Blade Visual Novel Engine

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shaja
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Blade Visual Novel Engine

#1 Post by shaja » Mon Jul 24, 2006 10:42 am

HERNDON, VA – July 24, 2006 - CuriousFactory and Buredo today announced the release of "Blade Engine", a free game engine and construction kit aimed at making Visual Novel easy to construct, fully localized into English.

For more detail, please visit Blade Engine official site.
http://www.bladeengine.com
I haven't had a chance to try this myself, but I have looked at some tutorial scripts... It's interesting to see an example of what the non-Ren'Py-using world has to work with.

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#2 Post by PyTom » Mon Jul 24, 2006 11:58 am

Hm... I've downloaded the tutorial, but haven't actually played any of the games yet. As best as I can tell, Blade is an engine that is fairly similar to (O)Nscripter. It has the same sort of semi-low-level feel to it, requiring manual management of memory, and spreading image filenames throughout the game script.

I don't see any advantages of this over ONscripter, if you like that sort of low-level approach. Of course, I'd like to think Ren'Py has a higher-level approach that beats both. :-) Not that I'm unbiased or anything.

I'm not quite sure I believe in the English-language support of this thing, as it requires Asian Language Support to be loaded on the machine you're playing games on.

What's most interesting is how knowledge of visual novels seems to be spreading throughout the western world. A number of companies seem to be springing up around the genre, putting in reasonably substatial investment (Okashi's con booths don't come cheap). It'll be interesting to see if these companies succeed or fail.
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#3 Post by Alessio » Mon Jul 24, 2006 2:19 pm

Weird that a few years ago no engines existed outside Japan and now we're being flooded with them. For the time being I'll stick with Ren'Py. Multiplatform support and all. Plus I've grown fond of Eileen, my personal Ren'Py teacher. :)

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#4 Post by monele » Mon Jul 24, 2006 3:20 pm

Crashed right away and a quick look at the example script makes me dizzy.. Yup, I'm sticking to Ren'Py XD

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#5 Post by mikey » Mon Jul 24, 2006 4:13 pm

PyTom wrote:I'm not quite sure I believe in the English-language support of this thing, as it requires Asian Language Support to be loaded on the machine you're playing games on.
I couldn't get it to run, probably because I haven't got Asian languages installed (and I don't want to have them installed if it can be helped)... which makes me a classic case in point. :roll:

But hey, it's always nice to have yet another engine. We've had several attempts, but this one (along with English ONScripter) is an actual alternative, because it's completed. Its problem is of course in the nag message, which is a concession that no one will want to make - similar to the clickteam installers.
PyTom wrote:A number of companies seem to be springing up around the genre, putting in reasonably substatial investment (Okashi's con booths don't come cheap). It'll be interesting to see if these companies succeed or fail.
Also, define success... Covering costs... drawing people to the genre?
monele wrote:Crashed right away and a quick look at the example script makes me dizzy.. Yup, I'm sticking to Ren'Py XD
Without wanting to sound like a Ren'Py evangelist (and really, I'm not - I've used it in just 2 projects), whenever I look at the other scripts, onscripter or now blade, I can't help thinking that Ren'Py is so much more elegant, more fresh, more intuitive and it just feels closer to the way of thinking I, for one, have. As a result, it's got a different "soul", and it probably makes it feel more natural to the English-speaking developers than translated Japanese engines can ever be.

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#6 Post by shaja » Mon Jul 24, 2006 5:05 pm

I've played the Genyu Toshi demo now - my XP pc is setup for Japanese locale, so no font problem.

The actual demo story and art are a pretty good teaser, but I kept thinking as I went through it, "I could tweak this phrase here and that there, and clean up this graphic and have it running in Ren'Py in an hour or two."

The actual script code looks pretty low-level, as noted. It seems to me that a programmer would not have a problem implementing a completed design with it, but it looks pretty clumsy for the 'tweak as you go' approach. Much like the difference between programming in C vs. Python, actually.

There were some bugs with the interpreter itself, beyond the East Asian support thing. In fullscreen, the 'Blade' overlay rendered as just a white square, and after right-clicking to hide the text window, showing it again erases the current text.

Feature-wise, I didn't see anything Ren'Py couldn't do. I know there are Japanese VN engines that have the equivalents of ImageDissolve and particle systems, for example, but Blade doesn't seem to be one. And Blade is Windows-only.

Still, like Mikey said, it's nice to have the choice of using another completed engine.

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#7 Post by RedSlash » Mon Jul 24, 2006 7:07 pm

Blade does not support Linux. Therefore, it cannot compare to ren'py! j/k

Not to mention they have a professional version for sale which means the free version is limited in functionality and the differences are listed in this forum:
http://bladeengine.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3

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#8 Post by mugenjohncel » Tue Jul 25, 2006 11:32 pm

Hmm... Now how should I respond to this.

