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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)


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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10 years ago

This is awesome. Regardless of whether or not his definition of a visual novel is the same as ours, it will be talks like this which will spread visual novels throughout the West.

Big victory for visual novels.

10 years ago

Btw, anyone can watch a translated play-through of The Night of the Sickle Weasel on Gamecenter CX.

It’s kind of interesting that at some points in the game, when identifying the villain, you actually have to spell out their name.

10 years ago

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

10 years ago

Shoin also had a system where at some choice points you had to spell out an answer to get into a different route

10 years ago

“There’s a sequel to Zero Escape (PS Vita) called Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward which is in development right now. ”

Er…did i misread something? pretty sure Zero Escape: Virtue’s last reward has been out since last year, even in english speaking countries:
Release date(s)
JP February 16, 2012[2]
NA October 23, 2012[3]
EU November 23, 2012[1]
AUS November 29, 2012

Also, your wikipedia link is broken…

Reply to  drojf
10 years ago

oops. sorry.