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12367 No. 12367 edit
My latest mystery VN is available for download!

http://detectivebutler.weebly.com/downloads.html

As usual, feel free to use this thread to post any comments.
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>> No. 12368 edit
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12368
Now the question is, how many seacats haven't read it yet?
>> No. 12370 edit
YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YEEEEEESSSS!!!!

>>12368
I only read part of the demo, but I'll try to download it soon!
>> No. 12439 edit
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>>12367
Hi, finally got around to starting this up. I only had time to play up to the part where Butler gets knocked out in chapter 3, but I'm really enjoying it so far! It all feels really professional and polished, and you've obviously put a ton of work into it. Even the little things like the menu screens are designed in a really appealing way.

The plot and characters seem pretty interesting too; though obviously most of them haven't had much screentime yet, I really like Gilligan's characterisation in particular. I'll be sure to come back and give my full thoughts when I'm finished, though I'm not sure when that will be since I don't have that much free time right now.

Well done for finally getting it released, anyway! I know you've spent a lot of time and effort on it, so really, congratulations~
>> No. 12927 edit
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12927
This really took me a lot longer than it should have. I apologise for the ridiculous length of this post, but I'm sure you appreciate detailed feedback, right?

I know from your blog that you value honesty in reviews of your work, so I'm not going to hold back here, but keep in mind that I did enjoy a lot of things about it. The ending parts definitely left a bad taste in my mouth, though.

General opinions

I'll start off by saying that the first half of the game (the part before the murder happens) is undoubtedly the most polished and enjoyable. The beginning has a very leisurely pace to it, and reads a little like Umineko EP1's introduction - and that's fine. The atmosphere was well-done, the dialogue felt natural and flowed nicely, and it served as a perfectly good way to get introduced to the characters. It's a very well-done build-up, and it was very clear that a lot of time had been spent on getting the feel just right.

But from the point the murder happens, the pacing just seems to accelerate to a point where it's difficult to really take anything in, and we lose the smooth flow of the first section.
The initial investigation and discussion about the murder is fairly good, but mostly seems a bit dry and lacking in character (though Butler's antics help that a little). There are also a few really awkward parts of conversations that really should have been proofread more carefully (like where Gilligan spontaneously changes his attitude towards the closed room three times in a matter of minutes, going from undecided to convinced he's solved it to completely hopeless without any obvious trigger), and overall the dialogue just didn't flow as naturally as it did in the beginning, especially with the bizarre way Cecila was acting when she came to try and 'console' Gilligan. But it was still passable.

The very end parts, starting from the discovery of the will, were...quite obviously extremely rushed, unfortunately. I assume you were just rushing to finally get the game out after all this time, but you really should have gone over things more carefully. Towards the end, it seemed like almost every textbox had a typo or something was awkwardly phrased. Some of these were particularly bad since they actually obscured the meaning of things (like Butler getting 2:00 AM and 2:00 PM mixed up repeatedly while talking about Galvano's note). ...Also, seriously, Eliza delightedly exclaiming how cute the stuffed animal she bought was while going over everyone's alibis is not a natural way to act when a murder has occurred under any circumstances, especially the murder of someone you're really close to. There were a lot of moments in the game when I thought that, and they were all distracting, but that one has to be the worst.

The main problem is that all of the discussion in the second half of the game seems to be dedicated to solving the mystery; with a few exceptions, it all feels more like a /gameboard/ discussion than the way people might conceivably react to an actual murder. The pacing also sort of feels like the whole sequence of events is just based off a checklist of points that needed to be ticked off - again, losing the natural flow that the first half had. The first half is completely focused on the characters without any mystery, and the second half is completely focused on the mystery with barely any emphasis on the characters - it just feels unbalanced. It also didn't help that despite the heavy emphasis on the mystery, several parts of the solution were quite awkward and not particularly intelectually satisfying...But I'll get on to that later.


