Yoshimune answers directly. Pretty good read for the fans.
Archive for the ‘Visual Novels’ category
Speaking of Kickstarter, which I’ve heard mentioned more on mainstream and sub mainstream cultural blogs and comment sites, here’s a new project which I had heard about several months ago.
My previous review. It’s been some years since then. I have reread through most of the text more than six times now, I believe. Why?
Cause of nostalgia. It’s why people play Pillars of Eternity, because of nostalgia for DnD 2.0 or old iso rpgs.
This is also tied into Yuri Bezmenov’s story linked previously. He noted that after his Soviet Communist indoctrination, it was living in India and seeing a different culture that started his rebellious stage which finally led to his defection to the US. I saw his video years ago, but it was the short version, the last 1/5th, the ending that has the so impactful words of prediction/prophecy Yuri had for us. Very impactful for someone just finding out after 2007, who the real traitors and enemies of America were. So for me, I didn’t begin to see the real issues with America until I could look in from outside the culture. I knew there was a problem, but I didn’t find out to what extent exactly it was at, until I could think about English controls using a non English mode of thought. I had another language I could use for that, but the cultural template, the vocabulary, and the environmental settings for it was severely restricted. Not enough to cover political or national issues (wrong vocabulary set). So Japanese turned out to fit quite well, since their culture is foreign but their setting is very close to 1950s America, though their social/economic modes are still 21st century, meaning our problems not grand parent level problems. It is not just smartphones… but it is smartphones and how communication can change social networks, that’s a critical difference between the 21st century and the middle of the 20th century. Just as electricity and the telephone changed 20th century culture from the age before electricity and the telephone.
It was immersion in a different language and culture, which allowed me to reprocess my experiences in America. To find Leftist mental conditioning and pull it out, including the roots which attached to almost everything else. That’s because like Polymaths and Renaissance thinkers in the past, being able to use the full extent of the mind requires parallel thinking, which coincidentally consists of learning to think in foreign languages or different perspectives. It’s probably why Socrates taught people via asking them questions, to make people think instead of merely obeying authority or regurgitating rote answers on a test.
50 dollars for some flash lights (you can probably guess which kind is popular now a days) and 35 on the pc software. About 200 for the silicon spring steel (9260) sharp edged blade thing people call by another name. 80 for the 1060. 45 for the 1045 trainer. Will need some seeds and a filter though.
Anyways, leveraging a hobby as a survival tool is pretty funny, when looked at it in that light. To most people, their pleasures are the decadence or rather what leads to decadence. My hobbies can result in limbs and fingers being mysteriously off the connecting line and needing surgical re-attachment. Fine discipline and self control is needed to avoid the emergency room, as well as lawyers. Lawyers are probably more dangerous than blades, in my view and pov.
What does this have to do with Muv Luv? Because it was the first information package that had anti American tones about the CIA that I couldn’t reject as coming from the Left, so I had to take it semi seriously, which started an interesting project that lead to finding out about the Party of Treason, the Demoncrats, with emphasis on Demon. The Assassination of Diem, in other words. It confirmed my suspicion that once the Demoncrats had power in the US, that our allies would no longer be our allies. They should watch their back, in fact, if the US is promising to back them.
Strangely enough, that’s how the US behaves in Muv Luv as well, fictional but also accurate to an extent. It’s accurate if one presumes that the Democrats controlled the US. It was one way for me to explain it, since nationalism and patriotism demands that I protest anti American remarks and reject criticism of the country I am loyal to. Criticism coming from a nationalist or patriot of another country, however, is difficult to reject. (The fictional scenario is that the US betrayed Japan by pulling out of the Security Forces agreement and then later came back to make more puppet governments) That’s because we share the same emotion and a similar pov about what is best for one’s country. I don’t share that with Leftists, who some people even reject as fellow countrymen, in the US. I didn’t share it with people that supported “peace” merely to sabotage the war in Iraq, and conveniently forgot all about the Middle East being occupied by American troops after 2007, with the New Regime’s rise.
