Visual Novel Book Club // Now reading: 徒花異譚 // Next: ISLAND

Yeah, it’s a little specific. The right hooks won’t appear if you don’t make a line of text advance after attaching it, which is probably what happened here. But yeah, generally easiest/best practice along those lines is to just attach it while on the main menu, then when you start or load it should populate the list.

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Just a small heads up that the steam summer sale started today. All of the VN’s nominated that are on Steam appear to be on sale in case anyone is interested :slightly_smiling_face:

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And that’s a wrap! You all almost tied it back up on me, but our first pick will be ルーパーズ! I’ll get a thread up later, just had to pop in to cut off voting.

Thanks everyone!

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To me it looks like the polls are still open :caught_durtling:

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Right, there’s an actual close button. Still a bit unfamiliar with polls and I posted this while still half asleep. Thanks! :sweat_smile:

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It has arrived, see you in the loops :infinity:

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Probably wanna link it in the first post too. ^^

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@rikaiwisdom @AzusaChan @MrGeneric @MissDagger

Yeah I suppose we should talk about it here.

What’s going on after Loopers has been on my mind pretty often, just haven’t gotten around to posting about it and time sure is ticking away. Now that I’m still hanging in there and know I’ll still be reading VNs, I’m down for more. I’ve had a good time. Always happy to grab more members but even with just a few of us expressing interest already, that’s enough for me to consider it more or less cemented that we’ll move on to a second one!

So I guess what we need to think about is how this has been going; how we want the future (whether structure or anything about the types of novels allowed) to change or not, etc. From my perspective, we’ve done fine with the chapter splits, inconsistent surprises that they are, but that’ll have to adapt per game.

What eats at me is how much I want to open this to longer, potentially more open VNs: since the medium leans in that direction, so many of the truly special ones do take a hefty amount of reading. I guess it’s not so dissimilar from a book club limiting themselves to short stories only. No doubt you can discover lovely stories in that format to sustain the club for ages, but what is lost is enormous. Even Loopers at the speed we’re taking it lasts 17 weeks though, and club dropout/slowdowns are natural and 100% understandable, but I have to wonder how much the speed/timeframe could have contributed. This VN is only labelled roughly 5.5 hours on VNDB. The number of incredible VNs at like 40-50 is staggering, but definitely feels out of reach. Even myself, while I believe I could commit to a faster reading speed, it would definitely eat significantly into my ability to read anything else.

On the other hand, for VNs with choices in general, there are a few reasonable options, and I think we can probably find a reasonable path to choose and not require they be linear in the future?

I also already shared @rikaiwisdom 's concerns about cost which is what made me want to look for alternative methods to make this work, and why I posted the Youtube playlist for Loopers. A lot of VNs have such playthrough available, though I recognize that can be a lot harder than having access to the texthooker, and potentially needing to pause constantly (I certainly would). As a niche medium I think it just gets by on low volume sales at high prices – Japanese VN prices at the upper end get pretty ridiculous. My only real contribution there is to say for that reason, multi-language releases tend to be easier to afford.


Also you all just reminded me it’s Friday and I need to post that thread, and would’ve read that instead of Flowers if I didn’t forget for half the day. Great club organizer so far :melting_face:

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Well, hmmm… I’m one of those that kinda fell behind due to personal reasons. And my plan is definitely to get back to Loopers (next week it should happen finally!!!).

So take my opinions with a pinch of salt.

I can’t speak for length much. I think if we try to read faster than we have, it would definitely have to be something I’m very interested in because it would eat into my ability to read other things.

But then, I’m also kinda limiting myself to those available on Switch, so if a non-switch game is picked, I’m probably out for that VN. (I just don’t use my PC much, and sitting at it reading, isn’t what I’d call a good time, I like comfier places and the ability to change sitting position regularly.)

I definitely think we could pick something with a few choices/paths. I think we should probably plan to do all choices then; meaning I’d also be happy to go by club order. It would probably be good if it was a VN where it is easy to decide path ahead (like each choice is color coded or something, I don’t know the VN lingo/options). Or at least that important choices are highlighted so no one has to spoil themselves by knowing what the next important choice is.

