The Results for the Furry VN Audience Survey are Here!
Some of you may remember that a while ago we made a survey about audience preferences regarding furry visuals novels (FVNs). The initial results were always available to people who filled it and through this link, but for a while now nanoff has been working on this whole thing on the background to map out how the audience preferences changes depending on what specific games they played.
Now, before we get to the meat of the results I'd like to take a minute to shill for a project I have followed closely — Nerus by Roddorod.
It was released last year and from the start it had some bold and impressive writing. Recently its third build was released, now displaying entirely new art, and as of right now an Android build is available.
It caught me from the start, and not much later we and Roddo started mingling together because of our common beliefs about writing and, well, friendship. At this point we have all helped each other a number of times, and we have closely followed Nerus' development. So we are taking this opportunity to, well, shill it. It's a bold project that takes aspects of visual novels to places very few have the courage or creativity to visit. You should absolutely check it out if you like visual novels with strong writing, both in plot and in character.
With that said, I'm passing things to nanoff as he's the one who will explain about the survey results.
So, without further ado, here's the Survey results from Google!
If you want to check the further results with all the extra data stuff nanoff did, you should check this notebook right here. Download the HTML file and open on any browser.
SOME BASIC OBSERVATIONS
At a first glance we can see some interesting results. For example, that the majority of the respondents fall into the 18 to 21 age group (I sure hope none of you fuckers are underage and playing an 18+ visual novel), also that a majority of players have played 4 to 12 visual novels, meaning there's a lot of overlap between our audiences. Romance, Erotica and SoL are unsurprisingly the most preferred fiction genres.
One thing I find interesting is that only 10% of respondents replied "I only play adult games", meaning that the audience that is only here to skip the text and get to the sex scene CGs might be smaller than a lot of VN creators assume.
I also find really shocking that about a third of you guys will sit through more than 80 hours. Let's put a pin on this, we'll come back to it later.
The body types are about what many must have expected, with moderately muscular and masculine builds preferred over feminine and thin ones. Same with the preferred species: the usual suspects such as canines, felines and dragons getting overwhelmingly positive results- happy to see bulls getting some love too for obvious reasons.
Something we should emphasise, especially for content creators, though: these results are not the be-all end-all. Yes, it's blatantly clear that some species are universally preferred over others: that doesn't mean that if you want to succeed as a VN you need to include them. There's underserved character archetypes, or body types, or species that there might be an audience for that isn't getting attention, and there's a lot to gain from catering to them as well.
Most respondents also seem ambivalent towards female/trans/non binary and/or disabled dateable characters as well, we expected this to be lower considering how vocal detractors can be about this. There could also be some degree of acquiescence bias in play too; but still, interesting results. It is also noteworthy that in the write-in responses there was quite often a call for more diversity.
People also seem to be willing to monetarily fund or support furry VN projects, citing good writing and art as their main factors for supporting a project. A majority of the respondents are backing a project on Patreon, the majority of which, in turn, are also supporting more than one. The responses here are most useful for VN creators that are monetising or planning to monetise their projects: I'd like to point out that a majority of players responded positively to creators taking an (unpaid) break from VN development.
HOWEVER, there's a lot more we can learn from these results, so I did some more digging on my own.
So, I ran our survey results through some data analytics stuff, the result of which being this notebook, which you can download as an html and open on any browser.
After doing some feature engineering to clean up the useless fields and translate some of the text ones to more easily quantifiable integer/float data — I'll save the technobabble and get to the point.
First of all, for some select visual novels (either due to their place in the Itch.io algorithm, personal interest, or because their creators asked us personally), we got subsections of the results for people who have played these VNs:
|Visual Novel||Number of respondents that played||Subset size|
|Beyond the Harbor||280||16%|
|Tavern of Spear||1005||57.46%|
|Four Letter Word||484||27.67%|
|The Smoke Room||779||44.54%|
Naturally this isn't 1-1 with popularity — we shared the survey link around places like an FVN server, the Echo server, passed it around with other vn creators, etc. but we might not have reached out to EVERYONE playing furry VNs so there is some degree of bias here.
The interesting thing is that this allows us to see interesting insights, like audience overlap between different visual novels:
It's easy to see here, for example, that Echo and The Smoke Room have a lot of audience overlap. So does Minotaur Hotel and Killigan's Treasure, for example — we both like our moos. This could be useful as an "if you like X, you might like Y" chart.
This also lets us see information such as body type preference overlap for every visual novel:
It's VERY blatant here that the Extracurricular Activities audience really knows what they fucking like — same for the Killigan's Treasure players, to a lesser extent.
I should remark that Adastra, taking up a majority of the audience share, will therefore be very similar to the overall sample, so its correlations are not going to be as strong as the rest.
Which we can see in charts like the following, where Adastra tends to be really close to the average.
There's a lot more like these in the HTML document listed, as well as a list of Patreon supporter comments for the overall VN creator community. There's lots of interesting insights one can take from the whole thing so I urge VN creators to download the whole thing and take a better look at it- it's also fun as hell for someone that has played several of these to compare and contrast the results.
The main takeaway from these comments, if you don't have the patience to read them all, is an overwhelming message of: don't pull a Blackgate. People are afraid of investing (both emotionally and monetarily) on projects that go nowhere, so be clear to communicate delays to your audience.
Another big takeaway, and I'll go back to the OVERWHELMING amount of people that are willing to play 80 hour + visual novels — I think the amount of effort that goes into making these visual novels is lost on a big portion of our audience.
And now it's back to MinoAnon.
To close it off I'm going to add a few of my own comments and then display a few of the most notable comments we got at the write-in field.
First off, some people may think that the overall best strategy when making a VN is picking the most favored traits and mix them all up. That is wrong, I believe, because of:
- There is a trade-off between picking less or more popular elements. Some audiences are underserved (for example, from the data I believe people who appreciate chubby guys may be the case) and others are superserved. If you try to replicate Adastra and make a game about a himbo wolf you'll probably not do well, that audience already won't be captivated by what you have to offer. Meanwhile if you take less common elements you might stumble on a loyal audience who really appreciates your unique effort. So... Don't be afraid of making the VN you want to make, in a nutshell.
