Advice for Leading Visual Novel Game Jam Teams

One type of article I’ve wanted to do again is surveying my fellow developers on a topic and compiling the answers. There’s a lot of insight to be gained from reaching out to others who’ve worked in different environments and have different outlooks on life and I don’t want to only share my own views here for these types of articles.

Last November I created & released a survey aimed at people who had led game jam teams for making visual novels. It’s a hard skill to grow, as leading other people and finishing a game in a set amount of time is a very particular skillset. So, I wanted to ask other creators about their advice to people who take on this endeavor. Some of these responses were left anonymously while others provided their contact information.

I was able to get feedback from 34 other visual novel developers, so let’s look at what they had to say!

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Developer Interview — Crowdfunding & Creating Our Life

After my last interview with the developer of Of Sense and Soul, I wanted to reach out to more visual novel devs to hear about their experiences and how they approach the craft. Today I’ll be talking to Katelyn, the lead developer at GB Patch Games!

GB Patch Games have been developing games for almost a decade now with their current project being the Our Life series, a visual novel series that focuses on letting the player highly customize their experience, from the protagonist to their relationship with the love interest and more. The first Our Life: Beginnings & Always game released in November 2020 with one love interest. Now they’re working on Our Life: Now & Forever, which offers two love interests and even more character customization and options.

Their most recent Kickstarter for Our Life: Now & Forever raised over $295k from 5,677 backers, making it the 7th most successful visual novel Kickstarter of all time. It’s easy to see why Our Life became so big—it’s a nicely crafted relationship simulator with aspects not seen before in Western visual novels like such a high amount of character customization, being able to set (and change) your relationship with the love interest (or even just staying friends with him), a wide variety of choices that change how the characters grow, and more.

So today I’ll be talking to Katelyn about her process for creating the series and running the Kickstarter!

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2023 Year in Review

2023 has come and gone—it feels like it was just a week ago that my grandma was complaining that Thanksgiving and Christmas were too close together, and now it’s January. I spent the last 2 weeks of 2023 sick (I still am), which made it go by like a blur.

2022 was a fresh slate for me, with a new job, a new home, and new projects. 2023 was a year of finding a new rhythm—figuring out how I work best and molding my work time around that rather than trying to make myself go against the flow.

Working from home is truly a blessing and a curse. I do think that it has more positives than negatives (especially right now as I’m able to work while being sick and don’t have to take time off), but navigating around the negatives is tricky. The main problem I’ve faced, aside from lack of interaction with non-family, is that it’s harder for me to focus on work when I end up spending almost all of my awake hours at my desk, either for my fulltime job or for VN development or for relaxing.

I’ve had to mix things up, usually taking my laptop to other parts of the house or even working outside of home some days. Even if it’s only for a few hours, it helps reset the fatigue of being at my desk all day every day. It doesn’t always work, and one problem I ran into for most of the year was being unable to focus on writing. Art and scripting are more “mindless” for me, I can do them with a video or voice call in the background, but writing is something I’ve always struggled to concentrate on.

This year was my first year attempting NaNoWriMo, though a more casual version of it. A few other devs were also entering NaNoWriMo to work on their projects so I hopped on too. I wanted to use the hype of the event to push myself to focus on writing, and it worked! My goal was to hit 30k total words in the month across multiple projects—which is about what I write in half a year—and I hit it.

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why does aniplex want mahoyo to fail

I love visual novels. being a long time fate/stay night fan and only having heard of mahoyo from hushed whispers about its cinematography, I was super invested when it was announced to be coming to the west and I could finally play an official version of it.

however, a lot of people interested in type-moon works had never heard of mahoyo, let alone it getting an official english translation. but how? aniplex is publishing the game and they’re one of the largest anime distributors in the world.

with the console release of mahoyo being almost exactly a year ago and the steam release being just 10 days away, I want to look over some of aniplex’s bizarre and nonexistent marketing for one of my favorite visual novels.

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I played over 100 visual novels in one month and here’s my advice to devs.

Surprisingly, the title isn’t clickbait. As part of my judging requirements for Spooktober Visual Novel Jam, an annual Halloween-themed visual novel jam I cohost, each judge had to play around 100 visual novels in the month of October. Each of the games were made in 1 month during September by teams or solo devs.

Together with my fellow judges, we’ve compiled a list of advice for visual novel developers based off of trends we saw while playing through the entries and ways to avoid common pitfalls.

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should I market my visual novel?

One question I get asked a lot is “should I market my visual novel? It’s [insert a lot of caveats and complaints]”. When people ask this, they ask me because they know I’m the marketing person. They’re usually not asking for advice, but rather either an easy-out (“she saw how many caveats my game has that’ll make it hard/not worthwhile to market and said I don’t have to!”) or a final push (“she gave me the push I needed to get up and go market my game”).

So let’s answer this once and for all (???)…

should you market your game?

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