The Final BTW Released!

April 26, 2011

The very last BTW has been released! Grab your copy of BTW #10, April 2011 here, and check the Teacup for discussion.

I made the cover and worked on the layout of the zine. Plus there is one article by me, but it was released pretty much unfinished like much of the last issue. I suppose BTW was so dear to anyone that we wouldn’t have been satisfied with any possible degree of polish, though, so it isn’t really a bad ending – we just decided that we have to get it out by the end of April, and that is what we did. The cover is rushed, the layout is simple and some of the articles rough, but even so, it is the ending of our beloved BTW.

My feelings on the matter are depicted graphically as follows:

I feel that I learnt a lot from writing for BTW and from the feedback that I got. Thanks for everyone who has supported us over the years!

Although I’ll definitely miss BTW, I agree with mikey that it’s also a child of the era it was born in, an era when many of the staff members (including me) felt they had no proper place to express their thoughts and opinions about VNs and the community around them. Now that we have The Teacup, there is no need for BTW: after all, should we want to discuss something, we can just go make a thread. This is better in that we can get more people exchanging their opinions and we don’t have to think about our writings being part of a zine. Articles are forever in a way, and this makes it a rather stiff format for creating discussion, which I believe was one purpose of BTW.

As the era is over and better methods for achieving the purposes of BTW have arrived, it is time to let go of our beloved brainchild. I’ll miss you, BTW, but I’ll always remember you with warmth.

In other news, I have been busy with studies all spring. In the summer, I’ll be making graphics for my and N437’s project, The Duke’s Daughter, to be released in The Teacup Visual Novel Festival 2011 in August (we’re still accepting participants, by the way!). After that, I have another big project booked, so I’ll be busy with the things at hand for a while.

For patient readers who have read this far, here’s the BTW 10 cover without text other than my signature.

Merry Christmas 2010!

December 24, 2010

Happy holidays, everyone!

Tips for VN beginners

September 4, 2010

Now that the basics – the fact that the VN of your dreams won’t appear out of nothingness without work – have been covered in my previous, somewhat satiric post, here are some more detailed and serious tips on making VNs. All of this is actually quoted from a post of mine from a Teacup thread on the subject “Things you wish you knew before you started, but I thought it might be a good idea to have this on my blog as well, since the post ended up rather long. I hope this is of help.

I think many of the things a new creator should know are universal, not only limited to visual novels. Things like having confidence in your own work, being realistic about your goals and distinguishing between good and bad critique are very important, especially when you are planning on releasing your own work to larger masses.

  • Have confidence in your work.
    If you are not going to believe in your story and characters, who is – and even more importantly, will you be able to complete your work if you do not? It tends to be that at the start of your project you see it as the most awesome thing ever, but your confidence wears off as time goes on, and it is this phase where many projects die. You got to love your project and have the confidence not to mind its flaws.

    Your work is not going to be the most perfect masterpiece ever made since the dawn of time, and that is the truth, but if you have made it with love and care, it is sure to give someone something valuable. It is not always easy to appreciate these valuable things, since we take the virtues in ourselves and our works for granted, but what may seem trivial to you can be a treasure to many of your readers.

    Personally, I go as far as to say that love is the most important thing in a visual novel project. If you do not give your project any, you are very unlikely to succeed (in the meaning of mikey’s post).

  • Be realistic.
    Your game is going to be just as long and just as good as you make it. If you think you are going to make a 500 000 word epic with a quality that surpasses the Japanese bestsellers of the year, then you are going to have to write all those words and do it all that well.

    You should first and foremost aim to create visual novels that you want to and can create, not visual novels you want to play. Of course, I am not trying to say that you should create visual novels you do not want to play – and who would think that way about a project they have love for? – but things like “playability”, “appeal to masses” and “awesomeness” are bad criteria to base your plans for a visual project on, because very often we cannot reach the technical level of the works we admire, and because our own virtues can be very different from the things we enjoy the most in other people’s works.

    For example, someone might love mystery visual novels because they cannot weave complex tales of crime, and it thus appears great to them: if they attempted to write a mystery visual novel, it probably would be a waste of their potential. They might be more optimal for writing something different; maybe this writer understands humal relations and emotions very well and could create a good slice-of-life or drama story, even if that is not their favourite genre. If the writer chooses the mindset of what they can write instead of what they would want to read here, not only the process of making the visual novel will be easier for them, but the results might be more skillful as well.

