Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

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Re: Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

Post by SpunkySix » Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:44 pm

This is actually kind of getting on my nerves now. I appreciate your work, but if we're such a waste of time, stop coming here. We can handle ourselves just fine.
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Re: Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

Post by Anonymous22 » Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:47 pm

Condescension isn't coming to this thread in this forum to reply to you all and tell you that the quality of discussion is low. If I wanted to be condescending I wouldn't have to entertain anything any of you say. Or, condescension would be giving you what you wanted, telling you what to discuss and how you should discuss it and just saying you're all doing a good job so keep doing what you're doing while I go do big boy things. In fact, I could just say something like YOU THINK YOU KNOW CONDESCENSION? and leave it at that, but that'd be condescending. I could do my own internet psychologist routine and say that some guy accused me of being ashamed of my connection to this game as evidence that he realizes deep down that this community has seriously gone downhill. That would also be condescending. I'm offering my opinion as just another guy.

"Yeah, we know that everything sucks, but Sturgeon's Law, everything sucks forever and always so who cares. Oh, and don't you dare point it out because even though we acknowledged that everything sucks, we will still be indignant."

This is what you're saying. For what reason? Because I said you should discuss more interesting things. Think about that. That's all.
hurr durr

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Re: Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

Post by ProfAllister » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:04 pm

Huh. Another A22 sighting. And an extended one at that.

Can't say the comments really come as a surprise, though. They pretty much echo the rare tidbits available from prerelease blogs and comments. Still nice to have some sort of official confirmation as to the intent.

Of course, skeptics will just point out that telling you're most devoted fans that they're 100% right and deserve a pat on the back is one of the oldest and most transparent cons in the book.

Agree on "writing for the medium." Visual novels are in fact a medium, with associated challenges, but it's certainly not the mess of baggage that comes with the phrase "writing for the medium."

"Visual Novel" is a fancy name for an electronic picture book with a soundtrack. Just like "Sequential Image Stereophonic Multimedia Event" can mean a slide projector and a bedsheet with a grainy record playing in the background. The challenge of "writing" for the "medium" is putting together a coherent story in which the component parts work together to enhance the experience, rather than competing in such a way that they detract from each other.

Which brings us to the next element: choices. More often than not, it turns a multimedia story into one of the crappiest "games" ever. We're talking "Spank the monkey to get a free iPod" crappy. And there is some merit to the argument that "You are an Alien Porn Star" (or whichever "Choose Your Own Adventure" book you choose) gets less respect in literary circles than "The Brothers Karamazov" because of the element of choice detracting form the overall narrative. This isn't to say that zero-G-strings and laser pasties are literary gold, but you get the idea.
Yeah? No shit, my nigga. But how can people seriously talk about "this medium" and writing for "this medium" and talking about the story, the characters, speculating about this and that, when what they actually want is "more touchy-feely stuff?" Do you realize how fraudulent that is? People say they want to be engaged, they want to think, they want something different. In reality, you're intellectually lazy. You want your hand held, you want to be made to feel special, you want to be emotionally manipulated. This doesn't mean that emotional value in writing is inherently cheap or bad. There's nothing wrong with playing with a reader's emotions and evoking feeling. But when nebulous "feels" become the entire benchmark, that's just disgusting. If you are reading a static visual novel over and over again because you're addicted to feeling something, that is rather hollow.
I will concede that a disturbingly large segment of the community is all about "feels." It's nothing new, though - catharsis was a big thing as far back as ancient Greece, to say the least. The real issue for VNs is that many of the intellectual leaders (insofar as they can be called that) endorse this idea of feels uber alles. This would be like film critics endorsing Michael Bay as the paragon of what movie making should be.

On the matter of quality of discussion, it's been my impression that these forums are a significant cut above much of what else is out there. It's still on balance pretty shitty, but I think that's more a critique on the overall quality of human discourse. Unless you're presented with a carefully curated cross-section of something, it doesn't matter what you're looking at. Shitty communities and the shitty discussions they spawn are all over the place for everything, be it Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest, or Debbie Does Dallas.

