Why most visual novels stay as demos for so long.

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beastcarving
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Why most visual novels stay as demos for so long.

#1 Post by beastcarving » Sat Dec 21, 2019 12:11 am

To Visual Novel readers,

Well, I can't speak for every developer, however, I know what's holding me back. When making the demo, we invest money into making those demos, but just enough for the demo. We use thousands or hundreds on the demo alone. Some VN devs aren't skilled in all six elements (music, editing, coding, CGs, character sprites, and advertisement) of making a VN, and that's okay.

For example, some of us pay other people to make our custom soundtracks which can range from 200- 400 depending on the musician's commissions. Next, we have scenery backgrounds. Not every VN dev can make these, so we work in teams, which means we hire people to do the tasks we can't. I can manage to draw decent BGs, but I'm not quite a professional yet, so I will be purchasing my next ones as I get my BG skills up.

I believe that BGs are the most expensive of them all. This is where one would end up spending thousands. Don't get me wrong, high-quality BGs are worth every penny.

Now I want to talk about hiring an editor. This could be just as expensive or even more expensive than BGs. Most of the time, us VN devs don't pay for editors. Some editors just change around a bit of grammar and a few words.

I had an editor like that back in 2015. Literally, this editor would swap out the word silver for grey and TV show for Radio show. It made no sense, so I had to let them go. Next time if you see a few grammar mistakes in a VN, please understand that editors are too expensive, so we decide no to use them because our VNs are read-able to us. ("He and I. Me and him." You know what we meant.)

Now let's talk about time. Many of us have school or jobs, therefore we can't put all of our time into the VN even if we've mastered all six elements of VN development.

Now maybe you're wondering," Why make a visual novel if you can't do all six elements?" Because if you have a story, you can make one even if you can't do everything else. The story is the heart of the Visual Novel, so you have to have a story before even considering making one.

Now let's talk about solutions to making development move faster. When creators have invested their own money into the demo, they later have to make a Kickstarter account of some sort to raise funds for the full game. Beforehand, they have to grow an audience with the promotion of the demo. Gaining a following and fans can take a while and advertisement is one of those elements not everyone can do well.

So VN devs that have a successful Kickstarter account will have quicker development. However, not everyone trusts Kickstarter and sometimes it can be a waste of time if it fails. If you feel that way, you can instead ask your favorite VN dev to make a Patreon account. You can give them funds every month and see sneak-peeks of the visual novel's development as they go. This can make you feel at ease as you wait, plus you can get the same rewards you'd get on Kickstarter, but there will be no time limit and you can cancel anytime you want.

My last solution is showing your support to the VN dev. Kind words can go a long way, and sharing the demo around can also make to dev feel a boost of confidence and make them work even harder. Also don't forget to leave them encouraging messages, comments and even leaving them a good rating on their game.

Thanks for listening, Visual Novel readers, and I hope this gave you insight into what goes on behind the scenes with VN developers.

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Re: Why most visual novels stay as demos for so long.

#2 Post by Ibitz » Sat Dec 21, 2019 12:39 am

I'll chime in, having a 3-year long demo (which stemmed from something used as physical therapy into a game), that everyone has different reasons for creating a game on top of different skills and teams. I am by myself. I'm partially disabled. I had back to back arm surgeries which led me to learning to do art and creating a story idea in my head. I have to work full-time and I completely taught myself Python just to make this game as I was working. I have tons of other game ideas planned and I just do this for fun now and to see my ideas come to life. I want to share my ideas with the world and give people free/fun games to play. I like to think that it's not about how fast someone is at pumping out a game; it's all about quality and the ideas that stem from the creator's mind. Quality should always come first over quantity. At least, in my mind it should.
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Re: Why most visual novels stay as demos for so long.

#3 Post by papillon » Sat Dec 21, 2019 12:02 pm

So VN devs that have a successful Kickstarter account will have quicker development.
Hahahahahaha. :)

Quite the opposite, often!

The need to run a kickstarter slows down the development (can't do anything until the kickstarter is over) and the kickstarter itself may blow up the scope of the original project and make it take much longer to finish.

Straightforward game development doesn't need to make a separate demo until the game is actually FINISHED, and then the demo part is quite easy to cut off.

Making a demo first early on is only useful if you're trying to get funding. Otherwise, all it does is give you a bunch of up-front costs for a game that may never be completed, and build up excitement long before you have an actual game to feed that interest. That excitement may then trickle off and disappear, and by the time your game is released, no one cares anymore.

To make a good-looking demo, you've got to focus on getting all the tiny little details right. The GUI, the art, the music, etc. But you don't have the whole game ready to go yet, which means you risk losing touch with those people over time and having to throw out everything that was done for the demo. (This is less of a problem if you're a solo creator.)

It's a problem in the mainstream game industry as well. You can read a lot of postmortems that will include development being massively derailed by the need to produce a "vertical slice" to reassure the company bigwigs that there's a cool game being made and they should keep paying for it.

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Re: Why most visual novels stay as demos for so long.

#4 Post by Wudgeous » Sat Dec 28, 2019 8:44 pm

Yeah papillon has a point, the main thing that puts me off of hopping onto crowdfunding asap is all the additional work it would entail. Community outreach, backer rewards, milestone rewards, periodic updates... That's all gonna be time and diligence spent away from development, especially if you're a solo dev.

Having most of the game done prior to demo-release/crowdfunding seems like the safer, more responsible bet. :) Maybe it's different if you have a team that works super well together though?


Addendum: Forgot that I came here to actually reply to the topic at hand lol ---- personally, making a demo it takes so long for me because I always feel like it's "not enough, not good enough." Like I need to spend more time on this, fix that, etc etc. Money is a factor too, yes, but I try to hold off on spending it because necessary assets are subject to change early on. I might cut backgrounds or CGs entirely, or shuffle them around during edits.
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Re: Why most visual novels stay as demos for so long.

#5 Post by GNVE » Sun Dec 29, 2019 8:48 am

Wudgeous wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 8:44 pm
Having most of the game done prior to demo-release/crowdfunding seems like the safer, more responsible bet. :)

Yeah it's more of a marketing tool then. Getting the word out. So it serves a different purpose but if used well can be highly effective.
Wudgeous wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 8:44 pm
Maybe it's different if you have a team that works super well together though?

Maybe but game development is finicky. Something can always happen. Teams can fall apart etc.

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Re: Why most visual novels stay as demos for so long.

#6 Post by jack_norton » Sun Dec 29, 2019 11:23 am

I'm not a KS expert (I plan to start using it however) but if you have a track record of finishing games or you can show very nice artwork, you don't even need a demo to get some good funding ($20k+ and up). Well, mostly if you do adult VNs :lol:
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