Characters

Gilligan: As I said in my first post, he was a really good lead, and his characterisation was one of the things I liked the most about the game. During the first half, he somehow managed to pull off "spoiled rich kid" in a way that actually made him likable, which is quite something. The awkward and apathetic way he interacted with everyone was really well-done, and gave a really clear feeling that he didn't really care about his life or any of the people around him, but in a way that made him seem more sympathetic than annoying, at least to me. The portrayal of that particular apathetic and disinterested kind of depression, where you don't even realise it yourself until you talk to someone else about it, felt really genuine and believable. The scene where he opens up to Butler on the deck and almost commits suicide was probably the highlight of the game for me. His shifting feelings for his father (both before and after death) were also quite interesting, although I felt he changed his mind a little too dramatically after the talk with Howard. It would have been nice if there could have been a more gradual change leading up to that.

Butler: Was pretty much exactly what I expected. I liked that he was basically exactly the same person that Meta was in Board of the Golden Witch; he really doesn't need any more of a personality than that, to be honest, because the character is perfectly entertaining just as he is. His complete detachment from the events was great, and deserved to be played up more by contrasting with the other characters (shouldn't Eliza and Howard have had more of an objection to the way he was treating their CEO's death like a game? These are the kinds of things that made the characterisation sort of fall flat in the second half). And the crazy nonsense theories he came up with for everything were always amusing (though he seemed to just sort of stop doing that midway through, unfortunately).

It seemed odd that he was suddenly able to immediately figure everything out at the end though; I kind of thought the point of his character was that he was sort of incompetent and spontaneous, but somehow always ends up stumbling across the answer anyway? Instead of him knowing the answers from the start and just laying out the correct train of logic to reach them, I think the final deduction scene would have been a lot more entertaining if his reasoning had been more chaotic and rambling, having things corrected by the others and eventually getting on to the answer through extensive brainstorming...Something like that would have been more suited to his character, I think. It's more fun if the detective goes through a few failed theories before getting the right answer, trying to connect the clues in different ways before getting them lined up right; that's why the tea parties in your fangames were such fun to read. (And hey, that was technically mostly Meta in those too, so it would have been perfectly fitting to do something like that here!)

So, overall, he's a very good character, but the other characters' reactions to him needed some work. After all, with really eccentric characters, seeing the ways that people respond to them is half the fun!

Galvano: Was probably the most three-dimensional and well-developed character. I can't really fault anything here; his characterisation was basically the whole background of the game in a way, and gradually learning about him from the employees after his death was a pretty interesting way to do things. ...That said, insisting on making Eliza the next CEO without even listening to Blythe's objections was pretty fantastically dumb of him. But yeah, I did feel pretty sorry for the guy, and thought his actions were generally believable and understandable. Well done here.

Howard: No real problems here. He basically served a similar function to Hideyoshi; there's nothing particularly interesting about him, but he's perfectly believable, and the very fact that he's so honest and uncomplicated is part of what makes him a likable character. He served pretty much no function at all in the second half, though...I think he could have somehow reacted a little more to what was going on. I thought it was pretty weird how undisturbed he was by Galvano's death, even more so than the rest of them; considering that he was his best friend, it felt off that he was so completely unaffected. So, a little wasted potential here, but not bad overall.

Eliza: Was pretty interesting. Her relationship with Galvano was unexpected, and I really didn't expect her to have as large of a role in the case as she did. That said, I didn't feel like we really got that much of a look into her motivations; most of what we know about her actions comes from Blythe, who is obviously biased against her, but what was she really thinking? Was she being actively deceitful in seducing Galvano and deceiving him about the state of the company, or was she just trying her best to stay close to him and gain his trust without properly considering the consequences to the company? Or somewhere in between? I liked that there were shades of grey to her character, but I would have liked to see a little more exploration; perhaps we could have had a one-to-one talk between her and Gilligan after Blythe left the bar following the card game, and that could have given us some idea of the nature of her feelings for Galvano and her commitment to the company. I know this would have been hard to do without spoiling things, though.

...Still, her accusing Gilligan was pretty stupid. Although it was at least a rare example of a genuine emotional reaction to the murder, so that's something. I already brought up her bizarre breaking of character while checking the alibis.

