Author Topic: Commercial EVN: How do you feel about them?  (Read 4472 times)


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Commercial EVN: How do you feel about them?
« on: October 20, 2010, 06:26:56 pm »
I'd like to know. How do you guys feel about commercial EVNs in general? I'm especially interested in the opinions of other developers, although everyone is welcome to join in this discussion.

I'm going to start things off so I can give everyone a general idea of what I mean.

For me, I'm not against commercial EVNs both from a consumer and a developer's standpoint. I don't think it really cheapens the medium as an art form if you're trying to make money from it. Even my editorial in the first BTW, if you actually read it instead of listening to the rumors, reflects this. If you disagree, I will gladly explain said editorial to you. (

That said, I don't believe that that there's been a purely story-based EVN (the likes of Narcissu and Planetarian) that caters to my tastes yet. So, assuming it was feasible for me, I don't think I would make my first EVN purchase for now. That aside, I'm not familiar with most of the titles available, so feel free to educate/correct me if you please.

Another issue with me, personally, is that I'm unfamiliar with making online purchases and in general, the price of a commercial game is way too much for me if it exceeds 2.50 USD Yes, I wouldnt pay more than that for any type of video game, VN or otherwise. Personal circumstances do not permit it. (Please do not ask for more information about this. I'm just stating it here to make it clear for everyone. Whether you believe me or not is not my concern. Do not feel obligated to inform me of your opinion on the truth of my statements.)

That aside, even if I had the money and resources to make an EVN purchase feasible, it would probably take quite an exceptional game story-wise to convince me to buy it. The type of stuff that appeal to me are the angsty JVN nakige types. However, I also like unique stories like Ballad of an Evening Butterfly. This is a matter of personal taste. It seems that most EVN on offer right now are game hybrids or are in a genre that I typically don't care about. My tastes for VN are different from my tastes in anime (I can watch any genre in anime form.)

In general, though. I'd like to re-emphasize that I am not anti-commercial VN. I just won't use my own money to support them. You might say that I'm indifferent about them for now. This is pretty much how I roll as a developer as well. I'm a bit of  a lone wolf and I don't really care what goes on in the community nor do I follow the trends. To cut my ramblings short. I don't hate commercial EVN. I just don't care about them in general, which applies to most free EVN as well.

I'd like to add that I'm not beyond making my own commercial EVN if I ever feel like it. It's not like the thought hasn't crossed my mind.


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Re: Commercial EVN: How do you feel about them?
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2010, 07:28:00 pm »
I think it would be great for a decent sized team to get together and produce a real quality product commercial english vn. I have very little doubt that if it was well made and successfully marketed it would do very well.

That said, I don't tend to buy much online either, mostly because it is difficult for me to organize the download. So, while I could say that it would be great for it to be done, I also can't back that up by saying that I would necessarily buy it.


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Re: Commercial EVN: How do you feel about them?
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2010, 08:54:52 am »
I have to be a bit long-winded, but here it goes:

When I started taking interest in the whole VN family of games (all kinds dating sims, bishoujo games, what have you), I really looked at them from a game perspective, meaning I saw the game and its attributes first. I looked for genre, setting, topic etc, and pretty much liked and disliked them based on these parameters and how I thought they were presented, and how they appealed to me. This is in fact the typical way of looking at these things (art / entertainment). I watch TV shows and films by that same principle, I play videogames and listen to music in that mode, too - it's mostly genre-oriented, I have a few favorites and the occasional deviation from that that I like. Most of the time it will not really matter to me who created the film, game or music, as long as I like it and it's in the scope and genres of things I grew to like over time. It's not that I would not prefer a few select artists, whose works particularly appeal to me, but that loyalty isn't set in stone. If my favorite music group decides to switch to another style, I will abandon them. Same with TV shows, and films.

It used to be the same with VNs for me as well - after the initial phase of playing everything, I settled into my preferred genres, and that's the standard way of how things go. However, there was a problem emerging - as I created more and more of my own VNs, the "magic" of those works (done by other people) was slowly going away. I recalled having a similar experience from before when I was making music in the genres which I liked to listen to myself. As my tracks got more and more similar to what I liked to listen to, I was more and more underwhelmed by the artists I used to like, up to the point when I wasn't listening to much music at all. There seems to be a point at which the creator side overshadows the consumer side, and no matter what you do, you are primarily a creator and looking at the medium in that way. For music, this is now gone for me, because now that I've forgotten and abandoned the making of music, I feel like it's something special again. It did take quite some time however, and it meant giving up music making for the sake of being able to enjoy it.

