Our second full review by Fenix Shakura, on Alora Fane
I'll address it point by point:
Fenix Shakura wrote:Generally:
And now I can finally understand Tama Yoshi's concerns about "Why is this a VN?". Because it isn't. How I perceived it is that you're reciting the novel and amplifying it with graphics and music. I'd call that a Graphic-Music E-Book, at best.
But that doesn't suffice for a Visual Novel, because the most important feature is missing: The Game. More specifically, the interactivity which constitutes a game. The only thing you can do is advance the mono-/dialogue and occassionally make a choice which in turn... advances the mono-/dialogue. That's not very exciting.
Now you may say that media that primarily tells a story is all about going through speeches. That may be so, but that's a really old question and it's a downright science to bring The Game into it. There are many possibilities and if you look at some Visual Novels you can see a pattern that has cristallized:
No matter what restrictions are currently applied, the player has always the choice to do several things. The most basic actions a player can do in a VN are talk to the people present, examine the current area and walk to a different area. But there can be more, for example managing the character's possessions, you imagination is the limit. In order to advance, the player has to execute some specific actions, sometimes in a specific order. Most choices won't make a difference, some may even work against the player. This is what makes him use his head, keeps him challenged, and -most importantly- intrested.
As I've said before: Every
choice screen matters; yet no single choice makes or breaks the story. I dislike VNs where a choice changes nothing (unless it's really funny
). At the same time, The Coin
has something to say about the mentality "we want to see immediate
This will become more obvious as the plot progresses. And now that you're on board, you'll be able to see for yourself: all those SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
Also, the routes of visual novels come in various shapes
But your point about adding interactive elements is duly noted. Its implementation very much depends on the spare time and motivation of the programmers involved.
Big compliment to the character artists, they did a really good job (Rad's contures are thinner than everyone elses, but the outline is still good)! Especially on the facial expressions, I really like how detailed they are. I guess, I don't need to tell you that they need coloring. Though after that, the dissonance with the photorealistic backgrounds will be all the more evident. Obvously, you need background artists.
And, I know it's a bane for every character artist and project manager, but I want more character sprites. Most of all the game needs more character sprites, as you've noticed they can't express all the situations that happen to characters (Let alone the fact, there there are entire characters completely missing. There are no small roles, only small actors). I think you've noticed that faces by themselves already make a big difference. It's amazing how expressive a character can be only with one striking posture and several different face graphics (If you're looking for inspiration, Fire Emblem: Awakening did a really good job on this).
Although there's still some supplement needed for special situations. The most striking example is when Raphael lifts Aik by his (non-exsitent) feet. When it comes to character interactions, it's best to draw one big sprite depicting them both. That way you also get rid of the 180° spin of Aik's sprite, which brings be to my next point.
Thank you! I've passed the praises to the sprite artists who worked on the demo, Mellindor and xCindyNyan.
Yes, we definitely need background artists. Or better photomanipulation.
And we're working on more sprites. And more. I said, MORE! *whips out his Prodder's prod*
(With more legs, too.
I'm not sure how the "big sprite depicting them both" will work. I suggest you discuss it directly with the artists, in the "Art: Discussions" topic in our working forum.
Sorry to tell you, but they're an eyesore, at least to me. I'll have to explain. There is discrete media and continuous media. Discrete media is with "breaks in between", that applies for the character sprites, as you never see them follow their movement when they change posture or expression, you have one frame and then the next frame. Your Transform Animations (Translation, Rotation, Scaling) on the other hand are continuous. And when you use these two things together, like when a Aik exits to the left while still looking at you, it creates another dissonance, which I personally find unpleasant.
When it comes to characters entering and exiting, appearing and disappearing works best, after all, but the hard cut is, well... hard. You should use fading in and out to smooth it. Even though that's a continous transition, too, it's not as bad. I guess I've gotten used to that one by now. There's one other exception, where I'd accept a continuous transformation: You can use Translation of chracters to signify that the POV character turns their head to look at them.
Speaking of that, most 2D-VN's do employ some semi-continuity, in the form of frame-by-frame animations. That does look good, but means a buttload more work for your character artists.
I need input from more people about your preference of "fade in/out" over "walk in/out." You're the first (and so far only one) tester who has expressed explicit dissatisfaction with it.
(Another possible route to go is to cut down the number of transformations. Most VNs are quite static; motion is still considered a bonus, not a backbone.)
Can you give me a few examples of VN's that "employ some semi-continuity, in the form of frame-by-frame animations"? I'm not sure what you mean.
Actually, there isn't much I have to say about the sound. The music sounds nice, the soundfont is good. It has either none or only very weak melody, so it's not memorable, but also not obstrusive. Although, discrete media actually can afford a bit more obstrusity, it's okay for the job, it fits the atmosphere. (Except for "fairytale". No, really, why did you include this one?)
It's okay to use sound effects, too. You just need more, and make sure that it's the appropriate one. There are tons of SFX libraries on the internet.
Thank you! These praises go to Mordred and Atriell.
(Yeah, I'm the only one who gets the criticisms.
"Fairytale" (you know the band, right?) is an example of my sense of humor. Weird. (Like the joke I made in the spoiler above. Could you guess it was a joke?
) I doubt we'll be able to secure the rights for it anyway.
Then again, if LOADS of people fall in LOVE with it, we'll do our best ....
sense of humor.
Worst part is, you can't know when I'm serious and when I'm kidding. If in doubt, ask. (I'm completely serious now.)
SFX, as far as my experience with VNs goes, are another "bonus, not backbone" area. We'll try to add as many as we can; but see my final comment below.
All in all, you still got a long way to go, but you're not doing so bad. Practice makes perfect.
And I'd like to maintain an iterative approach to the process: first we complete the backbone (the storyline and the choice system), then we add as many extras as time/inspiration/available skills permit. So it will inevitably look rough during the early iterations. Please bear with us.