You can sign up to get a daily email of our articles, see the Mailing List page.

Personal profile for pleasereadthemanual

Registered: 18 November 2021 at 8:25 pm UTC
Last Login: 2 June 2023 at 10:26 pm UTC
Article Comments: 146
Forum Posts: 3
Findable On
A little about me
I most enjoy playing visual novels in Japanese. It's a fun way to learn the language, and the medium offers very unique stories. うみねこのなく頃に is a story that would have been difficult to tell in any other way. My only complaint is too many poorly-written, ill-placed sex scenes. For a medium so strongly associated with sex, it's disappointing that so many visual novels are subpar at presenting these scenes in an interesting, entertaining or natural manner. My favorite aspect of visual novels is their length; I get to spend dozens of hours with a story and characters I grow to love...or despise. I'm fond of indie games.

I typically play visual novels through WINE so that I can make use of Textractor. Even if a GNU/Linux-compatible binary is available (as with many Ren'Py games), I prefer the Windows executable solely for this reason.

I'm an advocate for free software, but don't believe that all software needs to be freely licensed (though the chances of my using it are low unless it is a game). Likewise, I don't view free software as ethical just for being free software. The code is far more important than the license, but the license is also important. Access to the source code is a prerequisite for evaluating the software (black box analysis is useful for finding out some things, not for others). The ability to modify and redistribute software gives you the opportunity to transform software into something that meets your ethical standards, while helping and enlisting help from interested users.

The purpose of a free license is not to declare software ethical; it is to give users power over the software to ensure that it can be ethical. In any other license, the software is in control, and the only ones who can control the software are the developers. Therefore, the developers are in control, not you. Those are the only two possibilities—either you control the software, or the software controls you. You might believe that the developers are benevolent, or that you can get them to comply to your demands using forceful methods, but with free software, there are no uncertainties, compromises, or broken promises. There's just you and the code.

For it to be called a personal computer, it must be yours.

These are the free software tools in my arsenal for learning Japanese:

1. mpv - the only media player worth using
2. Anki - the only SRS worth using—it's a flashcard program that decides when to present cards to you depending on your answers
3. Yomichan - browser add-on that allows installation of J-J and J-E dictionaries to lookup Japanese words/phrases/kanji
4. AnkiConnect - programmatically create and update Anki Cards
5. mpvacious - automatically copy subtitles to clipboard (with clipboard monitoring turned on in yomichan) to lookup words in background, then create high-quality flashcards in Anki by inserting a screenshot/audio snippet from the show
6. easycrop - mpv plugin that allows non-destructively cropping part of the video to crop out hardsubs
7. ames - quickly capture audio and images from other native material like VNs. It automatically updates the last flashcard edited using AnkiConnect with the audio/image captured by ames
8. Aegisub - retime subtitles
9. yt-dlp - download anime to strip them of english subtitles and add Japanese subtitles to them, allowing quick lookups with yomichan so I can quickly add new words to cards in Anki
10. Lutris - a game launcher and library for games on GNU/Linux using WINE, emulators, or natively.
11. Textractor - automatically hook (most) VN text (only works through WINE)
12. Gazou OCR - for all your simple OCR needs
13. unar - decompression application for .rar archives and more—this is necessary for a lot of DLSite archives which encode Japanese characters in a format that a lot of other GNU/LINUX decompression tools can't process
14. Firefox - for reading Syosetu web novels and using Yomichan
15. Proton - for playing the choice few visual novels available on Steam with the original Japanese text
16. Zathura - for reading Japanese media packaged in epubs or pdf format
17. vimiv - for reading Japanese media that is distributed as one image per page (typically manga)

HiDive is my favorite streaming platform. FUNimation is by far my least favorite (thankfully it's dead now). I refuse to use Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime as they require the installation of Widevine decryption modules in my browser. I don't believe the open web is any place for draconian DRM measures. I do not purchase any Blu-Ray discs because it is not possible to play them on GNU/Linux with free software. As the vast majority of visual novels are encumbered by DRM, I contend with it on a regular basis.

This is my advice to GNU/Linux users who wish to play Visual Novels.