- I believe that to a certain extent the most successful game in the niche shifts player preferences towards it. I can't know this for sure but I would bet that, had we done this survey two years ago, fewer people would have rated Himbo (because of Adastra) and Bull (because of Minotaur Hotel) so highly.
Ultimately my takeaway from this is that:
- unless you are going for things which really are disliked (looking at you, Fishes) good writing can make it work, and
- going for elements with a broader appeal means wider audience but not necessarily high engagement, while niche things get higher engagement per reader.
Another point... The results we got regarding female/trans characters aren't unanimous either way. A number of the write-in responses we got touched on this in some regard. I did not them include them below because I thought it would be best to summarise them here as a larger picture instead of offering 20 fragmentary findings.
So here it goes: there is a relevant number of people who are interested in FVNs becoming more diverse in a broad sense. If I said it's female, trans or disabled characters it would be reductionist, because we also got people asking for non-binary and bisexual options, drag queens, native representation and more. At the same time there was also a sentiment of not wanting to be tokenized, of being included in a sloppy or insensitive way. Here and there were comments about how mainstream media tokenizes gay people as a whole, that FVNs don't have that, so I am aware that if there was an effort of inclusion for inclusion's sake we might be repeating the same phenomenon here. Another thing to consider is that if a developer actively chooses to branch out too much they might not be serving their core audience.
As you can see, it's complicated. Lots of moving parts here. I put a lot of thought into how to frame this whole situation, and this is what I got: the results of the survey do indicate that there is space for diverse characters if the good writing is there, as it always should be.
If you are thinking of making your cast completely diverse for its own sake you might be setting yourself up for disappointment, people just might not enjoy a story that feels like pandering. That said, if you want to tell stories with trans, female or disabled characters (or diverse in any other way) then yeah, do it. It doesn't seem like that is an issue, as far as the survey goes. But, as always, aim to deliver good writing. That is inescapable. If you make a game with a "diverse" cast and it doesn't perform well it would seem like other elements of its design — like writing, art, coding, so on — are more likely to be the culprit than diversity in and of itself.
That said, what I absolutely must highlight is that... Did you know Itch.io has quite the healthy and active selection of Transgender-tagged games? Don't get the illusion that furry VNs are all there is. There's a whole field of other genres, audiences and communities out there, too.
With all of that said, let's see the list of most noteworthy comments, shall we? Most of these were copy/pasted from the survey, a handful were written to collect dozens of similar responses.
- No one wants creators to burnout, so naturally it’s ok to take a break, but please communicate it instead of keeping quiet. Take care of real life needs and health first, no kind of VN is worth sacrificing one's health for it.
- Quality always trumps deadlines. If you need to take more time to improve the version you are releasing, take it! Your supporters will understand, and more than likely appreciate the effort. Just be transparent about it.
- Keep an open mind about the community and what they want but keep your main goal/vision intact without ruining your art and passion. Create something you're proud of. Do what you love.
- I just wish there were more games focused on an interesting story rather than on sex things. I don't know if I was looking at the wrong place but it felt like most of them were overly sexualized experiences. I want to get involved in an interesting story and get connected with the characters.
- Stop focusing your stories on 18-20 year old high schooler protagonists, pretending sexual assault is just “blurry consent”, and writing gay experiences as exclusively about trauma, the closet, and internalized homophobia.
- Don't rely too much on Patreon. It is a flawed service that in of itself can discourage support. Always have an avenue of alternate pledging/donation so someone can support creators without supporting a bad and somewhat malicious system.
- Don't put yourself in a position to be told how exactly to do something by the public and/or supporting community. Have freedom to do what you want with influence from the public/supporting community.
- People want more stories that aren’t slice of life.
- Write about characters having hobbies that don't involve just consuming media (aka comic fan, anime/manga fan, movie fan); consult BIPOC when writing characters that are coded as BIPOC (or just don't go deep into the "speciesism" thing); don't be afraid to portray characters that are just fat (as in trying to justify them being fat and saying "but they're muscular underneath the fat!"); explore characters of age ranges that are outside the stereotypical high school/college age range
- If there was one thing I would say really helps me stay with a VN, it's the writing. If the content seems well-handled in the writing, or if I feel particularly interested in a character and how they're established, I'll most likely play the VN through to its completion.
- Finish your games! Your audience invests far more than money and the time spent actually playing — they spend far more time thinking about the stories and characters, talking about it with their friends, making fan art, discussing theories, and so much more. Whether or not the ending is particularly satisfying is irrelevant. That sense of emotional conclusion and closure is important in all works of art, especially in stories that, due to their development cycles, kick around in our heads for years.
- Don’t be like Bane.
- Some people don't want to masturbate anymore, they just wanna feel loved.
- I feel like one of the biggest things is how it's hard to really stand out without a good identity and platform and that if your content doesn't have anything to diversify it as a game and not just sex/dating, it doesn't really do anything to stand out. I'm not saying sex is an issue that's plaguing the furry visual novel community, especially /when/ there's good games not focusing on it, it's just. it never appeals to me if it's a focal point. Good story and designs first, sex second.
- Take your time to do things right. You can always improve an unreleased project but you can never truly fix a flubbed release.
- Break your projects into smaller chunks. Scope lower. A finished project is better even if it's smaller than one that never gets completed.
- I really REALLY appreciate having the ability to go backwards. I often want to read back a few lines to make sure I understand, or backup to check out a sprite expression I like.
- I would prefer if VNs focused more on quality and brevity of writing. I feel that most VNs adopt a serialized nature due to regular build releases which leads to awful pacing issues. The foremost issue is that it financially incentivizes quantity for the creator, which while nice for the consumer, tends to belabor storylines which could have been wrapped up more succinctly. Books, TV seasons, and movies can be finished in 5 hours at most pretty satisfactorily. Games can be afforded more luxury due to their stories being abetted by gameplay, but VNs don't have that most of the time. So it's dismaying that a lot of VNs have length issues stemming from long-winded introductions, fluffy conversations, branching dialogue options which aren't particularly impactful, etc while creators focus on non-essential issues such as UI development, art upgrades, engine choices, etc. I also think it would be nice for stronger messaging in general. While character depth is important especially for romance oriented stories, it's a missed opportunity to not have any meaningful statement on the gay experience throughout the process. For these reasons, I tend to prefer mostly/fully kinetic novels due to them being more strict with time. I feel like branching routes with different characters tend to spread efforts too thin, whereas a really well done single storyline would be much more memorable and fulfilling.
