Anime Revolution 2014 Day 1

Such convention, wow!

shcboomer's Blog

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Where should I even start? I mean this was probably my most hectic weekend in a long time. I actually just came back from a camping trip the previous week and even that wasn’t as tiring as this weekend convention was. One thing I’ve come to realize after going to many conventions is how important getting sleep early on the Thursday is and how one should have a larger than normal breakfast. Chances are the first night’s sleep is really going to be the only large amount of sleep you’ll get and when you get to the con, you will have to make your lunch/dinner times very flexible.

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You would think after coming here last year, I wouldn’t be surprised by this long lineup, but I still am. The line actually goes all the way outside and has two parts to the line just like the previous day. The convention…

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Anime Revolution 2014 Day 0

Convention time!

shcboomer's Blog

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Day 0 of Anime Revolution is a little different from most conventions as there is nothing to do here except pick up your pass here. I waited with my friend a bit to pick up his pass, but I had to go pick up a friend from the bus station so I ended up leaving for about 30 to 40 minutes. My good friend puddi whom I met at Sakura-con came up to join me for AR this year to double up the fun.

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Let’s just say when I got back, the line was about the same. My friend had finally entered the main building and waited in line for another 40 or so minutes before getting his pass. I went over to the VIP ticket area to grab my press pass with puddi. Seriously, it may be worth shelling out the extra money to get a VIP pass or…

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Grind’Em Games – New TCG Blog

Thought I’d share since no one else really posts.

shcboomer's Blog

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It’s been a while since my last post on my blog, but I thought I’d share some news. I’ve started up a blog on TCGs such as MTG, WS, and others called Grind’Em Games. Honestly, TCGs have been one of my favorite hobbies lately and I thought I’d share some thought about them there. A few of my friends signed up to start writing their thoughts as well. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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SFU Summer Festival 2014

Let’s add some content here. XD

shcboomer's Blog

It’s been a while since my last post on my blog that isn’t fansubbing related. So, this will make a good change of pace on the blog. Anyway, today I was up on SFU Burnaby to help run an EVO screening event that we planned to run. I was reminded by a friend early in the morning that the SFU Summer Festival was happening. It’s basically a mini anime-con at my university that happens once a year. It’s low budget, but at least it’s an honest attempt at trying to run a big event at our school campus.

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Surprisingly, the event was well attended from what I could tell. In the time I spent there, the traffic of people was consistent and seemed to generate quite a bit of interest. It was quite hot today and it really showed in this area as it felt like a greenhouse in this…

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Coming Back?

Perhaps. I am getting the urge to start writing again for this blog, so maybe, just maybe I’ll be back to doing it. 

Saya Please

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here. I thought I’d just do a quick image dump for Saya from Little Busters! EX while waiting for raws to work with.

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This image dump happens when no one else posts. Don’t blame me.

Happy New Year 2014

Just wishing you all a Happy New Year for 2014 from Sometimes Clever.

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Why hello there. Given this newfangled white background, I guess that I, Zakamutt the Moderately Great, shall have to change my signature text color. Changes to older articles will come when I feel like it.

While Shizuru is moe queen in Rewrite, Kotori might just be best girl. That said, I really like Akane as well. Until bad stuff happens to her and stuff, anyway. Kotori’s route is definitely the best character route, though (and Akane second best.) Well, many will disagree; that’s just the way Rewrite is. (I feel like I should link a Rewrite opinion I really disagree with now, so here you go. Happy new year, Silvachief, and may I never agree with you! (Except he considers Akane second best chara route which I am in complete agreement with…))

We haven’t written much these past weeks, have we? Oh well, we can probably rectify that soon enough. Maybe we can even persuade batman to review some anime or something. Or not.

Clearly I need more depressed insomnia, because I seem to write my best stuff when that happens.

