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5647 No. 5647
(Hopefully this is the right place for this....)

Eastern Starlight Romance is a Touhou Visual Novel focusing on Marisa, and her quest to obtain immortality and someone to spend it with. A good chunk of the cast will be appearing, and we're planing 11 romantic paths with 5 girls. We've finally got a demo together that can be snagged at our blog: http://dsd.faceroll.net/?p=199

While we're still a ways off from completion we've pulled together enough art and music to give people a good look at what the start of the VN looks like.

We've gotten a lot of good feedback already that we're starting to put in and we're kick starting our development process once again. But we're hoping there's still a few good ideas that we can incorporate into our final product, and we'd love to hear suggestions.

(Sorry about posting this so late, I'm sure most of you have gotten your hands on this already. I was hoping the member of our team that frequents here would have dropped the info here, but she's been MIA for the past week.)

No. 5657
It was... pretty mediocre. The plot premise was interesting, but held back by the fact that nothing of import ever seemed to happen, which was probably partially a result of the bland writing; the character pictures were decent, for a VN (though the 'CGs' may as well not have existed, given that they were no more interesting than the standard character pictures); the music was probably the best part of the experience, but it wasn't stunning or anything; the production was not riddled with defects, but there were some glaring flaws. I did play all the way through it once, so I guess it mustn't have been too bad, but I can't imagine playing a full version, since I spent most of the demo waiting for either a) something plot-relevant to happen or b) the game to end.

The bit with Koishi and the relationship chart was funny, though.
No. 5672
Isn't this that story/VN inspired on WUIG, when THP was really young?
No. 5674
Nope, it's urelated. Different crew, different plot.
No. 5680
The art is pretty bland.
No. 5688
Sorry to hear that. Things will only pick up as the game goes along but it's bad if people lose interest first.

Could you go into more detail about what you didn't like or was it just the pacing?

Anything in particular you would care to comment on?
No. 5689
I've been playing around with this for a while, and it does seem fairly interesting. I'd definitely read through a full version.

Despite that, however, I do have quite a few complaints.

I'll try and lay out what I liked and didn't:

The Good:

- The premise of the plot. Makes sense and is well delivered, for the most part.

- The interface. Sleek and intuitive. Obviously needs some prettying up, but hey, it's a demo.

- Marisa's characterization. It needs work (she feels somewhat anon-like at points where honestly her strong personality should be shining through), but I think I can see where you're going with it and I like it.

- Some of the attention to detail, i.e. Patchouli's notes, Koishi's chart. The worldbuilding didn't always agree with my particular parallel universe, but I greatly appreciated it all the same.

- The music. It was pretty good, and at points moving. Definitely well done for the resources you had on hand.

The Mediocre:

- The art. The backgrounds were nice enough, but the character drawings need a lot of work. Considering the characters aren't exactly pulling dynamic poses here a la, say, Fate, bringing the anatomy and expressions to a decent quality oughn't to be hard and should be a priority.

- The writing hovered between mediocre and good. Good, on the one hand, because it was tightly written and technically well done, and it conveyed what it wanted to well enough. Mediocre, because at points it lost direction (honestly, after three days of Marisa going back to her house with nothing happening, even a patient person like me starts getting edgy), and because it often had a lot more fluff than real description. I'd have preferred a vivid narration of what Marisa is feeling as opposed to reading about her burning breakfast for the third time in a row. Still, when it *does* try for depth, the writing usually reaches it - the funeral scene with Marisa and Rinnosuke was quite well done, for example. I'd have liked more of it.

The Bad (read Terrible)

- The characterization of half the cast. This, this is the one thing I can truly say I hated. And by 'this' I mean the MEMES. Jesus, even Frederica fucking Bernkastel couldn't match the vicious rage I felt at some of them. They're bad. Horrible. Mere excuses for characterization that shouldn't be used by a writer (writing team?) that can obviously write characters competently. Using fanon of Sakuya having a soft-spot for Remilia is all good; Sakuya keeping a diary with pictures and love poems for her mistress and blushing like a fourteen year old girl when Marisa finds it is not. Fuck, it's not.

And that's far from the only incident. Hell, I think I'm going to list them, because the guy who wrote the script is obviously competent enough to know better (or should be, anyway):

- Again, moe-moe wuv-wuv Sakuya. What the hell. Could Sakuya love Remilia? Yes. So if you want to show that, insert a description about the why and the how into the narrative, don't just make Sakuya take pictures of Remi and hide them under the bed like a goddamn stalker.