- Try not to go overboard with the bad endings? That's not to say a story should be all unicorns and sunshines with no conflicts whatsoever, but I don't want to play a game all the way through only to feel completely miserable at the end.
- Focus on quality of work rather than appealing to the general audience.
- Deep, Multilayered Characters. They are Difficult to pull off, but when done correctly the story is much more relatable. Also the main protagonist (who the player controls) should have stronger personalities.
- I suppose the best thing I can say is just try and keep to what you want to write and draw. No creator needs to bend to the will of the consumers, especially if they dislike the idea and even so it's a hard business. Making everyone happy is hard and trying to please everyone will only make you more frustrated, so just do what you want to.
- Please focus on learning how to write romance post-relationship.
- Take your time. If you feel like there's little content this month, push it back a month and work on it more. People often like to complain about the lack of content, but appreciate the quality if you polish it more. Negative comments can affect morale and can end up in burning out.
- Listen to your fans, grow and adapt. Don’t tunnel vision just because you think your idea is perfect and doesn’t need changing.
- Diversify your games a little bit! Whether its UI, character designs, or story! A lot of them feel the same, so play each others games to learn about what has already been done.
- Please just get someone to read your text over. I know you don't see any mistakes but if there really are grammatical mistakes left it absolutely takes me out of the experience. Getting a second person to read over the VN will reduce the amount of mistakes in it.
- Look, do what you do best. Focus on what YOU want to do. This is YOUR story with YOUR characters. I understand making characters or establishing kinks that fit the people but don't do it because of trying to get attention, do it because of your own enjoyment.
- A couple of the projects I'm supporting monetarily have to delay the monthly release by at least a few days, sometimes more, after the scheduled release date—every month. At that point, just adjust your release schedule accordingly, or if worse comes to worse, cancel that month's release so you can at least get back on track to that original schedule. There would, of course, be a few people that would be a little upset at such a decision, but from what I've seen, the vast majority of people, including myself, are overwhelmingly understanding of either the uncontrollable circumstances in the your life, or just your general mental health.
- An option to view the title of the track that is playing for that scene. I love listening back to the track but hate the difficulty in finding it when I wanna reminisce about the scene.
- The majority of FVNs focuses on lewd content which basically was my start with this community. I too had my fair share of FVNs only for the sexual content. But after a decent amount of those, I personally no longer care for VNs that are slice of life and/or full of sex with no story to back it up. Nowadays I only focus on FVNs that have a deep, out of the ordinary (no slice of life) stories and great art. I am one of those people who firstly judgest the book by its cover. So lure me in with your great art (it is a VISUAL novel afterall), but keep me with an amazing story. This community is still young and people still mostly crave only for NFSW, but in time they'll get tired of it too. Can't wait for the FVN scene to mature up a bit.
- Set out to finish what you're working on, not milk it on Patreon forever. If I feel a creator is intentionally dragging their feet while still charging their followers, I stop supporting. Also no cuck shit.
- Most VN are stuck in developmet hell, month to month there is really little progress. I find it infuriating when I have to wait 3 months to get a bit of progress in a route I'm invested in. Also I would like to buy a game once as early access and receive updates, instead of supporting on Patreon for a few years without a guarantee to ever see the end of the story.
- Deluxe editions should minimally contain art like ingame art and sprites, a high quality soundtrack (FLAC or WAV), and a behind the scenes booklet on the inspirations and development process of the VN.
- Decided whether or not the MC is their own fleshed out character or a stand-in for the player before the start of public development.
- Really just that variety is the spice of life... especially with character design & body types in this community
- Please, for the love of god, stop pandering to the types of furries who mindlessly drool over the first generic canine/feline character design they see, regardless of their (lack of) personality or if the character in question is even *legal*.
- Focus more on the characters (unique designs), story, and flavor of the world, rather than on 18+ fan service. If there are sex scenes, it doesn't hinder the game, if the amount is not so in-your-face, about it. If it's optional, with a possibility to skip it altogether, it's great.
- In my opinion, one of the most important things for a creator is frequent and transparent communication with their audience. I've seen creators go completely silent only to release an update months later after I've stopped supporting them. Engaging with your audience is important, even if you're just letting them know that you're still alive and still working on your VN.
- Try to keep the auto function if using renpy it’s hard to progress the text and masturbate at the same time
- I can not stress this enough, QUALITY DOES NOT MEAN LENGTH. I am so sick of projects dragging out a VN with useless walls of text to pad themselves out into some sort of length goal. I get more depth from emotional involvement and investment in realistic feeling but highly polished writing dialog than 800 pages of shenanigans. Quality means emotional investment or heat of the sex scenes. Not length. Depth does not need 80 pages, sometimes small arcs can have a much deeper connection than long ones.
- I don't have too much to say, than maybe the way you advertise the visual novels. I feel like every visual novel I have known was because someone already knew about them and has recommended to me. I think with a bit of advertisement on social media you could get more people to know them, even if they are not furries. It may catch the attention of someone even if that someone is not furry.
- as a consumer, I'd prefer if one or few popular routes are finished first while reducing work on any given other ones. Even if no character i like is being worked on, I could still enjoy a story with a faster rate of completion that way, provided it's written well. Or alternatively, I could wait until it's my favourite characters' turn and get updates more quickly from then on. Also, do not make getting to date a particular character the ultimate goal of the route. Write beyond that point.
- I feel like too many of them dive right into the sex bits without fleshing out the characters. I feel like there should be a bigger focus on the romance aspect and from there, it can delve into the sexual aspects. Also for VNs that have sex scenes and images, it would be recommended that these scenes are either in a saved rewatchable/playable area and there is an image gallery. I feel like I use far too many save points to just save these images and scenes. If not, have more save options available. For those offering more than 10 pages of saves (typical with renpy) have an easier way to view the saves beyond page 10, that isn't just one page at a time. Maybe having the possability to rename saves so that the players can remember the choices they made so far within the game, so they can possibly play a different route later.
