Question:What are the things about Katawa Shoujo that you don't like? A past post of yours revealed that KS embodies many of the "traits" common to garbage VNs. By no means am I insinuating that you aren't proud of your hard work. I just thought it would be interesting to read your reservations on the concept/finished product. - Anonymous
If we go with just the things that are superficially shared by every ren’ai visual novel.
1) The setting. Japanese highschool is an overused and restrictive setting for anyone who is even a bit familiar with Japanese pop culture. Further, we failed to make the particular setting of KS interesting, though this was mostly by design. Not an excuse though. 2) The structure. This is kinda unfair to say about KS because I’ve not been satisfied with the narrative structure of a single visual novel ever. Branching/interactive narrative is such an impossibly tough nut to crack, and we certainly didn’t manage a very good job at it. More to the point, the general story structure in KS also leaves a lot of be desired. Choose a story path centered around romancing your waifu-to-be? Meh. 3) Generic presentation. Sprites posing on backgrounds is boring and the wholly unoriginal background music style is forgettable (but turns out the actual soundtrack is very memorable to the audience!). Again, this was a conscious design decision but that still is not an excuse. 4) Nudge nudge. We successfully killed almost all of this, but there are a couple of “funny” references remaining that serve no purpose at all. Every anime/game visual cameo should’ve been original, a bunch of stupid puns should’ve been hunted down and killed, the book references should’ve been better thought of (for example I like A22’s idea of Hisao using phrases from other novels as a part of his inner narration, we should’ve utilized that more), stuff like that. References and intertextuality are good only when they mean something. 5) Familiar ground. Stock scenes and story events. Should never feel mandatory to use this stuff. Like above, we successfully culled a whole bunch of them, but many remain (BEACH SCENE FUCKING WHERE?). This also was actually a conscious design decision. Remember, the original concept of KS was “a generic ren’ai visual novel made by 4chan based on this one image”. 6) Words words words. KS is too big, like many visual novels. Even if it is actually 5 novels in one, it still has too many words for its content. 7) Can’t handle the sex. This is a tricky thing because again, we almost did a really good job with this, but didn’t quite get there. What I dislike is that there’s enough of it and it’s just explicit enough that it creates a glass ceiling for KS’s audience and for many people tosses KS into the category of eroge. Also this is where many of the devs had divergent visions, so different parts of the novel handle it differently.
Many of these problems we fought against, some were caused by our gigantic design debt from the early stages of the project, some were actual legit design choices, and with most the vision I have now only developed during the long years of KS’s development. If you spend five years on anything, you get bored of the generic. But as I’ve said before when alluding to my misgivings about the novel, I absolutely don’t regret anything and yeah, that’s right: I’m super proud of us and KS, even with all of its flaws (which are many).
Question:Just out of curiosity, what, in your opinion, constitutes "hack" writing? - Anonymous
I think it’s writing that’s primarily concerned about something else than the quality of the text or elegant expression of ideas. So it’s stuff like: pulp literature (and other penny-a-word things), hypertargeted rearrangements of Best of TV Tropes, most high school and university essays, significant parts of journalism and copywriting and such. Some stuff to note: a single writer can be both a hack and not, even within the same text, and hack writers are not bad by definition. Not even exaggerating much, Edgar Allan Poe was a hack writer for a lot of his career, and look at what he came up with. Which reminds me, hack writers tend to be more successful than others on certain meters, like not being a wretched shadow of a human being (though Poe certainly failed at this) and yearly income (Poe was poor as fuck, but he was the first author to actually live off his pen).
Also, I hadn’t really put any thought on this term before this question, so I literally hacked up my opinion in a couple of minutes.
Question:You know, you said a while ago that you wanted a visual novel that "your mom would like." No crappy moe shenanigans, and etc. Have you ever played one of those point and click from back in the day? A bit different from a visual novel, but they have a lot of reading, and it might be what you're looking for. Not all of them are pixel hunting quests, too. - Anonymous
Sure I have. I’ve played pretty much all of what these days are maybe considered “classics” and a hefty pile of not-so-classic adventure games. And yes, many of them are quite good and probably(?) more palatable to a “mom” than your generic eroge script.
Question:Sorry for asking here rather than the KS boards, but I wanted to be anonymous: a year ago or so, you said that 4LS was working on some other stuff and might even do some recruiting soon. Is that still the case, or not gonna happen? - Anonymous
I can’t really say anything more than that. The situation has not changed.
Question:Are you close with your family? Do they know about KS and if so how did you explain it? - Anonymous
I am, they do, to varying degrees of familiarity. None of them have read it, but my father owns a hard copy of almost all of 4LS’s art books and as such is a more hardcore KS fan than almost all actual KS fans.
I really don’t get how just about everyone on the internet seems to be utterly incapable of explaining KS in neutral terms, as if they were forced to do the awkward act of making a point upfront about the irrelevant but superficially sketchy elements and then going “BUT IT’S NOT REALLY WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE” instead of explaining KS for what it is:
"It’s a visual novel, kind of like a semi-animated graphic novel with a soundtrack and interaction. It’s not a single story but actually a set of five romance stories set in a school for disabled kids, with each story involving a common protagonist and one of his love interests."
I think I also commonly explain about my specific part
"I made one of the stories with my Australian artist friend. It’s about a double arm amputee girl who is an artist struggling with her expression and sense of unbelonging."
Granted, I have never attempted to get anyone to read KS, so very general/vague descriptions are sufficient to me. Still, the core of this question, the confusion of how to describe KS in terms that aren’t creepy, is incomprehensible to me. If it actually was a cripple fucking simulator like I sometimes affectionally call it, I’d understand the difficulty.
Question:Are you happy that /ksg/ reached thread #2000? - Anonymous
I didn’t know! I guess it’s somehow cool that that community became something lasting, at least traditionally that’s not a very 4chan thing to be I think? I haven’t looked at the threads at all since a few months after the release though, so maybe it has become some sort of feelsy hive of scum and villainy in the years since?
Question:What's the current status of the other KS writers like Crud and Suriko? Are you still on speaking terms with them, have they (mostly referring to Crud since he's apparently married now) moved on to bigger things? - Anonymous
Well, I feel I’m not the right person to answer that as I’m neither crud nor Suriko and I don’t want to say anything they might not want me to say. Other than of course I’m on speaking terms with both, and that nothing either of them will do with the rest of their lives will be bigger than KS.
e: crud got an actual baby now though, so depending on how that turns out she might outdo KS.
Question:Hello, I just read your post "The reader will fuck up your story" and wanted to know if you ever played "The Last of Us"? It is praised for its strong narrative, but also criticized for it's 100% linearity, the player can't influence story. But I wonder if the same emotional impact could even be done with branching/multiple endings. - Anonymous
I’ve not played TLoU, but yeah sure a branching narrative is in theory capable of anything a linear one is, and more. I’d argue a structurally perfect branching narrative could potentially deliver a greater impact because of the personal investment the reader places in the story. The only problem is that realizing that potential is immensely hard, bordering the impossible.