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I’m definitely fine with something longer with choices. I do think it’d be a good idea if we all followed the same guide/route order if we did choose something with choices otherwise I think it would be hard to organize it. My main concern is creating a schedule since VNs like Loopers that are split up by chapters is on the rare side. Some VNs do use a calendar system though so that could be an alternative to create a schedule, guess we’ll just have to list pros and cons once we start doing nominations for the next VN (not sure when we want to start that?).

If we do decide to open the next round of nominations to longer VNs with choices I do think it’d be good to gradually increase the length (our last round I think we limited it to VNs that had a play time of no more than 10 hours on VNDB? so maybe next around have it be at a max of 15-20?).

It’d be good to know if people would want to have a longer reading period as well (more than our current 17 week period) or increase the amount of reading in each week. I’m not sure how everyone felt about our current reading speed but if we did read something longer, it would eat up people’s ability to read other things on the side or we’d have to add more weeks (most “average” length VNs are at least double the length of Loopers, but if we doubled the amount of weeks we had to read as well, I’m not sure if I’d sustain interest over 34 weeks lol).

I’m just throwing out stuff though so I’d like to hear what everyone else’s thoughts are on what type of VNs we should aim for moving forward and how to adjust our club speed accordingly.

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I also wouldn’t be the best source for speed. I massively fell behind, and haven’t caught up yet, but it’s not the fault of Loopers – it’s a result of my having dealt with some illness, a change in some things at work massively eating up my time, and honestly just biting off more than I could chew with certain things, and choosing to prioritize what I could definitely keep up with while shifting to the backburner the things that were taking up more time. This meant Loopers and Spice and Wolf both got kinda backburnered for a while. I’ve got back into Spice and Wolf, and will be trying to pick up Loopers to finish it here shortly in a couple of marathon sessions, but either way, I don’t think the pacing of the club was bad; life just got in the way for me, essentially.

Re: multiple choices, I agree that those would be interesting, but that picking paths would really be the only way to keep it organized. Otherwise, discussion would be next to impossible, unless you had like, multiple threads per potential route running concurrently, and hoping that more than one person picks the same route so there is some discussion… It still would be an organizational nightmare, though, tbh.

I don’t know if the length of time especially contributed to burnout/dropout, but I suspect it really didn’t play too heavy a factor. The only reason I fell silent in threads was due to having to prioritize differently; sounds like @MissDagger is in a similar boat there. I didn’t watch the participation polls too closely to see how heavy drop-off was, but I would be surprised if it was much higher than we see in the book clubs. It is definitely a more difficult medium to try and pick a reading time for, though, and I’m not sure I hwve any good ideas at this moment, since I’m just not as familiar with VNs on the whole.

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Length/speed didn’t impact me all that much either. I was expecting this to be much harder, but with the text hooking software I was able to average around 3k characters per 45 minutes as a relative beginner. I think our planned average was ~1.5k characters a day which I’ve found to be about the length of a super short web novel chapter (imo, too short to be enjoyable content wise).

Speaking of enjoyable content, I think my primary criticism of Loopers is that it’s actually just too short to explore its own characters and setting. It feels kind of shallow at times, like reading an abridged or children’s version of a book. Appealing to beginners maybe, but I suspect boring for experienced readers and frustrating for anyone that isn’t in love with the main cast. Longer novels would alleviate that issue.

Given that most of the (remaining active) participants were people at higher WK levels or people with more experience reading Japanese in general I think it’d be better for you guys to pick what you enjoy and for beginners like me to use text hookers to help bridge the speed gap with advanced readers. It would depend on the novel, but I think it might be better to consider a format shift away from the standard weekly threads that other clubs use. It makes sense for things with regular chapters, but even Loopers felt a bit inconsistent with it’s character counts and shoving more reading between threads would help average things out somewhat. A bit of a cherry picked example, but the first Ace Attorney is ~175k characters over four main episodes, so it would have a similar, but slightly more aggressive feel as Loopers if we did around a thread a month for it.