Blythe: Pretty good, except AAAAAH KINJO THAT ENDING WHY

......Um, but, yeah...I thought she was a pretty cool character; she didn't get much development before the final reveal, but I got the idea that she was calm, collected and condescending, and that was probably all that was needed. The thing with the trading cards was a nice little quirk to enrich her character a little. While her confession was a little rushed, I thought that you were reasonably successful in "showing a strong enough movement of the heart to lead to murder", to use Battler's words from EP7. It was believable as a crime of passion, and we saw enough of her character to understand her mindset. Disappointment at not being made the CEO wouldn't be enough to bring a normal person to murder, but from what we saw of how much importance she put on working hard and having her skills acknowledged, it's possible to imagine how she might have felt, especially since Galvano's decision was clearly illogical (and it was made clear that Blythe has no tolerance or understanding for decisions based on anything but logic).

So yeah, she was a pretty impressive culprit character really...Except then you decided to break the whole thing apart with the last scene. I was warned over Skype that this was the most rushed part of the game, and I assume you are planning on going over it properly at some point, but since you did decide yourself to release it in this state, I think I have a right to criticise.

I...honestly have no idea what you were thinking with this scene. Why on earth would she have been planning to kill him from the start? Her character completely loses any believability with that twist. Everything about the crime suggests that it was done on impulse, right down to the improvised murder weapon and the hasty coverup afterwards...If it was meant to be premeditated, there were a million better ways that she could have done it. But besides that, there's no motive at all. Galvano's decision to make Eliza the CEO was only made right there on the boat trip, so that couldn't have factored into Blythe's decision if the crime was premeditated. So what? She just wanted to kill Galvano because she hated him? Why? Surely it would make more sense to kill Eliza, since she's the one who actually wronged her? She has absolutely nothing to gain from Galvano's death at all; it's not like she would gain any greater position in the company from it, since Gilligan would still have taken over regardless. There is no logical reason for her to premeditate this murder, and everything about her character suggests that she's sensible enough to realise this. It made perfect sense as an impulsive crime, so what was the point in going back on that?

I guess you might have been trying to work with the 'truth/happiness' theme here, but if so then I have to disagree with your story's themes on the strongest terms. Gilligan was absolutely right to acknowledge that his father's murderer is still a person, and to feel sympathy for her position. That's a perfectly admirable and human way to feel. It's not denying the truth; on the contrary, it would be easy for him to decide to draw "happiness" from the thought that Blythe was just an inhuman monster and be glad that she got what she deserved. To sympathise with her is to acknowledge the discomforting "truth" that even the person who murdered his father is no less of a human being than he is. That's a much more powerful message than...whatever you ended up going with. It's like the total reverse of Umineko; you had a believable and sympathetic villain, and then decided to spontaneously transform her into an incomprehensible cackling evil witch for no reason. If the message is supposed to be that we should accept the "truth" that some people are just irredeemable monsters who aren't worthy of understanding, then I thoroughly dislike that moral.

(Now, obviously, Gilligan responding to that feeling of sympathy by freeing her from her bonds was a genuinely stupid thing to do, and you were completely right to highlight that. But she could still have taken advantage of the opening and tried to escape without randomly turning into a completely different person. The whole ending sequence could have gone exactly the same way without reverting all of Blythe's character development. I actually like that she almost escapes because of Gilligan's naivety, but what follows is just ridiculous, and I couldn't take the game seriously at all any more after that.)

Jack: Well, I got a decent idea of his personality, but the various aspects of his character didn't seem to tie together too well into a complete picture. The backstory we get from Donald...doesn't really seem to have that much bearing on anything; I thought the parallels between Gilligan and Jack were interesting (with both of them growing up detached from society, and having had serious family issues), but that never really went anywhere. Aside from that, we don't really have anything on which to base his character except for his actions as an accomplice to Blythe...None of which really make much sense at all, as I'll go into in the mystery section. So yeah, I'm pretty much indifferent to this guy.

