A study in visual novel engines

November 11, 2016 – 10:15 pm

renpy_ide.pngI’ve mentioned before that I’m working on a visual novel maker in my spare time. At first the purpose was only to practice my programming skills and try to implement what I’ve learned while working at Ksatria. Lately I’ve been wondering what my competition really looks like. I know there are other engines out there and I became curious of how they work compared to my Novelty and other engines.

From what I can tell there are no other visual editors for making visual novels. Granted, VNs are extremely simplistic in terms of programming. All you need is a simple 2D graphics engine and some sort of scripting language to set it all in motion. Had I taken the same route with Novelty I would’ve been done by now. In fact all VN engines are essentially script language runtimes.

renpy_demo.jpgMy main issue with this approach is that it doesn’t take non-programmers into account. Visual novels are really popular in the japanese sub culture. It’s a genre as big as any other video game genre. In the west there isn’t really a big market for them so most authors are most likely hobbyists. For something as simple as a VN a lot of these engines sure make it hard for beginners to get something up and running.

nscripter1.jpgIt’s really hard to get any hard facts on any of these engines because most of them are japanese developed. Here’s what I found.


Ren’py stands out among the engines because it’s created by a western developer so it has english documentation and a healthy hobbyist community. It takes the same approach as everybody else by presenting the user with a scripting language, in this case python with custom libraries. It even has an IDE, but it’s just a text editor really. It has syntax highlighting but no auto-completion (Intellisense in Visual Studio).nscripter3.jpg The text editor supports a number of different languages, which leaves me to believe it’s a modified version of some other open source software.


This one seems to be popular with some japanese VN companies. It wields it’s own proprietary scripting language, but there’s no IDE to speak of (notepad yay!). Just a compiler. Because of it’s popularity and the games I assume the language is competent enough, but I won’t dwell on reseaching the nuances of the language itself. In fact, I don’t really care. Forcing the user to use notepad or find their own text editor is inexcusable in this day and age.

nscripter4.png blade_notepad.gif bladeide.jpg bladesample.jpg

Source: www.scalari.net

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  • avatar what is a good free visual novel maker program? (preferably without coding)? | Yahoo Answers
    • I really need to be able to create a visual novel. But I can't figure out which program to use. Ren py' is too complicated with the coding and such and then I tried Novelty but when I tried to run it my computer only says 'The program can’t start because d3dx9_37.dll is missing from your computer. Try...