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I fell behind (still trying to catch up) but it was for personal reasons as well. I was fine with the current speed but if we are doing something longer I wouldn’t mind taking longer. I’d also be okay with speeding up a bit but we may lose a lot of people. As we’ve seen even if people are ok with the pace when you are reading something over such a long time life is bound to happen at some point so if the pace isn’t too high it’s still possible to catch up again.

I agree with allowing choices but having one path for the bookclub to follow and going for something longer than ルーパーズ, but maybe not crazy long. Organizing a club is difficult when every VN is different and you don’t know if it’ll have chapters or any kind of natural break so maybe the only thing to do is set some hard requirements for the nominations (maybe length, availability,price…) and once one is picked we can figure it out from there.

Anyway, I’ll probably be fine with whatever way things are done as long as the next pick seems at all interesting.

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I missed Loopers and totally want to join this one! Whatever gets picked!

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Yeah we would! That’s kinda usual VN procedure anyway I think (or certainly is for me) – assuming you’re actually enjoying it, seeing all the different routes is usually part of “completing” them. But watch out saying “color coded” specifically or you’re going to get @AzusaChan trying to immediately make me reread Flowers :wink:. The way choices are handled is going to be another thing to tackle with each individual VN but at the absolute worst case I or someone can find a guide and if there’s any concern about the choices containing spoilers the way they’re written, we can break that up somehow.

Yeah we have to see based on each game when the time comes, and maybe we’ll get lucky and it’s something someone on this site has played before like Loopers. I guess failing anything else, there is the possibility of taking it in longer parts by route or something, can’t really decide til we have the VN in front of us. Some sort of larger chunking like that might be good? After typing this I kind of worked through the idea more talking to others further down, heh.

We ended up with a short one anyway, but for what it’s worth, the max was already 15. I’ve been debating between pushing the limit slowly upwards or just letting length be a factor in people’s votes, though I guess there’s the possibility of too many people stopping in and biting off more than they can chew, especially if we get one of the big VNs that might draw more attention nominated sometime, like a Steins;Gate or something.

Yeah that’s hard. The good answer is probably in the middle? I do personally tend to knock out the average Loopers chapter in a day or two so I could probably go somewhat faster, though difficulty is going to play a part as well, as quite a few VNs might be a step or two above Loopers? I know the advanced club builds its schedules around the difficulty of the work too which makes total sense, so general thoughts are helpful but again it might have to wait til we have VNs in mind.

Yep, that’s what I was leaning towards. Pick some arbitrary club recommended order that we can discuss in, but if people really want to make their own choices, well, they’re always free to try to hop in whenever works for them. Just have to keep people conscious of spoilers from other routes, we’ve already seen how remembering when exactly a specific thing happens might get tough.

I think I’m leaning this way as well, depending on the VN. There are going to be so many that outside of whole routes it’s very hard for us to find meaningful start and end points for threads. With the weekly schedule I know people tend to avoid threads until they’ve finished the reading for good reason, but with really good vigilance about vague spoiler labelling we might be able to make threads that are monthly or some schedule like that and have us just regularly checking in any time we have questions or particularly want to talk about what we read that time? It’s all a little abstract without having a VN chosen, but yeah.

Though Ace Attorney as an example almost shows how that could backfire because the cases all get progressively longer and there is a huge difference between the early ones and the end. If I were running that game I think I’d add an extra split or two to divide later cases in half.

Yeah honestly that bit is my concern. Already saw the VN club get mostly dropped by people who were too busy because it was one of their most demanding one to catch back up with so it freed them up the most. Some of that might be unavoidable when competing with beginner manga clubs and the like, but still. Maybe the possible longer-form schedule I was discussing with @ccookf actually helps free us up to go a little faster? Like, a bad week or something isn’t going to leave someone feeling like they are slipping behind in the same way, if they have other days sometime in the month or whatever period where they can devote more time than usual.