It was 7 years ago that I received my first ever copy of a Ren-Ai Visual novel (unfortunately it is also labeled as "H"... meaning Hentai) but that sparked the idea that I wanted to make my own visual novel.

First I tried NScripter but limited support and manuals and tutorials not to mention the fact that most of them are in Japanese so progress is slow to almost none.

Then I tried several approaches (that includes attempting to program a whole engine from scratch but alas... I failed to realize the complexities of making a game-engine from scratch).

Then comes Renpy...

The engine itself is pretty easy to understand and a whole community composed of diverse, Skilled, talented and Interesting individuals (Yup!... Including Satan) and support is great whenever I hit a brick wall and answers to all my questions is just a post away... of course Renpy is free to use and also supports other platforms and that is something you cannot ignore.

I have decided to stick with renpy and devote all my talent, skill, available resources and sparetime to this great engine and make my first VN using it.

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#9 Post by monele » Wed Jul 26, 2006 3:03 am

I put the blame on you for making me drool on my keyboard ! (I'm really fond of this drawing style...)

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#10 Post by PyTom » Wed Jul 26, 2006 7:02 am

I think we've already been massively impressed by the character art, so today I'd like to ask about the background art. Is the background art here entirely done from scratch, or was there some sort of room layout CAD program involved?

The background is very precise, and to be frank, backgrounds, especially indoor backgrounds, are an area that we (as a community, with notable exceptions) haven't focused much on.

So any hints would help.
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#11 Post by Watercolorheart » Thu Jul 27, 2006 5:49 am

Perhaps it takes an artist's eye, but it is definitely lined and done in either Photoshop or some other graphics program supporting an airbrush (I was fond of PhotoImpact 10 for a while).

It's possible that they did it 3d first and traced over it (a process I tried, but which saved no time in the end), but I highly doubt it. It's got a "carefully sketched or envisioned then drawn: feel to it to me.

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#12 Post by mugenjohncel » Thu Jul 27, 2006 6:43 am

Perhaps it takes an artist's eye, but it is definitely lined and done in either Photoshop or some other graphics program supporting an airbrush (I was fond of PhotoImpact 10 for a while).
Yup! you were right on this one.

I first made a pencil sketch then lined it with ruler using a softer pencil

Then I scanned it and traced it in photoshop.

Tracing definitely takes time and considerable effort but once you get the hang of it you can trace a single BG in about 2 hours (coloring time not included).

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#13 Post by lordcloudx » Fri Jul 28, 2006 1:34 am

ah yeshh... the agony of tracing via photoshop. But... you can alternatively trace it faster manually with an inking pen as long as you're sure you're not gonna beat your head in if you make a mistake.

bet this is gonna be some game seeing all the effort you're putting into it.

back to the original topic: I'm sticking with renpy coz I've gotten used to it. I was actually planning to use Onscripter for wings when I remembered something about a visual novel engine that was easy to use. This was renpy. Tried it, liked it end of story.
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#14 Post by mikey » Fri Jul 28, 2006 4:59 am

This said, there are people who do prefer other engines, say... RPGMaker, so it's not like that style fits everyone.

And I've also needed a long time to "convert" to Ren'Py, it's not that it wouldn't be a much easier thing to work with, but it's the force of habit... :?

One point about Ren'Py is that it's shaped by its own games and it's very much alive. You can actually contribute to its development, and that's IMO one of the great advantages.

I don't think that Ren'Py could get this advanced in just two years if it had just been programmed to match the specs of other engines. Field experience IMO has been the most valuable asset of its development.

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#15 Post by PyTom » Fri Jul 28, 2006 7:09 am

mikey wrote:I don't think that Ren'Py could get this advanced in just two years if it had just been programmed to match the specs of other engines. Field experience IMO has been the most valuable asset of its development.
I will concur with this. For a while, I was trying to match the feature set found in commercial games and doujin games. A while back, Ren'Py achieved feature parity with those engines... at least, I haven't been seeing new engine features that can't be implemented in Ren'Py, especially with ImageDissolves. So now Ren'Py is mostly driven by requests from users, both those that come in over the board here, and those that come in privately over email.

For example, one of the features that will be in the next release is the ability to have vertical, as well as horizontal, bars. This comes from a forum-member sending me a mockup of menus for a game, and asking if they could be implemented in Ren'Py. Tonight I will throw a few minutes into coding it up, and for the next release, the answer will be "yes".

Without requests like this, Ren'Py won't evolve nearly as fast, as it's hard for me to come up with new features that are needed.

(Not to trash talk the competition, but I do think lack of any sort of support for variables and condition testing in Blade is a fairly major omission.)
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