- To me (and I can't stress enough, to ME), a thing that makes a good romance VN is the character(s) and romance development before any sort of sexual encounter. Throwing the sex part right out of the bad makes me uninterested. The build up and anticipation is what makes it worth it.
- No more bara games please, make games that appeal to a wider range of audiences.
- For the love of GOD don't include characters with oversized proportions like huge tits or dicks.
- Of course, this may vary according to the target audience but to me, the writing should be the highest priority and then the art. There are some VNs with exceptional art but the writing is subpar and makes it difficult for me to enjoy while there are some VNs with low quality art but amazing writing that I thoroughly enjoy.
- This is just a general rule of thumb for life in my opinion: Communication is key. If you run into a road block that will slow or halt your work for any considerable amount of time let your fans know, or at least the paying supporters on patreon. If it's related to the project directly (i.e. coding issues or equipment failure) someone in the community might just be able to help you out. If it's a personal matter, then only share as much as you're comfortable. But even just saying "Sorry guys, I think work on the project is going to be slow this month because of some issues that have come up in my life that I don't want to discuss." is so much better than giving your supporters no information what so ever. Sure there are going to be some *vocal* people in the community who get angry for no justifiable reason, but if you're genuinely working your hardest on your project with the time you do have for it, then I can guarantee a much larger percentage of your fan base is supporting you all the way - even if they're not as loud as your hecklers.
- Ya'll do your thing! As long as you don't sink to the level of depravity that is now known as Blackgate, then do your thing. I just like some substance with creator posts. If you post three times in a week about how your constantly delaying a build, it gets annoying. Good luck!!
- Y'all really do be doing the Lord's work
- If you want to write disabled characters but are able-bodied please for the love of god get input and feedback on your writing from people who actually have those disabilities.
- More diversity in body shapes.
- If you leave major decisions up to vote your story becomes weaker for it.
- Paywalling is not a wise way to monetise patreon. It only incentivices to pirate it. Be a smart cookie, keep a public version not too far behind the patreon build to attract interest and not make people feel you just wanna drain their wallets. Common sense!
- Look at what your "competition" is doing. Facial expressions make all the difference (Socially Awkward, etc) and details that bring out the nature of whatever scene is being portrayed.
- If something causes you to make a drastic change to your game, communicate with your consumer base and bring proposals to them, also, dialogue options shouldn't make or break the ending, they should be at least somewhat forgiving if you only make a few mistakes, a proper romance in a VN is figuring out the imperfections of a character, not just knowing exactly how to treat them from the very start just so you can have sex with them. You make a mistake and you learn from it, and your characters relationship grows from that new knowledge.
- Diversify in the romance and sexuality in VNs. Give us some Asexual, Pansexuals, Lesbians, Non-binary, Transexuals, etc. Inserting them all in one VN could be too much and ruin the game, but adding a few just to give some exposure and validation for other than gay male and gay female romance. But to keep into consideration to add them in the game with great value and attention and more sensitivity and strong knowledge to the sexuality and romance so the character would not be a stereotypical square of what one of them is. Keep it raw and real but keep it in mind in regards to their feelings and choices. Don't disrespect them in any way.
- First, kudos to any of you who are working on or just starting off in making your own VN. The biggest thing I'd like any of you to keep in mind is to make sure that what you are creating is something that you would enjoy. I think it really shows when the creator themselves are invested in the stories and characters they've created. Being invested will let you put in the detail that would let us, as readers, get a glimpse as to why a particular scene or character is the way it is. So despite what we choose in this poll, we may even like something that we may not have considered before. Additionally if you are looking at these polls and feel discouraged by what people may prefer, try not to take it as law. People's opinions are subject to chang and maybe they will with the story you plan to write. But above all else pace yourselves and take breaks when you need to. Life sucks sometimes and we know that you are not always going to feel like working on a project that could take several months to several years. Just communicate with your fans and take personal time as needed and I'm sure you'll have a successful project!
- Punctuality, it's always a good things to set an exact date for the next update and it comes out on time.
- Don't lean into one body type or fetish too much. Also, focus on character development and writing, that's what marks a good VN. Apart from that, keep up the good work. So many of you guys have been amazing recently!
- Art is a mountain. You must take your time. If you rush, you might slip. The goal is to reach the top, but the journey is the story.
- Please stop coding dialogue choices as bottom/top for sex scenes. Bottoms aren't necessarily lacking confidence, and it's degrading to think so. Just let people choose based on their preference. Spencer's route in ExcA was ruined for me because the confidence thing was everywhere.
- This is YOUR project. This is YOUR idea. This is YOUR dream. We, the fanbase, are to support you. You, the creator, are to entice us into supporting you. You grant us your dream, and we attempt to exerience it. No matter what happens, be true to yourself FIRST.
- As much as the content and work speaks for itself, don't let it get to your head just because you've gained a lot of attention. Don't fuck yourself or your supporters just because an unpopular opinion triggers you.
- You guys definitely get a lot of undeserved hate by impatient people, do whatever y'all need to do to keep up the quality of the content without sacrificing your own health! So long as you're communicating any breaks or date shifts associated with projects no worries.
- Bug fixes matter, format your changelogs, make it easy to use.
- Sex scenes should have meaning and significant purpose to them. A visual novel like Lagoon Lounge had me quite disappointed when it came to the sexual aspects of the visual novel. It's quite disappointing and annoying when the MC's goal is to bed every other male character/"friend" regardless of their sexuality. Not to mention there were hints of toxic masculinity at some points and even a character urinating inside the MC just because they were exhausted from having a romp. Things like this kind of make for a discomforting experience. Also, descriptions for any visual novel shouldn't be misleading. It's upsetting when the description or page for the VN makes it seem like it's heavily focused on a meaningful story only to be let down when it focuses on fulfilling the MC's sexual desires to bed each of the other characters. I wouldn't be as upset if the description at least stated that one of the main goals was to satisfy your sexual desires with the other characters. Descriptions should say if meaningful relationships and romance are a big part of the VN, or if the VN mainly focuses on porn and sex.
- Interactive sex scenes. Touching, feeling up and all other actions as well as partners's reactions to us performing them really gets my blood pumping and I'm sure that it's the same for many other people as well. It may be harder and more complicated but I personally prefer one good and long interactive scene to five scenes made up of two cg's and some text each.
