The Last 5 Years, The Next 5 Years

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#1 by hybtranslation
2018-12-29 at 15:41
Since the last year of the decade is about to begin, I thought it is a good time to take a step back and look at the grand scheme of things (regarding Visual Novels)

I'd like to hear what the community is thinking about the recent years, and take a collective look into the mist of the crystal ball to catch a glimpse of what might be in store for us.

I'll start with my biggest grief: I feel in the last few years, there were almost no Visual Novels trying to excel, push the limits, call it what you will. If you look at VNDBs list sorted by rating, you'll notice that the top entries are mostly from the previous decade, and the last 5 years are especially non-present. I feel at the moment the whole industry is "surviving" with up to good quality, but unwilling or unable to create something really outstanding. Is it related to the economic crisis of the late 2000s? Or is high quality simply too risky?

So here's my first question to the collective crystal ball: When will we see the next work of top-tier quality, rivaling "Fate/Stay Night" (2004), "Muv-Luv Alternative" (2006) or "Steins;Gate" (2009)? Sometimes I think all it would take is a few talented authors, and we could have at least one awesome story every year.

On the positive side, I feel that in the last 1-2 years the whole translation business has finally started to roll. I wondered for years why there was so little professional energy put into translating, since translating a VN is actually not that much work, compared to creating one (paying a translator vs paying author, artist, composer, programmer, voice actors, etc.). Random people on the internet are doing it in their spare time.

Anyway, it seems it is finally happening, there's a whole lot of official translations, even for some smaller games like DLsite RPGs. Frontwing is releasing their games in both English and Japanese. With Sekai, a third big translation company has established themselves in these last few years. Even if you don't like them or how they're doing things, I think they brought some fresh air into the whole business, making JAST and Mangagamer up their game as well.

So, where do you think this train is headed? Will we have most big VNs translated to English on release in 5 years? Or will the market not be big enough to support translating more than a select few novels? Personally, I'm rather optimistic in that regard, also putting some hope on Steam (which is a double-edged sword, though).

I guess a drop of bitterness here is the rise of machine translations. I think it is save to say that most of us are hoping for that trend not to pass the test of time. Or will it?

Anyway, I'd love to hear what your impressions were of the last few years. And more importantly, what your expectations are regarding the next few years. Please do not let my topics limit your imagination. What's the world of visual novels going to be like in 2025?
#2 by komocakeps
2018-12-29 at 19:13
I feel the only reason VNs are getting traction like this is because AAA games are dying with leftists using games as their propaganda machine. their predictable failure is what's giving rise to AA, indie and visual novels.

cmon guys, don't you have phones?
#3 by shining17
2018-12-29 at 19:19
I just hope sakuragame dead.
#4 by kiru
2018-12-29 at 20:39
You may not want to look at years and vndb too much. Vndb is traditionally a site used mostly by English speaking people that don't read Japanese VNs. Most of the highly rated games were actually released in the last 5 years. In English that is.

Also highly rated doesn't mean that much. It most often just means it's mainstream. Mainstream never really pushes the limit. Gotta look somewhere else for that. And vndb "downrates" everything with little votes. There have been quite a few quite good works in the last 5 years. Even original English ones.

That said, Japan is definitely in a big big rut. I think the western scene might be able to give some influence there, but here we still struggle with 4 hour long games for 10 bucks. Unless people get a LITTLE more ambitious and can back it up with writing and the like, it's going to be hard.Last modified on 2018-12-29 at 20:44
#5 by kominara
2018-12-29 at 21:18
When will we see the next work of top-tier quality...?

roughly ten months ago
#6 by toru-ben
2018-12-29 at 23:04
>fagging about Rance

Yeah, not the greatest masterpiece ever.
If the story can't be taken for serious because it makes rape look like something humorous, rather than what it is (a terrible thing), then its consequences to the characters lose impact significantly.
Rance has fancy gameplay, and if I wanted to play something instead of reading a story, I would be wrong in seeing this in VN's and Eroge, since these are clearly different forms of media to consume, even if there are some similarities.

#2 >propaganda machine

Well, if Mangagamer already has the LGBT tag on their site... I thought people wanted to be spared from reality.
These things have nothing to do with VN's.
Wouldn't surprise me, if the big distributors in the industry are corrupted to the bone as well in one way or another.

Personally, I see it similar as OP, in which I mean that I would prefer if people would push boundaries more, rather than milking baka gaijins with mainstream titles.
Translation quality should be improved as well.
I remember how terrible the euphoria translation was, with all these obvious spelling errors, some of which you come across early in the game that were already present in the demo and never fixed for the final release.

