Ren'Py specific questions should be posted in the Ren'Py Questions and Annoucements forum, not here.
Writing the script and story is one thing.
Programming the scenes/graphics/UI in your editor is another thing (and that is rather fun to do in Ren'py IMO).
Getting music can be tricky/expensive, but there is a lot of creative commons music and SFX out there.
But for me at least, a person who is making a VN in Ren'py, I find that getting good artwork for both characters and backgrounds is easily the hardest part. Creative commons artwork can't give you the right context you need and the free character art -- if it is even within your style -- can only do so much.
This was a conclusion I've easily come to and am curious in asking other creators. Would you agree that of all of the things you need to do to make a visual novel -- story-writing, programming & UI, artwork (GUI, backgrounds, character art, cutscene stills), music -- that artwork is the hardest?
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Art, in comparison is less of a motivation issue than coding to me. I have pretty good schedules for it and once I'm done with a sprite to a degree that I don't feel like it's lacking and damn ugly, I can move on to the next with a sense of accomplishment. Art, by being a series of smaller projects rather than one big chore like writing and coding can be, is a lot more dopamine-rich and with more solid progress. I don't think in terms of 'the coding for this scene is % completed' but 'the code in it's entirety is % done', while art is 'this sprite is % done', starting completely anew and making quick progress with the next sprite once it's done.
Of course, while I'm not an artist and don't like art enough that I want to do it for a living, I do enjoy it to a degree. Coding, I do not. Writing I do enjoy most but we all know it has it's ups and downs. So I'd say that the hardest part lies more in what the developer likes to do most, assuming solo-development.
Want some CC sprites?
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However, my personal take on the hardest part of VN production is probably going to be the writing (In terms of the production side of things) and the marketing (In terms of the admin side of things). I imagine that although writing is something everybody can do and seems simple on the outside, the amount of time it takes a writer to write the first draft, reedit it multiple times and then go through the tedious process of proofreading and beta testing it with other people and then coming back to reedit the thing again (While making sure that quality writing is there), is probably the more arduous part of the journey. I'm not saying that the art part of it is easy (I'm not an artist, but I know how much time and effort my artist spends on my commissions and it's a whole lot chunk load when you add it up), but in terms of the amount of time spent on writing and reediting your script multiple times and brooding over what to write, what to cut, how to phrase it and all that jazz, I'd say it would take up the most time in your project as compared to the rest of the elements. (I'm not entirely sure of this and I stand to be corrected) Writing might not be a very complex process like producing art/music/coding but it does take very long time to complete. In that sense, it's hard because it's a tedious job.
Marketing on the other hand seems pretty tough as well. Getting your game out there and showing it to the world, gaining influence and spreading it across multiple audiences is pretty darn tricky. There's a lot effort involved in marketing as it involves building a lot of connections you should maintain and doing many self-promotions that will either make or break your brand (Since first impression and all that is important) to get your game out there. In that sense, it's hard because its tricky and seems kinda complex, heck, even I'm still kinda in the dark about it!
So I guess, my answer would differ from yours. Personally, I think that the writing and marketing aspects of VN production are the hardest parts. Then again, everybody has their own take on this and the replies are going to vary from person to person.
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As an artist, I put the most of workload on art, simply because I'm a visual person and I know what to do, which lets me do things faster and better.
Coding is easy for me because I need only the basic code. If I'll want something fancier, I'll start struggling.
Writing is the part where I struggle the most, even tho the workload is smaller than in art.
Marketing? Hahaha! Oh, I have no idea what to do in marketing, I'm planning to hire someone when I'm done with the game.
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But in fact, you can understand (RenPy) programming quite easily, writing a story should also not be a problem. You can learn about marketing just by watching/reading stuff on internet.
Music - you just need to learn to play an instrument or how to use some application but it isn't as hard (or just take some free music).
When it comes to art, well, there's no easy way but just learn how to draw. I believe that with enough time and dedication it's possible. I've been personally learning to draw for almost a year now, because I want to have my own original art in the game, it wasn't easy and I still have along way to go.
And it's not only character sprites that needs to be done - event scenes, interface, maybe icons, cursors and everything else. Animations, effects...
Of course it's possible to team up/commision someone experienced but it depends on budget and people but it also works for other aspects of production.
So yeah, based on my own experience, I agree that art is one of the hardest parts of game creation.
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In my opinion, the hardest part in the process, is finding the right way to present it.
