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It's time for me to apologize to 4 Leaf Studios.

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 11:24 pm
by gekiganwing
During early 2013, I made an attempt to read Katawa Shoujo. At the time, I did not want to enjoy it. Why is that? Because I had a grudge against 4 Leaf Studios. It's only within the last couple weeks that I have felt ready to forgive the group. I'm using this post to say "I'm sorry." Let me try to explain this...

Between 2001 and 2005, I purchased, read, and really enjoyed several official visual novel translations, including both Kana Little Sister and Private Nurse. I had been keeping an eye on the two or three companies that had been releasing professional translations, and hoping they'd release something especially interesting. I wanted a complex and worksafe visual novel, such as the first three Tokimemo games, or the first four Sakura Wars games. But in spring 2005, I learned that the G-Collections brand was being phased out. It suddenly seemed that there would be far fewer official translations. I was left frustrated. After all, I didn't want to wait about six months for a porn-without-plot story. I wanted to read something that I might enjoy.

That's when my interest in visual novel fandom took a sharp left turn. I did a few web searches to look for new, similar content. I was wary, because I didn't want any more articles condemning fans for liking stories about fictional characters' relationships. Nor did I want to just read reviews of out-of-print games, or learn about more interesting but untranslated VNs that would likely never get an English version. After a while, I found and the Lemma Soft forums. The former site became a personal favorite until its final update in 2008, and the latter site is one that I visit every few days. So yeah, why was I so quick to embrace the world of freeware and indie visual novels? Well...

* I'd read a few translated VNs that had long slice of life scenes, or that had pacing problems. I decided that I was ready to try some short stories.
* I'd paid $20 to $50 US for translated VNs with graphics that I only kind of liked. I decided that I was willing to accept free VNs which had adequate graphics. After a while, I started to recognize free-to-use, inexpensive, or borrowed art assets... and decided that I had no problem with them.
* I'd become kind of weary of love polygon and harem stories. It was refreshing to find stories that had only one possible love interest. I also realized that there were several non-romance VNs that I genuinely liked.
* It was interesting to realize that some of the freeware titles that I liked were made by one or two people.
* Furthermore, it was fascinating to realize that if that person was active on Lemma Soft or other communities, that I could give them direct feedback.

If you're curious, the free and indie VNs that I liked from 2005 until about 2011, and that shaped my interests as a fan, included the following:

* A Midsummer Day's Resonance. A short story that left me thinking for a couple days. It helped me realize that a visual novel could be interesting even with no choices, alternate endings, or love triangles.
* Black Pencil. A suspense story that was downbeat but fascinating. There were a surprising number of bad endings. I re-read it until I finally got a positive ending.
* One Week. The story seemed unusually down-to-earth. There were unexpected realistic details. None of the relationships seemed fantastic or ideal. I thought some endings were more negative than they should have been, but that was a small complaint.
* Elven Relations. I've been a fantasy fiction enthusiast for years, and read every personally interesting book in the genre when I was growing up. This story was similar but just different enough. It also included special effects that I hadn't seen in any other visual novel.
* Summer Session. I didn't especially like the art style. However, I told myself that I would benefit by giving art outside of my personal favorite styles a chance. The game was short but challenging, and I enjoyed it enough to get several endings.

I attempted to write a few visual novels. Unfortunately, I gave up on just about every one of those attempts. I lost interest in my stories, or decided that my writings were just self-insertion fantasies.

Having said all that... why did I get angry at 4 Leaf Studios? Why have I held a grudge against them for almost seven years? Two reasons:

1. The Answer. I read the first few screens, became furious, and uninstalled it right afterwards. It seemed like a rant against any person who'd tried to write a visual novel in English.
2. Blog posts such as Reach for the stars and Imitation is the insincerest form of flattery did not help. I also remember a tweet in which a person at 4LS put down Shira Oka right after its demo was released. I'd been active on that indie game's forum for years, and I chose to purchase its official version.