- Don’t be afraid of linear storylines like Adastra. A well written story with a good narrative is better than a bad story with a bunch of choices.
- Don't feel as though sex scenes are absolutely necessary to please the masses.
- Unpopular opinion most likely, but I wanna see immoral routes. It'll make me appreciate the canon heroic-like routes more since it shows how the main character could've developed. I like the idea of having an option of playing a character that slowly becomes immoral, especially when consumed by lust
- Advertise your content. Huge lists of Gay Furry VNs on Reddit always inspire me to try out your VNs. Having a bunch of choices laid out in front of me with people in the comments recommending their favorites makes me more willing to try and potentially support more VNs.
- About the whole billing thing, it's hard for people that don't use dollar, like me, I'm from Brazil and currently 1USD is like 5BRL (without your bank's internacional transaction fee) so it's harder for some people that would like to support more creators since it's automatically more expensive for you for reasons beyond everyone's control
- I am very understanding that VN creators are simply people and not companies. Therefore, if a creator needs a break or runs into issues during a project's development, I completely agree that they should be able to take time off from the project. I just ask that they are upfront and let their audience know the situation. I greatly appreciate all the creators for putting such high-quality and passionate projects even though these are very niche subject materials. I wish every creator that reads this the best and I would like to thank you all so much.
- Listen to your supporters, but don't let them bully you around for a dollar.
- I would say recruiting each other, and having community support in that manner, to better overcome common problems.
- Every process a person goes through to create their story is different, taking suggestions is great but don't let those suggestions turn your game into a mish-mash of odd or strange ideas that don't flow with what you originally wanted.
- When writing relationships, especially in visual novels, it's very easy to fall into a sociopathic gameplay where the goal of the game is to choose the right answer for the best relationship outcome. This turns the characters that you spend ages to build and set up into--at best--one dimensional characters without much thought into an odd excess of positive player choices. At worst these characters become yes men/women only used to achieve sex. Interacting in a relationship is never smooth. It should have curves, bumps, deep gorges, and tall peaks. Not every choice should be a +1 or -1 to love, but be able to make paradigm shifts to where a relationship could lead to, not just a yes or no--love/breakup--thing. Choosing x instead of y shouldn't always be an ultimatum, but should instead take the player and their chosen character down a different path that could be just as valid and equal to choosing y, even if the end ends up being the same. When you give players choices directly related to progressing a relationship, try your best to make it less predictable, less robotic, less yes or no, and more about what kind of ways you could lead them into different kinds of scenarios for a blossoming relationship... because that's what real, good, relationships are really like.
- I’d rather spend $20-$30 up front and not have to worry about a constant drain on my checking account from the patreon system.
- If there is a known bug in a recently released version and has been fixed very quickly, do not wait another month to release the patch. Especially if the content that is denied from the big is needed for enjoyment of the latest build.
- 1. Links to Patreon and how to support the game are important. Some of the creators aren't making it easy to see. Links directly in the game have been most helpful. 2. If feel more comfortable contributing to a game if I know there is a team - not because I doubt the products of an individual, but if that person burns out, then the game doesn't get finished. 3. All of my support is given solely on the basis of i) content released so far is encouraging and ii) I want to see the game completed. 4. The minimum I seek when supporting a project is that the creator(s) update at least once a month with reasonable added content. It's discouraging to be given what amounts to 5 minutes of gameplay and calling it the monthly update.
- Be careful when pricing your test builds. If you want as many people as possible to pledge for you on Patreon for your builds, I think it would be fair for any pledge to get the test build regardless if it's $1 or $20. Nonetheless, people want to support as many creators as possible but it sucks when they have to select only some of them because of the pledges themselves. If you make polls and voting that affect your VN, ALLOW EVERYBODY pledging to have a say. Just because I pledge $1 doesn't mean I shouldn't have a say in how the visual novel should go forward.
- Please keep what you're doing. We certainly can't rely on mainstream media for stuffs that we can genuinely enjoy. At this point I can't even start playing/watching anything that's not gay. Thank you for all your hard work!!
- Diversify your choice of species for the love of GOD! Just about every VN has a wolf and a cat love interest in it, and usually more than one. Where are the beefy bee boys or Cthulhu-esque squid men? Why are there practically no birds and the only reptiles that get represented are lizards and dragons? Where are the sharks and amphibians and crustaceans and other aquatic lifeforms? And why... WHY have NONE of you bothered to include A FUCKING PANGOLIN?!?!?! PANGOLINS FUCKING ROCK!!!!!!!!! (Also more bondage would always be nice.)
- Be realistic about your goals: coalesce routes and lingering plot threads into longer stories with less branching paths before getting started. Trying to write a non-linear novel with lots of player input sacrifices the characterization of the MC while (more importantly) leading to author burnout due to over-ambition. I've seen some (visual novels and otherwise) close their projects due to not being able to handle the strain of projects being much larger than they can handle on their own. You can always take some ideas/characters for one story and save them for a later time.
- Please make more things available and playable on android. That and please keep doing the lords work.
- Don't be afraid to look into BL, especially unconventional acclaimed ones like Canis. Finding people to edit and proof read your work aside from you is great practice as well, use it to appreciate the others perspective and lessen the burden of these great projects you are working on <3
So... Yeah! Lots of good insights here. If you want to add more points of your own feel free to do so in the comments. It's not too late!
For the next few days I'll be posting more DevLogs. Some of you may remember I was working on a "Minotaur Hotel Writing Manual" and that's about ready to come out. Another thing we might do is a DevLog about some of the misconceptions we observed in the write-in responses. It's become somewhat clear to us that a relevant number of readers don't quite get what the process is like, and a little look into how the sausage gets made would make it easier for developers and readers to see eye to eye.
So yeah. That's it for now. Thank you for your support, and I hope you had fun reading this!
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Thank you for sharing these results! Some very useful insights in there :>
when is the next update for this game?
The upcoming build has over 200k words of content already so we're taking our time delivering and polishing it all. I'm sorry for how long it's taking but it will be worth it when we release it all at once. We're writing and editing the last chapters at the moment so we're getting there, but it needs a couple more months.
hi I want to talk about the comment someone made about bad endings.
