what came here is engines, which allows easy access to advanced graphics and similar critical components for game making, which makes advanced game making easier. What's important to mention in this context is that games then were made for the engine, not a specific system. This made it easier and faster to make games for multiple platforms.

Today Unity rule the gaming scene. On top of being technically good and cheap (free license until 10k copies sold), it takes cross platform support to the next level. When building a standalone version from source, you click which platforms you want to release for and it will make a zip for each selected. Unity takes care that it will just work. This mean if you make an android game, you can just click iOS, windows and mac, and you will have the game for those platforms too. In theory you can release for platforms you don't have yourself and odds are that it will just work (but it's a really bad idea to not test anything at all).

 

Now back to MangaGamer and VNs. They stated they will use ren'py. The design idea behind ren'py is that it should be Unity for VNs. It should pretty much be like taking the android version and then add the ren'py exe and you will have the VN for windows. Add the app bundle and you will have a mac version. The old days of expensive porting are gone. Now it's a question of using a cross platform engine and you can port to multiple different systems within a single day.

 

What is likely the source of confusion here is that porting from a windows only format into ren'py is an old fashioned porting task and as such is different from what it mean to port from one ren'py platform to another. However I will add that I would likely script the porting into ren'py. Most of the time it's just display line of text, which is fairly easy to automate. Show sprite named X, play new BGM etc. All those are fairly standard in VNs and with the right software, you can get the computer to convert each command from original script to ren'py. It will require checking and testing, but it would be a huge time saver and the converter can then be used for other VNs using the same engine in windows. It wouldn't surprise me if a number of the MG releases so far for android share engine and as such share conversion tools.

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8 hours ago, tymmur said:

Today Unity rule the gaming scene. On top of being technically good and cheap (free license until 10k copies sold), it takes cross platform support to the next level. When building a standalone version from source, you click which platforms you want to release for and it will make a zip for each selected. Unity takes care that it will just work. This mean if you make an android game, you can just click iOS, windows and mac, and you will have the game for those platforms too. In theory you can release for platforms you don't have yourself and odds are that it will just work (but it's a really bad idea to not test anything at all).

Now back to MangaGamer and VNs. They stated they will use ren'py. The design idea behind ren'py is that it should be Unity for VNs. It should pretty much be like taking the android version and then add the ren'py exe and you will have the VN for windows. Add the app bundle and you will have a mac version. The old days of expensive porting are gone. Now it's a question of using a cross platform engine and you can port to multiple different systems within a single day.

I find it hard to believe it will work just like unity as you described; that it's as simple as porting to the ren'py engine and pressing a single button to create a VN for a specific platform. Case in point:

19 hours ago, Orakana Newbie said:

I once tried one of Moenovel's products, "If my heart had wings" on android (downloaded via PlayStore), I went crazy because of their fckin bugs. Even with Samsung Galaxy s4, lots of lag and questionable bugs attacking my phone. (I deleted it less than 20 minutes after I downloaded it ...)

The android OS and android platform is just way too fragmented to expect ren'py (as seemingly advanced as it is) to port to seamlessly. If any, I expect tons of problem to surface no matter how many time MG QC-checks them.

Ofc, If I'm wrong, then all the better to MG. Wish them all the best~~

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7 minutes ago, phantomJS said:

The android OS and android platform is just way too fragmented to expect ren'py (as seemingly advanced as it is) to port to seamlessly. If any, I expect tons of problem to surface no matter how many time MG QC-checks them.

You make android OS sound useless where everything is broken all the time. Given how successful it apparently is, I assume it has to be a lot better than that. Next is the quality of ren'py for android. I tried to google for issues and what I found was only user error in homemade games, like failing to include all files. I can't find anything regarding ren'py on android being problematic at all. Most likely any bugs MG might suffer from right now (if any) are due to the VN being ported from one engine to another and somebody made a human error in the process. This will likely be less of an issue as MG gets more experienced in porting to ren'py.

 

However there are two issues regarding porting and I feel like they still get mixed up, meaning my previous post was apparently not good enough.

 

MG has 4 options for the future:

1: release for windows and drop android. This one is fairly self explaining. They continue to do what they did before announcing android ports.

2: release original engine for windows and ren'py for android. In this scenario, the translation is made and then written into two different engines, meaning applying the translation and following testing has to be done twice.

3: port VN to ren'py and release ren'py VNs for windows and android: here they start with forgetting about windows, write the port to android, apply the translation and once the android version is working, they make a windows port and release both.

4: drop windows and release for android only. Pretty much the same as #3 except for the step about moving to windows.

 

Ideally speaking #2 would be best for windows users, though #1 would make little difference. #3 is most likely cheaper for MG, but there is a risk the windows releases will be worse than the windows releases in Japanese. #4 makes no sense as the saved time can be as little as a few minutes. If we give them plenty of time for problems in #3, making a windows release can take a week for a single person. Regardless of how you put it, making more ports using ren'py is too cheap to not do it.

 

#3 looks like a clear winner for MG. However if the ren'py version is worse than the original, it's not only annoying, it has the risk that somebody will move the translation to the Japanese engine and then release that. In a worst case scenario, it will be prepatched and not needing the MG version. MG already experienced something like that for Koihime Musou where the unvoiced MG version got mixed with the Japanese voiced version, though it wasn't prepatched and MG later added the voice files (license cost issue). Because of this, if MG decides to go with the full ren'py approach, they better make sure they do it right.

 

Alternatively MG could end up putting resources into developing ren'py to add whatever feature they need in order to make perfect ports. In theory they should be able to do this since ren'py is open source. If they do this and end up giving those changes back to the public ren'py, things could get really interesting, particularly for the OELVN community.

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11 hours ago, tymmur said:

You make android OS sound useless where everything is broken all the time. Given how successful it apparently is, I assume it has to be a lot better than that. Next is the quality of ren'py for android. I tried to google for issues and what I found was only user error in homemade games, like failing to include all files. I can't find anything regarding ren'py on android being problematic at all. Most likely any bugs MG might suffer from right now (if any) are due to the VN being ported from one engine to another and somebody made a human error in the process. This will likely be less of an issue as MG gets more experienced in porting to ren'py.

First off, I think the reason you can't google much issues on ren'py based VN is because there aren't a lot of such titles to being with.

Also, I'm not saying Android is useless, broken, or anything like that. It's just that the platform itself and the devices are so fragmented.

A list of smartphone manufacturers off the top of my head: Samsung, LG, HTC, Sony, Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo among others. Altogether they produced a ton of phones, and although a lot of their phones' hardware are similar, they are not exactly the same. More focus still should be on the OS area where most of them have a customised skin layered on top of the vanilla android OS.

The OS itself is also extremely fragmented ,with no signs of things improving soon. (MY LG G6 is still on 7.0, not even freaking 7.1, while most of the popular models are already on 8.0). Don't forget that most users have a lot of different apps installed on their phones, a lot of which might interfere with ren'py based softwares. All of these create a situation where MG literally have millions of android configurations to test for.

With all the above being considered, I find it pretty difficult to believe bring titles to android with minimum fuss (in terms of number of bugs and problems appearing) is as simple as porting a non-ren'py VN (which summarised MG's catalogue) to ren'py itself, and pressing a button to create a android platform software.

Lastly, I want to apologise for not coming out with the fact that I have limited knowledge with game-making engines in the first place. Could be that porting VNs over is really as easy and problem-free as you said. If so, sorry. Guess I went over my head :P

Edited by phantomJS

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