Book on Ren'Py/Python

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netravelr
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Book on Ren'Py/Python

#1 Post by netravelr » Thu May 17, 2018 9:22 pm

Hi guys,

As you may already know, in my spare time I write books working on various game engines and programming languages to help introduce new people to game development and how to create certain kinds of projects in a game engine (http://johnpdoran.com/?post_type=publications).

I’ve been pushing my publisher to create a book(s) on Python and Ren’Py for a while now, but they told me that the demand wasn’t there. With that in mind, I was thinking of trying to do a Kickstarter to publish it myself.

Here’s what I would have in mind for the book (subject to change, of course):

Creating Visual Novels in Ren’Py
Getting Started
  • Introduction to Python, Visual Novels, and Ren’Py
  • Project Setup (Setup Ren’Py and Sublime Text)
Creating a Scene
  • Creating Simple Characters
  • Say Dialog with Python Strings
  • Changing Emotions and Simple Animations
Adding in Interactive Elements
  • Branching Narratives with Conditional Statements
  • Remembering Choices with Variables
  • Player Input
Visual Novel Polish
  • Music and Sound Effects
  • Customizing GUIs
  • Exporting a Project
Debugging
  • Introduction to the Interactive Director
  • Debugging with Developer Tools
The book would be available during the Kickstarter for around $20 and would include all of the assets (graphics, sound, music, code) created in addition to the ebook. If I was able to sell enough I’d also be able to add additional chapters for creating other game types and Python concepts (day planning, farming sim, hidden object, RPG battles) and also make it available in print form as well. Is this something you would be interested in?
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Re: Book on Ren'Py/Python

#2 Post by Imperf3kt » Thu May 17, 2018 10:14 pm

Does it have to be a book? You can accomplish this in a much more engrossing manner with Ren'Py itself.
Plus, with youtube, websites, blogs, forums and all manor of other free resources, I think your publisher is correct that there is no market for your proposal. There is demand, but no market.

Of course this is just my opinion and since I am an outsider peering in, my opinion may be vastly inaccurate.
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Re: Book on Ren'Py/Python

#3 Post by Fuseblower » Fri May 18, 2018 6:18 am

Personally I would be interested in a well organized "Cook Book". Not an introduction to Renpy, Python or visual novels in general, nor a learning book or a "How to make a FPS in Renpy" book but simply a cookbook which answers any "How do I .... in Renpy" question. Of course, this is akin to a reference but the organization of a reference is typically different from that of a cookbook. A reference would list functions, not questions.

The cookbook section of this forum is well intended but also a non-exhaustive potpourri of all kinds of different things and hard to browse (because it's a potpourri).

Simply a book you can quickly flip through answering questions like, for example, "How do I make graphics clickable on the screen?" (in the "clickable section" under "user input" or something). Organization is of paramount importance and all answers, naturally, need to have code examples and... it goes without saying but I say it anyway ... the code examples have to work!

Such a book cannot be replaced by youtube (which cannot be browsed like a book) or the forum (where answers to questions take time). Of course, a site could be made (like Microsoft's MSDN site) but something tells me I'm not the only one who likes to have a hardcopy handy (also : books are easier on the eyes than a monitor).

Your list of what the book should contain doesn't pique my interest. Almost all of it can be answered by looking at the simple code of "The Question" which comes with Renpy. I'm also not interested in an introduction to Python nor the history of visual novels. There are plenty of books and sites about those subjects already.

The simple questions are the most important ones. "How do I change the font?", for example, as opposed to "How do I make a Final Fantasy battle system?". Almost everybody would want the answer to the first question but only a few want the answer to the second question (at least, I think so).

The quality of the answers is also important. Quick answers to quick questions. If I want answers about what can be done with fonts in Renpy then I typically don't want an exhaustive explanation of what a font is (we got wikipedia for that) or what kind of wrapper class Tom has come up with. I would want to see code how to change basic properties of the font, how I could make my own fonts and what programs exist for that, perhaps some warnings about the common pitfalls, etc.

One handy book springs to my mind : "The C Programming FAQS" (By Steve Summit). This was a mandatory book for C programmers in addition to "The C Programming Language" By Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie (the maker of the language). "The C Programming Language" might have been the "bible" (till the ANSI/ISO document) but was a lousy reference because it was simply a book about the language. It wasn't a book about how to do certain things with the language. "The C Programming FAQS", on the other hand, was a good reference answering frequently asked questions.

Also : I would personally favor a book about Renpy if it has Tom's name on it. Adds authority to it :D

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Re: Book on Ren'Py/Python

#4 Post by Mutive » Fri May 18, 2018 12:34 pm

Probably not. :(

The reason is that Ren'Py documentation is already pretty comprehensive (think the tutorial that comes with the engine as well as a lot of resources on the website).

