How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

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Remayre
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How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

#1 Post by Remayre » Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:10 pm

New here.

I've been playing around with Ren'py for about a year or so, and just happened to stumble across this forum only now.

After looking through all the various forums and getting a feel for the place, I became curious on how often a high-quality VN is created and released by a single person (i.e. They create their own art/backgrounds, do their own coding, write everything themselves, etc)? It seems to be a trend when I look through here that multiple people work on one project. Is it feasible to do one on your own? Does anyone have any examples of quality VNs made by one creator?

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Re: How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

#2 Post by thebackup » Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:20 am

I don't have any examples, but I'd say it's probably feasible. Though the difficulty of creating a high-quality* VN on your own scales greatly with the size of the project. There's always the option to use Creative Commons assets to ease the burden, but then again we're talking about creating everything on your own here.
Remayre wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:10 pm
It seems to be a trend when I look through here that multiple people work on one project.
For serious projects (big, medium, or small), as much as some (or most?) of us here would like to do everything on our own, it's just too much work and learning a new skill takes time. Of course, where there's a will, there's a way.

* - keep in mind "quality" is a pretty subjective term.
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Re: How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

#3 Post by Remayre » Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:55 am

thebackup wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:20 am
For serious projects (big, medium, or small), as much as some (or most?) of us here would like to do everything on our own, it's just too much work and learning a new skill takes time. Of course, where there's a will, there's a way.

* - keep in mind "quality" is a pretty subjective term.
What large projects have you completed and do you know of any completed by one person? I'd like to view them.

For a more complicated VN, what other special skills would be needed over a shorter one (excluding time spent working on it)? The only roles I can think of are:

Artist
Coder
Writer
Advertiser (if you're marketing or crowd-funding it)


When I say high quality, I mean that each aspect of the VN needs to meet a certain standard/high tier. Quality is both subjective and objective, however there's a distinction between 'quality' and 'enjoyability'. A VN with a great storyline and script but sub-par artwork could still be considered enjoyable by the viewers, even though the quality of the art is lacking. It's still missing that bit of quality, even though it may be popular or loved. There is an unspoken standard of quality that most people can recognize, even if they don't consciously realize it.

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Re: How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

#4 Post by trooper6 » Sat Sep 09, 2017 1:12 am

Off the top of my head, games I've played by one person include the Ex Astris series by Cera. http://www.cerastudios.com/ex-astris/
Everything by Donmai--But especially The One in Love. https://games.renpy.org/developer/294
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Re: How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

#5 Post by Remayre » Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:06 am

trooper6 wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 1:12 am
Off the top of my head, games I've played by one person include the Ex Astris series by Cera. http://www.cerastudios.com/ex-astris/
Everything by Donmai--But especially The One in Love. https://games.renpy.org/developer/294
The work of Saguaro...especially Locked-In.
I'm looking into them. Thank you!

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Re: How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

#6 Post by Fuseblower » Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:42 am

Nom Nom Nami does it solo too : https://nomnomnami.itch.io/

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Re: How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

#7 Post by Mammon » Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:53 am

I'm a solodev myself, making my games alone (with the exception of NaNoRenO). Right now, one game done and one game in the making is not really an impressive indication of that, but then again I'm not solodev out of conviction. Mostly because of the neurotic desire to control everything. Solo'ing a game for most is making small and rather mediocre games in order to show what you can do and that you have the conviction to pull through.

As one can see with my finished solo project P&Y (click link below to check it out.) there will always be at least one thing lacking. Let me add upon the list you mentioned earlier by extending it to: Writer, proofreader, sprite artist, CG artist, background artist, programmer, composer, voice actors, marketing. These two are necessary while the others are important in varying degrees that can be scrapped or replaced with CC sources. I myself tackled the first four and programmer, the rest I cheaped out on by manipulating photos for backgrounds, using royalty free music and not really doing much advertising at all.
What's lacking in my game is pretty much everything except writing, my drawings look abhorrent and nothing but the story really gets to stand out. That's the curse of solodev, you'll also have to do the things you don't like that much and things you're no good at. So when talking about 'high-quality' VNs being good after solo-dev'ing, that question is always a mixed bag. A story over 100k words like mine can be considered such to some, but not to most and a progedy that can do everything well is very rare.