All in all, I'm not particularly disappointed.
It's my fault for not having learned Japanese at this point.Last modified on 2018-12-29 at 23:42
#7 by kominara
2018-12-30 at 00:00
#6 Yet again, it appears that the people bashing Rance are completely unaware of what Rance is actually about.
And your argument about how it can't "be taken seriously" isn't really an argument either; isn't Don Quixote regularly considered among the greatest novels of all time, despite being a ridiculously over-the-top book-length parody of chivalry? Can you tell me that Gravity's Rainbow or Infinite Jest are any less ridiculous than Rance is?

Anyway, to avoid upsetting the anti-Rancefags, I may as well point out that Sakura no Uta -Sakura no Mori no Ue o Mau- was also released within the past 5 years and is also considered one of the greatest eroge ever made.
#8 by toru-ben
2018-12-30 at 00:14
>comparing waifu games with literature
>further rance-fagging
>''You just didn't get it.''

Good thing we have people like kominarachromer illuminating us, right? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Would love to see some proper insight in how that title is supposed to be something special.
It's literally just

- highschool setting
- cherry blossoms
- lots of drama

Probably just got popular because it's the same writer who worked on SubaHibi, and that was already just normie-pandering and for hipsters.

Oh well, whatever.Last modified on 2018-12-30 at 00:32
#9 by kominara
2018-12-30 at 00:22
#8 i am completely convinced by your complete lack of a proper argument.
here, i can do the same

- completely misses the blatantly obvious point and tries to attack some surface level detail instead
- name calling
- strawmanning (of something i didn't say, of course)
- meme emoticon sarcasm

- i'm going to judge a game i've never played by the tags and description
- oh wait, the author wrote something else i've heard of, let's make a completely incomprehensible attack on that instead
- trying to come off as cool and unaffected because he knows that he has no real argument to make

you see? it's easyLast modified on 2018-12-30 at 00:24
#10 by toru-ben
2018-12-30 at 00:28
#9 Check your own link; it outright advertises SakuUta by mentioning it's made by the same guy who wrote SubaHibi.

Furthermore, even Moogy had to admit that SakuUta is just a follow-up to it.


Also, strawmanning?
You literally said ''Yet again, it appears that the people bashing Rance are completely unaware of what Rance is actually about.''
Of course this boils down to ''You just didn't get it.''
And if I got it wrong, correct yourself to convey what you actually meant, instead of trying to blame the opposing side of your own shortcomings.

It's not about convincing people like you; you are just entitled.
Editing your comment to ''blatantly obvious'' doesn't make your point less arguable.
The points I listed (highschool setting, cherry blossoms etc.) are merely what anyone can make out of the very same description of the game you just linked; if you are going to take it personal, might as well grow up and stop shitposting.

Edit: Oh, you edited again.
''Cool and unaffected.''?
Uh, whatever flies your boat, kid.Last modified on 2018-12-30 at 05:20
#11 by kominara
2018-12-30 at 00:32
#10 okay i'm done feeding the troll now
#12 by being
2018-12-30 at 03:37
trigger editLast modified on 2018-12-30 at 03:37
#13 by barfboy
2018-12-30 at 04:50
Not a fair use of data. You're using information from VNDB and unfortunately that's skewed toward older games due to the time it takes to translate things into English.

We aren't even paying attention to games like Majo to Tsurugi to Sen no Tsuki
Which has over 90 rating on erogamescape and is one of the highest rated games of recent years

And look at the data on VNDB, link we're voting it 7s and don't even realize the Crimson Apocalypse version exists. Now maybe when if it reaches the west (I don't know how thrilled anyone will be to translate a monster rape game with super cute girls in it) it'll get a higher rating but I doubt it. Our tastes are much different in the west.

So if you use only data from the west be aware that it takes many years to secure a translation so people gravitate toward liking older titles. If you use only data from Japan you'll get titles that are ... you know, more suited to Japanese audiences.

So right now you hate Rance 10, meanwhile Japan thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread and you complain that all the titles that are good are old, meanwhile it takes years to secure a translation of the games the west enjoys. I think you're just making a poor argument.
#14 by toru-ben
2018-12-30 at 05:16
#13 If you are talking to me, I don't see how a single website would represent an entire target audience's taste. That has probably as much informative value as forum polls.

If it's old at this point, an english release won't change where general appeal is shifting.
And general appeal is usually what people gawk over the most, which most of the time is nothing more but short-lived sensationalism until the next Game of the Year gets localised.

Votings, especially on VNDB, don't mean anything, seeing as what is popular is going to be voted on the most and more favorably due to it, well, being popular.

Data in the west is the only data that is relevant to the western market; what people ask for the most in licensing surveys is what publishers will inevitably localize, if that is what you are getting at.

