The holidays are over and the new year has come. It all happened so fast that I find myself now in some sort of tailspin or other, comically trying to grasp all 25 million projects that flew up into the air all at once. There’s good news to be had there, though, and it’s one of the best kind: new projects. In this case, new projects that come from new clients with new ideas and storytelling forms.
One of my new clients has me writing plots for his fiction eBooks using the Dan Wells method, which you can see here. I have seen this approach used before, but I was glad to have links to the source videos, where the method is explained fairly well. It’s a simpler version of the beat sheet I was using, too, so that streamlines plot writing quite nicely for this implementation.
But there’s another new project that’s got me even more excited – perhaps because it’s introduced me to a new form: the visual novel. These are like digital books that you click through more like a game. They include lots of images and have varying degrees of interactivity. Some are meant to be read straight through and have few or no choices, while others are more like the Choose Your Own Adventure stories I grew up with. These you can read through multiple times and experience many different threads and even different endings, depending on your choices throughout the story.
My client wants an otome game, which is a very specific type of visual novel that has a female protagonist and the goal of developing a romantic relationship between the player and one or more non-player characters throughout the course of the game. It’s similar to a dating sim or RPG, not unlike the Sims or other similar games. I spent countless hours playing the original Sim’s on my GameCube and have written numerous romantic e-book series for other clients, so I’m really looking forward to this. I’m also super-stoked I get to bust out my flowcharting software and build some logical diagrams again. It’s been too long, my old friend…
What’s perhaps even more exciting than the visual form itself, though, is the platform most commonly used for building and packaging visual novels. I downloaded the software development kit (SDK) for Ren’Py, and what I can say so far is that the interface is super simple and the scripting language, a variant of Python, incredibly straightforward. The included tutorial covers all the basics so quickly that I was making my own visual story within minutes. And the SDK includes engines for distribution to both Android and iOS platforms, so… I’m thinking as soon as I can generate some original character art and scenery I’ll be off to the races with the next step in one or more of my own projects. Watch this space for updates on that, and drop me a line if you want to talk otome. It’s my new favorite subject!