Merry Christmas from Sometimes Clever

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From all of us here at Sometimes Clever, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays! Over on the Fuwanovel forums, I’ve been holding a competition. Part of the competition was to draw a Christmas image with favorite characters. People received bonus points for Hachikuji Mayoi images. Here are a few of my favorites.

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Zakamutt: Pfft, my pic was clearly the best.

My glorious, glorious entry for solidbatman's forum contest.

For context, click picture. For explanation of troublesome elements, hover.

In random uninteresting news, blog tags have been cleaned up somewhat. Nobody will care about this.

VN & Anime OST Appreciation, The Third Strike

It’s me shcboomer, here again with another edition of VN & Anime OST Appreciation. I’m a bit tired from subbing Little Busters! ~Refrain~ Episode 11 this week, so I’ll try to keep things short. If you’re wondering, I did cry due to this episode, much manly tears were had.

I’m actually in the process of reading the VN right now (Komari route). Will I watch LB Refrain anime after reading the VN? Proooobably not.

Well, I wouldn’t blame you… Glad to hear you’re reading the VN, it’s definitely worth it.

To commemorate this episode of Little Busters! ~Refrain~, let’s start off with Haruka Kanata, otherwise known as Faraway, from the latest episode of Refrain. The song is sung by Rita as with the majority of the vocal tracks from Little Busters! Manack arranged this track, and it was written and composed by none other than Jun Maeda.

Hmm, so we aren’t weeaboo enough to use Maeda Jun? Meh, whatever. This track… It’s kind of slow and pretty, but I’d need lyrics to really appreciate it. Then again, the lyrics could be a spoiler.

Lyrics are fine, if you watched our episode 11, you would have lyrics. The episode might be a big spoiler though…

While we’re on the topic of sad and touching OSTs, let’s take a look at Secret Base ~君がくれたもの~ (10 Years After Ver.) from AnoHana. It is sung by three VAs from the AnoHana anime in this version of the song: Meiko Honma (CV. Ai Kayano), Naruko Anjou (CV. Haruka Tomatsu), Chiriko Tsurumi (CV. Saori Hayami.) Lyrics and composition goes to Norihiko Machida and arrangement can be attributed by Toku.

Damn it, Boomer keeps sneaking anime music into my VN-land. How dare he! Also, the beatmap I have for this on osu is really annoying to get right timing-wise. Oh, and I can totally read that Japanese, it’s “kimi ga kuretamono”. I don’t actually know what kuretamono means though, so I guess that was pretty pointless. Damn.

Hmm, the breakdown at around 0:37 was quite interesting. I actually like this tune quite a bit – it’s both happy and a bit melancholic, isn’t it? Bit obvious pitch correction at some places though; guess it might be used for effect…  Not sure if I approve of the bridge at 3:10 that much, especially its start. The solo at around 5:00 is really disappointing. It’s a guitar man, USE IT. MAKE IT CRY. MAKE IT SING. LIVE. DID I MENTION I LIKE GUITARS.

I’m certain you’d understand if you watched the anime. It’s so fitting to AnoHana, even if the song is much older. The VAs for AnoHana did a cover of this song and it was used for the anime which is why it’s the 10 Years After Version.

Lastly, we have Eternal Feather from ef – a fairy tale of the two. This song is written by nbkz, composed and arranged by Tenmon, and Hitomi Harada provides the vocals.

Minori considers their high-quality graphics to be one of their trademark features – they even do their VNs in 1080p! Or was it 1920×1200, can’t remember… anyway, they have good graphicness. Kind of a pity that this video is 1. artifacted quite a bit and 2. Flash sucks hard so I had to download it and use potplayer, but I guess that comes with the Youtube territory. As for the musical content, decent, but pretty animu-style-OP-meh-y. Not bad, but not better than anything else good I guess?

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That’s all from me for now. I pass on the torch to Zakamutt.

Hah, you expect ME to WORK?

…Ok will do.