Excited to have you :slightly_smiling_face:


I guess overall the vibe I have so far is choosing exactly what is and isn’t doable is very hard, but we all seem pretty on board with the concept of being more ambitious. The choice thing seems pretty settled, length/speed/organizing format is the tricky one. I guess the direct question at this point is if you all think there should be any specific hard caps on what we allow to be nominated. I think most of what I already had regarding explicit sexual content, accessibility, etc are fine. We’re probably dropping linear route. Unless anyone has any other ideas, I guess I’m just asking in a roundabout way if there’s a max length you want to cut off at haha. It’s a hard question. Like I honestly can’t think of a number I’m happy with so I’m tempted to offload that responsibility on the voters, haha. But if someone nominated Umineko I think I want to tell them no so there’s SOME number!

I’m also thinking of wiping the slate clean on nominations given that we’re opening the floodgates more. People are free to re-nominate, but that was very much a trial run that excluded a lot of options and I’ll probably be changing my VN to something else for this round. Since we ended up with a relatively small chunk of options, maybe allow for a couple nominations per person too (and scale number of votes everyone gets so that we don’t risk spreading them all really thin).

Also, I said it before, and this is mostly frivolous, but we already saw how much people love speculating about things so I hope we get some sort of mystery type thing to read in the near future because I think that would go over well :eyes:

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That was a VN I had in mind at the very start to nominate but I don’t want to nominate stuff that people have already read :joy: Everyone should still check it out in their free time though

Yeah and even comparatively, S;G isn’t that long compared to other games in the medium. You got stuff like Clannad, Fate/Zero, White Album etc that are more than twice the length with over 1mil characters :sweat_smile: So I definitely do think some type of cutoff would be good because even if those VNs are very interesting, it feels like a really tough ask for us to read them.

From my (very) limited number of jp VNs I’ve read, Loopers seems to be about in the lower-middle range of difficulty. It is rated as a 4 on jpdb but as I’ve read more, I’m not sure how much faith I have in their rating system. I’ve read some other things rated as a 4 that seem way more difficult and some other VNs rated slightly lower than 4 that felt like the same difficulty so it might be hard to gauge difficulty before we actually start reading.

This seems like a good idea. It’ll depend heavily on the VN we choose but some do display a date system or some will have chapters/episodes etc. If none of those are in the VN we choose, at worst we could just mention the character count or what choice we’ve made it up to and then spoiler the text so people will know beforehand if they are safe to click the spoiler or not.

I think a safe cutoff would be around 300k characters for now if the VN is on jpdb and around 20hr mark if its on VNDB. Since we are now adding in choices and everything, I think it would be good to make sure we don’t choose a too long VN as our second one to make sure we haven’t gotten too ambitious.

There is a mystery VN I do plan on nominating once we start that process! :partying_face:

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My two cents meows regarding the current discussion.

Regarding length, personally I’d still prefer to go for a VN on the shorter side. While I agree that Loopers seems to be somewhat lacking in polishing and adding depth to many of its characters, I personally believe this is probably not an issue with it being short, but on the writer spreading themselves too thin by adding way more side characters than they needed. I don’t know if this is because eventually the scope was trimmed down mid-project (something I can imagine happens often).

I’ve had the pleasure of playing at least a couple VNs that were laser-focused on a single concept with just 3-4 characters and did marvels to deliver a great story in a short time.

Certainly, some of the most famous VNs are very lengthy, but I’d say that length is not necessarily that essential to their fame. Many VNs usually have separate routes for each character, and they are often hit-and-miss, with some more interesting than others. In very few occassions all of the routes contribute to a bigger, more epic whole, but my experience is that such a thing is rare. In that sense, a longer VN can have a less consistent quality feel to it.