    The work involved in the creation of a visual novel is also easy to underestimate. Because of this, it is usually better to opt for a “small project” as your first one. When you get to the actual writing, the small project might suddenly feel a lot larger. If you are a writer and you are not on a schedule, it is also recommended you do not try to get an artist before the script is complete. Realistically speaking, without the script, the graphics are no use, not to mention the consenquences if your project does fail. People who make the art of others go to waste are viewed highly negatively in the visual novel community.

  • Learn to evaluate feedback.
    This is the Internet. If you release here, it is more than likely someone who had a very bad day stumbles upon you and your work and gives you a piece of their mind, even if you do not truly deserve it. When this happens, you should know well enough not to care for them. On the other hand, there are many helpful people out there who put a lot of care into reviewing your work and whose advice you should listen to. If you want to survive as a visual novel maker and improve your work, you should learn to distinguish between good and bad critique.

    Generally, a good way to differentiate between the two is to ask yourself the following: does the reviewer care about my work? If they care about your work, they care about you enough to be polite, to try to note the work’s good sides and give some suggestions on how to make your next visual novel even better, and keep it all in moderation. If the other person is using simple, offensive words like the verb to suck to take their feelings out on you, it is highly unlikely (though possible, since some people have awkward ways of expressing themselves) that their critique is worth caring about. On the other hand, if someone writes an essay-length, eloquent text about the faults of your 5-minute practice game, chances are those words were inspired not by your visual novel, but by something else.

    But if they are polite, care about your work and seem honest, take their words to heart. Everyone’s work has some shortcomings, but if you mind the advice of these helpful people, you can attempt to overcome your current weak spots. It is usually the same people who know what stands out in your work, so you know what points in your work are worth keeping and emphasising in your next work.

  • But most importantly, really: love your projects for what they are.
  • The definite guide to making visual novels by an individual who has finished many

    June 10, 2010

    It has drifted to my knowledge that some people on the Internet are wondering why so many visual novel projects die and very few are completed. As such, here is a helpful guide for beginners and advanced visual novel hobbyists. Its aim is to aid people with their project from start to finish by specifying the different stages and difficulties involved in the process. This is the method with which my visual novels to date have been finished, so I dare say I have proof of its effectiveness. The guide is mainly for writers, but as a being with a brain, you should be able to see how it applies to other positions. Please enjoy!

    1. Work. Don’t dream; don’t talk; don’t blog and post on forums all the time; don’t “plan”, “research” or “design” as a guise for procrastinating. You may do all this, but it’s part of your fun time, not your work time. The more you do it, the more you’ll have to work to make up for spending your time at these activities. Work like a working person does.

    2. It’s probably a better idea not to mention the details of your project anywhere. This is for several reasons.
    Firstly, revealing your ideas to others tends to result in a horde of suggestions, corrections and critique, which are very nice things to have – after you have finished the script for them to comment on. In the beginning, these are naught but obstacles to your personal flow of ideas and are likely to be off anyway, since your plans may change during the process or the style of presentation might make some things good on paper bad or vice versa.
    Secondly, less embarrassment if your project actually fails, easier to move onto the next one, which you will finish even if you failed once. Often ingeniosity is success only gained after a dozen failures. But do you really want to show those failures to everyone?
    Thirdly, especially if you aren’t an experienced commercial game maker looking to advertise their game prior to release, the idea of showing off your unfinished project is just wrong, wrong and wrong to begin with. You might want to do some honest self-reflection: why do you want to talk about this idea? Is it to get yourself an artist, for example? Why would you want to do that before your script is finished? (If you start to look for an artist before having started your script or anything else, you are doing a huge disgrace towards the artist!) Is it to get praise? Why would you need that? It’s not like your creativity runs on the fuel of popularity, and if it does, you’re doing it wrong. Is it because you are a dreamer, just trying to present a good idea instead of doing any work, which is a bummer? Work, you slacker, work!

    3. Be considerate towards your fellow makers, all the more so towards your collaborators, and let them have creative control. I know of people who think that the writer should be some director who takes control of everything. These people, without fail, have always succeeded to drive away the poor artist. As an artist or musician, on the other hand, you should try your best to make pieces befitting to the atmosphere of the writing. And work. Preferably so that you actually complete stuff. That applies to everyone, though. Never forget to work on your project.

    4. Don’t think about the chances of your project (I can tell you, however, with zero work, they are zero); don’t think about people’s reactions to it; don’t wonder where ever can you find an artist/programmer/musician when you don’t have anything utterly and completely done; but make the visual novel. This does, however, imply that one must work on it.