Cecila: Not really sure what to think of her. That one sequence where she discussed the case with Gilligan was a little too reminiscent of Umineko; it was basically a total recycling of Maria in EP1/2, right down to the creepy laugh. (And also pretty out-of-place, considering that his dad had just been murdered...Maria has reasons for acting in such a screwed up way in that situation, Cecila honestly has no excuses and it's a little weird that Gilligan doesn't seem particularly bothered by her insensitivity.) Other than that, she's just a klutzy maid, so I guess that makes her Maria+Shannon. There's nothing really interesting or notable about her character, but I guess there didn't really need to be. Not much else to say here.

Donald: The poor guy didn't really do anything, but he worked as an effective red herring suspect. I totally thought that he must be behind the crime after we found out that Galvano was responsible for his family not inheriting the ship. Would have liked to see Butler pursue that line of reasoning before realising the truth. He seems to have literally no purpose beyond that, though.


Mystery

The mystery itself...well, it was reasonably good, and had a lot of clever tricks to it, but there were also a lot of weak points unfortunately. I got the impression from the first half that this game was meant to focus more on the story and characters than the mystery, but then it kind of trailed off in the second half so the mystery was forced to carry the plot...and I don't think it was really solid enough to do that. Your Seacats VNs had a huge advantage here because they were fully focused on the mystery from the start, and were never intended to be anything more than a logic puzzle...Because of that, you could focus all your energies on the puzzles, and as a result I think those games were much more solid mysteries than this one. That said, this was by no means bad...But I'd certainly say that the characters were a lot more interesting than the mystery itself here.

Things I thought were done well:
-Galvano's note was nicely played; I liked the ambiguity of whether "be back at 2:00" referred to 2AM or 2PM. (Although Butler evidently got a bit confused while explaining it, hehe.) Figuring out that Galvano left for the meeting during the night, and not early in the morning, really turned the case around, and that was pretty clever.

-I really liked the idea that the story about the haunted elevator wasn't invented until after Galvano had been murdered, making it retroactively seem like "Galvano was killed in a haunted elevator". That was a really neat idea, although it didn't have that much of an impact on the story since nobody really took the ghost story seriously as an explanation. But I still liked the trick.

-The classic "culprit brings the key into the closed room after its deconstruction" was well played here, and done in a way that wasn't obvious at all. I admit I felt a little of "Oh, that was all?" finding that out after all those crazy tricks Butler was suggesting earlier, but I think that's actually effective. I do like those sorts of tricks that mislead the reader into thinking about all sorts of ways to get into the room, when they should actually be questioning whether the culprit would need to enter the room in the first place. (You managed to pull off a really impressive fight in the chapel in "Trick of the Golden Witch" using a similar sleight of hand...And I guess my room in the blitz was basically the same thing.) So yeah, not a really complicated trick, but a perfectly acceptable one.

-The thing with Howard sitting on the watch...was kind of incredibly convenient, but it was a decently subtle and clever way of providing the decisive piece of evidence. Good job with that. And the SOS/505 thing was sort of neat too, though again, it's an incredible coincidence that Blythe just happened to have a room with a number that looks like "SOS"...

Things that weren't done so well:
-The captain's will is a really big Deus Ex Machina. Jack should have been a lot more careful hiding it; in fact he should probably have just disposed of it long ago. That really made him look like an idiot.

-The whole plot with the Cobalt Couple seems more or less pointless as far as I can tell? I think it might have been better to have just made the whole thing a fabrication of Jack's, without any truth behind it at all. The truth of their murders didn't seem to have any relation to the case that I could see; the important part of the will was that Jack wasn't supposed to have inherited the ship, so the whole story around the Cobalt Couple just seems to be a needless distraction, especially since it's told so quickly that it doesn't really leave any lasting impression. Hard to care about the story when we know so little about the people involved, and again, it just wasn't relevant.

-I don't understand Jack's motive for acting as an accomplice at all. If Blythe confessed to him that she killed Galvano on his ship, surely the most reasonable thing to do would be to immediately have his bodyguards detain her and inform the police immediately. I don't see how he gained anything from trying to make the crime seem impossible; surely obscuring the details is just going to make a detailed investigation of the ship by the police more likely? It's best for him if the case is cleared up as quickly as possible, which means that he should turn Blythe in as soon as possible. He's taking a huge risk by going along with her plan, and for absolutely no tangible gain as far as I can tell.
......Oh right, I guess at the very end, Blythe just said that she bribed him, didn't she? So maybe that was the whole motive. In that case, I don't see why the whole thing with the captain's will was necessary at all, and also I don't think the money motive was foreshadowed at all (it would have possibly been more excusable if there'd been some mention of him particularly needing money for some reason, but I don't recall anything). So...yeah, this is probably the weakest point in the case; the accomplice just doesn't have a motive that makes any sense, unless I missed something huge (which is entirely possible).

