Library Program

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SecondPlaceYuya
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Library Program

#1 Post by SecondPlaceYuya » Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:14 pm

I am a librarian running a Ren'py program for the YA audience. I'm running a single session "Intro to Visual Novels" where we go over some basic coding and use creative commons art and write a quick short story. Long term, I will be running the program in three month chunks, meeting twice per month. So I'll have about 12 hours and 12 people working on a project. I know that's not a lot of time! But it is quite a bit of man power.

For anyone who has worked collaboratively like this before... Should I divide up groups to have an "art group" "writing group" and "coding group" based on interest and skills? Should I let each kid handle their own character and storyline from start to finish and then tie them together myself to complete the package? Should I have writing/storyboarding weeks, art weeks, and coding weeks? What has worked best for you or been a total trainwreck?

I'm thinking I'm going to lay out 5 basic plot/genre skeletons and having them fill in the details with characters and dialogue they create... I guess it just depends on how into it or experienced they are. The group I'm working with is 13-18, so I'm not expecting much as far as attention span, but I do want to have a completed playable game by the end of the 3 months.

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Re: Library Program

#2 Post by Zelan » Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:38 pm

First of all: this is awesome and you are awesome. Thank you for doing this.

Second: it is a really tough thing to figure out. Art, writing, and coding seems like the best plan for groups. On the other hand, the groups could easily become unbalanced. If you have six artists, one writer, and two coders, there's going to be arguments on who does what. However, forcing kids into a group that they don't want to be in would obviously kill the fun of it.

A good idea might be to start by having it be more structured, but if the kids come to you and say "this doesn't work and it should be changed," take their feedback into account.

Basic plot skeletons is a great idea to get the program kickstarted, but if the group as a whole comes up with a totally different idea that they seem enthusiastic about, definitely don't hold them back.

As a small note: consider having a music group, or at least people who are in charge of music and SFX in addition to whatever else they're doing. Sound can play a big role in visual novels. If you're lucky enough to find a budding composer, great, but even if not you could show them where to find free music resources, like incompetech.com or free sound.org. It would add a little bit more life into the VN and give them a better idea of everything that goes into the most basic VNs.

Do you plan on introducing the kids to LemmaSoft as a resource? If so, let me know - I'd love to see their progress and give advice if I can. ^_^

Also, lemme just reiterate that you are awesome. I'm crossing my fingers that your library is near me because I'd really like to get in on this IRL if possible.

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Re: Library Program

#3 Post by Zylinder » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:58 pm

From previous experience working in projects to deliver short films or games, in a course it's easiest to have a structure that loosely follows like this:

1. Plot/Brainstorming, finalizing of story. It's important to at least get a log line everyone can agree to.
2. Pre-production: Artists begin exploring what the game might look like, programmers and writers decide on the gameplay parts of the game
3. Production: Creation of assets. code, writing
4. Post-production: Adding SFX, vfx, something that everyone can chip into together.

Of course, in real life it's not going to be as simple as deadlines generally get postponed here and there, so keeping it flexible is important. I agree with Zelan -- you're amazing for doing this.

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Re: Library Program

#4 Post by SecondPlaceYuya » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:31 am

Thanks for the advice. I think we will probably spend an entire session on brainstorming and talking about what jobs everyone is interesting in doing. I feel like everyone can contribute the story and characters, but when it comes to the art/coding/sound, we will be breaking apart into smaller groups a lot more.

They will definitely be getting directed to Lemmasoft. Part of the goal is to teach them about creative commons and intellectual property. They will be using creative commons material from the site as long as they are able to credit the creator. And thanks for the referrals to other sites for sound.

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Re: Library Program

#5 Post by puppetbomb » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:33 pm

IMO, I think it would be best to have each person flesh out their own projects and learn how to implement everything themselves rather than splitting people up by abilities in a first project.