    5. Lastly and most importantly, finish the darn thing. Go work on it. Now. If all else fails, try deadlines, caffeine (e.g. coffee) or some other, preferably legal, drug of your choice: but go work on it, whatever it requires. Having a hard time at school, work or hobbies or whatever is no excuse for slacking. Sometimes you seriously need a break and are overworked, but approximately 95% of the times when people say they’re too busy to work on a visual novel, they got 3 letters wrong. They’re too lazy. Don’t be one of them; work.

    However, even as nice it is to help the readers of the blog in the complex and beautiful ways of making a visual novel, I’ve got some work to do, so off I go. To work. To finish the thing. The thing, this time, is called The Duke’s Daughter, by the way. I’m doing some graphics again.

    The Mirage Tale Released!

    April 6, 2010

    The Mirage Tale, a 10-minute piece of drama and romance, was released today as the 6th festival game. Check the official Teacup thread here!


    Ashley finds a new friend when Jenny moves into her neighbourhood, but the relation soon takes a romantic turn. Why does Ashley a feel strange attraction towards her? A short girl-meets-girl tale.

    A Million Promises Released!

    April 1, 2010

    A Million Promises, a visual novel collaboration between DawnKisa and Lux Visual Novels, was released today. Check the official Teacup thread here!


    A Million Promises is a visual novel that attempts to test the limits of the so-called “suspension of disbelief.” Visual novel readers will witness this journey through the eyes of the young man, Takeru Harukaze and his life in high school.
    Takeru and his clique are composed of teenagers with archetypal personalities. A Million Promises is a story about coming-of-age, about acceptance, about failure, and about holding on to the things that are really important in this fragile existence we all live in.
    Perhaps, someday, when the developers have moved on to better, more professional works, they will look back on this game and remember…
    “April 1st. We promised. We would never forget!”

    That was written by the writer, but I also wrote about the game and its creative process in my previous post. But I will quote the most important part for the lazy:

    As for the piece itself, I would describe it as a case of love it or hate it. I hope everyone will approach it with an open mind, it is the best that way. I also have to warn everyone that it is one of those stories that have to be read until the end to be fully understood. You will know what I mean.

    The Joy of Collaboration

    March 31, 2010

    The first Teacup VN Festival is starting tomorrow! I have a horribly big amount of butterflies in my stomach right now, so please excuse me if my writing is somehow unclear.

    I think the title of this blog entry tells my feelings towards collaboration well. I have collaborated as an artist in 3 visual novel project now, and I have had the greatest of luck to work with some of the most awesome authors when it comes to visual novels. In other fields, I have encountered unfair project leads who seem to think of their artists as nothing more but a skillful pair of hands to command. Having seen bad collaborators, I believe I can truly appreciate the wonderful collaborators I have had the chance to work with in this medium.

    In addition to being people I can happily call friends of mine, they have all been very talented, grateful and humble. I have always been given the creative control I need. It is surprising how much freedom an artist can have despite illustrating a ready script written by someone else. Should I never have tried it, I would never have thought it to be this enjoyable. If any of the writers I am talking about are reading this: thank you, you are great people! <3

    Personally, though, I am so much of a control freak that I cannot imagine having another artist illustrate my own script. To be honest, I consider this a bit of a burden, as it would probably be a liberating experience to hand the graphic side of my work to someone else.

    Should I do that, the quality might increase too – I think a writer, when drawing for their own work, is in some way biased. They are your words, fitting your own vision as precisely as they can. Sounds like a good thing, right? Well, it is in some ways, but often the work of another person’s heart and mind can bring more colour and atmosphere to your work. When I made Marie for The Morane Crisis, mikey actually went back to work on the script to change her character a bit since the sprite had quite a bit of personality.

    It is somehow beautiful when another person’s work can add depth to your own, though I imagine it requires quite a bit of trust to let someone do that. My writing is very intimate to me so I feel a bit anxious letting someone touch it, even when it is about correcting the language. Because of this I do not expect myself to recruit an artist for my writing projects in the near future, but I would be happy if this prediction was wrong.

    As for the one that will be released tomorrow, what can I say? It is an insane effort, and I think the results, too, are crazy in their own peculiar way. Compared to my earlier collaborations, this is different in the way that the original prompt for the project in the first place was mine. I just told the writer I had this crazy idea at 4AM when suffering from the dreaded swine flu, and contrary to all of my expectations, she jumped on it. She absolutely did.

    The plot changed quite a bit – that is, almost entirely – as she wrote, but I think all the changes were for the better. I considered this a project I did not have the skill to do alone, and it would never have worked out if not for her. Being an artist, she also had a lot of ideas for the visual side of things. Our common vision was very strong, and I felt as if she were right next to me all the time when I worked on the graphics. When I am given instructions to work on something, I often feel alone and confused at some point (mostly because I start overthinking), but there was not even a hint of that in the creation of this certain visual novel. It may have been because she knows me and my insecurities so well. Altogether, the process felt very fluent.