- "Patchouli is too wordy, therefore her notes aren't worth reading." This one got repeated about three times, obviously trying to get a laugh out of the reader, but all it did was irritate me. For one, what we're shown on Patchouli's notes is one of the most interesting bits of world-building in the story, inserted organically by way of Marisa visiting the library. Throwing it away for the sake of a joke is just bad taste. It's also entirely against Marisa's character to do so - sure, if the notes don't aid her immediate purpose, she'd set them aside, but she wouldn't go "lol man 2 many big words, lol" and dismiss what could be important knowledge off the bat not once but several times. She's clearly shown to be intelligent elsewhere and not at all uncultured, so why would she dismiss Patchouli's efforts at gathering knowledge?

- Tsundere Alice. Argh. Admittedly, you weren't as bad about this as, say, some doujin authors, but still, there were some moments that were just pants-on-head-retarded, like when Alice started attacking Marisa inside her own house, in her own library full of books she's painstakingly collected over the years. Why would Alice endanger her own things to engage in needless slapstick violence? "Because she's tsun-tsun, lol" will draw only facepalm.

- Yukari is... Rinnosuke's girlfriend? What. Honestly, just... what.

- Pervert Nitori. ...the frick do you have against the girl? What started out as a funny joke quickly degenerated into character assassination, and it wasn't so much comical as it was just stupid.


That should be it. As you can see, beyond the retarded characterizations and memes mentioned, there wasn't anything else that was outright bad about all this. Fix that, and the rest should come together easily provided you make an effort, because good characters provide the groundwork to make a good story.
No. 5691
Hm... Some useful stuff here. (Oh and it is a writing team, not just one writer. Which is one of the other reasons we wanted to demo so soon. So we knew which way to push our edits.)

On Alice. Alice, Alice, Alice. I totally missed the library thing because I'm so used to people fighting in Voile. That's fixed.

It's really hard to have two friends who fight a lot, in a world where shooting people is normal, and not hit typical tsundere stuff just on accident. I'll have to keep at the editing....

Patchouli I think was a bit of an early mistake sticking in your mind. Her early stuff is a little too interesting as you noted. Patchouli's not supposed to be wordy (well okay she is but Marisa doesn't care) she's supposed to be slightly dull in text format. My fault for tldr during edit on the stuff that was supposed to be tldr.

Yukari? Explained later. Though I'm not sure what your specific issue is.

Sakuya... I think that's partially an issue with the poses. Sakuya's story comes into play later, so we skimped on her poses for this demo. I'll still double check the writing.

Nitori.... I'm actually surprised you're the first person who complained about it.
No. 5693
To be more specific about the pacing flaws:

- Railroading
There were some cases, particularly in the morning scenes, where I honestly thought that I had accidentally clicked through a choice without noticing it. The one that really sticks out in my head is Marisa's decision (while she was still in her house) to skip the library and go play with Flandre one day, at a point where (if I recall correctly) I had interacted with Flandre once.

- Repetitive choices
What happens if I make the choice to go see Koishi at every opportunity I am offered it? Does she get tired of seeing me? Because I sure would get tired of seeing her. The "character that gives you romance advice" was funny as a joke (I really did laugh at the relationship chart), but is dumb as an actual premise, and all indications are that Koishi really is meant to serve that role. As a result, I avoided choosing her as a matter of principle, but...

- Meaningless choices
...every other choice offered alongside "Go talk to Koishi" was completely useless. "Play mahjong with the rabbits" and "Duel Youmu" are literally the only two out of about 20 such options that I can remember, because no matter which of the options I chose, the result was a paragraph-long interlude that was unrelated to anything that had happened previously in the story, didn't advance the plot at all, and felt utterly tacked on.

- Bland writing
It seems like there must be a better way to describe the major problem I have with the writing than 'bland', but I can't think of it. The prime example in my mind is one of the last Flandre scenes, where she confronts Remilia about Dracula and Freudian slips "basement" in for "castle". It was quite well executed all the way up to the "oh snap, shit just got real" moment, and then the very next line is "There was a long awkward pause," followed by a few more lines describing a long awkward pause, and then Remilia speaks and everything's hunky dory again. Nobody was shocked? No muffled gasps, facial expressions, signs of emotion, anything? Changing the character sprites is not good enough to describe what's happening in this scene.

And really, that was the problem with the rest of the story, too; I could tell when I was meant to be feeling emotion, and a significant portion of the time, I just wasn't. The spell card battles were boring because of that same paucity of detail; it was just declare spell card, sentence about dodging, someone gets hit, paragraph ends. Not exciting. The scenes that involved reflection on Marisa's father's death were a little better, but I still don't remember any of them well enough to say what I liked and didn't about it, which should be telling of how little impact they had on me.

