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Director of Chunsoft Speaks on Narrative Design in Visual Novels (GDC2013)

Posted on Siliconera, the director and scenario writer of Chunsoft Kotaro Uchikoshi (999, Kamaitachi, Zero Escape) delivered a talk titled Visual Novels: Narrative Design in Virtue’s Last Reward.

Here are his points summarized by GoNintendo
– The visual novel as a sub genre of the adventure game genre.
– Virtue’s Last Reward may not be a visual novel in the purest sense.
– Some people disagree that a visual novel is a “game”.
– Uchikoshi’s view of a game is something where the selection made by a player’s decision changes the history of events or outcome that takes place within a given set of rules
– A visual novel is a video game that specializes in selectivity
– It’s a primitive game or the purest form of a game
– Having selectivity makes visual novels different from anime, manga, movies, and other media
– The series was inspired by the Super Famicom game Kamaitachi no Yoru or Night of the Sickle Weasel
– Players have to solve a murder mystery that takes place in a ski lodge
– Night of the Sickle Weasel doesn’t use “flags”
– A flag is either raised (set to true) or lowered (set to false) and used to determine if an event has been triggered
– Visual novels commonly use flags to check if a player has made a certain decision
– Night of the Sickle Weasel has players creating those flags in their own brain
– Players learn where not to go, what to do and how to progress
– Virtue’s Last Reward is similar to this design
– Players have to remember passwords procured from going through different routes
– The stories are inspired by putting characters in a state of discomfort
– Virtue’s Last Reward has a flow chart because it was a requested feature from fans of 999
– In Uchikoshi’s opinion, we shouldn’t get hung up on games being too real
– Adventure games are on an upward swing thanks to digital distribution
– Adventure games are fitting for smartphones and can be a new way to tell a story like manga, anime, or movies
– He hopes someone sitting in his session will be able to create an amazing game in the future and if he can assist with that he will be really happy

There’s a sequel to Zero Escape (PS Vita) which is in development right now. You can also check out 999 (9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors) on the NDS which has been localized into English by Aksys. (edited. thx to drojf for pointing error)

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Tay

I'm the Fuwanovel community admin and a big fan of Visual Novels. The easiest way to get a hold of me is via a PM on the Fuwanovel Forums, by twitter (@ArchmageTay), or by email.

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