7 votes

Things to consider with visual novels

Not sure if this the right place to post this but here goes... I'm writing a story and I'm trying to figure out the best medium to tell it. I'm strongly leaning toward visual novels. I like anime and I want the story to have a similar look and feel. Maybe someday it will even become an anime. Who knows?

That said, does anyone here have any thoughts on the pros/cons of taking the visual novel approach as opposed to a traditional novel or light novel?

7 comments

  1. [3]
    Rocket_Man Link
    Visual novels are a lot more work than a traditional novel. They require a ton of art work that as a singular person you'll probably have a hard time keeping up with. Also depending on your...

    Visual novels are a lot more work than a traditional novel. They require a ton of art work that as a singular person you'll probably have a hard time keeping up with. Also depending on your platform of choice they can become very complicated as you'll want to add in new characters, branches, or features.

    I'm not suggesting you don't do it. But if you've never written a novel before I'd probably suggest getting some experience with that as It's already a ton of work. Then if that goes well you're more likely to be successful with a visual novel.

    Another option is to maybe work on a side story into a visual novel. It could be much smaller in scope and let you get familiar with the process and understand how your content pipeline works. Then you'll have a much better idea about the workload.

    7 votes
    1. [2]
      Venku Link Parent
      Is it safe for me to assume you are a writer?

      Is it safe for me to assume you are a writer?

      1. Rocket_Man Link Parent
        I'm not a writer in the strictest of ways. But I am making a visual novel and writing is the career I'm likely to move into.

        I'm not a writer in the strictest of ways. But I am making a visual novel and writing is the career I'm likely to move into.

        3 votes
  2. [2]
    KapteinB Link
    One advantage of visual novels is that you can save yourself a lot of descriptions. An image says more than a thousand words, and all that. You can spend fewer words on describing characters and...

    That said, does anyone here have any thoughts on the pros/cons of taking the visual novel approach as opposed to a traditional novel or light novel?

    One advantage of visual novels is that you can save yourself a lot of descriptions. An image says more than a thousand words, and all that. You can spend fewer words on describing characters and locations, and instead focus on the dialogue and action. Though a disadvantage of that is that you'll be limited in your writing to scenes that can to at least some degree be described visually.

    A disadvantage is that you'll need artwork, preferably lots of it. You'll be spending months drawing images for your game, or paying loads of money to artists to do it for you.

    You'll need a game engine, but I do believe there are some you can use for free. Check out Ren'Py for example. Even if you choose not to build your own engine you'll probably need some level of technical expertise to be able to build your game.

    While it's not exactly a requirement, I think most players would expect a visual novel to have a branching storyline. This might actually be an advantage though, depending on what kind of writer you are. If you have loads of story ideas and can't decide on what path your story should take; write them all and let the players work it out.

    I'm not sure which option has the best potential for earning money. It's supposedly fairly easy to self-publish a novel on Amazon, and it's not too hard (honestly probably too easy) to get a game published on Steam and Google Play. Getting noticed is a lot harder though, as both of these markets are very saturated.

    You could also do both: Write a novel, then commission the artwork and rewrite the novel into a visual novel. Publish it on both Amazon and Steam. Those who really like it might even buy both, to experience it in different ways.

    There's also a third option that might be worth looking into. A company named Choice of Games provides a game engine that easily lets you build a chose-your-own-adventure type game, and will even publish the game for you (although they do keep the majority of income from the game).

    3 votes
    1. Akir Link Parent
      I wouldn't consider coding a basic visual novel to require any complex coding. Ren'py, for instance, has a syntax that was designed specifically to be as easy to use as possible. Twine is designed...

      I wouldn't consider coding a basic visual novel to require any complex coding. Ren'py, for instance, has a syntax that was designed specifically to be as easy to use as possible. Twine is designed as a visual design tool that doesn't need you to write any code (though, to be fair, it's better for IF than VNs).

      I also wouldn't consider branching storylines to be that big of a deal. If you think about it, all VNs are linear in one way or another. Some branching path stories always lead to the same endings, and most VNs with multiple endings have just one "true" ending anyways.

      My advice to OP would be simpler; start writing short impactful stories and then work up to long form. After all, nobody creates their magnum opus on the first try.

  3. thisonemakesyouthink Link
    Visual novels take more work than a light novel, manga, etc but they also allow you to be more free and open and let the player have a bit of fun at the helm. This can also allow you to get more...

    Visual novels take more work than a light novel, manga, etc but they also allow you to be more free and open and let the player have a bit of fun at the helm. This can also allow you to get more in depth with your characters and show how they might behave in different situations without cutting into the canon of your story or having to do some sort of spin off or something of the likes. They're all decent mediums though and it's really up to you how you feel your story would be best.

    Another thing to consider: do you have writing experience? Programming? Art? If none of the above, it may just be easier to stick to a more traditional format and gain some experience before delving head first into a complicated medium.

    1 vote
  4. Venku Link
    These are all good points. Thanks all!

    These are all good points. Thanks all!