I really do think that fundamentally, being a creator is in contrast to being a player and/or an analyst. You can only be fully dedicated to one path, and in my music example I chose to be the consumer / critic. You may say that there are many people who are not only creators, but also players / analysts in this respect and it's working out just fine, but I'd disagree. Sooner or later, there will have to come a decision as both of these areas grow and grow, otherwise this duality of being a maker and consumer will burn you out. For me, as time went by, I had to put increasing amounts of energy to separate the two experiences as they grew larger in scope - being a creator and being a player, specifically to not let the player / trendy critic side of me influence the creative me. It became so much, that eventually, as I did with music, I had to decide. And this time, I chose to remain a creator. I pretty much abandoned VN playing and critiquing, because I realized I like the VN medium as a form of expression and I wanted to continue using it. I guess I could have cut back on playing as well as creating to have a balance and prevent burnout, but actually, I care about the creating so much and I really want to continue to channel all my creative energy into this single medium, that compromise is just not acceptable.

And that's where I finally arrive at the topic - I like VNs as a form I use to express myself, but I don't necessarily feel I need to be a part of the EVN scene, or even be interested in it. Whether it's commercial or freeware, this distinction is not really all that relevant for me, because "the scene", being part of it and participating in VN communities is ultimately the opposite of what I really want to do, and that's create. I do realize this is an extreme to a certain extent, but it's no more an extreme than what I feel with music - I am not interested in how music, or TV shows are created, I just want to listen, play and watch and enjoy them for what they are. Similarly, I am not hugely interested in playing or enjoying VNs, I just want to make them. It is of course a simplified statement in extremes, but it is indeed the case that I play very few VNs, and mostly, to come back to the first paragraph, I don't choose by genres or setting anymore like I did before, but by the people who made them.

So often I will play a VN not for entertainment, but because it's from someone specific. So for example, I will play lordcloudx's game not because I find the premise interesting, or because it looks cool, but because it's his creation and I am interested in what he creates and I want to know what he has to say as a creator. It won't really matter then, whether his game is commercial, or freeware.

My summary is that the more you are inclined towards being a consumer / critic / community person around VNs, the more relevance this distinction between commercial and freeware EVNs will have, much like it will be relevant for you grouping VN into translated VNs, licensed, or original English (EVNs), too. It's nothing bad, in fact I feel like this with music, films and videogames - I am not creating them, they are not my form of expression, and therefore there is a lot of relevance for me in grouping them into genres, commercial or free and popular or not, and thinking of them in that manner as well. But in this specific case, my relationship to VN making and how it's evolved especially in the last 3 years, as I gradually left out more and more of the "political agenda", "community" and "philosophical" parts of my engagements has resulted in a similar "apathy" to what lordcloudx mentioned. For all the reasons above, I don't like or dislike commercial EVNs - instead, I just don't particularly care about thinking about them in this way, because the distinction between commercial and free EVNs doesn't have any meaningful relevance for how I engage with VNs.


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Re: Commercial EVN: How do you feel about them?
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2010, 10:51:46 am »
I think one reason why the opinions of some people (like lordcloudx) have been misinterpreted is that back when that issue of BTW was released, there was the hot topic of commercial visual novels, because the first EVNs of this sort had been just released, and the trend of commercialist attitudes. What you have to note here is the difference between commercial and commercialist - the "ism" at the end of commercialism makes a huge difference. Just like communism isn't the same thing as communities, or empires aren't equal to imperialism, the term commercialism doesn't mean commercial products.

Commercial visual novels hardly need an explanation, but I will go on to clarify the term commercialism. The idea of commercialism, which was a very popular philosophy in the EVN scene in 2009, is basically that the best visual novel is that which sells the most, not literally but figuratively. A commercialist is a person who doesn't see the primary value of a visual novel in its artistic value, originality, the subjective experience it gives its readers or so, but in how well the visual novel appeals to the masses. Whether or not the visual novel is commercial or not doesn't actually matter, you can both make a free visual novel with commercialist spirit and create a commercial one without being commercialist. I think many of the most rampart commercialists back then actually didn't have any interest in making commercial visual novels.

The commercialist attitudes in the EVN community back then irritated many as many felt they were expected to conform to the commercialist requirements and ideals. For example, many works in progress would get comments advising the creator to change this or that because the audience prefers things that way, even if the creators themselves weren't interested in appealing to the general masses and had other motivations and goals for their work, like artistic expression or just making the visual novel for fun. That is why many people, myself included, were worried about this trend back then.

I think people had some problems grasping the abstract concept of commercialism and realising that it doesn't mean commercial visual novels, but a certain mindset with which visual novels were approached. Thus the critique aimed at commercialism was misinterpreted as hate of commercial visual novels, which never existed in the first place.

As for commercial visual novels, the field is still rather young, but from what I understand, new talented makers are entering it and gaining interest all the time, which is a good thing. The field used to be dominated by just a couple of makers (one in the general side and another in the 18+ one), so seeing some variety and fresh winds is definitely nice.