That being said, we can do better. And we should do better. I'd like to imagine that I'm doing my part, and many people have told me as much, but I'm well enough aware of the fact that that could simply mean that no one's come out and told me that I'm as bad as the rest (if not worse).

Why do I come here? To relax, do some light intellectual workouts, and write crappy fan fiction that completely misses the point of the original work. I could be doing "better" things with my time, but everyone needs to take a break every once in a while. Besides, changing the world is my day job.
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Re: Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

Post by Anonymous22 » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:25 pm

ProfAllister wrote:Still nice to have some sort of official confirmation as to the intent.
When this game released, the thing I found most distasteful was that instead of reading it over a lot of people did not read it even once because they wanted to remain true to their waifu or something equally embarrassing.
ProfAllister wrote: catharsis was a big thing as far back as ancient Greece, to say the least.
But what is catharsis without intellectual engagement? Think of all the times I am sure you've read some comment like "I'm going to replay this for the sixth time to revisit the feels." Really? The feels? You got nothing out of this experience but a bunch of nebulous "feels" that you keep going back to solely for the purpose of feeling something. And this always struck me as very strange and off.

As for quality of discussions, sometimes I'll pop in here once a week and browse everything, but all the discussions are stale or dead and even interesting topics quickly get derailed into dumb bullshit. Yeah, it's nothing new, and this game is a static experience that has been out awhile so all the good topics are probably exhausted, but the blind acceptance of the shit as this immutable law that everyone has to deal with and you just have to wallow in the shit hoping something interesting floats along, is pretty bad.
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Re: Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

Post by Potato » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:51 pm

Anonymous22 wrote:Condescension isn't coming to this thread in this forum to reply to you all and tell you that the quality of discussion is low.
No, condescension is coming here to tell everyone they're lazy, small-minded, intellectually shriveled and whatever else because you're apparently on such a higher level than everyone else here. :roll:

The problem isn't the opinion. Hell, the opinion's accurate. The problem is the shitty uppity attitude you bring with it.

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As for "What is catharsis without intellectual engagement?" ...It's still catharsis. Intellectual engagement is not now nor has it ever been a mandatory element of catharsis. Replaying it just for 'feels' is pretty awful, because there is more to it than that, but a lack of intellectual engagement wouldn't invalidate any catharsis that occurred.
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Re: Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

Post by Atario » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:15 pm

Today I learned A22 is really really sure that:
  • everyone but him sucks
  • we are failing at our job, which is to please him
  • being caustic is the surest way to persuade people (see what I did there?)
Seriously, though. A22, I like the work you did, I truly do. But you gotta grow a thicker skin. If randoms saying they didn't especially like your route sets you off this bad, you might wanna avoid reading anything from randoms, for your own health if nothing else.

Regarding the actual substance of the argumentation so far:

"Writing for the medium". This is usually a code phrase for "follow the conventions". But it's important to remember that there's nothing inherently wrong with following nor with defying conventions. Sometimes people want familiarity and ease, and sometimes they want challenges and stretches. Sometimes they want a little of each, or 10% of one and 90% of the other. It takes all kinds of people to make a world, and it takes all kinds of art to satisfy a world's moods. Don't tell people just a single thing is the One True Way Of Purity. (This is actually one great advantage Visual Novels have: different routes can have entirely different levels of this and other things, which is exactly what KS does and, in my opinion, one of the reasons it's so successful: it has lots of things for lots of tastes.)

Choices. They are slightly an illusion, in that they aren't like the choices in real life; but they're also real, in that they serve, as any other aspect of art, to cause a reaction in the observer. That the number of outcomes or alternate sub-paths they can give is not infinite is no detraction from the idea. Even consequence-free choices lend a certain flavor. But being very sparing with choices — or even having none at all — is just another flavor as well.