You better…

At first, I thought “Man, I really should try to pick tracks from VNs I haven’t mentioned yet.” Then this tune popped into my head. I’m not really all that sorry because Ever17.

A lot of the Ever17 tracks I like have this daft-punkish Homework era thing where the very first seconds grab you. Daft Punk managed this with just a single sample at times; Ever17 might not be quite that extreme. Still, it’s a great quality for background music – to hit you, straight away, with the desired atmosphere. Hologramm really does that – it speaks of mystery, but also of revelation – of truths tantalizingly hidden away, yet within your grasp… If you reach out to grasp them.

I think I need to read Ever17 at some point now… The track is quite mysterious alright.

Aah, Saya no Uta. Now officially released by JAST; years before, made available through a fan translation by the same guy. I dislike the official release because it’s named “Song of Saya” and not “Saya’s Song”. Now if that isn’t word-nerdotry, I’m not sure what is… Anyway, to the actual track. Feel the beauty and purity of those high notes? Yes, Saya is beautiful (although I feel the video’s picture kind of butchers her actual looks.) But the melody is sad, otherworldly, just a little bit… disturbing. Again, perfect use of music to build atmosphere.

SnU is partly a horror VN, and honestly, what would horror be without unsettling music? The rest of Saya no Uta’s soundtrack is great as well. If you want to really experience it, though… Just read the VN. You will probably not get disappointed, unless you are batman, who is wrong about everything (ZING SHOTS FIRED.) Oh, it’s medium strength guro, so I guess there is that problem. Honestly though, I’ve been called Zakapuss for good reason before; it’s not really that creepy. Not only that, but Saya’s pretty… deep, I’d say. A romance-above-all story? An exploration into what it means to be human? A lovecraftian fantasy? You’ll find all of that right here.

(Bonus:  Extra Credits, a long-running series of videos about game design, mentioned Saya no Uta in this episode.)

Saya no Uta, an interesting choice indeed. I do like this track from the OST, so no worries.

I think this was the first time I heard such an all-out freakout what-the-fuck-oh-shit track in a fairly modern style in a VN. Granted, F/SN was hardly the last VN I’ve read, and Tsukihime’s Phantom Dance has its charms, but anywaysies.

F/SN, another VN on my to read list… That thing is huge.

Things I tried hard to find but didn’t, messing the deadline up: 世界が色づき始めるとき by foka, the Higurashi excited club-activity theme. Oh well.

Mortal VN Engine Annoyances: Part One

I think I’ve whined about this quite a few times: VN engines suck. Hard. In this series, I will be providing some demands. They are NOT optional. If your VN engine does not implement ALL of these, it sucks, and you should be ashamed of yourself if a single VN is made with it. Please apologize to every VN reader in the world, then carefully consider ritual suicide as a way to regain what little honor you have left.

Yes, this means that I wish death upon pretty much every VN engine programmer alive. I make no excuses.

Without further ado, here is my first area of annoyance!

Saving

Main Complaint: Limited save slots

Each and every visual novel on the PC, or on any console younger than the PS2 generation, should have no limit to the amount of saves you can create.
I have seen reviewers say that a VN has “plenty of save slots” and think this is good enough. But really – why the hell do we even need to limit ourselves to an arbitrary amount of save-state pages, holding an equally arbitraty amount of saves? The only reason you should ever limit save slots is if there is a physical limit – and let’s be honest here, most recent visual novels are in the multi-gigabyte range.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, I was playing Mass Effect 2. As you might know, ME2 was released on the xbox 360 simultaneously as it was released for the PC. PR claims there were separate teams working on both, but frankly, ME2 shows signs of severe consolitis at times. That is probably why it has a hilariously retarded limit on saves. I ran out, and I raged.

There is a mod that can help with this – and I installed it – but why couldn’t developers just have flipped off the variable that limited the number of saves? This should take around three minutes or less for any programmer more proficient than an ape, and most of that time would be used to find the appropriate piece of code to change.