I think there's merit to creating a visual novel alone, experiencing every step in how a visual novel is made. And hopefully it can foster appreciation and understanding between different skills :3

I agree with Zelan to make projects more structured. Possibly set limits, like "no more than three characters", "2-3 backgrounds", "2-5 pages of script", "must have at least two SFX" etc so no one is overwhelmed (I'm just throwing out numbers ^^;;)?

And three cheers for teachers! You're doing the Lord's work ;v;

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Re: Library Program

#6 Post by Zelan » Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:19 pm

puppetbomb wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:33 pm
IMO, I think it would be best to have each person flesh out their own projects and learn how to implement everything themselves rather than splitting people up by abilities in a first project.

I think there's merit to creating a visual novel alone, experiencing every step in how a visual novel is made. And hopefully it can foster appreciation and understanding between different skills :3
I don't know that I agree with this. There's definitely merit, like you said, but it's also a much more difficult process than you would think. The first VN that I released, which I made on my own, literally had no art because it's nowhere near being my area of expertise. I get where you're coming from, but forcing someone to code or write when they're mostly interested in art is a really easy way to discourage them instead. Plus, for a lot of people, making your own VN does require collaboration, even if you have the final creative say in everything.
I agree with Zelan to make projects more structured. Possibly set limits, like "no more than three characters", "2-3 backgrounds", "2-5 pages of script", "must have at least two SFX" etc so no one is overwhelmed (I'm just throwing out numbers ^^;;)?

And three cheers for teachers! You're doing the Lord's work ;v;
This I do agree with - it's a great idea. Although, I think I'd only give maximums, not minimums. As mentioned above, my first VN has no art, but I made it work that way and people seemed to think it was pretty decent. If the kids have a good idea that only needs one background, they shouldn't be forced to make another just for the sake of it.

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Re: Library Program

#7 Post by puppetbomb » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:56 am

Zelan wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:19 pm
puppetbomb wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:33 pm
I think there's merit to creating a visual novel alone[...]
I don't know that I agree with this. There's definitely merit, like you said, but it's also a much more difficult process than you would think. The first VN that I released, which I made on my own, literally had no art because it's nowhere near being my area of expertise. I get where you're coming from, but forcing someone to code or write when they're mostly interested in art is a really easy way to discourage them instead. Plus, for a lot of people, making your own VN does require collaboration, even if you have the final creative say in everything.
I agree that making an entire visual novel is super unreasonable for beginners, especially if there are limitations is skillsets.

My proposal is to start everyone on a single scene VN that covers just enough functions to create a basic VN (images, dialog and choices). It doesn't have to be a shippable product, which will be less overwhelming for everyone involved. SecondPlaceYuya can provide placeholder assets (which can dovetail into a lesson on copyright and Creative Commons Licensing) and the kids can sub in whatever dialog they want.

The reason I'm adamant about learning every aspect of making a (short) visual novel, is because I assume that SecondPlaceYuya's VN program is about teaching kids how to make a VN in RenPy. Coding is a big part of making a VN, so it doesn't make sense for certain people to opt out. I don't think kids who want to do art should be prevented from doing art. But if this is a learnin' class, by god they should learn something.

I also think that getting discouraged because you have to make a visual novel in a "Make a Visual Novel" program is... er... (Why would a person go into a free/cheap program and get discouraged that they're learning how to do the thing that's advertised? .__.;;)

Zelan wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:19 pm
Although, I think I'd only give maximums, not minimums. [...] If the kids have a good idea that only needs one background, they shouldn't be forced to make another just for the sake of it.
That's a really good point. I hadn't thought of that ^^;

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Re: Library Program

#8 Post by SecondPlaceYuya » Mon Oct 16, 2017 8:43 pm

Yeah, the point is that its a collaboration that they can use their existing skills, but learn something new too. My goal is to show them that art and science aren't mutually exclusive. The end product doesn't have to be polished or even complete, I just want it to be something that they can learn from and share. I want to get some computer kids to try art, and some art kids to try coding, and everyone to try creative writing.

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