It’s an old product, but strangely enough, I felt it was very up to date commentary on current events, circa 2011. ML is many things to many people, perhaps that is why it is very popular in a certain sub group of a sub culture. There’s also a katana being wielded in ML’s story, btw. Just think of it as a fictional thriller about SEAL teams and it fits right in, genre wise. It also has elements of apocalypse, survival sub culture, military science fiction, and invasion type scenarios. That would be my short “executive summary” for what ML is. Longer version goes something like this. ML Extra (1) is a love comedy about harmony between genders and different relationships (being attracted to adorableness), which progresses to ML Unlimited (2) which is a military recruit camp training scenario, like boot camp all the time, every time. After that is over, then you get to Muv Luv Alternative (3) which is like trying to fight through the valley of death when you have run out of ammo and the HQ extraction team decides to go save some Traitor Bergdahl instead of helping your team out. And it is like that at several points, for almost every single battle, but your team keeps combat effectiveness and holds through.
So reading it in order is somewhat important.
Aka Grisaia no Kajitsu review
I read through all the plots in this novel, visual novel, adventure reading game. They were all very different, with a strong emphasis on the main character’s attributes as applied to the particular heroine’s plot arc. The character development was rich and appealed to my sense of multi dimensional complexity. But first, I’ll explain what this genre is mostly about, since it was developed in Japan (like that toilet some people like, but is weird). A visual novel is a basic computer program written to incorporate a large amount of text (novel length) along with a sound track, sound effects, music, voice acting, and limited or full motion animation. It shares similarities with some of America’s old user developed MUDs or adventure games, except in adventure games you manipulate the world via items. The gameplay mechanics are pretty simple, low key, to allow almost anyone to use them and to pull the reader/player deeper into the atmosphere of the story.
So for people who dislike cable, tv, or Hollywood movies, programs, series, etc this is a potential substitute. If you can’t find books you like or if you don’t like how they adapt movies from books, this is a potential genre substitution.
The main theme behind the Fruit of Grisaia is the main character who roleplays as a high school student. I say role play because that’s what he is actually doing, his background is not a normal civilian or citizen history. He gets inducted into a school and thus he begins his adventure in civilian life. There’s two potential cultural shocks. The main character gets cultural shock every time he sees something in civilian life that he never saw in his previous lifestyle. Returning military veterans get a similar dosage when going from war time to peace time. Also the user gets a cultural shock because this is a Japanese nation, spoken in Japanese, with Japanese people. This ain’t Kansas any more, so if the user/reader/player isn’t Japanese, you can appreciate the shock. Thus you role play as the MC and the MC role plays as his role. The verisimilitude of the two situations makes it easier to get into the setting. For the Japanese market it was marketed to, I suspect that the verisimilitude would be based on the school setting, the every day slice of life atmosphere which is something the Japanese can remember from their own school days. For them, it’s a genre shift which surprises and pleases. For us, it’s an entirely new world, so everything and anything is new and strange.
The secondary focus or theme is about love, relationships, trauma, and ways of dealing with previous setbacks. So for the genre, it would be a combination of romance, adventure, drama, and a light spy mystery. These genres are placeholders, they aren’t Japanese genres, but it makes it easier for an English speaker to get an appropriate sense of what they might be getting into. Meaning, that if a Westerner doesn’t like the current romances and dramas, it’s mostly because that’s Hollywood romance and drama, it’s not done the Japanese style. I call it part of the romance and drama genre to familiarize individuals with what they can expect, but what they can expect is not going to be close to what they’ve seen in the West. For me, the cultural shock is all part of the experience and for me new invigorating experiences are hard to come by.
Available at http://store.steampowered.com/app/345610
While these are things I’ve heard in passing and haven’t participated in (much), they do a good job of presenting a lot of data in a short amount of time (one page). The data needed to understand what exactly is bottom up hierarchies and how they differ from top down hierarchies.
Kickstarter, I would say, is more of a hybrid. There is a middleman, kickstarter itself as an organization that cuts their cut, but it isn’t a mob or mass working on wikipedia forming their own rules on how to create a story nor is it a company that has a top down order list.
This post is directly inspired by a previous project that already ended,
So, we have Love in Space’s Sunrider that has finished a space romance action funding goal. FTL, an almost brutally hard permadeath based ship combat run (same difficulty as arcade shoot ups, without the continue function).