I first off want to say that of course it’s 100% the creators decision on how they want there story to end but I think it’s always best to have two endings one happy and on not so ( if having a darker ending was the original plan ) because even though to you it may seem silly but VN can be a way of helping someone to cope or to just help them distract from something going on in there’s day to day life and especially when it comes to VNs that aren’t dark from the start it can at a huge shock to them.
As people usually follow VN early on to development and continuing to play the VN with every new update but during the early updates it may not be 100% clear that the story is going to turn out dark.
So I think it’s best to include a way to have either a happy end or a dark end. If it was never the creators goal to have a happy end i think they should focus on there original end first then just quickly add in a happy end that’s not cannon a way to do this is to have two options where it is extremely clear which ending you will get and even ignore you want to be extremely clear with your audience which ending isn’t cannon say that for example the choices would be:
Save him ( happy end )
Let him go ( dark end canon ending )
The non cannon ending doesn’t need to be that fleshed out either If it’s too much work to write two endings I think even having a ending saying they all lived and are happy with an artwork of all the characters laughing with each other is enough
Sorry for such a long comment and if anyone actually reads this thanks!!
oh yes i totally agree with you because fvn's help me cope with my depression and when i played echo it kinda shocked me. especialy the bad even good ending is actually not a good ending. and whala.. suffered for 1 month having depression get the best of me. so yeep its better to add a good ending.
Lol that novel sucked my soul. lol
I end very disturbed until I understood it in the 3 end while playing with the ram but still... down.
there's like. no happy endings for you bruh. and i think every route is a bad ending. buh. so frustrating.
Yeah, I played all routes out of the Jenas one.
I got tired of cry. lol
Just... I meeting some guys in SL to make me happy. =^.~= lol
For the VN password I stopped playing when they took away the option to rename the MC because in the comments they said they made the decision because the players where idiot's and that rubbed me the wrong way. The writer for password also seemed to really want to push the MC towards one character in particular. There are 2 things I look for on a VN but 1 a good story and 2 a well written but BLANK MC I like to insert myself in to this world being able to name the MC is a good way to do that. After all I'm the one making the choices. Also I have played a few VNs with more diverse cast in it and I found that in a lot of them the MC ends up "Thinking things" without my input. I'm gay and I want any MC I play as to be the same so if the VN I'm playing has female or other genders I don't like it when the MC starts saying things like "wow that girl over is super hot I would like to bang her." That just takes me out of it. Like I said above I like when the MC is the player and not just another character in this story. It's not completely bad if it's not but thos is just something I look for in VN. This is actually why I'm enjoying Minotaur Hotel so much I'm not just some other character I'm myself and I can make choices That I would make if this where actually me.
Erm you are very wrong about the password stuff, the character was given a fixed name simply as a creative desicion not because he thought players where idiots. The only comment grizz ever made that was about intelligence was after a large amount of people couldn't find their way passed bensons route and he couldnt see how when so many people could get passed it, so he refered to some people being 'lizard brained'.
that's not the comment I remember but it doesn't change the fact he dose think some of his players are "unintelligent". As for the benson problem I can understand why people where getting stuck there for those passwords the rules of the game suddenly changed without warning unless you knew to look for a password else where it looks like the end of the game. Wile other passwords where pointed out to you in letters these passwords where hidden in the dialog other characters say. That's not the players fault in my opinion.
Regardless I don't follow this project anymore and it's been a wile since I have so maybe I remembered it wrong. Even without all this stuff that happened I'm not a fan of VNs that make you play all the routes to get a true ending. I would rather play a VN with 1 or 2 characters I like and then move on to the next one.
ooohhh that explains everything...
Honestly I really liked how Echo fucked me up, I want to experience bittersweetness like that again LOL
Yeah, f*uck you Echo, Adastra and Smoke Room!
But honestly it was hard to emotionally recover from that endings, and I play games to escape hardships of real live, not to make me feel like shit, because character I was playing made everybody suffer.
I agree after my first play through of echo. I began to look in the comments to see if there was a good ending only to find out there was none at the time still may not have one. After that I just didn't trust anything else the Echo project made. I can't even be in a bar anymore without feeling uncomfortable because of the smoke room scene in echo. The writing for echo is good but it's used in a way that I just don't like. The only way I would go back to echo is of there was a good ending.
Didn't play the other two but when I finished playing Adastra, my only reaction was like: "WHY"
yeah those fvn is so beautiful but have a terrible ending ...
Since I really like both Echo and TSR (Adastra is a whole other can of worms) I'd have to disagree with you. And I say this despite me absolutely getting fucked up by the Echo "good ending is just the less bad ending" sthick.
Those stories were never meant to be happy ones. They were from the start about a horrible place, with horrible people and horrible circumstances. The endings reflecting that is what I honestly prefer over some strange happy ending that doesn't match the story.
But what I think these types of games really need to do is have proper synopsises and tagging. If I as the reader can see from the start that this is not a happy story and will not be a nice or comfortable experience then I can go in with that mindset and enjoy the stories for what they are, instead of expecting something that never was promised.
Go ahead and slap a giant red warning saying "THIS GAME IS NOT A HAPPY GAME, DO NOT EXPECT HAPPY THINGS" everytime you boot up the game if that's what you have to do. Just make it clear that this is not just another slice of life dating VN.
@Luther C. I agree with you. They can be sad games with no good endings, but author needs to communicate that they are, because it is very rare to get a game like that.
When I first played it and got attached to the character no route was complete and I was sure there would be a good ending. So many books and games tought me there is always a good ending, and those games were a bad suprise.
I be a week sad because of Echo. When I understood the story I started to few just bad because the ends.
After all it is a terror story. Just like watching Friday 13th on tv. I never watched a movie of it. I be scared enough with the tv trailers when kid.
Why is 80hrs suprising? its a novel, wouldnt you be willing to spend 80hrs reading a book if you liked it? Even people calling VNs games, good games can be played well over 80hrs witcher 3, skyrim even CK2 can rack up hundreds of hrs easily.
I suppose I find it surprising from my perspective as
A) someone who can't afford to spend time on a lot of media that takes 80 hours to finish, and prefer my entertainment short and sweet
and B) a content producer, from this end making 80 hours of content is a herculean task- compounded with the submitted comments at the end of the survey, it's evidence of unrealistic expectations from a lot of the respondents.