I never said I hate Rance 10; I hate the franchise itself for not making something good with something that has as big an impact as rape.
Things like that are not to be taken lightly; using your ''hyper weapon'' and trying to make a comedy out of rape is dumb and fails the point of including such a theme in a series like Rance.
Sure, it doesn't take itself too serious, but then don't mix in things that are usually used in a serious context in eroge.

Meanwhile, Rancefags hype it, 'cause Rance.
Great things to come in the future.
However, it is just like I said prior here in this thread: Publishers should breach out more, rather than making Baka Gaijins with mainstream titles.Last modified on 2018-12-30 at 06:52
#15 by hybtranslation
2018-12-30 at 06:31
In reply to #4 and #10, I think you have half a point, but not a full one. Yes, English Novels have a slight bonus on VNDB, but I think it is not as big as you make it out to be. It would be a different story if we were talking popularity, but I feel the rating is actually a pretty good measure of the raw quality.

As pointed out, untranslated games like "Sakura no Uta", "Rance 10" or also "Soukou Akki Muramasa", "White Album 2" can make it into the top tier. On the other hand, there are many translated games NOT making it into the top tier as well.

This may not be a real argument, since it is subjective, but in general the novels I know fit the ranking on VNDB, i.e. the more highly rated ones are better. I think pretty much everything above 8.5 deserves its rating, even if some may not fit my personal taste. (e.g. the Novels from KEY are not really my cup of tea).

Well, to be honest, there's still a number of top tier novels I have not read yet, even some translated ones. (e.g. SubaHibi, Umineko) Shame on me. ^^ I kinda "save" them to have at least one guaranteed hit to read every year.

Also, I have not read "Majo to Tsurugi to Sen no Tsuki", but I really have problems imagining a monster rape nukige being the next "Fate" or "Steins;Gate". Maybe it's my lack of imagination, but to me that looks more like an example of the score on erogamescape being more focused on something other than quality of the writing. Probably the CG, or how sexy the H scenes are. ;) (Also, it's not that I don't like to read a nukige every now and then.)

Be that as it may, I am not aware of any recent novel that left a series-spawning impact. The companies releasing Rance, MuvLuv, Fate, etc. often could live on the success of these works for years or even decades.

Maybe it's actually that which I'm lamenting? Many of those series have come to a close, Rance 10, MuvLuv's kinda dead, Fate is just selling the same stuff over and over again. Well, Fate Zero was good, but not a Visual Novel.

Anyway, I'm looking for the next big hit to take their place. Even Kyonyuu Fantasy, which I really like, started 2009. And I think the only novel of that series that might be top tier, as long as you squint your eyes a little, is "Gaiden 2".

P.S. I don't want to join the discussion about Rance too much, but I think you cannot dismiss the fact that it's a very long-running series and has multiple entries with top-tier ratings on this site (some of which are not even translated). Nobody's forcing you to like an anti-hero, or to think comedic rape is funny, but the series is just objectively good. Also, it sells. :) As far as I know, it's a big hit on Mangagamer as well.
#16 by kiru
2018-12-30 at 08:26
The example of 13 is actually showing why EGS's way isn't the best either. EGS doesn't care about vote amount. So if 10 people say "this is the best!!!", that's what EGS considers true. Vndb wouldn't do that. And that's the case with that game. It's also why you can tell EGS to filter based on vote amount. A very useful feature.

Both methods have their advantage, and I'd really love if vndb would have the feature to sort with the average rating, not the Bayesian. They exist already. Just a feature to actually USE them.

@15: The bonus for English stuff is quite big. It needs a long time for a JP only game to get popular enough here for votes to gather. Most new games get so little, they can never ever be at the top within a reasonable amount of time, no matter how good they are. Take Amazing Grace -What color is your attribute?- , which was released a month ago. On EGS this is quite well received with 177 people voting on it averaging 84/100. Here? Bayesian rating: ranked #1740 with a rating of 6.33 by 26 votes. And that's always how it works, even though even here the average rating is 7.8/10.

Vndb's rating is obviously not really representative. As such it forces it down into the trench, where people don't see it or give it a chance. But that's how it will never get the amount of votes to reach the place it belongs to. Or at least not before many years pass and if it doesn't get forgotten. Or until it gets translated. EGS has a feature, where recent games with good ratings get promoted. It's a good thing. Very much so. But that'd be a little harder to implement in vndb.
#17 by toru-ben
2018-12-30 at 08:32
VNDB's ratings are inconsistent anyway; some titles have hundreds of votes, while others don't even have more than 3-4 votes, let alone a summary for what the title in question is about.

It's less about VNDB having a new feature, it's more about VNDB needing to be more consistent with its releases.
If people were to read the synopsis of titles that are currently lacking those, some people may or may not be more inclined to try them out, which then would affect votes on the site as well, or heck, just encouraging discussions about them.