My guess is that if there was additional functionality that might be otherwise hard to find, with clear examples, it might be of some interest to me. But the included tutorial already shows me how to do most basic things...and the more complicated things are really one-off, to the extent that it's unlikely the book would be able to cover precisely what I'm looking for.
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Re: Book on Ren'Py/Python

#5 Post by Empish » Fri May 18, 2018 1:13 pm

This is actually fairly similar to a udemy course I've made on Ren'Py which has been moderately successful. But I don't think the book format itself will lend well to learning quite as much, nor will it be as popular.

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Re: Book on Ren'Py/Python

#6 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Sat May 19, 2018 12:55 am

Fuseblower wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 6:18 am
Simply a book you can quickly flip through answering questions like, for example, "How do I make graphics clickable on the screen?" (in the "clickable section" under "user input" or something). Organization is of paramount importance and all answers, naturally, need to have code examples and... it goes without saying but I say it anyway ... the code examples have to work!
[....]
Your list of what the book should contain doesn't pique my interest. Almost all of it can be answered by looking at the simple code of "The Question" which comes with Renpy. I'm also not interested in an introduction to Python nor the history of visual novels. There are plenty of books and sites about those subjects already.
[....]
Also : I would personally favor a book about Renpy if it has Tom's name on it. Adds authority to it :D
Pretty much exactly what Fuseblower said.

Your description of what the book would contain doesn't interest me either. Almost anyone with a little dedication can learn those things you listed in just a couple of days of watching Youtube videos or browsing the forums here. It's AFTER all that stuff where most people get stuck, when they try and do things like side images, image maps, date calendars, stat bars, animated sprites, etc.

The RenPy Documentation is pretty good, but is very spotty on actual examples, or gives programmer shorthand in some places that make artists want to cry and smash their face into the keyboard. :oops: Just me?

If you were going to do a book, I'd much rather have an example-heavy cookbook of Renpy recipes that could be flipped to and referenced as needed.

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Re: Book on Ren'Py/Python

#7 Post by ComputerArt.Club » Sat May 19, 2018 2:29 am

I agree with a lot of what has beem said here, the basics are covered quite well, even my elentary school students would not benefit much from such a book compared to the alternatives.

However, a more dummed down version of the documentation that anyone can understand with more examples and instructions on how to adjust those examples would be awesome, especially if it had a good index.

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Re: Book on Ren'Py/Python

#8 Post by ComputerArt.Club » Sat May 19, 2018 3:40 am

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 12:55 am
The RenPy Documentation is pretty good, but is very spotty on actual examples, or gives programmer shorthand in some places that make artists want to cry and smash their face into the keyboard. :oops: Just me?
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LateWhiteRabbit wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 12:55 am
If you were going to do a book, I'd much rather have an example-heavy cookbook of Renpy recipes that could be flipped to and referenced as needed.
YES. Exactly. And illustrations explaining how to adapt/augment key code examples.

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Re: Book on Ren'Py/Python

#9 Post by Empish » Sat May 19, 2018 9:48 am

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 12:55 am
If you were going to do a book, I'd much rather have an example-heavy cookbook of Renpy recipes that could be flipped to and referenced as needed.
Just FYI I've begun work to create a patrons-only cookbook that will eventually be adapted into a Ren'Py game in the style of the tutorial you can purchase all at once without needing to be a patron.

So far I've only got one entry on stat systems, but in that one entry I offer different solutions tailored to different situations and discuss both how you can adapt one to your own needs and how you'd decide which you wanted. I plan to keep up this pattern as much as possible.

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Re: Book on Ren'Py/Python

#10 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Sat May 19, 2018 10:26 am

Empish wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 9:48 am
LateWhiteRabbit wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 12:55 am
If you were going to do a book, I'd much rather have an example-heavy cookbook of Renpy recipes that could be flipped to and referenced as needed.
Just FYI I've begun work to create a patrons-only cookbook that will eventually be adapted into a Ren'Py game in the style of the tutorial you can purchase all at once without needing to be a patron.

So far I've only got one entry on stat systems, but in that one entry I offer different solutions tailored to different situations and discuss both how you can adapt one to your own needs and how you'd decide which you wanted. I plan to keep up this pattern as much as possible.
That's awesome. Honestly, your tutorials have helped me a lot. "Bars" is just one example in the official documentation of where it seems like half the possible options are just not mentioned and there is no code example. (PyTom added multiple pictures to that section, which is awesome - but there is no code example! :cry: ) In fact, I struggled with bars because the RenPy Documentation is so ... abbreviated on them ... and your tutorial had me making custom bars within minutes.