Of course, quite a few of the worst-offender VNs were not console-first or even console-simultaneous releases. And at that point… Well, I may or may not be assembling intel for a kill list right now, and planning a trip to Japan.

Worst offenders:

Tsukihime – Tsukihime has many choices, many bad ends, and 20 save slots that have no memo slot or picture, only a timestamp. I cannot overstate just how hilariously terrible this was. Well, I suppose you can’t expect much more from an NScripter game. Jesus, thank god NScripter seems to be dead by now.

Ever17 – Ever17 is slightly better than Tsukihime at 50-something save slots. Slightly. If you save at every choice… Yeah, you’re going to run out. And lord knows, Ever17 has a few.

999: Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors – 999 has only one save slot.

ONLY ONE SAVE SLOT.

ONLY. ONE.

Alright, there are, technically, some minor metafictional reasons for this. But honestly… at this point, just suspend our goddamn disbelief already.

Analogue: A Hate Story – I swear, Christine Love deliberately set out to piss me off here. Not only are the saves limited (in Ren’py, an engine that can support unlimited saves with tinkering…) but they are limited to like, four pages of four saves! This is insane!  There wasn’t a space problem in the UI or anything, she could easily have added more folders. Analogue has a multitude of choices and paths, and I’d have liked to explore my options better – especially picking if you are male or female and seeing the differences in AI behavior is interesting. But no. Christine Love shat all over me in that regard.

Meh, I pirated it anyway.

Almost there:

Aoishiro – Aoishiro had a pretty good save system, I thought. Those nine different categories let you do plenty of organizing, and the vertical columns in each could potentially scroll downwards infinitely.

A screenshot of Aoishiro's save screen

It looks so promising, doesn’t it?

And then you see that there is a Save Limit of 99.

WHYMVJIFRMWJU09RJYF84UICDKEWPCKDI9C8R9W0JCU8EWJCUIDEMCDIJOENCEDWnchudenhcudonjicdiocnx!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OH YES:

Katawa Shoujo – Katawa Shoujo is the only VN I’ve read so far that has unlimited saves. There are many more technological things to praise: the movies play smoothly on my faptop, the scrollback is pretty innovative, there’s the unique Scene Select (note: that’s not H-scene select)…

A picture showing Katawa Shoujo's save screen.

Yet another reason Katawa Shoujo rocks!

Unfortunately, even Katawa Shoujo isn’t quite perfect. For one, it doesn’t have a categorizing system like Aoishiro above, or the ability to set memos. Hmm, let’s just formalize the rest of my REQUIREMENTS:

Other things your engine MUST have:

*Each save element should have a picture of the scene it occurs in; a screenshot is probably the best choice.

*Each save element should have a memo field where you can freely enter text.

*Each save element should have a timestamp.

*Each save element should have a small, changeable icon with around 5 pictures to choose from.

*The save screen should have some kind of organizing system; probably a folder-based one would be the best. Look at Aoishiro up there for a decentish implementation, though a scrollable F/SN style multi-column and row one would probably be the best.

Fate/Stay Night does not have unlimited saves, but it does practically everything above perfectly…  So, it’s too bad that F/SN has hilariously many choices and 50 bad ends in total, so you will use up all save slots if you are remotely like me. I was really hoping I could shorten my kill list a bit, but no.

Extra credits:

These are not required to escape my wrath, but I would appreciate them:

*Memo space  autopopulated with relevant info.

*Indicator of whether the save is at a choice point or not.

*Feature to autosave at every choice.

Oh, and while we’re at it, stop saving in goddamn my documents or appdata. Do that shit in the game folder in /SAVES or something. It’s worked for ages, and doesn’t have problems when users play with different privileges and can’t save to the right folders and stuff.

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This isn’t the end of my list of Mortal Annoyances (of course not…) For more advice on not being killed by me, check out next week’s article when it comes out.