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What are your thoughts on shared universe in visual novel?


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I have been making some blog posts on one series that does this recently, Tinkerbell's "Aojiru verse." I think one thing that is key is shared staff across the games, especially writing staff. It's common for each game to have a short summary of what has transpired in previous games so that you can start anywhere in the series, though it's not recommended to jump into the middle of the franchise. Routes and choices helps, as you can do a lot with the story that does not have to get picked up in the next installment. For In'Youchuu-games that are a part of the Aojiru verse-there is always one canon ending, and many branches which aren't considered canon in the next game. This way it won't be as hard to keep things consistent in the sequel(s).  That is one strength of visual novels, you don't need to make everything that transpires in the game "canon" to the shared universe.

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Some series/games that reused the same universe well:

Dir Lifyna (the Ikusa Megami series, Himegari, Kamidori, etc) is perhaps the most famous ongoing shared universe in Japanese VNs... with more than ten games made in the universe in various time periods and regions.  Essentially, it established the concepts and very generalized history of the world and the rest is branches off of that.

The Silverio series handled reusing the post-apocalyptic 'Astral' universe really well, even managing to fit two entire casts of characters into a very short time period without it feeling forced. 

The 'Arcology' series by Applique reuses the same post-apocalyptic universe where humanity escaped into arcologies to escape a massive asteroid storm.

The Akagoei and Reminiscence series reuse the same universe effectively, sharing some characters across the two series, though a huge blank spot is left as to how things got to Reminiscence (where people are living underground) from the events in the Akagoei series (where people were just living in an excessively stratified dystopian society).

The Shinzabansho series by Light, written by Masada (Dies Irae, Paradise Lost,  Kajiri Kamui Kagura, Kaziklu Bey) creates a strong shared universe based on the concept of a single being defining the central 'rule' of the world by essentially dethroning the previous deity.  I'll avoid details so you can enjoy it for yourselves without excessive spoilers.

Edit: Understand, the primary reasons for the success of multiple games in the same universe comes from whether the first game established a setting concept or story type that keeps fans interested in seeing more stuff come out of that world.  Nobody wanted a second Senshinkan game, for instance, and the reason why became rather obvious with Bansenjin's release.  A key point is that you don't 'destroy the setting' in the process of completing the original game.  Senshinkan essentially completed the journey within itself and was played out.  However, Bansenjin reopened it and brought back its uninspiring cast in an uninspiring fashion (out of all the Masada games, Senshinkan had the worst cast of characters). 

'Closing out a setting' is common in fantasy-action and chuunige, where often the basis for the mystical element of the setting is destroyed or disrupted in the process of completing the story.  Using weak excuses and after-the-fact loopholes to revive a setting is generally a poor choice.  Creating a setting that can be reused requires you to plan for it to be reused in the first place.

As an example, Silverio Vendetta's Esperanto tech, which allows for the powers the characters possess, is not eliminated through the process of completing the true route of the game.  As a result, the consequences of that tech spreading create the situation that exists in Silverio Trinity, making the micro-setting in Silverio Trinity within the greater Silverio universe stronger and a logical outgrowth of the aftermath of Vendetta.


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On 14/8/2019 at 10:41 PM, Silvz said:

Isn't there a theory that all KEY games are in the same universe? It'd be great if it is a thing.

I like the idea of a shared universe, as long as it is consistent.

More like, for a time, they just repeated the same ideas over and over. At least that's the case with Kanon and Clannad. And they're VERY good; but the formula is just the same.

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