Regardless of whether it's VNDB, EGS or any other site: Ratings are subjective, so why even bother if it doesn't say anything at all about the game, other than how many people enjoyed it?
The reasons why they enjoyed it are not explained, so this is more than just a moot point to bring up justifying why X game is bad/good.Last modified on 2018-12-30 at 08:41
#18 by kiru
2018-12-30 at 08:38
^Vndb's ratings are as they are, because it naturally promotes popular games, and ignores unpopular games. Because you can only sort with the Bayesian rating, which basically does that. The less votes, the higher the score penalty. So unless something gets popular enough outside of vndb, but enough come here to vote, the game will not get much attention.

In my opinion that's really bad, but alas. It's like this since forever, and you see the result: The top has a LOT of votes. The "bottom" often very little. And yet the "bottom" includes many quite well received games.Last modified on 2018-12-30 at 08:40
#19 by toru-ben
2018-12-30 at 08:43
I wasn't aware that ratings are being handled this way intentionally.
That is almost as bad as VNDB's tags spoiling what entire endings are about.
If I already know what's going to happen (or rather, what will happen on atleast one of the routes), it kinda takes away from the surprise and spoils part of the story.

Has anyone brought this up before in the past?
Just curious.
#20 by bunny1ov3r
2018-12-30 at 12:46
It has most to do with business side of the industry. Japan's decline in relative economy size is one reason, but by far the bigger reason is the industry's outdated way of selling and promoting its product. galgames in japan still insist on selling hard copies for the most part when the game industry has moved on to the digital age. Also, because of often the 18+ nature of many of the products, the industry target consumers that are more and more niche, to a point that it became a small circle and it's hard for the outsiders to comprehend the contents. If an industry is generally facing less and less revenue coming from a smaller consumers, it should be no surprise that its output became more and more stale.
#21 by hybtranslation
2018-12-30 at 13:49
#20, I guess you have a point, many games still promote their MasterUp CD. The Japanese producers also were VERY reluctant moving to Steam. (Probably Frontwing are still the only big producer doing so on their own, without some proxy translation company inbetween.)

Regarding revenue, could it also be related to the fact that there is MORE output? I don't have numbers, but to me it seems the number of visual novels / year has at least not shrunk, if not increased. So even if the customer base stays the same, the cake would be divided between more producers.

Does anyone have numbers regarding this?
#22 by ffthewinner
2018-12-30 at 14:06
VNs feel like they have gotten more generic lately.
#23 by shroomlord
2018-12-30 at 22:22
The sub-culture as a whole is "facing strong winds" as Takaki of Marvelous puts it and that's worrying. It's really not something you can contribute to the Tokyo Olympics alone at this point. That being said, the VN developers I follow seem to be doing fine for the most part. And my impression is that we're still getting ambitious work, like for example Tone Work's VNs. And I'd like to blatantly plug CharaBration! link while I'm at it. A recent high quality love-com that'll make you laugh a lot. Hai grows on you, I promise.

The biggest draw for me when it comes to English localization is uncensored artwork and that's why I'm often doubly saddened to see shady companies like Sekai snatching licenses left and right. I'm glad we're getting link uncensored. And I wish more people would use the Jast and MG storefronts over Steam.
#24 by barfboy
2018-12-31 at 16:52
I'm sorry I realize I'm talking to more than one person and I'm not being clear.

About Rance and how rape shouldn't be comedy, you've lost me. Go read Stranger in a Strange Land
Where the protagonist discovers that comedy is the human response to tragedy and how we cope.

Then watch George Carlin on rape as comedy

As for any belief that VNs are becoming worse. The same belief exists among film historians, video game reviewers, and readers. This idea that some 'golden age' is past when the problem is that our perspective is skewed. If I look through 100 years of the greatest films I can pull out from the 20th century it'll look like there's not been any good films of that level in years when what I've actually done is unfairly condensed 100 years of film then mistakenly believe that means Hollywood is no good now while ignoring the fact that there was plenty of crap being made that I just ignored and while Hollywood's 'golden age' is long past (same with cartoons and comics) the stories they got to tell during that age were limited to what's being written today.

I see anime fans do it. I see novel readers do it. I see film historians do it (probably worse so than anyone else) and I see video game reviewers do it. It's doubly worse here because of the translation lag. Come back in 20 years and then look back at this period. Never try to review a period of time while you're living in it.
#25 by komocakeps
2018-12-31 at 17:38
#24 I'm gonna disagree slightly. in my childhood I grew up with Marvel and thus I have to say I've never seen anything in the history of mankind something as bad as "ask me about my feminist agenda". or "feminist thor" or "Iron Man is a black girl".


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