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Author Topic: Introduction to Visual Novel Engines  (Read 16786 times)

Hime

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Introduction to Visual Novel Engines
« on: February 07, 2010, 11:20:44 AM »
Introduction to Visual Novel Engines

Foreword
In this post, I have collected the most vital information about available visual novel engines to help people understand what they are like and which one they are looking for. I plan on updating this as engines develop and new ones come around, so please feel free to tell me if some parts are incorrect or out-of-date. I also want to thank Enerccio for providing me with his insight on the Japanese engines.

ENGLISH ENGINES
Ren'Py
Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac
Other notes: -
Description:
One of the oldest and the most popular engine in the EVN field, Ren'Py uses a python-based, easy scripting language to enable the average user to create a basic visual novel, while still giving programmers the opportunity to do some more complex work.
While the engine has all the features an average visual novel needs and more, Ren'Py is still being developed and new versions add features and fix bugs as they come.
Novelty
Platforms: Windows (requires DirectX 9.0c)
Other notes: WYSIWYG
Description:
Novelty is a new engine on the field and unlike most other VN engines, it is what you see is what you get.
This enables users with zero experience in coding to create a visual novel that looks and feels the way they want it to, while advances users have the option of using its mark up language to code their way to their vision.
Novelty is still in beta stage and lacks features some creators may deem important, but this is actively worked on.
Sylph
Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac
Other notes: has its own editor, Nymph
Description:
An engine used for Studio MAB works.
Includes a dedicated editor and an interesting option of playing the VNs in a web browser with the Silverlight plugin installed.
Narrative Game Engine
Platforms: Windows (requires Microsoft Common Controls)
Other notes: development inactive
Description:
This engine never got a 1.0 version release and thus is technically incomplete, but has the vital features a minimalistic visual novel needs.
Blade Engine
Platforms: Windows (requires DirectX 9.0)
Other notes: has a professional version, development inactive
Description:
Unlike most other engines in the field, Blade Engine does not get frequent updates.
There are two versions of it: a free one and a commercial one, which has some additional features and does not force the user to display the Blade Engine logo in their game.
It uses a simple scripting language to create visual novels, but some makers might think it does not leave enough room for customisation.

JAPANESE ENGINES

NScripter
Platforms: Windows
Other notes: several clones, including but not limited to ONScripter (enables making multi-platform games) and PONScripter (enables multilingual use)
Description:
NScripter is a basic, simple engine for easy making of visual novels.
Due to its many modified versions, while the actual engine is made for the Japanese Windows, both multi-platform and non-Japanese development is possible.
KiriKiri
Platforms: Windows (requires DirectX 9.0)
Other notes: may require running under Japanese locale
Description:
KiriKiri is a modern, popular engine that uses both scripting and markup language to maximise chances of customisation.
While the engine is considered one of the best in the field worldwide, KiriKiri has not been localised yet.
However, there are scripts that enable word wrapping, making English development possible even if it might have its problems.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2010, 03:09:52 PM by Hime »
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mikey

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Re: Introduction to Visual Novel Engines
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2010, 12:36:19 PM »
I'd add two more less-known options:

Sylph Engine (ENGLISH)
Platforms: Windows, Linux
Other notes: editor available
Website: http://www.studiomab.co.uk/Content.aspx/Sylph
Description: An engine used for Studio MAB works. Includes a dedicated editor and an interesting option of playing the VNs in a web browser with the Silverlight plugin installed. The website has a tutorial.

Narrative Game Engine (ENGLISH)
Platforms: Windows
Website: http://www.tonypottier.info/ngengine/index.html
Description: This is a theoretical option for smaller less important projects, since the development of this engine has stopped. The engine as it is now is capable of displaying text and images with a few other features, which is theoretically all that's needed. Still, there was never a 1.0 release, so it can't be recommended except you know what you are doing.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2010, 12:38:51 PM by mikey »

Hime

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Re: Introduction to Visual Novel Engines
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2010, 01:51:48 PM »
Thank you for the suggestions, I added them and links to the other engine's websites to the post. I meant to put the links to them in the post all along, but I forgot it at some point. Whoops.

There was one problem, however: for some reason, Narrative Game Engine did not run for me (runtime error 339, something about COMCT332.OCX being missing or invalid). I tried XP compability mode, running it as administrator and downloading it again, but none of it helped. Because of this, I was unable to get a screenshot of the engine in action. If anyone else can take one (4:3 like the rest of the screenshots, please), it would be appreciated.
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mikey

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Re: Introduction to Visual Novel Engines
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2010, 02:21:00 PM »
If you scroll down, the last screenshot is actually the engine, it says "The Alpha build 1014 running" (the TA4 sprite/BG are used with permission, or so it says). If you're missing the COMCT-something, it's Microsoft Common Controls, there are some downloads/updates on their site that can fix this by installing the common controls - though I wouldn't pollute windows for it, unless you want to use the engine.