Your writers do clearly have it in them to some degree, though. (Or at least one of them does.) If every scene could be brought up to the level of the introductory scene, it still wouldn't be "oh god best VN ever", but I would definitely play the full game.
No. 5695
Just going to pick up and expand on what >>5689 and >>5693 touched on, including a few additional things.

Just yelling out spellcards does nothing for the reader and since Touhou in primarily about danmaku battles it seems like a crime not to give more detail to them. I've always imagined spellcards as representations of the character, allowing a way to display ones grace, power, and cunning through an intricate and elaborate waltz. This could be easily used to describe the characters true feelings or maybe just the character in general. Each one should have weight when used, after all they put their mind, body, and soul into creating them.

-The main theme is seems to be about life and death
The opening scene sets it up as though immortality will be a recurring theme throughout the story but after the introduction it makes very few appearances besides a few dialogue options. She doesn't seem too concerned about dying at times. Not in the way that she is escaping the problem through distractions, more so that she just doesn't care. It doesn't have to be shoved down the readers throat but if it is the main theme it should hold more presence.

Maybe flesh out the story with Marisa's relationship with her father a bit more, it could be added later as a flash back or something. It feels disconnected and unrelatable for some nameless father figure to have died. There is constant talk of fearing death but no real reason is given why. We cannot see into her mind, why does she fear death? Is it because of some past event? Can one truly understand death until they are inches away from it? If there were more on her relationship to her father and family it could easily answer some of those questions. As it stands a reader would probably not feel any connection at all with Marisa's feelings.

-Kourin's relationship with Yukari ( Along with other characterizations )
My first thought was "Whoa, wait what?" because it was something I didn't expect at all and it was just thrown in my face. I was waiting some kind of explanation since it betrayed my expectations but it never came. This is a horrible position to put a reader in since it will probably stick in the back of their mind until it is properly explained.

Since there is no one representation of Gensokyo this could work out, but the reader isn't going to accept it automatically. You'll have to work in a convincing story to get the reader to accept such an idea. There are probably two types of representations of characters, let's just call them proven and ambiguous ideas for the sake of simplicity.

Proven ideas would include anything that can be clearly derived from the source texts, this requires little or no explanation to the reader since it should be common knowledge. For example, onis drink sake.

Ambiguous ideas would be anything derived loosely from the texts or just creating one that doesn't conflict with any current facts. Example, Aya and Momiji are both tengu so they must be friends in some way as seen with Suika and Yuugi.

The more evidence presented against an ambiguous representation it makes it harder to believe, like in TH12.5 there are indications that Aya and Momiji may not have the best relationship or not even be friends.

Bringing it full circle you can create the illusion of consistency by connecting both proven and ambiguous ideas. This can be done by explaining a series of events describing the desired representation of the characters. "Momiji just thought of Aya as a nuisance until one day she was saved by her, after that day Momiji doesn't judge Aya's actions so harshly." It isn't as far fetched as them just suddenly being friends when they clearly shown they weren't. There are many other things to take into consideration but its just a simple example.

In Kourin's and Yukari's relationship there is no evidence for or against it but if I recall correctly it seems to be based off another work that just had them randomly paired together. No evidence is just as bad as evidence against it because before hand there are gaps in which the reader may have already filled with their own interpretations.

These concepts can be applied to any of the characters allowing them to be more generally accepted. Overall the characters need to be fleshed out some more so they don't seem so flat, Nitori most of all. Reimu seems like the only one that is well rounded due to the fact she does things like exterminate youkai, throws parties, and takes care of the shrine.

Few nitpicks
-When going the the text history with mouse wheel up make it so you can return to the main game with mouse wheel down
-The music while visiting Patchouli doesn't really fit with the library, I'm always expecting something to happen. Something calmer would fit better.

Well that's most of the critique that I wanted to say about the demo. I'm sure there are a few things in there that are already planned for and there wasn't enough time to put in. Overall it was decent enough to keep me reading till the end and the atmosphere is pretty good which includes the background, music, and sprites. The stats system seems interesting but it might not work out as planned. Anyway there will be plenty of time to polish up the game when the framework is in place and I hope to read the finished product.
No. 5696
Ah, that explains the Rinnousuke problem perfectly. I think I've fixed that.

Spellcards... Yeah. We knew that was a problem with the Beta testers, but our fix will take some art time we didn't have. Similarly we got better library music piece the day after demo release.

A number of your suggestions about expanding on Marisa's father are in the game actually. It's just were this an actual touhou game it would have cut off somewhere in stage 2. But we needed the feedback (obviously) so we put out a truncated demo to get the writing info in before we burned another 4-8 months getting the rest of the art in.