Making A Living off of VNs: What should I do?

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Rozume
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Making A Living off of VNs: What should I do?

#1 Post by Rozume » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:35 pm

I looked around and the general consensus here is that it's going to be really really really difficult making a living off of making Visual Novels. But it's not impossible - look at people Hanako Games, Winter Wolves, and Sakevisual. I realize that they're really a small handful, but if they can do it why can't I?

Another thing to note, I really have a difficult time getting a job due to my health. I have Major Depression and PTSD, which makes it really difficult for me to get a job. And even if I do get a job, I can't maintain it. I tried, I mean, really really tried but getting job is not a feasible option for me.

So I looked at my other options and my talents - I can paint and draw, I can write, I can learn to program... why not try making a business doing something I like, such as Visual Novels?

I'd like some advice. Currently my plan is releasing a couple of free quality VNs to get a fanbase and then release a commercial game.
Last edited by Rozume on Sat Feb 28, 2015 2:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Making A Living off of VNs: What should I do?

#2 Post by firecat » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:03 pm

In ( http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewto ... 13&t=27850 ) almost everyone agrees that selling a vn is difficult and free vn are also difficult as well. it is possible to sell your vn to get some money but people are more likely to buy a book than a vn, you'll need to do more than just vn to make a living off a game developer.

if you need money than work on a real job and sell your skills as an artist, many people do commission to get a few dollars. overtime your artwork will be valuable to where it could be $50-$100 and possibly work with big companies. it will take time yes but its a good path that i have seen many times done and many are happy with it.
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Re: Making A Living off of VNs: What should I do?

#3 Post by papillon » Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:11 pm

you'll need to do more than just vn to make a living off a game developer
Not true, and making games other than VNs doesn't mean that it'll suddenly be easy to make a living either. Plenty of non-VN indies fall by the roadside too.

I'm not qualified to speak on how major depression can affect someone, but I will say that working as a complete independent requires an awful lot of stubbornness and being willing to keep going... and having at least some ability to sell yourself and your works. Just making free works alone, even good free works, does not guarantee that a fanbase will come along, or that your fans will be willing to support you commercially... if your free games are nice, you may find yourself in a situation where your 'supporters' are enraged that you want to charge money for what they feel you "should" give away for free (because you did it before).

The biggest benefit of making free games first is learning what it takes to put a complete game together, and hopefully getting some feedback on what you do well/badly in order to improve your designs in the future. For that reason it can be helpful to target contests/events of some sort that guarantee you a certain amount of attention, in order to boost the amount of useful feedback you get.

But there's no easy roadmap you can follow step by step.

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Re: Making A Living off of VNs: What should I do?

#4 Post by Rozume » Sat Feb 28, 2015 2:34 am

@firecat

As I said before, working on a real job isn't really feasible for someone like me. I suppose I can try selling my art though...

@papillion

I agree, there's no roadmap to success. I guess I should've asked for general advice on the situation - I'll edit it accordingly.

But yeah, everyone's different and success varies from person to person. It also involves some element of luck, being at the right place at the right time, knowing the right people, etc. I'm not discouraged though and even though it's hard I'll gain nothing if I don't try.

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Re: Making A Living off of VNs: What should I do?

#5 Post by trooper6 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 2:45 am

If you can't work due to depression and PTSD, can you qualify for disability so you at least get some income?

I don't have a lot of advice on the professional VN question, but I'd think trying to be aggressive in marketing your art commissions would be smart to do in parallel with your VN work. Build connections and good will as well as earn some money and get extra practice.
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Re: Making A Living off of VNs: What should I do?

#6 Post by Samu-kun » Sat Feb 28, 2015 4:48 am

I think making a living off of VNs is possible... You just need to work a lot and pay really close attention to market trends. We usually operate around 10 hours a day, 7 days a week maybe... Also, you need very high stress tolerance because of the non-creative aspects of production like business deals, contracts, taxes, intellectual property law, etc, on top of the regular problems with making a VN... And a substantial portion of the internet will hate you for no apparent reason and say bad things about you on certain message boards. You pretty much never know whether you're going to be dead hobo or a filthy rich millionaire by the end of the year. (Although most likely neither. >_>)

But hey, it's a lotta fun and it's got some pretty exciting moments! If you wanna do it, then by all means try it out!

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Re: Making A Living off of VNs: What should I do?

#7 Post by Noyemi K » Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:04 pm

You might want to just offer services and be very careful about what you choose to do. In 2013 I did animation for games as a (decent!) job and I found it significantly more stressful than a normal 9-5 would be in most circumstances.

Starting a whole business from the bottom is going to be a lot more agony and pain than you're expecting, and it's going to be a much rockier road than a normal job. If you do well, great! If it fails, there's a long way to fall and there's things worse than not making any money. I've been there with the expectation of a creative career somehow being "more feasible" than a "normal" job or somehow easier to work, and was proven very very wrong in short order. "Normal" work can be mind-numbing but at the very least you get to switch your brain off for 4-8 hours a day for most of the week and everything is nicely laid out for you in terms of expectations.

I'm not saying don't try, but it does seem like you're not taking to account all the difficulties of getting setup and maintaining the ebb and flow of working for yourself.
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Re: Making A Living off of VNs: What should I do?

#8 Post by Rozume » Sat Feb 28, 2015 2:59 pm

@trooper6
I applied for SSI and hopefully I'll get approved; if not, then I'll just keep trying until I get it.

That's some really good advice.

@Samu-kun
That's good to know! Definitely sounds like a lot of work, but it's a given when you're trying to do your own thing.

@Noyemi K
That is true; I'm not taking everything into account because I'm not sure what to take into account for. And there are so many resources online I don't know where to start.

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Re: Making A Living off of VNs: What should I do?

#9 Post by Aviala » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:42 pm

I think it might be wise to try to gain some kind of a fanbase before you try selling your games. The fanbase doesn't necessarily need to be formed around VNs; if you have an art blog that has lots of followers who like you: great, you've got the beginnings of a fanbase!
The person who draws the Starfighter comic had no experience with VN's but her Starfighter VN got like 70 000 dollars on Kickstarter if I remember right. Her fans are loyal and there are many of them so it doesn't really matter that they don't usually play Visual Novels. If you're a popular artist, people will probably buy your game when you decide to make one.

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Re: Making A Living off of VNs: What should I do?

#10 Post by Chibi Subaru » Fri Mar 06, 2015 9:17 pm

If you don't have a tumblr or twitter or any social media... not just for the visual novel stuff, but also a personal one, I highly recommend getting one and use it to promote your art or your fandoms... anything to get followers. When you start talking about your projects, you already have people to see and read about it as well as possibly spread the word.

If you are into anime, you could try going to conventions and get an artist alley table to help get your name out there, but, of course, that costs money.

Also if you are into any visual novel/otome companies, join their Facebook pages as well as any fangroup pages and be as active as you can be on there. I'm into Voltage games and am well known in the group... I already have friends on there that want to play my game. It helps with building a network and learning more about what types of elements consumers are looking for into these types of games.

I don't know if you plan to do apps or PC games... each have their pros and cons... personally I'm going with the apps as I can add more routes and stories while the game is out. With free versions of apps, you can technically make more money on them since people can buy passes to read more of the story and points and items for getting pass challenges in the game. Typically the free versions start off with 3 playable routes. For PC games, for commercial, more people might be iffy on buying them since they are usually (or at least from what I've seen) at least $30 for the whole game.

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