The importance of 2012 for visual novels

Only three Fridays left before the end of the Year! If we want to believe the Mayans, only two and curiously next Friday is the 21st :)

I used to make some generic posts at the end of the year talking about how my year was and the future projects. Heileen 3 testing is going forward even if (luckily!) being a dating/life sim is going much smoother than Loren (which took 3 months to test in practice!).

For those that don’t know yet, there’s a beta demo available here:

http://www.winterwolves.com/heileen3.htm

and well, in practice the game is done except a few short scenes that we’re trying to add before the official release date (but might be added in an update later).

What I want to talk about in this post is the most important events in 2012 regarding visual novels / story-based games.

The importance of Analogue: A Hate Story

Unless you’ve been living on the Moon, you probably heard about that game. But in my opinion was very important mostly because it was the first visual novel made in the west (probably the first visual novel ever, since Recettear is more a simulation/RPG) to appear on Steam.

And it did well. That’s quite interesting, since showed that with the right product/marketing you can compete with other more popular indie genres. Yes, indies don’t make only platformers! ;)

Shortly after even Magical Diary appeared (even if I know that it was accepted long before, but for some reasons was delayed for months). It is more a life sim than a plain visual novel, but it did well too and showed that there’s a market beside the classic FPS or multiplayer games.

The importance of Cinders

Another very important event happened, the release of the VN Cinders by Moacube. When Tom first approached me I knew him a bit because we used to viist the same forums, but I really had no clue that he was involved in some top selling HOG (Hidden Object Games) made in the previous years. I also admit that I had no clue who Vinegaria (the artist) was :D

So imagine my surprise when he showed me some early work in progress of the game! Top quality art and music in a visual novel? No manga style artwork? that was never seen before as far as I know (well I tried with Vera Blanc but wasn’t really top quality!)

I admit I had some doubts on the potential public reactions, because I thought that manga artwork and focus on romance were both key part to make a selling visual novel, but the success of Cinders proved me wrong. And I’m happy to be wrong, since it was because of that if I decided to make Bionic Heart 2, trying to focus more on story / mystery and not just romance, spending more money on art and with custom soundtrack.

The importance of Walking Dead

It amuses me when people talk about Telltale game and define it “an adventure”. Yes sure, there are a few puzzles that requires some thinking, a few items you can carry, some short action scenes, but you spend 80% (if not more) of the gameplay time doing two things: reading dialogues/story and making choices!

How is called that game genre that is based on dialogues and choices that affect future outcomes? Hmm yes, I think is called Visual Novels!!! ;)

That game is receiving tons of prizes and awards, and once again shows that people are ready to spend money on a very well done story-based game. Of course such level of polish is beyond reach for most indie teams since is full 3d, with realtime animations and so on. But I was happy to see it do well (also because I’d like to play more games like that myself!).

In conclusion

This year was really important for visual novel and story-based games. And I didn’t even mention To The Moon (released last year but appeared on Steam this year too), or the various Wadjet Eye adventures for example.

Of course, it was also a good year for me, mainly because of my game Loren The Amazon Princess, but I’ll talk about it in detail in another post before the end of the year :)

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One Response to The importance of 2012 for visual novels

  1. Pingback: Dev Links: Prison Talk | The Indie Game Magazine - Indie Game Reviews, Previews, News & Downloads

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