I mean, both monetarily (regardless of the seemingly bottomless well of disposable income that is the furry fandom) and in time investment, these fuckers take a lot of effort to make. Yeah, you can play Skyrim for hundreds of hours- but we can't all be Todd Howard.
There's also burnout, both creative (where the fuck can I take this story after 40 hours?) and physical (I've seen people in this niche fuck up their sleep schedules to meet Patreon deadlines) that I don't think most VN players are aware of.
And sometimes, you just want to see a writer/creator you admire take a stab at different ideas, and some premises are somewhat restrictive. You want to see them complete their projects and try new things.
I hope I'm not coming off as whiny, I love making this shit and so do the other wonderful VN creators I've met, I'm just wondering how many people replied "yup, I'd like to see this go on for 80+ hours" without considering that, you know, someone has to make all that stuff!
Yes but the survey question was 'Assuming an enjoyable VN, what is the maximum length it can be before it becomes excessive for you?' not how long do you expect VNs to be, so its entirely up to the creators how long they want to make their project this just show how long the audience is willing to spend enjoying it. If you like somthing it's more than likely you would be willing to spend over 80hrs with it.
True, maybe I'm looking too much into it.
Howdy! Thanks for the comment. Before I give you a proper response I'd like to add a detail: we kind of fucked up a bit with that question because we asked what was the maximum time people would be willing to play instead of the ideal time. So we, and by we I mean the devs, have to take that with a grain of salt.
Keeping that in mind, what I would point out is that furry visual novels as a niche have a few pervasive issues going on. One of them is bloated scope — almost everyone is trying to make big, sprawling games with multiple routes and hundreds of thousands of words in length. Minotaur Hotel is a bit contained in this regard because we only have one romanceable character but we did go crazy in other places so we are also knee-deep in this problem. And along with bloated scope comes bloated length.
This is largely the reason why so few furry visual novels ever get finished, you know? Echo and Extracurricular Activities are the longest-running projects in this niche and it's taken them years to get close to finishing.
This is the issue as it comes from the side of the developers. Now when we look at the players we see another side of it. Lots of players are quite willing to go for these very long projects. And it's no surprise, really — I've heard a number of very good points here and elsewhere on why being willing to go over more than 80 hours is a more natural thing than most might imagine. If you play some of the more successful and acclaimed Japanese VNs you'll have to invest more than 80 hours, for example.
Regardless of these very solid points, ultimately what I want to point out is that this whole thing does relate with how FVN devs struggle with finishing their games. The expectations on the table is that these games should be on the long side, and (through no fault of the players!) this in turn pushes us towards bloat in a number of ways.
I think we the developers benefit from being aware of this. We do have to keep in mind some VNs do hinge on being very long — I have talked with Basket, developer of Tennis Ace, and from the get-go he wanted to write a slow burn-style VN in the mould of the Japanese ones, with a very organic build-up of the characters' relationships. And if I look back at the issue I pointed out — bloated scope and devs giving up on their projects — I have to say Tennis Ace doesn't bring me any fear that Basket will give up. Quite the contrary, he's extremely dedicated to it. So yes, there is a lot of nuance at play here.
Thank you for your comment and for bringing up this interesting reflection.
So some advice I would like to give too:
Don't be afraid to rewrite some dialogue, or scene it's sometimes neccessary to make the rest of the game mesh well with each other, and/or you don't feel happy about some old dialogue, if you don't like it I trust you to fix it.
Transparency and communication, if you don't get what this advice means you might as well be a rock. I don't even ask for much if you're gonna be gone or delaying something post on Patreon and/or Twitter (because everyone and their moms has one) AT LEAST once a month. Don't go promising the sky and moon to your supporters (this is solid advice for ANY game dev) be transparent and listen.
Sex scenes the reason why most of us play these game (or start playing them, don't lie), don't feel pressure to put it in if you don't feel like it fits, and don't put them just any where make the readers work for it (like real life) make them care for the characters first.
Dialogue is important and getting it perfect is hard and there's only a few VNs that have done an amazing job at it. The dialogue makes the character feel real (I don't wanna mention this game but After class still has the worst dialogue in any VN) and not a 2d sprite.
Sometimes dragging a scene out is bad and it might feel boring, but those scenes can be enjoyable if done right.
All in all it all comes down to writing and character, if you can do that well you're on your way to a great story.
P.S Something I've always wonder about FVN devs is that what inspired them to make their game, like I don't remember who but I remember someone saying they made it cus they played Morenatsu and thought its was emotional and thought they can do it too. So a question if you're reading this Minoh devs what inspired you to make the game.
Thank you a lot for the comment bud, I totally agree on the importance of transparency and communication, that's my biggest takeaway from this whole survey thing. We're gonna make a bigger effort to communicate the progress on 0.4 for instance, since it's another big one and it's taking a while. It's gonna be all the sweeter when it's finally out but we understand people getting impatient.
As for what inspired us, I'm sure MinoAnon has his story, I jumped in to help adapt Minotaur Hotel into a VN because I just missed making videogames. I figured while I'm doing the art for this and handling all the coding stuff, I might as well add some gameplay in there. I love the stupid bullshit in games like New Vegas and Metal Gear where you can approach a situation from multiple angles and there's always that very improbable one that most players won't think of trying but the devs still acknowledge and reward, so that's a big inspiration for the background variations, the R&D stuff, and the Argos encounters. Gay as it may sound when I hear people go "oh shit i had no idea you could do this" in a game I made it really warms my heart.
Hello! Oh, I can tell you what inspired me, sure!
Minotaur Hotel came from a number of things coming together. When I started it I had recently read Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, which is a story about a mythology-inspired character in the modern day. There's this kind of tiny genre like that, it has other books such as The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherril. Those books inspired me to some extent, I decided I wanted to give a go at this idea — but giving it my own twist.
On another level I had already been trying to write stories with a few specific themes for a while — chief among them the idea of a minotaur character and exploring the symbolisms around him. That had been going for years and I was never satisfied. Soon-ish we are publishing what we are calling The Minotaur Hotel Writing Manual and over there I'll go on quite a bit of detail about this point in particular.
