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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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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Articles

Tagging Visual Novels on itch.io

Today I thought I’d write up a little case study on tagging games on itch.io with some examples, namely Crimson Waves on the Emerald Sea.

CWES is a Victorian-esque vampire visual novel that has always been an odd spot for me to market. CWES has a gay romance, but only between one of the protags and his adult counterpart and isn’t the focus; it’s a fully linear visual novel with no choices; it’s got hints of mystery, drama, and action, but at 2~ hours long it isn’t fully any of those; etc. It has received all positive reviews on Steam & itch.io but getting people to try it has been a challenge to say the least!

Compared to my previous games, CWES’ engagement on itch.io has been abysmal- but we’re not going to fully dissect that here today. Instead, we’re here to look at store pages!

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Articles

making game development backup plans

When we decide to make a project, we typically don’t assume that the project will fail, that members will ghost us, that we’ll be hit by real life problems. But these things do happen, and quite frequently.

Whether you’re working solo or with a team, it’s important to sit down and make backup plans. Why and how? Let’s look at that today.

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Articles

Marketing Fundamentals for indie game developers

At the end of the day as a dev, we want people to play our game. We want people to play it and preferably tell us they like it, maybe even recommend it to a friend. But today, more than ever, making a game and releasing it isn’t enough.

Marketing is one of the key aspects of game development, as it is with any product development, but understanding the components of marketing—the building blocks of why we do this—is more important than ever. Today I want to take a step back and talk about the fundamentals of marketing—what does it mean to “market a game”?

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