Writing, easy. I can rewrite stuff no problem if it sounds too cliche, corny or down right stupid.
Music, reasonably difficult, but not exactly hard given the right / enough experience.
Programming, if I can learn it, so can you. How long that takes, varies, but it all comes down to practise and study.
Making each individual part fit with the rest of the game and have synergy and balance without appearing as simply "blah blah", choose an option, "blah blah", choose another option - now that's the hard part.
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(Not aimed at anyone personally.)
I think part of the issue is that many people have better trained aesthetic senses than they do artistic ability, so they can TELL that they can't draw, whereas many people who can't write are completely unaware of it.
And with code, it's closer to an objective test of whether it works or not. Sure, you'll miss out on cool optional tricks that would be possible if you were a better coder, but you can at least tell whether what you put in the game FUNCTIONS.
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personally I think it's all hard. It all takes work, to get everything done right. whatever would be the "hardest" would vary by person. I can't draw, so writing is easier for me... but I've also been writing for over 20 years so I wouldn't say writing is easy objectively
It's just that art is the easiest thing to see if it's done well/poorly since it doesn't take long for your eyes to take it in as opposed to the other elements. Just my 2 cents though > <
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The hardest part is keeping track of all the personality points, its effects, AND taking into account that with the conditional responses OTHER characters make along with all the conversation topic flags
My script so far is 16k with 25 menus; there are 26 convo flags and 23 point systems
I don't really think there's any part that's objectively the hardest of them all. It's just that there are parts that you enjoy doing less AND are less skilled at than others, and that's what making it drag on forever.
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I agree with everyone who's said that it's subjective/depends on the person. For me, the art's definitely the hardest, because I can't draw to save my life. On the other hand, there's a friend of mine who's a fantastic artist and musician, and he's good at coming up with broad outlines for stories, but his grammar is god-awful. I've pretty much been assigned as his permanent editor because of this.
He's also on this forum so my man if you see this I'm sorry for gossiping about you but you were the first example I could think of for "good at art/sucks at something else."
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To go even deeper, there's also the types of art techniques you're using and the art style you choose. I've seen visual novels that use claymation, but there's noticeable reasons why so few developers attempt to make games using it.
I find pixel art to be very, very challenging, yet I see so many people who hold the belief that pixel art is "easier to do" because it's simple and minimalistic. The great irony is that pixel art is extremely challenging because it uses minimalism.
It all depends on the creator, I guess.
There's this video by Jim Sterling talking about how many artists will consider what type of artwork they are capable of making by themselves, and use an art style to accommodate that (an example he uses is Thomas Was Alone). He then compares those games with other games that don't work within their creators' limitations and how the game is negatively affected by that. (This discussion starts five minutes into the video, so I've provided a time stamp within the above link).
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For me, coding is the easiest because:
-I have a good understanding of the foundations of computer science from college
-Coding, for me, does not require that I am creatively inspired, but simply requires simple, equation level problem solving
-Rewards are instant, as you test a new piece of code and it either works or it doesn't (I get to see the fruits of my labor in mere seconds)
-If I get stuck, there is a very responsive and helpful community of people here who help answer questions
Art is the second easiest for me, because I have been a lifelong artist. I am much more experienced with art compared to programming, but it is a bit harder than programming for me because:
-Art takes longer for me to complete, and has multiple steps (such as scanning my art and fighting with my scanner to get it to f***ing work
-I have a strong, trained artistic eye and am very critical of my work which causes me to demotivate if I make too many mistakes in a row
-For me to make anything worth making, I have to feel artistically inspired, or at least I need to be in a good mental health space (and good days can be rare since I have severe clinical depression)
-If I'm working on a long-term project, I have to know every sprite I need to make and then make them all at once or else my art style will change over the years, causing new art to look noticeably different from old art
GUI is also easier for me than sprite art because it is more about graphic design, and more formulaic. (For me, at least.) Backgrounds are much harder than sprite work because that is not my specialty.
Overall, the writing is the hardest part for me, because I have spent my life around books, read the entire fiction section of my hometown's library, and thus know everything I make is utter shit. I have a very good eye for editing, but am not so great at forcing myself to get something written, even if it's bad, with the knowledge that it can be changed later. Rationally, I know that professional writers make draft upon draft in order to get a product that they are satisfied with, but I don't always have the mental fortitude to push past my issues to get further into the process.
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