What's a Video Novel?
One of the main questions I get, one of the main doubts I hear in connection to Arrival of the Gods is: what's a video novel?
It's not an intuitive thing: there's nothing the like to compare it with - at least not to the best of my knowledge.
So let's start off by saying what a video novel is not: it's not a movie. And the way I define a movie is that, in a movie, the story moves forward with a combination of visuals and dialogue from the characters. Remove either of the two and it's no longer possible to follow the story.
Not so much for a video novel. In a video novel the visuals and the music set the atmosphere, but the story - the magic - is still conveyed through narration. You still get to watch the book in your own mind.
And it's not a visual novel either. A visual novel is a game sold in the videogame section. What we're doing is first and foremost a book, there is no game element in it.
So what is a video novel? In simple terms it's a combination of audio-book-style narration, music, visuals and animations.
The narration is quite straightforward. It's nothing more and nothing less than the narration track from an audiobook.
The role of music, similar to what happens in movies, is to highlight the emotions and the feelings described in the narration. If a narrator's rhythm, pitch and acting bring the text to life, with music it's like the text is on steroids.
The visuals - and here we're strictly talking about ambient visuals - are meant to provide hints as to what the environment looks like. We're good at imagining familiar places, but when the context is foreign, a small cue will ignite a spark in our minds. We will be selective with visuals: this is still a book and we want you to see the movie in your head.
And, finally, there's animations. But animations are somewhat counterintuitive in video novels, they don't show action or bring the story forward. Like in lo-fi music, animations are there to entrance you, to mesmerize you, to hypnotize you. The slow, repetitive nature helps you zone out letting the narration flow in.
It's a new experience. It's a new way of consuming books.