Hime

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Re: Introduction to Visual Novel Engines
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2010, 02:46:39 PM »
Oh, I see. I edited it a bit to make it look more like the other screenshots, it is there now. Too bad they used copyrighted graphics for it, but it is an official screenshot so it is the best we can get, I suppose. Also added the note WYSIWYG for the engine, as it would appear to be so from the screenshot.
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mikey

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Re: Introduction to Visual Novel Engines
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2010, 03:00:41 PM »
I don't see my attachment, so I uploaded an in-editor screenshot here:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/6e875k
Should fit better with the other screenshots.

Hime

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Re: Introduction to Visual Novel Engines
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2010, 03:11:56 PM »
Edited again, thank you for the screenshot and the clarification. You might have to refresh the page to see the new one. I removed the WYSIWYG tag and added the requirement of common controls: at least my Windows Seven did not automatically have it, so it is probably good to know.
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Midnighticequeen

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Re: Introduction to Visual Novel Engines
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2010, 03:14:24 AM »
Wow, I did not know that Morning star was made with Sylph...I wonder how it would compare to Renpy. Has anyone up here used it yet?
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lordcloudx

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Re: Introduction to Visual Novel Engines
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2010, 04:12:12 AM »
Wow, I did not know that Morning star was made with Sylph...I wonder how it would compare to Renpy. Has anyone up here used it yet?

I didn't know the engine was freely available either.

Anyway, I noticed the list is missing Livemaker. It's a fairly popular Japanese engine that I've seen used in some doujin Japanese VN (some of the hentai variety) and I think it was used in the all-ages version of AIR... now I'm not so sure anymore though. (seems it was another Japanese engine called Realive http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/RealLive which doesn't seem to have any real developer's toolkits? So it might not be a public engine) It seems fairly powerful based on the smooth transitions too. Can't really tell since I haven't used it myself though.

http://www.livemaker.net/

« Last Edit: February 08, 2010, 04:23:52 AM by lordcloudx »

Enerccio

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Re: Introduction to Visual Novel Engines
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2010, 07:59:25 AM »
There are a lot of engines possible to suggest, used by Japanese side, but I think Hime meant this list to be sorta as a guideline when picking and engine for English Visual Novel. Kirikiri and (O)Nscripter are both more than capable now to be used for the task (one of my to-be-released games is done in Onscripter, and Drakey already did few Kirikiri based ones too).

Hime

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Re: Introduction to Visual Novel Engines
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2010, 10:42:36 AM »
I have not heard of anyone except MAB Studios (the engine maker) using the engine, Midnighticequeen. From the quick look I had at it while taking the screenshot, it seems different from Ren'Py, but I do not know whether it is harder or easier. I guess it depends on what you are making, too.

As Ener said, I drew the line to engines that can be used for making visual novels in English - or any non-Japanese language, for that. Many Japanese engines have problems with English due to things like character size, word-wrapping and of course, localisation, so I thought it would be better just to list the ones that can be actually used. Consequently, all Japanese engines to which these features are added to the point that EVN creation is possible will be added to the list.

By the way, KiriKiri is being translated by an English visual novel circle, Mystery Parfait, so it should become even more of an option in the future. Let's wish them good luck in their localisation efforts.
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ficedula

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Re: Introduction to Visual Novel Engines
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2010, 10:11:24 AM »
Hi,

Just got pointed to the thread (I'm the author of Sylph) - Hime is correct that nobody other than us has released a game with Sylph yet, however we'd love for somebody to use the engine for other games - as getting feature requests etc. from other people is what really helps make the engine better; right now I think it's easy to use etc. but I did write it...

Also, it does run on the iPhone too, as well as Windows/Mac/Linux/Silverlight - albeit an officially released game would need to go through Apple's approval process, of course.

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Re: Introduction to Visual Novel Engines
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2010, 07:16:38 PM »
I'm not sure Sylph games can be said to run on Linux yet. I tried to run a Studio MAB demo in Firefox on my Ubuntu machine after installing Moonlight, and immediately encountered a black rectangular area displaying this error:
Quote
a name did not start with a legal character -1 ([unknown character box thingy I don't know how to type]) Line 1, position 2.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2010, 07:18:44 PM by lunasspecto »
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ErikB

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Re: Introduction to Visual Novel Engines
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2010, 12:31:58 PM »
Quote
a name did not start with a legal character -1 ([unknown character box thingy I don't know how to type]) Line 1, position 2.
..and I got "Input string is not in a correct format" when trying the Morningstar demo on Windows/IE.

I'm the developer of Novelty and was also told about this forum. It doesn't have many members yet but I will try to maintain some presence here in case any of you are using Novelty; to scan for feedback or potential problems. I believe an environment where many engines are represented can be a good place for genuine criticism.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2010, 12:35:20 PM by ErikB »

lordcloudx

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Re: Introduction to Visual Novel Engines
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2010, 01:05:23 PM »
Welcome to the forums, ErikB.

I'm planning to give Novelty a spin myself for a very short project. I'm looking to implement something like the pic I uploaded in this thread, hopefully, without much difficulty. http://teacup.lunaen.com/index.php?topic=15.0