Well, we are near the end of 2015!
It has been an interesting year for us here at VNs Now and in the larger EVN gaming community as well. There were a few rough patches in there and more than a little controversy. However, VNs Now is in a much better position than we were last year around the exact same time…mostly because I’m not coughing up my lungs thank goodness. I am finishing laying out the ground-plan for 2016, but first we need to talk about how the last few weeks of 2015 will go for the site starting with our end of the year traditions.
VNs Now Best Ofs
Everyone will be happy to know that we will be having our end of the year awards on time after 2015’s snafu. While people have been sending in nominations before now, this is the formal announcement that the process has started. For those new to the site, our Best Ofs run a little different than other gaming sites. EVN devs and players make the nominations, to which I add from a few of my own choices. From there, winners are chosen from the combined nomination pool. This leads to instant feedback that allows for the awards to grow and better recognizes visual novels that can, admittedly, go uncovered by this small corner of the Internet.
With the exception of this year’s hiccup that led to the winners being announced in the spring, this is one of the highlight’s of the VNs Now year. I don’t know if I’ll do the announcements on Twitter as I’ve done in the previous three years or if I’ll just release a list on the site like I did this year. Either way, I am looking forward to seeing how this one goes this year. Now is the point where I talk to you about the outstanding issues facing this year’s Best Ofs and we do have a few to clear. Usually I give you guys a month to make nominations, however that time period is to compensate for me playing VNs that have been released late as well as nomination that I didn’t cover on its original release. And we have had two VNs come out in the last two weeks that have earned my full attention: Aviary Attorney and Break Chance Memento. At this moment, I am working through Aviary Attorney to round off the year and I’m hoping to make the announcements sometime during the first week of January. Until that time, nominations will be open. I will announce on this website when everything is closed up, which will be twenty-four hours from when the winners are announced so please keep an eye out for that.
Second big issue is that I’m not sure about the ‘Most Improved’ categories that I added last year. I want to commend those who have done the hard work of improving their skills, but I also don’t want it to sound condescending. So, I’m not sure if I’m going to just remove it outright after this year. I’ll still accept nominations for those categories, but I’d also appreciate your input on whether or not it is even necessary. I’m also testing on one new award category this year, Best Fantasy EVN, as that seems to always be a popular genre in this particular field.
While it isn’t always done in the most polite way, I do encourage and try to incorporate feedback to make this thing better and more fun for everyone involved. So please do continue critiquing the Best Ofs and sending ideas for new categories.
Finally, as per tradition, it falls upon this humble Southern reviewer to make the first official nomination for English Visual Novel of the Year. This doesn’t mean they’ve won anything. I just believe they deserve the recognition of at least being guaranteed a nomination. We’ve had a lot of solid work done this year by new and familiar EVN devs and I wanted my choice to go to someone new who created something against the grain of what I usually celebrate here on VNs Now. No, not something with romance so sweet it’ll rot your mind or tits so large…well, they’ll rot your mind, but something that was created to be fun and succeeds while maintaining a darker edge. And luckily for me, there was a fangame that fit the bill.
SC2VN is a fangame in the truest sense of the word: a visual novel created as an expression of love for not only Starcraft 2, but for the eSports community surrounding it both here in the United States and especially in its home country of South Korea. And while we can all debate on eSports for the next few years, Team Eleven Eleven takes the history of Starcraft and blends in some familiar sports anime turns to make one of the most entertaining titles of 2015. It’s a very fun story with Mach stepping up not to be the greatest of all time, but just to try and survive in a foreign country to pursue her dream. Thanks in large part to the Starcraft 2 matches that you don’t have to be a hardcore fan to follow as well as the rest of the cast bringing in their own eccentricities.
And while SC2VN is fun, it also has serious moments that flesh out the characters and make them more than just their tropes. SC2VN is set just as the game and eSport around it was getting popular to the ire of many progamers in Korea. It explores a lot of the tension between the older pros who prefer Brood War and the newer ones who want to adapt to SC2. It also explores the fact that Mach’s dream isn’t the greatest thing in the world. Sponsors are mercurial at best, living conditions are terrible and there is virtually no real profitable end for anyone who undertakes it…and that’s just if you’re a guy. If you’re a female progamer Jett, who is one of the better written characters this year, will be glad to tell you what you’re in for. Yet, it’s Mach’s dream and it makes it worth the trouble. I love games that are more than the sum of their parts and be fun as well, hence my nomination for SC2VN to be EVN of the Year.
Again, that doesn’t mean it will be. It just means I wanted to be sure it was recognized for it. For everyone else, you can send your nominations to email@example.com Please note leaving them in the comment section or tweeting them to me will be ignored, so please do not bother with that and just do the email. More details about the Best Ofs can be found on its page.
Top 10, Most Anticipated and Worst Of 2015
In addition to the Best Ofs, I’m bringing back the Worst Ofs for 2015. Last year I skipped it because, let’s be honest, it would have been just me ranting some more about Sakura Spirit. This year we have a slightly better mix of bad to below average, so picking the Worst will be a challenge. But it will be fun again so it will be back. Changing up this year a bit will be an overall Top 10 list that will include both English and Japanese releases. The Best Ofs were conceived strictly for English VNs, but I do want to also recognize the Japanese titles I’ve played that were impressive this year as well.
The Most Anticipated list may also make a return. I’m measuring that out just because I tend to anticipate the exact same titles in different degrees. And as fun at it was to constantly list BCM, the truth is that there is no real set schedule for EVNs. It happens when it happens, which makes a Most Anticipated list kind of archaic. I’m going to really think that one over before I do it. But if I don’t, SOLSTICE SOLSTICE and SOLSTICE. And also Backstage Pass…for assassin professor of course, not any potential model jokes.
I am currently planning both a video and text versions of the Top 10 and Worst Ofs, but those plans can change. I’ll keep you guys posted right here on how that develops moving forward and we should see it hit the site over the next few weeks.
New Years Day Stream
One thing I did last year that I loved was the all day audio stream I did for New Year’s Day. I am planning on doing that again. As I said, radio and audio streaming are my project car and it is something I want to continue working on more seriously in 2016. I’ll give you guys some more details as we get closer to January 1st if you are interested in tuning in!
Finally, I am aware that there are a chunk of reviews that I haven’t put up yet. I’m working on it. I do not think I’ll cover everything outstanding in a week, but definitely by the end of January we should be all caught up!
That’s pretty much it as far as the current state of the site is concerned. I’m looking forward to the end of the year festivities and again, Best Of nominations should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org! Looking forward to 2016 with you guys! Let’s close this one out right!