The time commitment is also a bit of a concern to me. Loopers for example is taking me 1.5~4 hours per chapter, with an average around 2.5 hours. That’s a total of 42.5 hours total for a VN that is supposed to take 5.5 hours according to VNDB. That’s almost an 8x increase. Even a “medium” VN has between 10~30 hours, which for me is going to be more like 160 hours. That sounds pretty rough, though I’d certainly be all for it if it’s a VN I reaaaally want to read, but it will certainly require sacrifices in other areas.

Regarding allowing VNs with multiple routes. I am all for it, we can just agree on what choices we are going to take based on a guide online. Personally, while in a few VNs I felt the choice system was interesting and meaningful, there were many others where I felt that navigating a huge amount of vague choices whose outcome was difficult to measure were more of a detriment to the story than anything else.

I don’t have any good advice for dividing a VN into parts of similar length for scheduling. My limited experience is that something like Loopers with specific chapters is not that common - in many VNs I didn’t even realize I had reached a specific route until I was very deep into it. Quite a few of them tend to have a calendar where things happen day by day, but (a) days tend to vary greatly, and (b) often when you get out of the common route, the VN stops mentioning what day it is or fast forwards in time often.

Side note: Flowers :heart: :heart: :heart: For quite a few years now I’ve been thinking about re-playing Flowers 2 in japanese.

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Well, Ace Attorney also have more or less all cases be over multiple days with very clear delineation between them.

So hopefully we manage to pick a VN that we can divide nicely, but in either case, we might have to do threads covering more than one week. Depending on how dividable the VN is, it might be more like monthly threads or path threads. Where we would basically hide most things behind a spoiler tag and note until which part the spoiler covers, or if we aren’t sure say the spoiler covers the whole section.

One way to deal with it, is to have regularly scheduled breaks. Say one week every 6-8 weeks or something, that way, if someone falls a bit behind, they’ll know there will be an extra week to catch up. I know that can feel like a drag for those caught up, but for me personally, if I’m reading with a club it is because I want to share the experience. If I wanted to read it as fast as possible, I would read it in my own time.

I know we had such a break week in Loopers but it was partly because the chapter was long (defeating the purpose for those already behind) and only decided on the week before, therefore not very plan-able. Like if I’d known we were gonna do a chapter over two weeks a few weeks before it happened, I could potentially have planned to push knowing I’d have that extra space to catch up. Learning about it a few days before it happened, left me several chapters behind and no way to catch up even with the extra time. So in my case, it was easier to pick another one I’d fallen behind on to catch up with.

Also for me personally, I had to look up a lot of words to understand at all what was happening. So Loopers was just not very attractive to try and catch up with, because I knew I’d have some “quality time” with the dictionary to get the story. And I knew the chapters were only gonna get longer, and therefore my already pretty heavy time investment would have to get even longer. :confused:

Not sure how to fix that one though, since I suspect it will be the case with my first few VNs no matter what they happen to cover. :sweat:

I think this won’t make a difference, if the thread is meant to cover a whole month’s worth of content anyway. Because if you miss a week, it is hard to fit in all that reading into 3 other weeks depending on pace. Also if you miss a week, sometimes you can just jump back into your commitments, but sometimes the reason you missed lets up slowly, so it isn’t like you’ll be back to full speed immediately, and then you won’t have the space to catch up, only to keep pace with the amount you are behind.

Plus, human nature is most commonly this: Give me a month to do something, and I’ll do it in the last day/couple of days/few days/week.

That’s the benefit of weekly threads, because if you miss reading it as the week started, well, the weekend arrives (and with it a new club week) and you’ll just press two weeks of reading into the weekend. (Unless you’re someone who works on the weekend, then that doesn’t work.) There is that regular interaction that reminds us to read, check in and comment. Some kind of weekly engagement from the one leading the club (like weekly participation polls and maybe questions about content that should have been covered by then (to spark discussion)) is probably necessary or at least is gonna help a lot.

I think we can set an approximate upper limit (what was suggested 20h? Or maybe 30h if 20h doesn’t allow for that many new picks), but not make it an absolute rule. If it is longer than that, make sure the length is noted prominently, and maybe there needs to be a good justification/reason for adding that nomination.

