The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page, January 28, 2022 – one for the ladies

The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page

Good afternoon everyone! It’s been all quiet on the letters page for a little while as I guess everyone is getting back into the swing of things after the new year — that and we changed our submission method, too, remember to submit via the dedicated Letters Page… page now! — but this week we’ve had a few morsels tossed our way that we can get our teeth into!

No point hanging around, then; let’s get right into it!

Original art by Tsuzuri. Source here!

It’s otome night and the feeling’s right

Dear Rice,

Will you please consider sharing some coverage on this otome RPG Kickstarter campaign? There are very few otome RPG games in existence and I know that many otome fans have been waiting for this kind of game!

I’m not the creator or affiliated with the creator — just someone who really wants to get the word out and make this game happen.

There is a demo available as well. Check out the Kickstarter page here, and the demo on Steam or Itch.

Thank you for your time.

Andrea


Hi Andrea, and thanks for your contribution to the Letters Page. This is exactly the sort of thing I love to see! This page is a great opportunity for all of you out there in reader-land to share the things you’ve found that we’ve not had the time to cover, or which we haven’t had a chance to take a proper look at. This project, known as The Silent Kingdom, looks like a prime example of something that will be of great interest to the broader Rice Digital Community — and I’ll take you on your word that you’re not affiliated with the creator!

You’re absolutely right that otome RPGs are quite a rare thing. RPGs with relationship mechanics in general are pretty common, meanwhile, so it’s surprising that this sort of thing hasn’t been explored further. Interestingly, RPGs with all-girl casts tend to veer quite heavily on the yuri side of things — whether implicitly or explicitly — while RPGs with male leads tend to take the bishoujo game approach. Given the market for otome visual novels and the crossover there is between the appeal of visual novels and modern console-style RPGs, I wonder why this hasn’t happened before?

Letters Page: The Silent Kingdom
Look at that art! And that sideboob. But mostly the art!

It’s interesting that this is a project which originates in the west, too; the creator appears to be a young Spanish woman, and this is her first commercial project. I would have thought someone like Idea Factory, who already has the resources to put out a bunch of interesting RPGs each year as well as commanding a significant chunk of the otome market, would have explored this concept by now — but apparently not. Oh well — at least someone is!

As for the project itself — man, I really love that art style! The relatively flat shading and pale skin tones gives the whole thing a slightly desaturated feel that contrasts with the few splashes of colour such as the heroine’s red hair. (I also have a thing for redheads, so that probably helps, too.) It is, last thing on Friday afternoon as I type this so none of us have had a chance to check out the demo yet — but I suspect our resident otome enthusiast Lilia in particular will be hyped to give this a go, so I will go and tell her about it right now.

[frantic typing on Discord ensues, pause for dramatic effect]

She says she already had it on her to-do list for the weekend. So she’s well ahead of both of us. I knew I could count on her! Anyway, watch out for some impressions from the demo in the near future — and thanks again for sharing with us!

The Silent Kingdom is looking to raise £24,955 in the next 17 days and has already pulled in £11,770 from 395 backers as I write this. If you want to get involved, check out the Kickstarter page here, or try the demo on Steam and/or Itch.

The other is in the Albert Hall

Dear Rice,

Any plans to cover Sex with Hitler, the amazing new hybrid of visual novel and top-down shooter available on Steam? Only kidding; I saw you rant about it the other day on Twitter and agree completely.

It’s ridiculous that reputable (even all-ages) visual novels get barred from Steam for the most stupid reasons, yet a game where Hitler’s getting wanked off by some Nazi chick with a crudely drawn penis on her armband is absolutely fine.

DirtyBugger


Hello DirtyBugger, did you chop it off when Hitler was small perchance? Anyway, yes — I did indeed have a good rant about this the other day because it’s exceedingly frustrating to see this continually happen. Some western-developed meme game like Sex With Hitler gets onto Steam with no problem despite its 18+ content — and probably sells quite well to the people who have money to burn on posting meme reviews and acquiring pointless achievements — yet a genuine, legit literary masterpiece like Full Metal Daemon Muramasa can’t even get on the store with all its sexually explicit bits trimmed out.

Note that I’m not saying Sex With Hitler should be banned or anything — it’s easy enough to click that “ignore” button — but rather the inconsistency with which Steam reviews the content submitted to its store is very, very annoying. At this point it’s hard not to assume that among the available panel of content reviewers, there’s someone who is happy to let whatever the fuck they want through sitting right next to someone who will slam the ban hammer down on the slightest hint of anime girls, particularly if they’re wearing school uniforms.