Then there is Exogenesis : https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2921787/exogenesis-post-apocalyptic-tokyo-adventure-visual
Which still has 16 days to go and because they set a rather high goal, they are lacking about 40% of the funding. I’ve heard of Ace Attorney but for those who haven’t played the console or emulation setups, the idea of a lawyer game isn’t particularly popular in America. At least, not right now. It has some bad connotations. I can’t say definitely that this is why there’s a funding difference, but Sunrider runs on a more familiar bishoujo theme.
Now for my interpretation or executive summary.
Bottom up hierarchies are ad hoc organizations formed between two or more people, based upon the needs of the moment: a sort of convenient alliance for survival. There is no adjudicator or mediator usually, so all the negotations must form between the leader of party A and the leader of party B, it is very direct.
Top down hierarchies form based upon a unified social authority, where the group recognizes a sole leader and that leader has a legitimate chain of command under them. The closest example is a civilian political system or a military ranking system.
Since life is rich and complicated, people often alternate between top down and bottom up hierarchies. A married couple, for instance, generally decides things together, using negotiation. The moment they use the court system to adjudicate and force things, then they are living under a top down hierarchy, where things happen only because the Boss says they happen. As a result, negotiation breaks down. Society, the judge, and the lawyers don’t necessarily have the best interests of the divorced party’s in mind. Everybody must appeal and rely upon the judgment of the Top, to get things done. This has a concurrent corrosive effect on personal initiative and a greater reliance on force and power. The use of a mediator, though, someone who lacks legal or physical power to force one party to do something, generally still allows a couple to conduct their relationship as an ad hoc, bottom up hierarchy.
Because bottom up hierarchies are flexible, they can be used in a lot of ways. The leader of Soviet Russia and the leader of Nazi Germany could use a mediator to agree on an alliance to divide up Poland, even though they would later invade and try to kill each other’s people. Even though in those two systems their hierarchy of choice was top down leadership (dictatorship or totalitarian thought control), they could still form an ad hoc, private one to one, relationship with another. And thus also tie their nation’s people together as well, momentarily.
Kickstarter type funded projects are a form of hybrid, taking elements of the best from bottom ups and combining them with the adjudication powers and enforcement powers of a top down command structure. The mediator, or middleman in this case it would be Kickstarter’s organization itself, determines or enforces the correct usage or refunding of money. The various consumers form one side of the party and the developers form the other side of the party, and both utilize negotiation, propaganda, and verbal influence in order to get the other side to do things. In the end, this creates a synergy, a product that pleases both sides.
Now we backtrack and take a side road. Ft. Hood and Ft. Hood 2 are great examples of top down hierarchies making a policy, forcing people to Obey that policy, and only afterwards do people realize that this doesn’t really benefit most people. It’s as if Kickstarter took all the money and fled. Or the developers took all the money and fled, without delivering on promises. Or the consumers got the game, and then stole all the money they said they would invest, back. Since there’s a Ft. Hood 2 deaths, the idea that a top down hierarchy would fix problems they see is… not really looking realistic. The way this can happen is if the top down leader orders and ensures that such events happen. Cause generally a society or organization that obeys its leader, will fix problems the leader tells them to fix, unless stopped by the leadership’s own orders or the organization’s own barriers. The military, or in this case the US military, often looks down on purely civilian militias as disorganized mobs or civilians trained to a high tactical level as out of control loose cannons that don’t obey police or military ROEs. That is indeed a deficiency of bottom up hierarchies; it is unstable, it lacks coordination, the left hand can often bungle straight into the right hand in operations. What the modern 21st century has given the West is not a bottom up hierarchy as historically people called the “mob” or the “crowd”. What the modern 21st century has created are hybrid organizations that combine the best of both, with the deficiencies of neither, using a combination of internet free source information flow, individual initiative, and top down legal enforcement.
In order to be combat effective, the US military has often had to promote individual initiative as well as obedience to orders in their rank and file, NCOs and officers. What we are seeing is a decided lack of personal initiative, more obedience to orders, and the fallout that results from getting rid of bottom up hierarchies and replacing everything with a top down command system. It’s not very efficient and it’s not very effective either.
This is how we can tread the path of a civilian entertainment industry and end up in a war scenario. We’re still dealing with humans here and humans have experienced social hierarchies for so long, for a reason. As for the authority behind this piece, you can either take the reasoning I’ve provided or you can look for another source. Being able to think for yourself, BY yourself, however, is not an option but rather a requirement.
Vignette Ten: Knowledge is power.