And to top if off... I'm sure this may sound obvious but some ideas behind Minoh came from... Well, having friends and enjoying their companionship, giving each other support, having a community of my own, struggling with my own personal issues.
Some of the tone and principles of Mino Hotel came from Twin Peaks. It was originally designed as an "antidote" to violence in TV because it took the murder serial format and turned it upside down by showing just how impactful a single person's tragedy can be. Around this story David Lynch placed a whole village of other plotlines that can go from tragic in their own right to hopeful and joyful. I wanted that, exploring a single person's life to the fullest while building a village around it.
The idea for the hotel itself, how it works... Well, I won't say that for now. One day.
I hope this answer was satisfactory. Have a nice day and thank you for participating.
"Don't put a bunch of bad ending in your game" in other words don't pull a Nekojishi
Laughed my ass off at "don't pull a Blackgate."
All this information is extremely useful and I appreciate you guys putting it together, major kudos!
Also as someone who voted for the 80+ hours, I won't literally sit down and play 80 hours of gameplay straight, but I can totally see myself racking up those hours from multiple playthroughs of a VN, especially if its in active development.
So bottom line is, COMMUNICATION IS IMPORTANT, seriously be open with your audience. We might seem like a bunch of faceless avatars but we ARE people too, we understand that shit happens so just let us know if you need some time, don't be afraid to take time if you need to.
And PLEASE DON'T FORGET TO ENJOY YOUR CREATION, it's not just about you devs fulfilling OUR desire, we are here for your story so do make sure to enjoy creating it and if you need any help we are here to help too, just make sure to enjoy making your game :3.
Also..... I did NOT expect number 40..... Look I'm not gonna pretend to be innocent here but.... I really try to focus on the moment so that request was..... Just weird tbh, like..... Idk take some screenshots?....... I'm honestly very shook xD
Numbers 14 and 15 are the same.
Solved! Thank you.
This was really REALLY informative and insightful. I'm kinda glad other folks are also looking forward towards post-sex/relationship building. Like a few others said on here it should be more of a milestone than an end goal. Not everyone is looking for "hehe hot guy sex scene*nut*"
Thank you guys for taking all this time and effort to do this!
This is all great feedback! There's a few points I'd like to echo as well.
Please please PLEASE take breaks if you need to. Burnout can happen fast, it can sneak up on you, and leave you a husk of a person if you try and power through it every time. The majority of us understand, just let us know and we're alright.
Reducing the amount of bad ends or just bad feelings in games in general. I'm trying to play these to relax and get away from the harshness of life, if I'm feeling that too much in a VN, then I become very quickly disinterested. I don't mind working for the good ending, or to not have every ending go my way, but not all or most of them need to be completely horrible and leave a bad feeling in my mouth.
Diversity is very important, especially in species. I'm more likely to give a game a try if I see a diverse cast rather than your typical cat/canine/dragon.
Lastly, despite everything I said here, keep to your own vision. I'm just some ass on the internet spewing my own opinions. If you set out with a vision in mind for a game, keep to it, you'll thank yourself. Not everything has to cater to everyone, and many times will not, but its your project and your vision, in the end, the one who should be most happy and proud of it is you. And take breaks as needed.
Wonderful insights, I'd like to echo several points as well:
Don't be afraid of more linear stories, Adastra, Pervader and yourselves, Minotaur Hotel, are mostly linear and extremely well written!
I'd love it if people focused more on the relationship after it's established and definitely after sex, which should be more like milestones rather than end points
Also, happy endings pls. Don't be afraid to make us work for it, but don't overdo downer endings for the artistic value of it. Most of us read as an escapism, not to be reminded of the harsh realities of life ;-;
Also also! Can't believe I almost forgot this, but music can be almost as important at visuals and writing!
I'd argue the devil's advocate in that - people who prefer adult games aren't always looking for a quick nut. Sex is like a milestone. It's a form of communication and it can express a person's character. Better yet, a person who struggles with their ideals of sex can build onto their character. Coming across a sex scene isn't always a pants down experience for me. Personally, I see it more as a representation of how far we've come in terms of bonds & intimacy. I only play adult games because I'd be lying if I said sexual ideas do not entice me. It doesn't even have to "sex", it could be sexual ideas. I find a completely nonsexual VN to be boring, because it can add to romance and tension, not to rip on asexuals or anything.
I played through all of build 0.3 of MH twice not because of hoping I'd get to see Asterion naked or hoping he'd turn attractive (which I was totally right about :P), but because I actually cared for his well-being and was curious what would happen if you hadn't. Heck, I didn't even enjoy Luke's CG. Anyways, I hope that helps any creators or generate some food for thought. :)
Rio de Janeiro, August 30th 2020
In opposite way. Sometimes I like to play some games only because of the adult moments.
But what I want in a games is a good story. I easy lose interesting in games that do not have a good story. Even if just a simple fighting game.
P.S.: When most people think in sex. I think in love of be with someone that you like and or love.
Thanks a lot for making this survey, I've just started my own project a while ago, and this is very insightful. <3
I've just finished reading through all the responses that everyone gave. It's really helpful feedback!
I love taking surveys, creators actually caring about their audience's opinions and using it to better themselves and other creators just makes me so happy.
This is great for us the community and for developers as well and I agree with almost everything. I like the idea of inclusion of trans, bi (Emil from FLW is a great example, his character grew on me and the moment I knew his story, he became one of my favorite characters from that VN.)
The work you guys did are fantastic and it should be seen by every beginner writer, congratulations!
Btw, what's with the "hate" towards bane and blackgate? I didn't knew there was a problem with him lol.
Glad to see that I'm not the only brazilian who's involved in this hehe.
Have a nice day y'all!
After some time developing Blackgate, Bane started to put out empty updates to milk patreon money, sometimes twice in a row even.
I'm not sure if he still does that now (I don't even follow him since I lost interest before it started happening), but he's definitely gotten flak for it.
He still does it. If you go onto his patreon then he uploads 2 "updates" every month and bills people twice because of it. Why people are still patreons I do not know...
There is someone in the comments of each update that compiles a changelog and it usually boils down to Bane having switched some dialogue somewhere else or split a day into 2 or something...
I was enjoying the game too and then to find out the updates were not even updates was just time wasted liking the characters. Luckily I didn't become a patreon yet...