- Don't buy from DMM; their Soft-Denchi DRM doesn't work on GNU/Linux. I have yet to find a VN sold from this platform that does not contain Soft-Denchi, DMM Game Player, or Buddy Launcher, which are all incompatible with WINE.

- Don't buy from Johren. All games on this store are sold with an always-online copy prevention component and can only be activated a maximum of 3 times. If you contact support, be ready for a fight if you want any more activations (even if you deactivate an existing activation), as they will most likely brush you off and ask you to purchase the game again.

- Be careful about the VNs you buy on Steam. I have yet to come across a VN that does not work through Proton, but I have had incredible difficulty getting Textractor to work for any games at all. A good deal of VNs also do not include the original Japanese text. Be sure to check for this on the store page if this is important to you. The vast majority of VNs on Steam have been completely stripped of adult content, but some publishers offer the content in a patch on their website—JAST does this for Wonderful Everyday (only 5% of the game is available on Steam), for example.

- Buy from DLSite with an appropriate amount of caution. PlayDRM works fine through WINE (you just need to input a serial number that you're given after purchasing, but the number of activations appears to be limited), and they sell a surprising amount of DRM-free games. However, be cautious, as some releases will come with the incompatible Soft-Denchi (Flyable Heart is one such example). Additionally, there is no guarantee that PlayDRM will continue to work on GNU/Linux.

- Buy from GOG! They have a tiny selection of VNs with the original Japanese, though Higurashi is included in this category. These VNs are all DRM-Free.

- Most English localization companies, such as Mangagamer and JAST do not incorporate any copy prevention component in their releases, and I would suggest buying from their own stores as it is usually significantly cheaper, none of the content needs to be patched back in, and you don't have to contend with the Steam client to play your games. Additionally, Steam clearly doesn't want VNs on their platform, so why bother when Steam will always offer you a second-class experience?

How much cheaper are they on the official store? Muramasa is currently $55 on GOG and $40 on JAST.

This is JAST's official stance on DRM:

"The software is DRM FREE. No internet connection is required to play. You are free to use and copy the software for your personal needs without restriction. Additionally, we don't require authentication software, because that's lame. You shouldn't need to give up your privacy just to have fun."

Please buy the games on the localizer's official store—Steam offers a worse experience in every way. And, if you really do love the Steam client, you can add it to the client as a non-Steam game (after creating a .desktop launcher with Lutris). There's no reason to buy it from Steam. It's more inconvenient, it costs more, and they make life difficult for the localization companies that offer you these games in English.

- Buying VNs physically is your best bet. Many physical releases do not include any DRM component at all. If it does, it most likely uses AlphaROM. This will not work through WINE, but you can input the code that came with the disk on the SETTEC site for a profile to bypass the check. Some VNs are protected with Siglus's DRM scheme, which while I haven't tested it, seems unlikely to work through WINE, and there does not appear to be any legal way to bypass the check. Other games, like Rewrite, require the Japanese version of Windows 10 to work; simply changing your locale is not enough. These games will likely not work on WINE. Dies Irae's copy prevention component reportedly makes the game impossible to launch. But many releases do not incorporate DRM at all, so this has the highest percentage of working, while being the most costly.

- Use unar for decompressing archives that use Japanese characters. Most other decompression tools will garble the characters and make it impossible for the game to find the necessary files.

Following this advice, you should end up with a sizable list of good VNs to play. It is unfortunate that DRM poses such a large blocker for this medium. I have heard that these games, sans the DRM, work perfectly well on GNU/Linux most of the time through WINE or Proton.
PC info
  • Distribution: Arch Arch
  • Desktop Environment: GNOME
  • Do you dual-boot with a different operating system? Yes Mac
  • RAM: 32GB
  • CPU Vendor: AMD
  • GPU Vendor: Nvidia
  • GPU Driver: Proprietary
  • Monitors: 1
  • Resolution: 3840x2160
  • Refresh Rate: 60Hz
  • VRR (Variable refresh rate): No
  • Main gaming machine: Desktop
  • Gamepad: Xbox One
  • PC VR headset: Not planning to get one
  • Session Type: x11
You can also view all user statistic from our Monthly Survey here.
Latest Comments
Latest Forum Posts