Feels. There's nothing wrong with liking an emotional reaction versus an intellectual one versus, say, a spiritual one. To look down on people for having interests in such broad areas of taste is nonsensical. That's not just de gustibus non est disputandum, but taking it to a meta-level.

Discussion quality. There's no such thing as a single measure of this, so it gets really hard to justify saying X is "better than" Y. Even were it possible, though: one, it's not a contest, nor an assignment; and two, be the change you want to see in the world — lead by example, not by whipping.

Embarrassing things people do. If you gotta cringe, cringe. But ultimately their actions are their own, and don't reflect on you. Stay empathetic, and even offer advice to those who seem bereft of it, if you want; but don't let it drive you to distraction or fury or isolation or whatever else.

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Re: Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

Post by brythain » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:31 pm

Perhaps it's better to ask what catharsis is with intellectual engagement. The process of self-examination followed by appropriate purification is also a time-honoured one — you can find it in any culture.

I see A22's challenge, no matter how worded, as a useful one. We've all had some emotional engagement with KS. But as with any work of art, it's good to ask questions. They can begin with 'Why do I feel this way?' and perhaps 'What did the artist do to make me feel this way?', yet to not answer them is indeed some kind of laziness.

To say, "Why don't you people think of better questions and try to answer them?" is not a popular activity. But what's interesting to me is that even with more whimsical questions, some people do attempt to give better answers. Recently, for example, the thread on which KS characters best represent the seven deadly sins. There are some obvious answers, some light-hearted ones. But one respondent, despite the whimsy of the question, actually essayed a long and considered response. That kind of thing, I have to say, is always welcome to me.

I don't mind making bad jokes and watching bad jokes being made. Or good jokes, for that matter. I'll even take part. I just like it when I see solid constructs appear instead. Again, for example, the many questions along the lines of, "What do you think would have happened to… after… ?" or "What if… ?" — in the fanfic section I've found some responses that I know I haven't the talent or passion or craft to emulate, and I admire those. They're examples of people taking time and effort to work out answers to questions, whether they're doing it formally or intuitively.

So I admit I found A22's response a bit sour at first. But I also thought of it like this: "We did some art. It might not be the best art, but is that all you guys have to say about it?" I have to say that if that's the case, I can understand that.
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Re: Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

Post by ProfAllister » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:53 pm

Now, I could be mistaken, but I think I agree with you.

I will admit that the whole "devotion to your waifu" is one of the more bizarre elements of this community. As I understand, it's unusual even for the VN crowd. It's something rather foreign to me, though, so I've generally been reluctant to dwell on it too much. I think it was about two years ago that I was spending a significant amount of time in the KS IRC channel (generally making a total ass of myself, but that's another story entirely). At one point, I'm pretty sure it was Delta that mentioned that KS is one of the few things that the KS demographic (insofar as there is one) encounters that isn't completely saturated in cynicism. They find something that has even the slightest shred of honesty, and they cling to it for dear life.

It is pretty sad, and they really should learn to grow up and move on. But my reaction has generally leaned toward pity rather than disgust. That could be because it's still pretty new to me, so I don't really have the necessary familiarity for it to breed contempt. And, of course, there are the sad and pathetic individuals who don't really have an excuse, but there are also the rare few who really don't know any better, since their life has been full of shit as far as they can remember. Or perhaps I just tend to give people the benefit of the doubt far more than they deserve. (Personally, I think it's the tulpas where you find people who are seriously messed up)

On the other hand, from an authorial point of view (or as the producer of any sort of work), I like to imagine that I can understand the frustration when you put significant investment into a labor of love only to have the recipient(s) completely miss the point.

