I'm starting a VN alone: How should I go about this?

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dartbored
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I'm starting a VN alone: How should I go about this?

#1 Post by dartbored » Sat Sep 08, 2018 1:24 pm

I'm working on a visual novel and I can code it, but I feel like I'm lacking on the writing and art side (don't even get me started on the music). I have the overall idea for the story, but I don't know how to incorporate that through the dialogue. I want it to feel natural, not like I'm constantly spitting out lore.

As for the art, I'm an amateur digital artist with very little experience drawing refined, full color art. Any advice would be helpful, but I would prefer to keep the project to myself and not have to add more people if I really don't need to.
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Re: I'm starting a VN alone: How should I go about this?

#2 Post by parttimestorier » Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:15 pm

What might be helpful is writing your first draft of the story without worrying about whether the dialogue is natural or not. If you want a character to explain a certain facet of the world or backstory, just write them saying that directly - it's a draft anyway. Then when you have a full draft, you can go back through it and work on editing it to make the conversation flow better so that it seems less like an infodump. That will be easier to do once writing the whole draft has given you a better idea of what all the characters are like and what's important in the story.

For art and music, you could consider using creative commons resources. There's plenty of that in the relevant section of this forum, and on other websites like itch.io. Even if you really want to have all original resources eventually, you could use those things as placeholders while you're working on the writing and programming. That will help you figure out exactly what you want for those resources, so that you're less likely to waste time creating things you don't end up using.
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Re: I'm starting a VN alone: How should I go about this?

#3 Post by dartbored » Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:16 am

This is some great advice! Thanks! I've started some story planning, and I feel a lot better after getting it down on paper.
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Re: I'm starting a VN alone: How should I go about this?

#4 Post by Mutive » Mon Sep 10, 2018 7:25 pm

I'm going to echo the "don't worry about the writing too much" early on. It's going to suck. That's the state of most rough drafts. :)

Also, while you may want to do the VN 90% alone, it might be worth seeing if you can find someone to beta it once it's finished. (Especially if you continue to find the dialogue to be lacking.) A good beta really can make something entirely better.

A final thought - there are a LOT of writing resources online that can critique stuff. Most focus on short stories or novels, but getting some experience with different forms of writing might help to make your dialogue read more naturally and to get a sense as to how to divulge information without it feeling exposition-y. (Even if you don't do this, I'd strongly recommend reading critically and seeing how others do it. How, for instance, does GRR Martin explain his world without it sounding like an encyclopedia? He's got a lot of clever tricks if you read closely!)
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Re: I'm starting a VN alone: How should I go about this?

#5 Post by fullmontis » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:43 am

As someone who is also a solo dev hopefully I can give a helping hand.

The thing I reccomend to do at first is to limit the scope of your game. Making a VN is very hard, and three times so if you do it alone; so if you aim to finish your project you need to be aware of this. Making something small (and most importantly, actually completing it) can be a huge learning tool, and can build your confidence for upcoming projects, while also building a audience.

I wouldn't think too much about the writing or art quality. These things come with practice. Focusing on actually releasing your game is more important.

Case study: the visual novel I'm currently working on started as a NaNoRenO game, so I expected to complete it in one month. I didn't. So I worked on it for the SuNoFes jam that is a two month long contest over the summer. I didn't finish in time. Right now, the VN has about 5 months of solo development, which is 5x the time I expected it to last, and is probably going to take a few more weeks before it is actually finished. I'm at a point where I'm past the tip of the mountain and I know that I'm going to finish it, but for a long time that wasn't the case, and I was filled with doubts due to how hard the development was becoming. If I went back in time at the beginning of the development and somehow knew how hard it would have been making this, I would have probably made something a lot smaller, just because being a solo dev is so time consuming.

(That said, I really mismanaged this project with a lot of false starts so that is probably a factor too)

I'm not trying to scare you away :-) Remember that finishing a project is a skill just like writing and art: you get better at it the more you do it. And it is actually much more important than the other ones, since you can be a writing god but if you never actually complete something that others can read, then it's all wasted.
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Re: I'm starting a VN alone: How should I go about this?

#6 Post by KouhaiChan » Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:30 am

First of all, music and art can be learned through youtube tutorials and practice (how i learned).
Before making any drafts of the story i suggest you make a "map" of the story and its different routes, choices, events, endings, etc then start on trying out the rough draft.
Learning how to make dialouge can be hard, but i do it by fleshing out each of the characters first. Their talking behaviors, mannerisms, personality, backstory, and then put myself in their position and predict how they would speak. Be careful with pacing as well, i read too many visual novels where its too fast paced one second and slow another and vice versa.
Sorry if this wasnt very helpful, but i hope you are successful with you vn!

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