Articles

How to Make a Visual Novel in a Weekend

Making a visual novel is already hard, so how do you make one in a game jam where you have a set deadline? Or worse, how do you make an entire visual novel in only a weekend? What about when you have to use certain themes in the game and can’t go fully freeform?

Game jams are such a great way to get started making visual novels—I first got my start with Ludum Dare 10 years ago, as of this August. They force you to downsize a lot, to focus on what matters and most importantly, have a tight deadline hanging over your head that you can’t push back. Some game jams, like my upcoming Otome & Josei Jams, allow users a much longer timeframe of 2 months and don’t restrict on themes. Others like Ludum Dare only give you a weekend (though there are other formats now) and require you to use a user-voted theme that’s only made public when the jam starts.

With the tight deadlines and possibility of restrictions, how do you make a visual novel that quickly? Is that even humanly possible??

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Articles

Tips for Marketing Visual Novels in 2024

Social media and algorithms are changing weekly. It’s hard to keep up, and it’s my job to keep up, so how are regular creators supposed to understand all of the nuances that change all the time?

I could make new posts about updates to strategies for Twitter or TikTok or whatever, but that wouldn’t cover the full scope of things visual novel developers should be aware of when tackling marketing in 2024. So today I want to try something new- think of it as a collection of tips and mini advice for marketing visual novels going into 2024, ranging from social media to Steam to best practices and more.

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Articles

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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Articles

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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Blog

introducing Battle Action Fantasy, a tag for shounen anime lovers

Lots of us grew up with shounen anime and manga, whether it was something like Yu-Gi-Oh! or Pokémon or Naruto which in turn inspire our own stories. We want to make games that evoke the feeling that you’re reading a story straight out of Shounen Jump. For that, we’ve created a new tag- #Battle Action Fantasy.

→ who

This tag initiative was spearheaded by myself, Arimia, alongside 4noki and Pumpkin Spike with help from papaya.

→ why

We created this tag because we wanted a better descriptor for chuuni shounen & seinen-esque games that are reminiscent of battle shounens specifically. Games that would be included:

  • have a focus on action and fight scenes
  • contain any tropes inspired from shounen and/or seinen manga
  • are set in some kind of fantasy world, sci-fi included

These games can include female leads, queer characters, and more. Games without action scenes or fantasy elements would not fit this tag.

This tag is for anyone making a story-driven game that’s inspired by shounen & seinen anime & manga. If your story feels like it could’ve been serialized in Shounen Jump, then this tag is for you!

→ how

We got this term from バトル・アクション (Battle Action), a category used in Japan for a lot of action-oriented shounen manga. By adding “fantasy” to it, it makes it more clear that these are strictly fantasy-oriented works rather than something like a beat-em-up.

→ misc.

We understand the term can be a bit vague- what about chuuni works or other works that can somewhat fall under this? At the end of the day, we want this tag to be for anyone making fantasy games who’ve been inspired by action shounen anime & manga.

Some examples of battle action fantasy games include most JRPGs, Fate/stay night, and more. Your game may be a more comedic take on shounen tropes or something darker and more sinister. It can even be intended for non-male audiences, such as stories like Queen’s Quality. The ultimate answer on if your story will fit this tag: would it make sense to be serialized in Shounen Jump?

→ how to join

The tag is #Battle Action Fantasy on itch.io. If you’ve made any shounen-inspired action fantasy game, please add the tag to your games!

To encourage new games using this tag, myself, Pumpkin Spike and 4noki will be cohosting a game jam for shounen-esque visual novels in the month of June! The jam is still a few months away but you can find some more information about it on itch.io.

If you have any questions about this tag or the jam, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or Discord.

— Arimia

Articles

How to Make Your itch.io Page Stand Out

I’ve published quite a few projects to itch.io and played hundreds more from the site. Over the years, the amount of games on the site has tripled- but, just like how the site has grown, the amount of customization developers have has grown.

So then, why do so many developers make bare minimal changes to their itch.io pages? There’s so many games vying for player’s attention, so why do they do the bare minimum to get their attention? Today I want to look at various ways to spruce up your itch.io page.

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