Camp Swampy, 1986.
When Hamilton was a young puppy of a lieutenant, his company commander made him promise that, when he took command of a company, he wouldn’t change a blessed thing for at least six weeks. Instead, he solemnly promised, he’d do a lot of LBWO, asking questions, and then analyze.
He did that for the first six weeks of his first command. In the process, he saw all kinds of interesting and eye-opening things: People sleeping in the barracks on duty time, squad leaders who really didn’t have the first idea that they were responsible for their troops, in toto, squad leader time consisting of people playing ping pong in the dayroom. And this was in one of the better companies of that battalion, Hamilton’s predecessor having been a first class officer, in general (though he never made general).
Hamilton didn’t really blame the squad leaders or platoon sergeants. And his platoon leaders were all brand new. The officer corps had castrated the NCO corps decades prior. They were so used to being told what to do, all the time, to having their time managed by higher, that the idea that they were responsible was just alien to many, maybe even most, of them.
So Hamilton called everybody from squad leader on up into his office and gave a little speech, more or less to this effect:
“Boys, I’ve been in the Army about nine and a half years by now. I think probably every year, sometimes twice, some company commander or other would announce, ‘People, I’m sick of this fucking off in the barracks. We’re gonna account for every man, every minute. We’re gonna tighten up the training schedule…We’re not gonna let a minute go to waste…”
“Yeah…no. That usually worked for about ten days until the next crisis came upon us and some new priority popped up; then we went right back to what we’d been doing.
“We’re going to try something different. Rather, we’re going to try a few things different.
“Item one: Look at your new training schedule. Note where it says ‘sergeants’ time’? Right; it doesn’t; it’s gone. All time that I don’t specifically take is sergeants’ time. Now flip it over.
“Item two: Remember where it used to say ‘opportunity training’? Note that now it says ‘mandatory opportunity training.’ That means you are going to do it; trust me on this. I’m testing Friday afternoons. If your guys fail, we’ll retest Friday night until Saturday morning, if that’s what it takes. Yeah, it’s micro-managing. For the moment.
“Item three: Where’s the time coming from for this? Go back to what I said in item one; I’m not putting anything on the schedule that isn’t _my_ major event. So you now have a lot of time.”
The first week they didn’t believe him. He had the first sergeant select two men from each squad, randomly, and used his platoon leaders and platoon sergeants to test. The men failed. So the dirty bastard kept the whole company there retesting until about 23:30. Next week, two of the squad leaders believed. Their people passed. The rest stayed until about 22:30. The next week it was four, until maybe 21:00.
It took six weeks but, by that time, they all believed.
Hamilton kept it up for another six weeks after that. Allegedly, one – at least one; might have been more – of his squad leaders had troops coming up to him and saying, in one case literally, “Forsooth, Sergeant, I am in desperate need of getting laid. Sadly, if we don’t pass the muthafuckin’ CO’s test Friday, it won’t happen again this week, either. So please, PLEASE teach me this shit.”
After that twelve weeks was over there was another little prayer meeting in Hamilton’s office. The gist of that was, “Okay, now you know you can do this; you can train your own troops without being told where and when to do it. The next step is that now you’re going to decide what your squad needs. Right. Now give me five Soldiers Manual tasks, three if they’re exceptionally hard. Yeah, that’s each of you. Yeah, I’m still going to test Friday night.”
That program, in conjunction with some other things, worked pretty damned well. By well I mean that when the annual hands on Skill Qualification Test1 rolled around, the rest of the battalion shut down for two or three weeks to prep. Hamilton’s crew didn’t. Instead, they went to the field, did a best squad competition, some deliberate attacks, couple-three live fires, some patrolling, some anti-armor ambushing…and basically had a good time. They came in from the field rather late the night before it was their turn to take the SQT (which in that battalion was done much like an EIB test, _very_ anal). Hamilton told the boys, “Oil your rifles, knock the mud off your boots, get a good night’s sleep. See you out here in the morning.”
Seven people in that company didn’t max the test. That was something over two thirds of all the maxes in the battalion, which is pretty good considering he had less than ten percent of the battalion. The top nine squads were Hamilton’s, ten counting company HQ. The top three platoons were his, and nobody else was even close. All his squad leaders acquired a pretty vast level of prestige with their own troops and within the battalion, overall.
