Design

Software used to create De-Thieved, a visual novel.

With a lot of different software available for game developers, finding the right tools to create your game can take some time. Even with a water-down game such as s visual novel, finding the best software for a good price was harder than I originally thought. When I started De-Thieved, I spent a good sum of time trying to find the right resources and programs to before I started production*, and to my surprise, information about comparing different software was scarce. So, here is my attempt to try and help clarify some things.

*Note, De-Thieved is still in development, but the majority of the game is completed. 

Art Related Software:

Adobe Photoshop– $20.99/mo.

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Let’s get the obvious one out of the way, Adobe Photoshop is a powerhouse that does everything that you would need. You can customize pictures how you see fit, and even start from scratch and draw your own assets. Adobe Photoshop is a large and flexible software, which makes it complex and intimidating. However, the documentation and tutorials on how to operate this software are extensive and will teach you as long as you have the motivation and time to put into them.

Clip Studio Paint Pro/Ex- $49.99Pro/$219.00Ex

Clip Studio Paint focuses more on the drawing aspects then changing the look of an image with ease. On their site, they showcase how they are the leader in the graphics software market. The main use for CSP is drawing, creating comics/mangas, and for animation. If you have ever used any paint software, with a little practice, you will have no issues learning the tricks of CSP. With two different versions to choose from with you can still get what you need with a single payment instead of monthly payments. Another huge benefit of using CSP over other programs is the ease of correction ability to your drawings. Don’t like where a line is, use the vector tool to adjust it without having to redraw. I personally use this software and am happy with my purchase of the Ex version.

Engine Software:

Ren’Py – Free

The very first engine I tried testing out for my visual novel was Ren’py. If all you want to do with your visual novel is to tell a story with branching paths this would be a good option for you. However, if you want to do something other then just a story and include some sort of RPG element into your game, knowledge of code will be needed, based on what you need to include. Either way, you will need to know at least the basics of Python scripting, and the introductory game that comes with the engine is a good tutorial on Python. Ren’py is one of the easier engines to use to make a visual novel but can be limiting and overwhelming once your past the tutorial game included with the engine. There is also no Licensing fee if you decide to sell your game.

TyranoBuilder Visual Novel Studio – $14.99

TyranoBuilder is the easiest and fastest way to finish a visual novel with an easy to understand UI, with no coding necessary. With a simple drag and drop tool, and a sample asset library that you can use to finish your game within a day if you really wanted to. Importing your own assets is the only way to truly create your own unique looking visual novel though. Other than telling a branching story path with your own art assets, TyranoBuilder doesn’t really offer much of helping create your visual novel. If all you want to create is a story without much player interaction, this would be a good engine to use. There’s is also no Licensing fee for this engine once the engine is purchased.

Visual Novel Maker – $59.99

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The big selling point of VNM was the feature that allows easy localization, which simply means that it will translate your game for you so you can offer it to a none English speaking audience. I don’t know how accurate the automatic translations are though, and would be wary of using them just in case something is miss interpreted and ruins your game and maybe even your name for that audience. Another feature is to include a movie/audio layer on top of your game that gives it a sense of realism, and for an additional $10 you can get the support if Live2D, not the ability to do what Live2D does, but to simply accept Live2D assets. VNM also supports multi-platforms and includes a free to use, high-quality assets to use if you don’t have any. It’s also extensive able to use Java-Script for full control, and plugins if desired. However, user-friendliness seems to be the biggest issue with this engine/program. VMN also does not collect royalties on your creations.

Unity – Free*

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Unity has two modes that you can change while in the engine, a 3D and 2D view. Now Unity’s 2D was most likely created to be used to make platform or side-scroller based games, but some visual novels have been created using Unity2D. These games tend to have Mini-game aspect included or something that the other engines can or have a hard time producing naturally. Unity is extremely powerful when looked at from a visual novel developer’s perspective, but without knowledge of how to use this engine, it can be difficult to create a working game. If your not afraid of a small challenge I would recommend trying to create your games using the program. You even have the choice to use C# or Javascript. There is an Asset store you can use to help create your game, but with Unity being a major engine used in all types of game, finding good visual novel assets are difficult. De-Thieved is being created using Unity3D.

