For the Grumpy and the Selfish

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Today I found myself pondering about Donald Duck. He’s been a favorite cartoon character of mine since childhood, but pinpointing the precise reason hasn’t been easy. By all means, Donald Duck SHOULD be a pretty unlikable character: prone to fits of anger and violence, sometimes greedy, sometimes selfish, sometimes just plain cruel, he seems designed to act as a foil to Mickey and co. more well-meaning and passive attitudes while still remaining as part of their group. Most of his early material portrays him as the butt of the joke (for example, trying several get-rich-quick schemes and failing miserably) and even now he seems to be inherently incompetent at everything he does or tries. It’s a bit difficult to track down the specifics of his personality and he’s been written by so many people and corporate machines that it’s virtually impossible to have a clear image of him (or any of the core Disney characters). However, the basics are always there, hidden as they may be.

It was only while drifting my consciousness away during an awful grammar class that it hit me: could it be possible that I like him precisely because of everything mentioned above?

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Let’s talk VN ideas!

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Trust me, this is relevant to the article

A few days ago I posted on twitter a brief design idea for a visual novel, and upon some consideration I thought it might not be bad to further elaborate on it, hence why I’m posting it here. It was a fairly simple idea that I’m sure many others have had before: what if someone made a visual novel WITHOUT a manual save function, instead relying on constant auto-saving to make each choice irreversible until the end of the game, like Dark Souls?

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Fate/Stay Night won’t ever get a satisfying adaptation

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I’m sorry Rin.

I mentioned about a week ago that fans tend to think of visual novels as collections of short stories rather than full products. Again, whether this is a good or bad way to engage with this particular medium is not for me to decide, but this mentality does bring its share of problems; putting at risk the overall quality of a possible anime adaptation is one of them.

This dawned on me as I watched the last few episodes of ufotable’s Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works. To put things in perspective, Fate/Stay Night is a visual novel with 3 routes titled Fate, Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven’s Feel respectively. Back in 2006, Studio DEEN adapted it into a 2-cours show, mostly focusing on the Fate route but mixing it with chunks of the other two. While they were trying to satisfy fans of the franchise by doing things this way, the plan backfired, and with reason: each route is very different from one another, and you’d need some crazy planning skills in order to make everything fit into 24 episodes. The end result left a lot to be desired: there was just too much information to take in, too many plot points, too many characters that died as underdeveloped husks of themselves; events just didn’t happen in a way that’d let us know or care more about these people. It was frankly quite a mess. Continue reading

Visual Novels and aesthetics in writing

What constitutes as good writing? I know that’s a pretty difficult question to kick us off from, and I’m not about to attempt to find an answer. Though there are some vaguely defined outlines of what makes a good text, a lot of it rests on our own subjectivity, our individual experiences with other works and the knowledge each of us has regarding the subject matter. There are different ways to look at it, certainly. When I say ‘good writing’ to a geek crowd, they immediately take it in terms of plot structure, character arcs, and all the elements that shape the story of a piece of fiction. I can definitely see why it’s so important: if a reader gets invested in your characters and keeps wondering just what is going to happen next, then you’re free to keep writing until someone finally says ‘stop’.

‘But what about the other side of writing?’ I ask. ‘What other side?’ they respond. ‘You know, the aesthetic part, the use of language, the ability to say a lot with only a few words, that sort of thing’. ‘Who the fuck cares about that?’ Continue reading

Visual Novels and co-authoring

The idea of gathering a number of people with possibly very different styles in order to write for the same story is one I’ve grown to distrust over the years. I can understand it if we’re talking about movie scripts, as most of the time the narrative individuality of a writer is not as important as their ability to produce an interesting plot and convincing dialogue (with the rest of the aesthetic choices being left up to the director), but when it comes to other forms of narrative, particularly those centered heavily around prose, such as a novel, it’s hard for me to believe it’s ever going to turn out alright. It might be a personal thing: I’m not a writer that feels comfortable when there’s another person in charge, one that could potentially alter and completely ruin the way I want my story to be. Suffice to say this fear has led me to stay away from my friends’ jolly D&D sessions. Continue reading