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DirkB

full prerendered novel?

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I started making a visual novel a year ago and I didn't know anything about it that time. I just downloaded one free novel and it gave me the idea that I wanted to be able to tell stories and share them with others, including graphics and music. I can't draw well at all so I started making things with 3D software.

Once I started to learn more about how people make visual novels, I realized that using prerendered graphics for characters is totally not done (except for some adult novels).

I can barely find any discussion about this anywhere, so I am not sure why it's like this. Is it because people think it doesn't look good, because it limits creativity as you can't freely draw whatever you want? 

From the beginning, my idea was to make a novel that would look realistic, with different camera angles in the same environment, characters fully integrated into the environment and also never using completely the same character images (pose/expression) for different scenes. I have a YouTube channel for my novel, so you can see a bit what my idea about this is.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNN9HBioQixqmYr4YHffHeg

Personally I see only one serious issue with 3D software. It's that, unless you make them yourself, you depend on environments that you buy from others, which limits the places you can use for your story and the same environment could be used in different novels. For character creation, there are so many clothing, hairstyles to choose from and ways to make unique faces, that I don't see a real problem with that. Another problem might be file size, when you have many images(?) 

I can't really find any place for people to talk about making a good novel with fully prendered graphics, because the idea itself is like almost non existing.

So, what I would like to know then to begin with is, why exactly is it that people seem to avoid the idea of making novels with fully prerendered graphics? 


 

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The problem is that Pre-rendered VNs are normally considered shovelware because of the high amounts of cheaply made pre-render 3D porn VNs you can find on patreon is astounding.

Also IMO I think drawing looks more charming, sometimes 3D renders don't feel that natural even if the models and overall quality of the render is good, like for some reason the expressions just seem clunky too me, specially in scenes were there is supposed to be some form of "action" (like a character running and such), tou I'm not saying that you can't make renders good looking or charming in their own way, it is just that I think drawings are more expressive.

Also original 2D can take less time, since saving an image is way easier than waiting for a render too... well render xoP. And even modeling something detailed can take you a good week, for ONE model.  

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Some companies have tried 3D rendering VNs and it is usually not well received. People generally prefer 2D girls to be... well 2D (not to be confused with flat). The benefit for 3D is if it can be real time rendered and the player can control the camera. Illusion soft seems to have some luck in that department, though it's more like nukige if you can even call it VNs. Tea time went for 3D rendered VNs with moving characters and camera. They put a lot of effort into it with custom engine and stuff and they still ended up bankrupt.

It's my impression that the pre-rendered 3D VNs all try to make the characters look photo realistic. Some do a decent job at it, but I don't think it's a goal shared with the readers.

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Thanks a lot for the informative replies.

My experience went like this. I didn't feel attracted enough to what I saw from commercial visual novels, to be willing to pay for it, mainly because of the lack of visual variety/realism. What I did buy is Life is Strange and a Batman tell tale game, which has choices and where you can freely walk around the scene, but I consider such games out of my reach (skill/time/money) to make on my own. I finally downloaded a free novel out of curiosity, which was Everlasting Summer. I loved the introductory part until you arrived at the school because of the beautiful screens. I did start to skip through text rather quickly though because I don't like extremely descriptive stuff. But when you arrive at the school, there's a character suddenly popping up on a pretty but also quite empty background and it continues like that throughout the whole story with the exception of a few unique images which are nice but are too rare for me to enjoy the story.

At that moment I did feel like I wanted to be able to make my own visual novel, but in a more realistic way, where you see everything on screen like you would in real life. Since I can't draw well, I went to search for how to make my own characters. The first VN engine I used was Novelty and on the forum I could see someone making pre-rendered novels with it, but it all looked very basic. Environments were very simple and characters looked quite dull. I first tried things with a free character generator and free to use backgrounds and then I finally moved on to DAZ and started buying stuff in their store. I didn't even know the word pre-rendered at that time. It's only much later that I realized that pretty much every pre-rendered novel is 18+. 

When I started using DAZ, they had just released their genesis 8 model, and I thought it looked really good. For some of the important characters in my story, I spend between 1 and 2 hours making their faces unique and I really like the results. Render times can be annoying, but I can still do other things at the same time, so it doesn't bother me too much. I don't know why someone would spend a week on one model unless it's done with something like blender(?). Making good expressions can be a challenge, but in general I am quite satisfied.  

The thing is that I don't like the usual concept of VNs. Characters typically just pop up on screen and disappear again which is also how actors are programmed to work in engines. There's no realistic integration into the background (which also means no realistic shadows).  They might have some unique expressions/poses for certain scenes, but typically you will continue seeing alot of the same images throughout the story. Sometimes things happening are simply described without much or any visuals at all. There's no realistic detail in hair/clothing/skin/eyes. There's often just one camera angle for each background. To me this is all a lack of immersion, which makes me lose interest in reading through a lot of text. It may be that drawn images are more natural/expressive, but if they are never a real part of the environment, if you see often the same images, if their hair is not very detailed etc, then that is not natural either, so I think you can win on one side and lose on another. 

From what I could find, Illusion Soft/Tea Time is also just making porn. I wish there was at least one example of a studio trying to make novels with 3D prerendered images, characters realistically integrated into backgrounds, telling compelling stories that are not an excuse for having sex scenes. Something like tell tale games, but without camera control/walking around. It may be that now the typical public for VNs is oriented towards a certain style, but maybe there's still a hidden potential somewhere that hasn't been tried enough yet. 

Edited by DirkB

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Pretty much "anything" can be a VN. There is bunch of VNs with just photographs as backgrounds with no characters are at all.

Will it be popular though? No, because VN players are all just filthy weebs.

 

Also when was the last time you read a book?

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I admit I am guilty of reading few books. The stories I know are mostly from movies and games :) I did get quite occupied with pen & paper role playing like dungeons & dragons for many years, mostly for understanding the game world, game system and then getting adventure ideas and I was a GM for a play by post game for two years .... I have for a long time wanted to make stories and then have other people enjoy them in some interactive way. And when I finally played a VN, I strongly felt like this is what I want to do now. 

After being busy for a year now with my VN, learning everything from scratch, I am still as excited as in the beginning. The money I am spending on it, I see it as paying for my own entertainment, so I don't mind if I am not going to get any sales from it. I do want it to be played by other people of course, so we'll see if maybe someday I manage to dig into some hidden market of people who don't like the usual style of VNs :)  

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