making a Visual novel

2021-02-18 16:55:01

After playing Song of Saya and Sweet Pool lately on Steam something finally sunk into my brain. The polished illustrated characters in these games make it look hard, but the one thing that sure doesn't make it look hard is the tacky layer-mode edited backgrounds.

I saw a background that looked deep-fried with 40 Instagram filters overlayed on top. That is when I decided that was the final straw.

That's it.

I'm making my own tacky visual novel.

That is just an aesthetic specific to some visual novels. Of course, there's meticulously illustrated high school backgrounds in Sweet Pool and many others, but its reassuring for me to see some using such lazily edited photos.

Well over a year ago I was experimenting with a rural South Australian setting. My early 2000s childhood running outside along the River Murray. It was all an aesthetic feeling floating in my heart, that I was too afraid to write.

My issue with my projects back then was, I never really could decide on what the heck I was making. I made some nice art, animated a bit, but couldn't really rip into the story. I was held back knowing the massive amount of artwork it would take to animate every scene.

This isn't just a fault of mine. It is common for beginners to create blueprints, pitch-bibles and hypothetical amazing projects. If it stays like that however, it is simply a project. A dabbling waste of time. Not a thing. I'm proud however, that usually I end up going back to drawing, animating and creating actual things. So I do small projects. Big projects doesn't make you a better creator.

I'm not afraid of writing anymore. I'm not writing for animation. It's not written as a script. Its a plain and simple written horror story.

The thing about game dev with an artist-brain is, it's tough as heck. I have tried other game software before because people told me they were 'easy'. No, if you the sort of creator who thinks in terms of character, drama, flow, narrative, visuals and hardcore storytelling then no, learning GameMaker or Unity is NOT for you.

I was recommended to use Ren'Py by someone on the Adelaide Game Dev discord. Luckily to my relief for once, when I tossed some text in Ren'Py and added some existing stolen music, from those games I mentioned above, it instantly became fun! I can see that it depends on quality of storytelling, the interest of the images and maybe some suitable music.

Maybe I've finally found a game genre even someone like me can make by themselves. Really? Is it too early to say? Do I pick up too many projects and ditch them in despair?

I can only keep up a project if....

drew him in sketchbook. intentionally grungy who cares

All those points are why game making all by myself has been near impossible. I am bogged down by code, software and tutorials making stupid spaceships pew-pew and fly around the screen. It's been a living hell, and feeling like I can't create anything has only alienated me from the Adelaide dev community in my mind. I only have made games in collaboration with other people for Global Game Jam in the past, when my art-brain wasn't broken. I never had the faintest idea what my teammates were typing.

I guess it's been my fault for ignoring my strengths. Ignoring what matters to me. I only got into writing because I was upset with drawing. I'm still drawing in my sketchbook and colouring on my phone. I'm afraid to do fully digital art again on my Cintiq. I just am. I feel like I'm cursed since psychosis. It doesn't matter if I'm painstakingly making the background transparent, it adds texture and feels right.

That's why I'm pretty shocked I'm actually enjoying seeing the visual novel come together right under my fingertips. Enjoying the simple flow of text and ideas. I shouldn't be shocked though. The only thing I'm slightly good at is personality, storytelling and aesthetics.

I'm using early 2000s photos taken by my dad back then. He meticulously photographed non-stop, so I'm very lucky to have these snippets from my past than I can use royalty free. You can't find images of this area on Google.

On another topic, I found a site called which is known for being a deep rabbit hole of a site with strobing seizure inducing gifs. It still has an appeal in how it breaks the fourth walls, asks the viewer to question how information can be hidden in the digital world. It's just cool, thought I'd link to it.

I just like collage.

I think web art has the same aesthetic as collage in how it combines abstraction, history, texture and story. Scraps of things that are specific to times and places. It feels like information is hidden within the html or the images, I hope I can maybe play that up in this visual novel. It might get more surreal, it needs to suit my whims.

It will be violent and mature but wont have sexual content in it though, I've decided that much. Just for this first game, though. ;)

The days slip by and some of my painful feelings I've been feeling lately start to fade. I indulge in these feelings of loneliness and hopelessness far too much. When I can focus on something creative, my upset feelings are replaced with contentment and curiosity.

Wow, it's already 4pm. I've been forgetting to drink water and not showering until the end of the day. Guess I'm enjoying what I'm doing.