-The thing with the elevator key was a bit weak. So Jack just made up the story about giving Cecila the key, and he never actually did? In that case, why didn't Cecila call him out on that? At the very least she should have said something like, "Really? I don't remember noticing an extra key on my keyring" or "You gave me the elevator key!? You never mentioned that!" or something to that effect. Not to mention that Jack doesn't even give an explanation for why he supposedly gave Cecila the elevator key! And Butler never even really questions that. Jack's plan only works here because the characters just randomly decide not to question him at all for no obvious reason. That's pretty clumsy.


In summary

Good points:
-The quality of the writing itself, in terms of sentence structure and vocabulary, was generally very high.
-The pacing and atmosphere of the first half were really well done.
-There were some clever and original tricks used as part of the mystery, and it was more or less possible to reason out the culprit with a few logical leaps.
-Most of the cast were remarkably well-developed and likable characters, and they were written in a fairly believable manner for the most part. Gaining a more complete picture of the dynamics between the company members as the game went on was really enjoyable, and Gilligan and Galvano in particular came out as really solid characters. And of course, Butler himself was great.

-The presentation - the menus, the art, and the music - was absolutely perfect. I didn't really mention this in the main body of the review at all, since I was mostly just talking about the story itself, but I was really impressed by how professional the whole thing felt, and that made it much more enjoyable than it would otherwise have been. The original art and music are the main thing that the game has over your Seacats VNs, and they are really, really high quality. I found myself humming bits of the soundtrack to me a lot, and there was a really impressive amount of variety in the soundtrack for an amateur production. The opening movie was pretty good too.

Weak points:
-You really need to find a good proofreader, because the script in general is seriously riddled with typos. If you want, I'd be happy to work with you on this for any future projects; I'm pretty thorough, as I'm sure Renall can testify.
-Jack wasn't adequately developed as an accomplice, and the plot around him in general (the Cobalt Couple story included) seemed incomplete and disconnected from the rest of the story.
-The characters' reactions to the events, particularly the murder, felt pretty awkward and unnatural at times. There were a few moments in particular that were really glaring, where people (other than Butler, obviously, whose lack of reaction is intentional) were speaking in a ridiculously light-hearted way not too long after the murder.
-The whole ending sequence, in its current state, is extremely flawed and seriously damages the story as a whole.


Overall: While there were a lot of flaws in it, there were a lot of enjoyable things about it too, and it's really great that you managed to finish a project like this at all - it's much better to have a flawed release than no release at all, and I'm sure that working on this has been a valuable learning experience for you. If you just do a little cleaning up to the ending sequence, that in itself will make this a much more solid experience. Congratulations on finishing the game, and I wish you the very best of luck with anything else you may do in the future~

Last edited at 13/08/31(Sat)13:37:24
>> No. 12928 edit
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>>12927
Alright, uh, where should I even begin...? Well, thank you for playing, and I'm glad you liked it as much as you did. And I also want to start off by saying that I really could've used your help during beta testing. So if you're willing to help me for EP2, I'd be very happy to have you.

I don't find it surprising at all why you found the first half to be significantly better than the second half. The first half was pretty much set in stone and was only fine-tuned later on, primarily to develop the characters, as you noticed. The latter half, which consisted entirely of investigations, was heavily rewritten. Entire scenes were written and then thrown away because we decided to change the mystery around, and it happened so many times that undoubtedly it would seem sloppily put together. I accept that as a main flaw of poor planning on the outset.

I do find it interesting that your favorite scene was Butler and Gilligan's talk on the deck in chapter 2. I've had others complain about how over-emotional that scene was that it was "jarring", so I guess it goes to show that some people just have different tastes.