    The only regret I have is not being able to give her as much credit as she deserves. She has never done a visual novel before and wants to stay relatively anonymous, so as a visual novelist, she has no website or blog I could link to. I do understand her though – she apparently sees this as a one-time effort and is not sure whether she wants to make more visual novels or not. As she is already busy enough with her various hobbies and schoolwork, no is the more probable option. Nonetheless, working with her was a great pleasure.

    As for the piece itself, I would describe it as a case of love it or hate it. I hope everyone will approach it with an open mind, it is the best that way. I also have to warn everyone that it is one of those stories that have to be read until the end to be fully understood. You will know what I mean.

    April 1st. We promised. We would never forget!

    Working hard

    February 19, 2010

    Lately I have been very inspired, more so than ever before in my life, I suppose. I believe I have been able to resolve a few things in my life as of late, which might have contributed to this inspiration, although simply the improvement in my skills must have had an effect too. It really seems that the more you write, the more fluent and quick it gets. For me, writing has always felt like the right thing to do, but I never imagined it could feel this right.

    As a consenquence, I have been writing a lot – so much, in fact, that I finished my largest script ever some time ago. It felt wonderful! I am so much in love with this project. Today on the other hand I wrote a story half the size of Project Nattsu in one session on top of editing the larger script. This short story was actually based on my ideas from a couple of years ago, and I was happy to revisit them. The summer was so nice back then, I wish the spring will come soon and we will have another clear, beautiful summer.

    One thing I have been concerned about, however, is my style. While my ability has clearly developed, style is something that still confuses me. I have been doing some short story experiments which I believe have given me some direction in my efforts of finding my own way of doing things. But even if I am lost, searching for that style and exploring the possibilities of language and expression feels like quite a pleasant journey in itself. The best way to the destination is to enjoy the trip, is it not?

    Thanks for reading and good luck with all of your personal quests, whatever it is that you are searching for! :)

    The Teacup

    February 1, 2010

    A look back at ’09

    January 1, 2010

    Happy New Year!

    Now that the year has changed everywhere around the globe, I thought I would write a little post on 2009.

    It was a pretty interesting year for me and very eventful – there were even 2 releases from Lux VNs, Take Rena Home and The Morane Crisis, both of which were collaborations in which I worked as an artist. I learnt a lot from these two projects, especially in terms of creative teamwork, which I hadn’t really done before. All I seem to have made is art, which might make it look like I have been writing very little this year, but in fact this is not the case – I think I have been writing more than ever, with a burning inspiration. I have matured as both a writer and an artist during the year and found many more reasons and meanings to what I do, not to mention my skills at both have grown as well.

    As a result of this development the script for a certain project is around 90% complete right now. This might mean a bigger release in 2010, but because the script is pretty long (around twice the size of Nattsu right now, and written in clearly more complicated language) proofreading, editing and illustrating can take quite a while. But aside from this big project, there will be at least 2 releases from Lux next year. That I can promise.

    In terms of VNs I think the year was so-so. Many great JVNs have been translated by fans, MangaGamer released several top-notch games with disagreeable translations and JAST USA made a deal with Nitro+ to localise their games (woohoo!). I played lots of great games too, like Umineko no Naku Koro Ni, CROSS†CHANNEL, Phantom of Inferno, MOON. and Sharin no Kuni, Himawari no Shoujo. Many of these gave me new ideas and views on VNs, not to mention they were a lot of fun to play.

    But while the translation side has been rocking, the creation side seems a bit lazy, particularly the EVN side. I think this is because of the lack of a creative environment, but there were barely any big releases in 2009. When there were releases, they were commercial or otome, neither of which are of much interest to me. Or in the case of commercial, it would perhaps be more correct to say it isn’t to the interest of my wallet…

    On a personal level, I feel I matured a lot during the year. If I had to sum all things up, in my personal ’09 was mostly a year of farewells. This might sound sad, but it really is not. I feel those were things that needed to be done and sometimes leaving one thing behind can open you to new possibilities. It is very rejuvenating in a sense, and I think it provides me a good start for the year 2010. Metaphorically speaking I was throwing rocks out of my backpack all the time in the past year, so it is now a lot easier on my shoulders and has space to keep new, more useful things in. I hope to find and collect lots of great things into my life and learn a lot from the year! :)