Well, first things first: I don’t think we need to limit nominations per person. Unless someone goes crazy and decides to nominate a ton, I don’t see a reason. 2-3 nominations per person is certainly not gonna break the bank. And I think we’re probably better off with more nominations than fewer, right? I think the book clubs have a max nomination number of 20 because that is as many options as you can put in one poll; so unless we start butting right up against that limit, I think we can just let people nominate the ones they want that fit our requirements.

So, my opinion would be to leave the past nominations in, unless we get a flood of new nominations. And as mentioned, I don’t think we need to take note of how many nominations any one person have made. It would maybe be weird if they’d nominated more VNs than they could vote for in the poll, but I think we can handle that problem if/when it shows up, no?

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Overall I totally take your point about how it’s going to multiply out to a pretty hard to justify amount of time, and I did myself make the point that I think we could certainly find good VNs that are shorter. In the end we might find that we have to do that until we’re more VNs down the line and, if some of the core group is still around, we’ve gotten fast, heh.

But I still kind of felt like this was an understatement so I did a quick search to just get the lengths of the top 100 rated VNs on VNDB:

Collapsed for space

Their ratings aren’t perfect by any means, but I think this works as a quick reference. Flipping through the next hundred, it’s the same thing.

Still, it’s probably just a slightly disappointing reality that we have to find some compromise level because I recognize that it’ll get unreasonable.

I’m reading the first right now! It’s a little tricky with its more uncommon kanji and some fancy descriptive sentences, probably the toughest thing I’ve read yet. Liking it a lot, though.

If we have to take the VN in longer chunks, this might not be too distinct from just adding on a week to each thread or something like that, but yeah, I see the point. It’ll be something we can consider when scheduling definitely.

Yeah, I’m used to just looking up a word practically every line but when you’re not using a texthooker that’s no doubt a lot more of a strain. Kinda hit on that when I mentioned scaling the time spent by difficult, but unfortunately I think @AzusaChan is probably right about Loopers being on the easier side relative to a lot of other VNs.

I’m not saying you’re wrong, and I probably wouldn’t use it as an excuse to push things THAT much anyway, but maybe I’m just different when it comes to this stuff? I know my life circumstances aren’t exactly typical in several ways but I often find that I have stressful periods for a week or two where I might not be able to do much but then can do a lot more when they let up. So with more days it would average out to whatever my average ability to read is after some days when I’m particularly motivated and make up for some of it.

The latter point is super relatable to me if we were talking about, like, taxes or a work obligation haha. There’s a bit of mental demand but this is basically just entertainment so I’ve always found that when I’m in clubs here I go start on the club stuff the day it rolls around each time. Might just be me though.

Definitely worth considering yeah, thanks. I mean I already anticipated pretty regularly talking about where I had gotten, but maybe some way to further formalize it would be worth considering.

Yeah that’s fair as well, I’d be fine with doing it that way.

You’re probably right there, and I can leave past ones in, sure. Easier to be hands off and adjust if it gets too messy.

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Don’t call me out like that! >.>

I always feel like those numbers are prone to be understated too :-/ Like, if there’s an interactive element how much time gets lost there. One thing I really appreciate about our pick is that since it was fully voiced it’s a rare case of I can actually trust some of the comments. More specifically huge shout out to this totally not familiar name who listed this for their play time

Anyway, the time listed overall was… 5h 37m. Ouch. I’ve had a series on my bucket list for a while that’s going to be like 120-150h by what they have on the front page. If I try to read that in Japanese… oof. No wonder people who jump into this stuff advance so quickly in their studies.

Unfortunately, I think Loopers is about as nice as it gets (we aren’t going to read Nekopara, right?). One of my favorite VNs was like a Goosebumps choose your own adventure story. It was pretty much linear, but there were a bunch of silly bad ends that could really pad out the time if you read them all. I love the format with interactive narrative, but this is going to be a pain to plan T_T

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