But, I'd say that solo-dev is mostly a transition state for most, producing anything that would look well in all aspects is very hard and joining a team to polish and focus on what you like doing most/do best is just so much easier at some point. Also better chances of making a good game, as it wouldn't take as long.
Last edited by Mammon on Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

#8 Post by thebackup » Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:12 am

Remayre wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:55 am
What large projects have you completed and do you know of any completed by one person? I'd like to view them.
Most of my completed projects have been fairly small-scale and working with others (last release in 2015). I'm working on a fairly large-scale VN right now, with a few people hired (because my anime and BG art aren't that great >.<). I'm not aware of any large projects completed by one person (aside from what a few others have mentioned here).
Remayre wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:55 am
For a more complicated VN, what other special skills would be needed over a shorter one (excluding time spent working on it)? The only roles I can think of are:

Artist
Coder
Writer
Advertiser (if you're marketing or crowd-funding it)
Pretty much what Mammon said.
Remayre wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:55 am
When I say high quality, I mean that each aspect of the VN needs to meet a certain standard/high tier. Quality is both subjective and objective, however there's a distinction between 'quality' and 'enjoyability'. A VN with a great storyline and script but sub-par artwork could still be considered enjoyable by the viewers, even though the quality of the art is lacking. It's still missing that bit of quality, even though it may be popular or loved. There is an unspoken standard of quality that most people can recognize, even if they don't consciously realize it.
There's (almost) no wrong reason to play and enjoy a work and judge its quality, whether it be very popular or niche, even if there's an unspoken standard. But the amount of effort put into a project can be an objective way of judging its quality.
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Re: How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

#9 Post by Imperf3kt » Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:18 am

I'm pretty sure Nyaatrap worked on Demon Master Chris completely solo. That game even got a physical release at mangagamer.

What about music though? As much as I like creating my own assets, music is one aspect that could really use a lot of work. Not that I can't make it, just that I personally don't believe what I make is all that great.
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Re: How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

#10 Post by Remayre » Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:38 am

Mammon wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:53 am
As one can see with my finished solo project P&Y (click link below to check it out.) there will always be at least one thing lacking. Let me add upon the list you mentioned earlier by extending it to: Writer, proofreader, sprite artist, CG artist, background artist, programmer, composer, voice actors, marketing. These three are necessary while the others are important in varying degrees that can be scrapped or replaced with CC sources. I myself tackled the first four and programmer, the rest I cheaped out on by manipulating photos for backgrounds, using royalty free music and not really doing much advertising at all.
What's lacking in my game is pretty much everything except writing, my drawings look abhorrent and nothing but the story really gets to stand out. That's the curse of solodev, you'll also have to do the things you don't like that much and things you're no good at. So when talking about 'high-quality' VNs being good after solo-dev'ing, that question is always a mixed bag. A story over 100k words like mine can be considered such to some, but not to most and a progedy that can do everything well is very rare.
I guess I'm lucky in the aspect that I'm an artist (sprite, CG, backgrounds), a writer/editor, and programmer. I can compose as I've created music and played the piano since I was a child, it's just not my favorite skill. I'd probably use royalty free music to skip over that step while doing everything else, although if I truly wanted to go it alone, I could take the extra time to do it. I'm not fond of voice-acting in VNs, as it usually ruins it for me and all my favorite ones had none, so I wouldn't even bother with that although I have experience with that as well, and many IRL friends who are voice actors.

I think I'll go alone on my first serious project to see how it goes, then maybe join a group just for the experience.


thebackup wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:12 am
Most of my completed projects have been fairly small-scale and working with others (last release in 2015). I'm working on a fairly large-scale VN right now, with a few people hired (because my anime and BG art aren't that great >.<). I'm not aware of any large projects completed by one person (aside from what a few others have mentioned here).
Thanks Dorig. C: maybe I'll just venture and look for a group project.

