Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Visual Novel

Either visual novels (see Wikipedia) are not very well known outside Japan or I’ve just slept with open eyes again.

Anyhow, when I googled for the “RPG Maker” yesterday, in order to find out whether it was still around (it is), I stumbled over other tools for making games, one of them was Ren’Py, a tool specifically designed to making visual novels. As it is freeware, I downloaded it to check it out. Despite missing appropriate pictures (it’s a visual novel, after all), I was able to create two quite short novels within the course of a few hours.

They are everything but perfect, of course. I didn’t have the time to do any pictures for them (and my drawing, while not outright bad, isn’t all that inspiring). They are short, only contain one … and two … choices. But they work.

I like the idea of such programs (they’re not games, strictly speaking) and will continue to work on them. Maybe I’ll at least do some sketches. I can do them. (I can actually draw well enough so you can tell a dog from a tree … and that tree from a human. And I know the basics about drawing manga-style characters.) The good thing is I don’t need to animate them. The bad thing is I can’t colour them, either. I’ve never been very good with that, always looks too flat, no real lights or other stuff that sets the amateur (me) apart from the pro (manga-artist of your choice).

The way it looks at the moment, I’ll be drawing by hand (and pencil, of course), then use a black pen to ink and my digital camera to get the pictures on my hard disk. (I have a scanner, but inked pictures not scanned in black and white always get a few strange colours in the lines and if I scan them in black and white, I can’t use other colours later. I’ll have to do that for the characters, to get a transparent background.)

For the moment I have a rather strange story (my first try) with three characters (boy, girl, werewolf – I mentioned it was strange, didn’t I?) and two backgrounds (a cave and an open field). And I have a little horror story with a couple of backgrounds and three characters (one of which is telling the story and never seen) with various emotions.

Let’s see what becomes of it and what else I can do with this tool.

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