Because of those two factors, it seemed to me that the people at 4 Leaf Studios strongly disliked their fellow creators. I knew that quite a few people have loved Katawa Shoujo. Also, I knew that it caused the size of the English speaking visual novel fandom to increase quite a bit. However, I struggled to say anything positive about KS, because I had a rather negative attitude toward the people who created it.

I have been a negative and cynical person for many years. I have told myself that negativity has defined who I am, and I've considered my negative attitude to be a powerful force. In terms of my fandoms, I've become cynical after watching too many promising works-in-progress die quietly, too many interesting fan projects get cease and desist notifications, and too many professional translations get cancelled. There have been many moments in OJLVN (original Japanese language visual novel) and OJLVG (original Japanese language video game) fandom that have left me in frustration and despair.

However, in the last few weeks, I've finally admitted that negativity has damaged my friendships, and that its effect on my health has not been good. Also, I have admitted that fandom and entertainment do not matter, especially compared to how real people matter. Because of this, I have decided that my long standing grudge against 4 Leaf Studios will end today, with this post. This is my way of saying "I'm sorry," and apologizing for my actions.

So... will I give KS one more chance? Perhaps. I have a current version on one of my backup drives. Also, I've downloaded the Android version, and I'm seriously considering buying a MicroSD card so that I can install it on my Android tablet. I say this because I almost entirely stopped playing any kind of computer game or visual novel a few years ago. I mostly use mobile and console software these days.

Re: It's time for me to apologize to 4 Leaf Studios.

Posted: Mon Jul 27, 2015 1:31 pm
by Silentcook
You're welcome.

Re: It's time for me to apologize to 4 Leaf Studios.

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 11:54 pm
by Atario
I'd been putting off going through The Answer for a long time now, but this post prompted me to finally get on with it. Just finished. I don't know exactly why you got furious, I was laughing my ass off!

Hats off to A22 for that.

Re: It's time for me to apologize to 4 Leaf Studios.

Posted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 3:21 pm
by delta
katawa shoujo isn't that good tbh

Re: It's time for me to apologize to 4 Leaf Studios.

Posted: Sat Aug 01, 2015 1:39 pm
by TheHivemind
delta wrote:katawa shoujo isn't that good tbh

Re: It's time for me to apologize to 4 Leaf Studios.

Posted: Sat Aug 01, 2015 5:56 pm
by FeroxAnima
delta wrote:katawa shoujo isn't that good tbh
TheHivemind wrote:<3
I did miss this place. X'D

Re: It's time for me to apologize to 4 Leaf Studios.

Posted: Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:15 pm
by Oddball
FeroxAnima wrote:
delta wrote:katawa shoujo isn't that good tbh
TheHivemind wrote:<3
I did miss this place. X'D
You should stick around.

Re: It's time for me to apologize to 4 Leaf Studios.

Posted: Tue Aug 04, 2015 1:23 pm
by Charmant
gekiganwing wrote:[stuff]
So...You held a grudge against a bunch of strangers, for at least two years, because they made a thing you didn't enjoy once, and might have possibly been critical of some other VN that you liked?

Well...Glad to see you got over that. Welcome! :mrgreen:

Re: It's time for me to apologize to 4 Leaf Studios.

Posted: Wed Aug 05, 2015 11:11 am
by FeroxAnima
Oddball wrote: You should stick around.
I do hope to drop by more often now :)

Re: It's time for me to apologize to 4 Leaf Studios.

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:42 pm
by cpl_crud
TheHivemind wrote:
delta wrote:katawa shoujo isn't that good tbh

Happiness in mediocrity...

I'm down with it. Probably the only VN I'll work on so gotta accept it for that.

I get the OP's initial rage, but man, you have to realise that the criticism that was shown to the community at large was nothing compared to the internal criticism that made KS what it is.

If you want to feel happy about your own work, then do your best and share it in a safe place. But if you want to improve and make something that someone other than yourself enjoys, then you have to actively seek and absorb feedback.
I know that it isn't always fun, but looking back, I'm glad that 4LS didn't hold back on me; it gives me confidence that I won't make the same mistakes in my writing... At least, I hope I won't.