However, everyone does seem to agree that the ending was horribly rushed and is the worst part of the VN. And they would be right. The more comments I receive , the more I realize that I should've had testers take a closer look at chapter 10. But I think the main issue was a lack of clarity in conveying the theme of the story, which you picked up on. Blythe hadn't planned everything out before going on the boat, and if that's what I happened to convey, then that's my fault entirely. What should have been conveyed was that Blythe was not sorry for killing him, and when given the opportunity that night, she willfully killed him.

As for Captain Jack, he quickly found out about Blythe. However, Jack also had something to lose if anyone found out, which was the will (admittedly, yes, a horrible DEM that I unfortunately relied on too much in early planning stages) and wanted to frame the maid for murder instead. Blythe also bribed him with money (he should've been seen as a greedy character, but I'm not sure if that was lost or not during revisions). And yes, the sidestory with his grandfather kinda sorta had a bigger role, but as I revised the story, the main characters had been so developed that I couldn't squeeze anyone else in.

Also, while I did say that bad planning was the reason the two halves didn't seem to match up, I'd also blame my lack of expertise in the genre. I learned a lot about writing mysteries partway through, and the structure of the investigation was shifted around quite a lot before it ended up the way it did. I also realized that Butler really was not much of a "golden age detective". I had in fact written a scene like you wanted, with him randomly throwing out theories and them getting denied (similar to a red/blue Umineko battle) but that is really not how golden age mysteries work best.

To elaborate on that, a real mystery needs to be solvable early on. If Butler can only solve it by throwing out random theories, what does that say to the reader? The reader must know that the mystery is solvable at a certain point, and the detective is the one to tell them. So if he claims he knows the answer, then goes on a guessing game, the reader loses faith in the detective (even if he does eventually get it right). It was also a matter of making sure all evidence was clear prior to the denouement, which was actually quite difficult when I tried to fix that partway through.

Anyway, to get back to the "message" of the game. Yes, it's "truth vs. happiness", although I find it interesting that you were agreeing with Gilligan's thoughts at the end. To be honest that monologue wasn't written until about a month before release (its purpose was to get Blythe free from her restraints) but I definitely see your point. I don't disagree that people deserve forgiveness, but that shouldn't mean it's okay to allow people to get away with murder unpunished. I'm a little hesitant to say anything more than that, because I plan on expanding these themes in future episodes.

But yeah, I tried really hard to make a coherent mystery game. Originally (when I wrote the opening chapters) I just wanted to make a VN for fun and profit. But partway through I saw that there weren't any good mystery VNs, and that made me take a look at my own mystery. It was very flawed, and I knew it, so I tried over and over, with many people helping me, to make a mystery that would make this become a legitimate murder mystery visual novel. I know it's not perfect, and after two years you'd probably be expecting something better, but I want to point out that no other EVN comes close to this level of complexity in any mystery. And for that, I'm proud, because at least my flaws are but small details within a larger picture.

Everyone does seem to forget to critique the other parts of the VN, yeah. Very happy to know that everything else was perfect. To be honest, I'm not a natural writer, so I expected myself to slip up there. But yes, I did learn a lot about writing, and I feel a lot stronger than I was at the beginning.


So in summary, I do agree with the flaws you pointed out. I won't deny that. But do realize that they came from a lot of revisions, and those revisions helped me refine my ability to write. One year ago (when I originally wanted the game to be released) the characters were incredibly empty shells of stereotypes. I'm happy that at the very least I made impressionable characters, even if the plot had a few bumps here and there.

Again, I'd be very happy if you could help me with beta testing for later stories. You seem to pay close attention to literary elements (realistic character reactions, paying attention to themes, etc.) which I could defininitely improve upon. I believe Renall once said that he was more of a writer than a programmer, but for me, it's just the opposite. My focus is on puzzles and on the game, but I do want to improve my writing skills as well.

Thank you for the review!