After that, he still collected their tasks, but just spot checked occasionally. The sergeants were doing it, all individual training, entirely on their own hook. And from there he could put in a date and time for a given inspection or any other event related to his squads and be quite confident it would get done, efficiently and well.
(Oh, the next year, where he paid zero attention to the upcoming SQT, only four of the men didn’t max it.)
I wrote about this game some time ago, and from the lack of news on its sequel I thought the first episode had not yet achieved enough market penetration to fund a second episode. Which was regrettable. But, it looks like there’s hope on the horizon, when the money comes directly from consumers to the business that provides what the consumers consume, without middle men taking 50-70% of the cut (like some trial lawyers do).
Now if only we could kickstart fund a program that replaces Hussein O’s Regime in America or kickstart fund a program that ensures internet freedom from totalitarian regimes. That would include stretch goals for protection from mind crime and the thought police, vis a vis homosexuality and feminism.
P.S. Click on the K in the upper left corner for the website. This link seems to auto imbed the intro.
I like the video. This was one of those freely translated and released by the copyright owner, which somehow found its way to Western hands.
Most people can probably get an idea of whether they’ll like the visual novel by their reactions to the Japanese song.
A Greenlight is something Steam uses to gauge interest in a product, and if there is enough they will put resources into listing it. Steam is an online digital distribution service mostly for downloadable content and PC games. As it also serves as a chat, message, and website, a game listed there will receive a lot of ancillary support as well as advertisement to a broader audience and market. A broader audience and market is something visual novels need to create, if the subject matter is going to succeed here in the US.
The visual novel in episodic format released on Steam and elsewhere.
It has been a few months since I’ve read it but given that it has been released on Steam, I’d thought I’d provide an insertion point for those unfamiliar with the genre/theme.
Dysfunctional Systems is a science fiction short story with an introduction of the characters, a journey where they meet challenges, and a satisfying ending. Like Brandon Sanderson’s novels, the short term goals will be finished up, even though the long term goals are still long term (it’s Episode 1, with possibilities for further episodes). Other episodic VNs are うみねこのなく頃に – Umineko no Naku Koro ni – When the Seagulls Cry and Gun Rose Days (by same authors).
The theme and environment setting is very easy for Westerners to understand once you start reading. The main protagonist is essentially on an apprenticeship to a job, overseen by a superior. Similar to those paid internships college students go through. However, her job is to go to different alternative realities and ensure that no threat manifests that can harm their Origin universe.
Unlike a longer visual novel or Western novel, there’s not any filler. There’s no time or room for filler. Everything is vital and critical to the task at hand or the short term goal the characters have set for themselves.
The gameplay itself is only “role playing” in the original meaning, where you ‘play’ a ‘role’ that someone else has given you. In this short (kinetic) VN, you play the role of the main protagonist, but the setting, her emotions, and her goals are set by the dungeon master, or in this case the writer and programmers. You have a few limited choices, but only when programmers (or DM) lets you make a decision. Most of the time you’ll just be clicking along, like moving pages in a book or watching a movie. So first of all, don’t expect a VN to be like a number crunching RPG simulation of fantasy or sci fi weapons.
As for what about the novel I liked and why I liked it; to put it into a fundamental level, I liked it because it dealt with a high level analysis of cultural imperatives and cultural changes due to technology and external influences. If you ever got excited with First Contact, where you have a superior or different level of technology and thinking but come into contact with a whole new civilization on a planet no human has ever visited, then you will come to understand the feeling that Dysfunctional Systems give off. For instead of studying aliens or civilization, it studies the dysfunctional systems inherent in other cultures. Things that don’t function right, in our judgment, but still exists as a “system” that is maintained or expanded by human hands. Examples might be North Korea, Jim Jones’ death/suicide cult, and so forth. Unlike Western science fiction shows, the main protagonist and her allies aren’t reliant on their technology to accomplish things: their primary role is as an observer, not a fixer or ruler. This novel feels more like a survivalist story or about an individual being a stranger in a strange land, than as the normal sci fi alien invasion story or the sci fi Cool Gadgets theme found oftentimes in stories like Star Wars 1-3.
It didn’t take me more than say 20 hours to read the story. So for those that want to have a easy to read entry on visual novels, I would say this product is a good option.
For those that want to read more about VNs, check out my archives here.