Netravelr - in the days before off-the-shelf third party engines were so popular, there were books called Game Programmer Gems that just had a big index of all the stuff you might want to do with your game engine, and then gave examples of different ways to implement that feature, often with formulas for the math. Be it ambient occlusion, AI pathfinding, etc. THAT is what I think you'd find the biggest market for with a book on RenPy.

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Re: Book on Ren'Py/Python

#11 Post by Empish » Sat May 19, 2018 10:42 am

Super glad to be helpful. I would never disparage the RenPy docs because they are of so much help to me.... but I recognize that I'm not the average user and that what works for me as someone with experience both in coding and making sense of documentation that is far worse, is not going to cut it for everyone. That's part of why I set out to make my tutorials and such to begin with, to bridge that gap between myself and the average user who just hasn't been given that strong foundation yet.

To get back on topic, I figure there are two main "categories" of what you can teach about Ren'Py. First, you can teach the core concepts (which is what your outline lends itself to), such as how the engine works and how a typical VN made with RenPy would be laid out. But the quickstart already does that decently, and until you get to the really hard stuff it's not that difficult to pick up the concepts.

Second, you can just gather some specifics on "How to do X", repeat that many times, and either stealthily put in the concepts as you go or hope that they'll eventually pick them up through familiarity. This may seem like a poor strategy, but I've found that people often learn best by doing, and so the more examples they go through, the more they will get from it. A cookbook approach will help ensure that people retain as much as possible from each "lesson".

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Re: Book on Ren'Py/Python

#12 Post by Morhighan » Sat May 19, 2018 5:16 pm

You know I'm down for this. (I have how many of your books now? :D ) If you need any help, let me know!

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Re: Book on Ren'Py/Python

#13 Post by netravelr » Sat May 19, 2018 6:45 pm

I agree that the Ren'Py documentation is pretty good if you're already familiar with reading code and want to spend the time. Books are typically written for those that want to solve a problem quickly instead of spending extra time researching. The main problem would be solved with the first book would be to help those that are interested in creating their first project but also for those who want to learn Python as a programming language, similar to what I did with Unity 5.x Game Development Blueprints.

I also agree that the cookbook concept would be useful (I've actually already written one for Unreal and am working on one right now in Unity), but in my experience they're only useful if you want to learn how to do a specific thing and as such won't be useful for newcomers who are the ones who would be most likely to buy a book to learn a subject.

In the past, I've seen lots of questions on how to build certain kinds of games in Ren'Py (mostly RPGs, but also dating sims, hidden object games, etc). After an introductory book I'd want to writing something towards creating a book(s) diving into more complex issues while also diving into more programming concepts:

Python Game Development with Ren’Py
  • Advanced Characters with LayeredImages/LiveComposite
  • Advanced Animations with ATL
  • Telltale Style - Timed Choice Menus/X will remember that/etc.
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors (Simple Randomness/Looping)
  • Simple Rhythm Game
  • Planner System
  • Advanced GUI – Stats System/Bars/Relationship system
  • Day Planning Screen
  • Farming Simulation
  • Build a Hidden Object Game
Build an RPG with Python and Ren’Py
  • Intro to Classes
  • Inventory System using Lists and Dictionaries
  • Weapons
  • Magic Skills
  • Overworld Map
  • Building Dungeons
  • RPG Battle System
  • Custom GUI Screens
  • Attack/Damage with Particle Effects
  • Handle Combat Win/Lose
I think this may be more appealing to those with some Ren'Py experience, as well as those that would like to touch more advanced Python concepts, but I wouldn't want to do this content without first having a guide on the basics in book form (and why I posted the original idea first). In my writing experience, book readers tend to want learn from scratch.
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Re: Book on Ren'Py/Python

#14 Post by Andredron » Mon Jul 08, 2019 11:41 pm

Not popular it
make a video blog.

Users are lazy and not grateful. I speak as the author of the Russian version of the textbook on renpayu
I know, I'm writing terribly in English.

I'm writing a Renpy textbook (in Russian). https://yadi.sk/d/ZX_DonP63USRru Update 22.06.18

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Re: Book on Ren'Py/Python

#15 Post by ComputerArt.Club » Sun Jul 14, 2019 10:16 am

Andredron wrote:
Mon Jul 08, 2019 11:41 pm
Not popular it
make a video blog.

Users are lazy and not grateful. I speak as the author of the Russian version of the textbook on renpayu
Andredron, I haven't seen your Russian book but I am very grateful for your contributions here on the forums, especially your posts on Android development, in-app purchases and so on. You are amazing. Thank you for your contributions.

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