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Published June 29, 2015

I’m terrible at marking these things as most of you long-time readers know. ‘Important dates’ come and go, but I always try to take a moment for when this little idea first came about. On this day four years ago, I was sitting in a much less auspicious pre-VNs Now HQ not very impressed with the review of the second visual novel I played. So, like any arrogant fanboy I stood from my chair, kicked aside my desk and shouted to the Heavens, “I CAN WRITE BETTER THAN THIS!” Four years later, I’m still cursing myself for kicking over that desk: it was nice. Oh and I’m also still trying to get that ‘writing’ thing right.

My friends, we’ve come a long way; longer than many thought we would. I will never forget the Skype conversation I had with Jeremy Miller when he admitted he never thought VNs Now would make it: a conversation that happened just after we celebrated our two year anniversary. To be honest, it’s shocking how close he came to being right. You have all had to put up with my constant changes and jumps in the last year from WordPress.com to just a WordPress site after being on Weebly for a while which was the logical alternative after being screwed over by Webs. Life and its idiosyncrasies have caused its own issues and I’ve had to take my share of breaks. And all of this isn’t even counting the fights I keep getting into.

From the very beginning when I pissed off the otome fandom, to having my YouTube playthrough of Always The Same Blue Sky pulled from YouTube all the way to this current year and getting slandered on Twitter, it seems that I will never be too far away from controversy. And yet, through everything this site hasn’t just endured; it’s grown. That’s not thanks to me and, believe it or not, I’m not arrogant enough to think that. That’s thanks to you guys who keep reading and sharing the reviews and other things I do here. So, we cannot do this celebration right without without first acknowledging the stars of the show: thank you to all of the long-time readers of VNs Now who have kept this site going. Your support is the thing that keeps me going well into the early hours of the morning and I wouldn’t still be going if you weren’t here.

I also had help from the way from a small group of contributors and advisors. I was never able to pay many of them what they were due, but despite that they always gave more than I or others expected. Will, Cassie and Youko all did amazing work with us and I will always been incredibly grateful for them. Two of the three still let me get in their ear from time to time and I am very happy for that. I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to one of the unsung heroes of this little corner of the Internet: Shadow. When this site first began you could easily make a case of bias against me, because I was biased to one particular group. That changed thanks, in large part, to Shadow’s insistence and involvement with suggesting a wild variety of games to play in the early days. I don’t know if I ever had a chance to thank her publicly before, so I’m doing it now!

And no thanking of the people behind the scenes wouldn’t be complete without one of the most underrated Let’s Play curators on YouTube. The site has gotten better since we’ve been bouncing ideas off each other and he also puts up with my defense of American beer and curiosity with British politics. Thanks Chris.

I don’t count many people in the EVN community as friends…mostly because I might have to rip their games a new one at any given time. I don’t know if you guys are aware of this, but telling people your honest opinion, regardless of if it’s good or bad, tends to keep you pretty solitary. Which is why I want to thank the EVN developers who have been kind to this little corner of the Internet over the past four years! I especially want to thank the people who have taken my critiques of their work, yet that hasn’t deterred them from being decent folks to this simple country boy. It’s that kind of thing that isn’t necessary for them to do, yet they do it and I’ll always be grateful for that. The list is far too long to name and I don’t want anyone to be charged with bias because I’m just trying to be nice, but if it’s you (and you know who you are), just know that I thank you from the bottom of whatever is left of my heart.

There is still a lot of work to do here to make this the site I want it to be and before I end this post I want to give everyone a brief overview of where we are. I am very pleased with how the reviews of the past few months have turned out and they have been some of my favorites to go back and read over. Hopefully they are proving more informative and they will continued to flesh out more of the games as we go. I’ve averaged at least two reviews a month since January and we’ll be picking up the pace in July as I’m hoping to see some major titles drop in the second half of the year.

One of the small improvements you will begin to see is a small database I’m beginning to form connected to the site. It’ll provide readers with more information on certain topics like developer groups, key people, etc. This information will pretty much be a summary of news stories that have been done on them and other information I find relevant. Hopefully this particular resource will bring more depth to the reviews themselves as readers ideally won’t have to comb through the Search bar to understand any history or current event tied to any particular game. You can see an example of this with Winged Cloud’s entry and more will be added to the database in the coming weeks.

The news stories aren’t where I want them all to be, but we’re getting closer and closer with every news features I do. One thing I’ll be starting soon is a running feature that analyzes gaming and media news which I think EVN developers interested in the commercial side can use. We are also going to do more for visual novel news as more Japanese and international titles make their way to the West: although this will also be more commentary in nature as there are several great sites on the Internet already who cover Japanese visual novels. And I will be making a better effort to get interviews, whether they be done on the site or during a podcast, done every month starting in July. I cannot make any promises because it’s a two-way street with this one, but I will put out the questions and see who answers.

In other site news, I’m putting aside money as we speak to make a major investment in HQ infrastructure over the next few months. A lot of the equipment I have is woefully out of date, mainly my laptop, and it makes multimedia production difficult. Hopefully by the Fall, most of what I need will be acquired and set up what I need to do some things I have been dying to start up: including an audio stream to better promote the musical talent in the EVN community and a livestream for me to share some of my playing experiences with you guys as I do it. That’ll be for anyone who is interested in how creatively I can curse when playing something I don’t like. I’ll keep you posted as the bits and pieces of this one start to come together and, again, it should come together by the Fall.

Mostly the rest of this year will just be doing everything I can to promote the good, point out the bad and shine light where it’s desperately needed. I am glad to have you all along for the ride. Thank you all again so much and here’s to another great year on VNs Now!

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