*Unity is also free to use until you surpass $100k in revenue than you must purchase the Plus version at $35/month. If you reach $200k in revenue after using Plus you must upgrade to Pro at $125/Month. However, with each upgrade, you get bonuses to your program such as access to live sessions and shaders.*

Hopefully, this helps you guys/gals get a start on your own visual novels.

**We are currently holding an Indiegogo campaign for De-Thieved, come to take a look at what was created so far with both Clip Studio Paint and Unity.

Design

Creating video game Characters that are easy to write with.

Let’s face the truth real quick, writing can be hard. It can be even harder without having a cast that doesn’t feel alive. How does one create such a feeling in fictional characters that are born out of inspiration, or even more difficult, born out of necessity to simply fit the plot of the story? This hurdle can be a hassle for not only the writers of movies and books but for game designers. We designers have the responsibility of keeping player options in mind, meaning every action must have a reaction.

Thus, certain actions and decisions will most likely affect the supporting characters within the game world, and without a clear character design, it can be hard to think of the proper reaction for said character.

So, to aid my fellow designers that might find themselves in the same shoes as I was in, here is a list of guidelines I use when I started to design my own characters. Continue reading

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De-Thieved: FriendUp App Progress

One of the unique features I wanted to implement into De-Thieved to give it more of a video game feel than a Visual Novel feel is the FriendsUp App. This app will be the main source of stored information for the player. Furthering a character’s story will allow the player to learn more information about any of the main classmates, and most of this information will be stored here for easy access.

FUkEVINpAGE

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Update #2: Here It Comes.

In two weeks I will have graduated from Full Sail University. After two and a half years, I will have finally finished my formal education towards the design of video games. I prepared my self for this occasion by researching all local Game Studios in my area, and, not surprisingly, there is only one small indie company registered in Iowa. Unforchantly they are small enough to not need any more people to join their team to produce great games. My other option is to move to a new city and take my chances in getting an industry job and work with a large team. Continue reading

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Monthly “Life” Update: January 2018

So, I’ve been working on a game for the past year and a half now. However, due to life events I have yet to touch the project on it for close to 5-6 months. When I first started this game, I had hardly any coding experience and with the stuff I have learned within the last few months, I decided to scrap parts of what I have created and started to piece together a new foundation for De-Thieved. I won’t talk too much about the game here, as I have a site already created for a progress update, and eventually a site for the “company” I will be selling it from. However, this site is still in the works, but there isn’t much to update on, other then I started fresh.

However, I will talk about how my current job is affecting the production on De-Thieved.  For those of you who don’t know, I work at a restaurant as a prep chef, while also attending school at Full Sail University. This would already create a busy schedule for most people and with trying to better my education with a Game Design you might be thinking that I would be trying to enter the Game Industry by getting a job at large company such as Ubisoft or Beth Continue reading

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Should you enroll at Full Sail University?

A little more than two years ago, I decided I should attempt college before I get too old. At the time, I was 19 years old, living with my wife-to-be with one child and another on the way (Yeah, I know, grew up quickly), and was working as a CNA at a nursing home. I thought I wanted to get my nursing degree and go work in a mental hospital and see where that would take me later on in life, but anyone who works or knows what a CNA does knows it a very “dirty” job. So I thought back to what I really enjoyed doing when I was even younger. I’ve always had fond memories of playing games, so I looked for online schools that had any game based degrees, and lone and behold, I found Full Sail and enrolled in their Game Design course. Here I am two years later, with 6 months left tell graduation letting any want to be Game Designer a bit about my experience with Full Sail and game design in general.

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