We still know next to nothing about the process Steam takes in approving content, so for all we know it really could be like this. And developers and publishers are getting really fed up of it. Much like Sony has been needlessly obtuse in terms of its content guidelines ever since they went all neo-Puritan on us in the late PS4 era, Steam likewise is not only unclear in its review criteria, but also appears to be completely inconsistent in terms of how they are applied.

Letters page: Full Metal Daemon Muramasa
Steam lacks the moe-moe-kyun, clearly.

The trouble is, those developers, publishers and localisers are still absolutely convinced that Steam is essential to discoverability. I don’t have some suitable figures to hand, but I can certainly believe it; there’s a not-insignificant number of PC gamers out there who treat Steam as the start and end point of where it’s possible to get games online, so if you’re not getting your game in front of those people, there are thousands upon thousands of people who simply aren’t going to see it ever.

The counter-argument to that is, of course, that those who are interested in visual novels probably already know alternative places to get them. They know about MangaGamer, they know about Nutaku, they know about Fakku, they know about JAST USA, they know about Denpasoft… and they know about going direct to the publisher. And while those people are probably guaranteed sales — particularly in the case of big names like Full Metal Daemon Muramasa — everyone would like to think that it’s possible to grow the visual novel by exposing more people to it than the existing fanbase.

“Well, don’t make porn games, then,” you might say — they tried that with Muramasa! They made a special “streamer-friendly” version that GOG.com released with no qualms whatsoever, and yet Steam turned it down. So at this point it’s kind of hard to know what to say other than to remind everyone that when it comes to 18+ stuff, Steam is best avoided — and that word of mouth is of critical importance to smaller-scale and niche-interest publishers.

Also fuck Sex with Hitler. Good enough rant for you?

Clip that shit

Dear Rice,

I enjoyed your feature on Sward’s channel making Hololive claymation vids. It’s nice to see a clipper — not that I’d really describe Sward as a clipper — doing something productive and creating rather than stirring up drama.

GroundPoundYourMom


Hi GroundPoundYourMom, Amelia fan perchance? Good taste, good taste. Anyway, yeah, you have a very good point here — although I would say at this point that it’s only a certain subsection of the clipper community who stoke the fires of drama; there are plenty of others who are simply about picking out fun, silly, heartfelt or otherwise entertaining moments.

I have always had kind of mixed feelings about clippers. I hadn’t really encountered the phenomenon until I started watching Game Grumps on YouTube a few years back; I was surprised quite how many channels there were devoted to simply chopping up Game Grumps episodes, putting these clips together into compilations and doing “supercuts” of their longer series. Moreover, I was surprised that these channels were seeing success; many of their vids were putting out numbers that rivalled the Grumps’ own figures.

With this in mind, when VTuber fever started in earnest here in the west a couple of years back I was less surprised to see the clipper community explode. It makes a certain amount of sense, after all; your typical VTuber livestream is pretty long, and not everyone wants to sit through several hours of video in the hope that something funny or unusual happens. That’s why, for example, a lot of Twitch-based VTubers, such as the members of VShojo, have a YouTube presence that is primarily edited highlights rather than complete streams.

It’s when clips start getting shared that are obviously intended to construct a narrative that I start to feel a little less positively about the situation — though this is by no means a phenomenon that’s exclusive to YouTube. Look at the recent situation with Mori Calliope from holoMyth; that whole situation ended up being blown entirely out of proportion due to a few out of context tweets, some out-of-context clips and some bad faith actors in the community specifically wanting to create conflict between performers. That and a poor choice of words on a couple of occasions from Calli, but under the circumstances I don’t blame her at all for reacting how she did.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, by the way, I’m not going any further into details because the whole thing was a massive waste of everyone’s time and a flagrantly transparent attempt to drag multiple people’s reputation through the mud. Look it up yourself if you’re that curious. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Anyway, I got a little off the point there, but I agree 100% that Sward’s work is incredible not just because of the technical proficiency, but also because it’s completely wholesome and obviously filled with nothing but affection for the Hololive gals. There’s no attempt to spin things off in a particular angle here — aside from some amusing facial expressions from participants in the scenes here and there — but rather simply a demonstration of how fun these characters are through a new medium to the one in which they perform “natively”.

So yeah, basically keep up the good work. And clippers? Keep up the good work, too — just remember to do what you do for the right reasons!


That’s all we have time for for another week. Thank you as always for your contributions to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page — we love to hear from you, so if you have something to say at any point, feel free to fill out the form below or just hit up the dedicated Letters Page at any time during the week. We check the whole mailbox every Friday, so don’t feel like you need to wait until the end of the week before you say something if there’s something on your mind!

And with that, it’s time to bid you farewell — and to wish you all a thoroughly lovely weekend!

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