I had no intention of justifying empty catharsis. That's why I made the Michael Bay comparison, after all. I was observing that we've really been wrestling with "muh feels" for quite some time, with little sign of abatement. I've tended to sue Lilly as a proxy for this criticism myself, as I feel that the story seems to wallow in "feels," presenting very little to actually challenge the reader. And even if they story has more merit than I give credit, I definitely get the impression that I see the feels addicts predominantly in the Lilly and Hanako factions of the fanbase.

And, as with waifu devotion above, I agree that it's very much "not right." I'm not likely to outright condemn someone for approaching form that direction (because they may not know any better), but I'd like to imagine that I occasionally make efforts to gently nudge them down a more productive and worthwhile path.

My participation in discussion tends to be rather selective. Normally, it needs to catch my eye, then I need to actually get around to reading it, then, if I feel that I have something worth saying, I may consider sitting down and typing up a reply - half of which I probably never send. Needless to say, several posters are significantly less meticulous in that regard. I think I generally tned to ignore the chaff entirely, so it doesn't bother me as much. I figure that I shouldn't stress out too much about missing something, because anything worthwhile that I miss on the first pass will more likely than not be significant on later passes as well.

On the other hand, it may have to do with my job. When you're regularly dealing with the kind of high-grade bullshit that can ruin lives, it's a little easier to ignore the petty harmless bullshit (not that that justifies its existence in the slightest; just why it doesn't seem to bother me as much as it does others).

So I'd say I'm a little less on the "wallowing in shit hoping for something interesting to float by" and more on the "occasionally glancing to see if there's something shiny that might potentially justify reaching into the shit to grab." And being willing to accept that sometimes it's just a shiny shit bubble. Regardless, my acceptance of shit in the KS community is directly proportional to my acceptance of the fact that any human discourse is similarly polluted. And that's less a matter of "yeah, life sucks" and more "I'm doing what I can, but these sort of things don't get fixed overnight. And it's not something so bad that I should be losing sleep over it."
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Re: Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

Post by Guest Poster » Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:38 am

On the other hand, from an authorial point of view (or as the producer of any sort of work), I like to imagine that I can understand the frustration when you put significant investment into a labor of love only to have the recipient(s) completely miss the point.
I agree with that. However, I wanted to point out something that related to "writing for the VN medium" as has come up before.

It's been pretty much established in this thread and others that Shizune's route contains quite a few hidden subtleties that tend to fly over the reader's head during his first read-through and at least one more thorough readthrough is required for the route to reach its full potential. In that way, the approach might have met with more general appreciation if the route had been its own book rather than part of a VN.

The route's trait that I just mentioned seems to work against it in this case. I'm pulling the following numbers completely out of my ass, but I think people will agree with the general estimation. I think out of all the people who have tried Katawa Shoujo and did at least one playthrough:
- 35% did one or two playthroughs, but never got 100% completion. Most of those people aren't the "Girl X is mai waifu and playing any other route is cheating"-type, but more the "let's see what this fuss is about, okay tried it, is okay and now I'm back to my game library with at least 10 titles on my to-play list"-type.
- 55% completely 100% of the game, but didn't replay any routes
- 10% got 100% and then replayed one of more routes later on.

Let's face it, a VN is a type of "game" that's not known for its massive replay value. What's more, few people will replay a route immediately after completing it. I know I didn't. After I finished Shizune's route, I moved on to the other three routes I hadn't experienced yet. After getting 100% I had enough Katawa Shoujo for a while.

"Feels-heavy" routes (I still cringe when I use that term) may feel less rewarding upon subsequent playthroughs and in that aspect they may be the opposite of the principles behind Shizune's route, but during the first playthrough they'll have a much bigger impact. Using the percentages I posted earlier, that first-time experience will be the only experience for 90% of the people who played the VN. And not everyone in the remaining 10% bracket will be replaying Shizune's route. With that in mind, I can definitely see how the deck is stacked against the route. Basically you've written something that won't reach its full potential for over 90% of the KS players.