Like many other people in this thread, apparently, I barely play any commercial visual novels, mostly because I lack time for any entertainment to begin with and I can't pay with the available methods. I've tried some demos (the first release of Fading Hearts, Shira Oka, The Stolen Diamond Ring) and one full visual novel when it was offered for free (Heileen). I liked The Stolen Diamond Ring, but my experiences with the rest were, to be honest, somewhat negative, though I hear the script of Fading Hearts has been completely revamped since and is probably a lot better now than it was when I played it. I don't really judge visual novels differently based on their commercial status, there's just the additional question of whether the visual novel is worth its price: whether it is a worthy purchase, which doesn't affect its quality as a visual novel.

As for myself, I've contemplated entering the field of commercial EVNs in the future, but for now, I'm not sure if I have the skills to make anything that I'd dare ask money for. Starting a business would also require a lot of commitment and knowledge on the procedures (how to take care of the economy, etc.) that I feel I'd need more of if I were to take that path. It'd be interesting to hear what kind of experiences the people in the commercial EVN field have had with this side of the work. The actual creative process, I believe, isn't that different in the end.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2010, 10:53:51 am by Hime »
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Re: Commercial EVN: How do you feel about them?
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2010, 08:44:37 pm »

Well, I'm going to agree with what most people have said about it though - I try not to have an opinion about how one thing has to better than the other. The commercial side is very interesting to me, although I won't say that a lot of current commercial vn's have seemed really awesome yet... it takes a lot to live up to titles like Ever17 and FSN after all. Jisei is a small interesting gem, but other than that I haven't been swept away by anything. It's also true that almost all of them seem to be hybrids, which can be a turn-off sometimes unless the gamey part is *really* good.

Online purchases? Naw, I live on a small island - almost anything other than food is bought online now xD So that doesn't stop me.

It truly is still a young market. Creators have a lot to learn, and I'm sure something more awesome will show up down the line. There is also the factor that these games may have to impress even more than usual, because players will have to invest more than time in them after being used to free EVN's.

Honestly I myself am currently trying to enter the market with the VN I am working on at the moment. We'll see how that goes! ^^; My game probably won't set a new standard of awesomeness, but I'm hoping to create something worthwhile which can stand on its own. I'm giving it my all (including the insides of my wallet, ouch.)
As Hime says, the administrative side of this is the most daunting :P Seriously, I would love to pay my taxes if doing so wasn't so incredibly complicated and difficult to figure out. I have hooked up with a network of entrepreneurs in hoping to get some help with this, and it has been worth it so far.

As for Cloud being misjudged... I don't know. I think maybe at the time people just expected him and BTW to disagree with them, and then had their defences prepared beforehand. It's probably forgotten in the midst of newer, fresher drama :P


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Re: Commercial EVN: How do you feel about them?
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2010, 05:42:47 pm »
Whether or not the visual novel is commercial or not doesn't actually matter, you can both make a free visual novel with commercialist spirit and create a commercial one without being commercialist. I think many of the most rampart commercialists back then actually didn't have any interest in making commercial visual novels.
Yup.  I used to be a proponent for a 'polished', 'commercial-looking' big VN... which could be free.  Much to my dismay, KS filled that role and not anything made by LSF regulars (although Re: Alistair almost was "the one" in the otome circles if it weren't too short).

I'm now 'paying for my sins' by investing in a commercial work that's basically goes 'fuck if I care what y'all think!'   In other words, a commercial work made in a non-commercial spirit.  I would give it away for free, but I need to recover my expenditures, since the only way I can find people with the skills to help me was by paying them (in hindsight it's also much easier to recruit help that way).

Just be glad that there aren't that many 'market-researched' games (i.e. Sexual Fantasy Kingdom series).

Regarding starting a business, this is very high risk, that's why even if I were to start selling I wouldn't set up a business entity immediately, especially if there's only a small chance of achieving break-even.  I don't want the burden of having to hire an accountant to audit something which could otherwise be shrugged as a very big personal expenditure for some obscure hobby.  I know tax accounting is much stricter in Europe, but here at least I don't have to file a personal income report if all the cash inflows are accounted by employers or businesses doing that for all the employees / beneficiaries.

Regardless, I know there's a big leap in expectations between $0 and $0.01, not just in accounting policies... that is why I expect prices no less than $10 to be reasonable, since anything less and most of it will be consumed by credit card transaction fees, currency conversion fees, and international wire transfer fees.  Charging below a threshold will actually make you lose money, for instance, since all these surcharges will be shouldered by the seller (a policy by Paypal and other merchants).  Making a player have to pull out a credit car and punch in some numbers is already a big inconvenience, so might as well have it be for an amount bigger than 1 cent!  I consider $2.50 to already be on a micro-transaction level and only viable for accounts on Steam, iTunes, or Xbox Live, but definitely not viable for self-publishing direct download, which is where all of the commercial EVN makers are at (prior to the recent ipad and Xbox 360 releases).

It has surprised me though how much I do care about money nowadays, since more features going into my games = more expenses.  It's not because I want to be a millionaire overnight, but I just want to be able to sleep at night knowing I'm not pouring money down the drain.