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Re: How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

#11 Post by LVUER » Sat Sep 09, 2017 5:14 am

If you asked how often... well, does it really matter? The question is: is it possible? And yes, it's very possible. Including the high quality one.
Next thing you need to clarify is, what do you mean by "a full VN by themselves"? If one outsourcing some of the assets (like using free royalty music or paid people to create one) is still count as making a VN by yourself? Still, whatever the answer, it's still very possible to create a high quality VN by yourself, even you make all the assets from scratch by yourself... though it will take LOTS of hard work and patience and time... and perhaps some talent.
As for example, I can't give you VN... but there are plenty of commercially successful indie games that was made by a one-man team. Some may not that high quality, but they sell well and I think that is what important, yes? Here goes: Cave Story, Axiom Verge, Stardew Valley, Papers Please, Undertale, Minecraft (the early version was made by a single person), Braid,Dust: an Elysian Tale, Lone Survivor... and plenty more.
As you can see, some in the list are among the best selling indie game on steam. I don't know if they created all the assets themselves or outsourcing some... but you can be sure that those developers are one-man team. And yeah, they are not VN. They are indie video games... and some people said VN is not a game and other said it is... Also some of the game have pixel/retro graphics while most VN has hand drawn sprites... but the point is if it's possible for one man to make indie game, why not VN?
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Re: How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

#12 Post by ludeshka » Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:07 am

You know, the thing that gives me pause about your question is the high quality thing, because I work alone, but it's not for me to say if my stuff is quality or not.

But yeah, I'm here and I'm not on a team. Released four finished games.
I had a very talented composer friend on my first completed game, but I used royalty free music on the second, and composed the music myself on the third one.

So, basically, it is feasible to do a VN on your own. Why do you ask? Do you want to try? :)

I don't know exactly why you're asking, but if it's because you'd like to try it, I'd say, go for it. :) If you're not very good at art/music, there is quality royalty free stock out there. If you're not very good at programming (like me!) you either can try to learn, or just don't go crazy on minigames and stuff. If you're into visual novels you probably like reading, and reading a lot makes you better at writing.

Seconding the recommendation of Saguaro's Locked In in terms of one-person team with high quality results. For big, super ambitious work by one person, you can also check Azure Twilight's first games. (I think she got some collaborators on the next ones, but at the very least the first two Fantasia games she did on her lonesome, and they were LONG.)

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Re: How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

#13 Post by SundownKid » Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:14 am

Remayre wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:10 pm
Is it feasible to do one on your own? Does anyone have any examples of quality VNs made by one creator?
I believe Digital: A love Story was made entirely by Christine Love beyond the music, which is Creative Commons licensed free music.

Despite the name visual novel, I'd argue that art is the most important skill to be good at if you want to attract people to play your game. It's really what markets the game, not the actual writing. Good writing is second most important and it's what gets people to stay with your game and makes you fans. In truly good games, of course, the writing has a higher standard to live up to than the art. Finally, music and design are more optional, as there are creative commons alternatives for free games, but it makes your game stand out. Just make sure to change the font at least - you won't believe how many indie devs use Deja Vu Sans.

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Re: How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

#14 Post by SundownKid » Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:26 am

LVUER wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 5:14 am
As for example, I can't give you VN... but there are plenty of commercially successful indie games that was made by a one-man team. Some may not that high quality, but they sell well and I think that is what important, yes? Here goes: Cave Story, Axiom Verge, Stardew Valley, Papers Please, Undertale, Minecraft (the early version was made by a single person), Braid,Dust: an Elysian Tale, Lone Survivor... and plenty more.
Dust: Elysian Tail was programmed, written and drawn by one person, but had music by HyperDuck Soundworks and I believe programming assistance from someone else. Undertale was obviously drawn by Temmie Chang, so it wasn't just Toby Fox. Cave Story however was entirely by Pixel, but it's rarer than you think for an entire commercially successful indie game to be made ENTIRELY by one person. It tends to be more confirmation bias when it does happen as most of them are small hobbyist projects made as experiments or for fun.

Basically, it's certainly possible, but often it's not the best course of action to make an entire thing yourself. Sometimes it's faster and easier not to. Usually people who do entire games themselves do it out of personal fulfillment rather than because it's more economical.

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Re: How often does one person create a full VN by themselves?

#15 Post by Remayre » Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:40 pm

SundownKid wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:26 am
Basically, it's certainly possible, but often it's not the best course of action to make an entire thing yourself. Sometimes it's faster and easier not to. Usually people who do entire games themselves do it out of personal fulfillment rather than because it's more economical.
Honestly, I do think it's more of a personal fulfillment when it comes to me. I'm stuck in a career I was forced into, that doesn't use my talents at all besides some critical thinking skills. I'd have preferred to have gone into graphics or programming (which I could still do, it'd just be harder without a degree). I'd love to make a VN all by myself to put in a portfolio with other works.

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