A funny afterthought is that I've witnessed a similar "challenge vs. entertain" discussion during forum discussions of challenging indie-games which weren't afraid to kill off the player for making a mistake and some even forced him to replay part of the level he died in. Quite a few players noted that they play games to be entertained and they already find enough challenge in their jobs or studies. "This game doesn't respect my time" was an often-heard complaint. I was usually in the camp that told said gamers to grow a spine and practice more because the satisfaction of conquering the obstacles laid out in the game was worth it. That said, when in a fair mood, I'd usually tell these kinds of players that the game simply wasn't for them. I see some parallels in this discussion here, though I'm a little bit more on the fence because a VN is a more passive experience than a hectic platform game.
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Re: Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

Post by Megumeru » Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:08 am

I took my eyes off the board for a few days and A22 showed up. Wow :shock:

Now reading it through...


Speaking as someone who read all the routes to 100%, did a second run, and performed in-n-out analysis of specific routes and characters, then repeated multiple runs on Shizune and Rin's route, I can see where his argument came from and--no offense--I agree with his points.

Now I'm not going to quote every single thing in 15 minutes before next class from my phone, so this might sound really-really blunt. Don't hate me for it, but you have to think why A22 comments as such and, in fact, I agree.

1. Majority just wants the touchy-feely n less thinking/engagement. The 'no-brainer' types.
2. The allusion of choice-point as entertainment/amusement vs. real story impact. (Admit it, if u play Mass Effect 3 you are all pissed at the ending and how it only gives colors with the same ending, noting that all the choices you make means NOTHING and you get the same ending anyway--yet you're satisfied with it. Huh, weird isn't it?)

I agree with those points. Not sure intentionally or unintentionally, but A22, your writing of Shizune's route has more or less garnered the respect and following of the more critically thinking-inclined individuals. A pat in the back for you =w=)7
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

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Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
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Re: Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

Post by Guest Poster » Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:02 am

1. Majority just wants the touchy-feely n less thinking/engagement. The 'no-brainer' types.
So are you saying that the touchy-feely stuff and the thinking/engagement stuff are mutually exclusive and that people who value emotional hooks actively wish for less thinking/engagement in their VNs? I don't think that's true.

Personally I would suggest that the ideal route would contain enough emotional hooks to make an impact on the reader during the first time around (i.e: 'feels'), actually encouraging them to replay the route at some point AND enough hidden subtleties to keep subsequent playthroughs interesting. You seem to imply that it's either one thing or another.
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Re: Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

Post by Megumeru » Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:47 am

Guest Poster wrote:
1. Majority just wants the touchy-feely n less thinking/engagement. The 'no-brainer' types.
So are you saying that the touchy-feely stuff and the thinking/engagement stuff are mutually exclusive and that people who value emotional hooks actively wish for less thinking/engagement in their VNs? I don't think that's true.

Personally I would suggest that the ideal route would contain enough emotional hooks to make an impact on the reader during the first time around (i.e: 'feels'), actually encouraging them to replay the route at some point AND enough hidden subtleties to keep subsequent playthroughs interesting. You seem to imply that it's either one thing or another.
Do mind my language barrier.

But yes, I do imply one or the other--which you did stated in your previous post how some people feel about 'having no time so I prefer something simple.'

If I am to put it in an analogy, it's like picking bananas. Some like it yellow, some like it dark yellow, some like it darker with blotches in them (I can't think of a better analogy atm).

Thing is, there is no ideal route as every individual prefers either more to the right (in the case of VNs) thinking/engagement-type route, or more to the left with an abundant touchy-feelies. That's why we have Emi who appeals right in the center of the spectrum.

Emotional hooks is just one of the many methods of engagement. Others--like myself--likes something that really-really makes you think, analyze, and read into every single detail that is provided and left nothing unturned (that, and grinning here and there knowing how it is and what it feels like IRL).