Last edited at 13/08/31(Sat)14:50:06
>> No. 12929 edit
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>>12928
Regarding Blythe's dialogue at the ending, it does seem a little better knowing that the decision to murder was still spontaneous and not planned, but it still definitely feels a little off. I'm particularly concerned with the line, "I'd wanted to kill him for soooo loooong, I thought I'd never get the chance!" There just wasn't really anything presented to explain why she would have had such a deep-seated and profound resentment of him for all that time. I think it makes much more sense if she only wanted him dead after he decided to make Eliza the CEO.

But I had more of an issue with her random personality change than the implication of premeditation. The whole game up until that point made her seem like an extremely calm and collected individual, so the sudden shift to the crazy laughing maniac really came out of nowhere. I actually think her scene with Gilligan at the end would have more impact if she had stayed completely cold and detached throughout, just calmly saying something like "Yeah, I meant to kill him. And I don't regret it. You got a problem with that?" And then logically laying out the reasons why he was a failure of a father and a CEO, and how he made the wrong decision in choosing Eliza as the successor, etc. That way, Gilligan's horrified reaction could be due to her complete lack of compassion and to how she judges the value and worth of a human's life in the same cold and calculating way that she treats her financial work. Some of what Gilligan says at the end even seems to be heading this way already, but it's weakened by the way that Blythe randomly starts acting in a totally maniacal, impassioned and emotional state at the end instead of a cold and ruthless one.

As for Jack, I still feel like I'm missing the connection here? I don't see how framing Cecila for the crime helps him to hide the will; any investigation to the crime will still take place regardless of who the culprit is, so shouldn't the risk of the will being found be exactly the same regardless? Or is the idea that Blythe knows about the will from Galvano, and she blackmails Jack by saying that she'll reveal it to the authorities if he doesn't help her? Either way, I think it needs to be made clearer ingame.

Regarding the mystery, while I can sort of see what you mean about making it clear that it's solvable, I feel like consistent characterisation should be prioritised over following genre conventions here. As you say, Butler isn't a traditional golden age detective, so it doesn't really work too well to try and turn him into one at the very end. Both of the other major scenes where he tries to solve a mystery - both in the intro and while discussing the closed room - have him throwing crazy theories all over the place and generally reasoning in a much more chaotic and impulsive manner. If the character is set up that way, then he should probably stay that way. But I understand that this is a result of you changing your mind about what you wanted to do midway through. I don't really see why him doing a bit more brainstorming and discarding a few theories before reaching the answer would make the reader 'lose faith' in him, though, especially since this method of reasoning was already established as part of his character. Surely, by that theory, the readers would have already 'lost faith' at the point where he suggested that the key was encased in a clump of dry ice and stuck to the ceiling...But in practice, this kind of thing actually tends to make people like the character more, because it gives him a unique and unconventional charm. These kinds of things make him likeable as a person, not just as a literary device.

It feels to me like you may be falling for a trap you've pointed out yourself on your blog, the temptation to write a character based on a stereotype instead of letting their actions flow naturally. Butler doesn't need to act like a traditional golden age detective, because...he isn't one. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, and trying to fit him to a stereotype at the expense of losing his unique charm doesn't seem like the best way to go about things. Why does thinking aloud and examining each possibility in turn have to be an inferior method of reasoning to instantly solving it and laying everything out in a straightforward line? Can't it be Butler's own unique way of doing things, that sets him apart from everyone else? But I'll fully admit that I don't know anything whatsoever about the mystery genre beyond Ace Attorney and When They Cry, so I'm possibly just missing the point here.

Also, for the record, I was saying that people deserve to be understood, not necessarily forgiven. It's an important distinction that a lot of Ryukishi's critics don't seem to make. The problem I had was that Gilligan showed a remarkable amount of maturity in being able to acknowledge the humanity of his own father's murderer, but then seemed to change his mind a few minutes later and proclaimed that 'mongrels' like her "aren't human. They aren't people. So I can't feel sorry for them one bit...!" That feels more like regression than positive development to me. Though if you're planning to follow up on that with further development in later episodes, then it may be justifiable.


And yeah, obviously I would definitely be completely happy to help you out with anything you decide to work on in the future. I certainly don't claim to be any kind of expert, but as you can see I get a lot of enjoyment out of analysing things like this, so I'm always glad for the chance to offer constructive criticism.
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