For example, many would just assume 'Shizune made lunch for Hisao' as something normal. But for myself, I find that a lot more special--why? Because you don't go around and waste your time one morning to make lunch for someone UNLESS you really mean it. If you know the contents of a bento, I dare say it takes a lot of dedication to make something presentable. Following that, some of us who think like this 'found' and 'earned' those feels, keeping us engaged to the story in contrast to having been spoon-fed with it all the way.


Some like to be spoonfed, others like to feel confused and then find out why something like that happen and search for it. It's all preferences. (Personally, the ideal route is one that makes the readers think or question how things happen this way or that way; then again, as an FF writer myself, I still find it difficult to pull-off)

Also:
Touchy-feely sounds wrong...somehow :lol:
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
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Re: Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

Post by ProfAllister » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:15 am

Guest Poster wrote:
1. Majority just wants the touchy-feely n less thinking/engagement. The 'no-brainer' types.
So are you saying that the touchy-feely stuff and the thinking/engagement stuff are mutually exclusive and that people who value emotional hooks actively wish for less thinking/engagement in their VNs? I don't think that's true.

Personally I would suggest that the ideal route would contain enough emotional hooks to make an impact on the reader during the first time around (i.e: 'feels'), actually encouraging them to replay the route at some point AND enough hidden subtleties to keep subsequent playthroughs interesting. You seem to imply that it's either one thing or another.
They aren't mutually exclusive, but it is a matter of working with limited resources. It's opportunity cost, or the old saw of "Choose two: fast, cheap, and good." There is the theoretical ideal that hits both notes to readers' satisfaction, but those are few and far between (and generally considered among mankind's greatest works).

For most works, though, the author can't make it perfect - there isn't the time, the will, or the justification (to say nothing of whether there's the ability). So people choose their priorities. And thus we get some art that challenges and some that entertains. I liked the banana analogy (I can't stand bananas that are too green, but love bananas when they're sufficiently ripe - while others find the brown peel or spots absolutely disgusting), but maybe a cooking analogy is more apt. My family's spaghetti sauce recipe calls for garlic and crushed red pepper. theoretically, there's an ideal combination that would please everyone, but cooks don't go for that - they choose the combination of spiciness and garlicy-ness that most appeals to their sensibilities (or, depending on the context, their intended audience).

That being said, I've already expounded on my criteria for judging the value of a work. But what does the value of a work mean? Let's go back to the earlier phrase mentioned: de gustibus non est disputandum - "in matters of taste, there can be no disputes." That's all well and good - to a point. You can't tell someone that they're wrong for liking something. But you most definitely can (and should) maintain standards for the relative value of the things enjoyed. You aren't telling someone they're wrong for liking what they like; you're telling them that there's so much out there that, on an objective measure, is better than what they like. they aren't wrong for liking what they like, but they absolutely CAN be wrong for saying what they like is better than things they don't like. To an extent, you take what you can get - (provided it is not actively detrimental) the questionable value of something experienced is inherently superior to the unquestionable value of the thing not experienced. That's the idea behind "Goosbumps" and other books for that age - they're objectively pretty terrible, but at least the kid's reading.

What people do in their free time to relax and enjoy is their own thing. There are plenty of times when I decide that I want to enjoy something low-investment while I relax. There's nothing wrong with that on occasion, provided you limit mindless consumption of such "junk food" entertainment. I'm just saying that "at least the kid's reading" shouldn't be the baseline once people reach adulthood.
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Re: Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

Post by Potato » Fri Apr 25, 2014 8:29 pm

Megumeru wrote:That's why we have Emi who appeals right in the center of the spectrum.
So Emi's the ideal route. Being in the center, it stands to reason that her route contains a balance of both ends.
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Re: Liking Shizune but not enjoying her route?

Post by SpunkySix » Fri Apr 25, 2014 10:10 pm

Potato wrote:
Megumeru wrote:That's why we have Emi who appeals right in the center of the spectrum.
So Emi's the ideal route. Being in the center, it stands to reason that her route contains a balance of both ends.
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