Visual Novel Maker is a game making software published and developed by Degica.
Visual novels are an increasingly popular medium that are still unknown to many. This is mostly because it derives from the culture of Japanese animation, known to most of us as “anime.” As anime largely grows in popularity around the world, it’s not surprising that Visual Novels would follow. It’s also not surprising that the same company behind RPG Maker saw an easy way to provide fans a simple way to make their own.
Surprisingly Simple… But Still Requires Work
The biggest selling point of Visual Novel Maker is how simple it is to use. It was initially quite overwhelming, but after a few hours of experimenting, I understood the program well. It was quite relieving, as it allowed me to get right to writing. The program certainly has a learning curve, but it’s not too tough to overcome. If I want to do something new, it only takes a short time to learn.
However, this doesn’t change that you’ll be doing a lot of work. If you plan to create a real story, you should be prepared. In my first six hours of creation, I only managed to make four minutes of story. The biggest hurdle here is being satisfied with what you’ve written. This takes up a lot of time, especially when you re-read everything and constantly question the choices you’ve made.
It’s also highly recommended that you have a photo-editing software. I used Photoshop to create my various menus, text bar, and to make outside assets usable. Without it, you’ll be stuck with the default stuff, which doesn’t look too great.
The “Default” Stuff
The program expects you to create your own assets, and that’s obvious with what it gives you. Most of the set assets exist as a tutorial, so you can learn from seeing the examples it provides. The default menu, text bar, and options menu look terrible. However, they really helped me understand how I could create my own.
Thankfully, there’s a lot of variety in the backgrounds of the game. However, with the characters, music, and sounds there’s a serious lack of it. The assets that are there are fine, but there’s a lack of variety. There are twelve characters, each with only three different sets of clothing. Also, there are only twelve music tracks, a very basic set of sounds, and only one CG.
This isn’t too big of a deal though, as the game encourages you to import or create assets.
If you aren’t satisfied with the native assets, you can import anything into the software. This is great, as it allows you to use characters, settings, sounds, and music from other existing properties. If you have a series in which your favorite romantic pairing didn’t work out, you can make that come to life. If you’re artistically talented, you can just create your own art or animate character models. This allows for its users to express their creativity freely.
What’s interesting about visual novels is where it stands in relation to all other mediums. As an artist, it requires the least amount of work. If you’re a writer, it requires the least amount of work. As a programmer, it also requires the least amount of work. It’s the simple person’s medium. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, as it allows amateurs to get their ideas across with the least amount of working people. A real animation or video game might take hundreds of people to create, but a visual novel can be created with three people in a relatively short amount of time. All you need is a programmer, an artist, and a writer. Considering that Visual Novel Maker makes the programming part much easier, you might need even fewer people.
This allows for upcoming artists and writers to create what they want without having to worry about corporate greed or their ideas being denied by higher powers. Visual novels don’t have the cultural influence outside of Japan to be this useful, but if they did, this could be a helpful program for those looking to share ideas.
Unfortunately, the software is plagued with bugs. Firstly, I’m not sure why the game text is constantly italicized. Even if you try to change this, it just doesn’t work. Also, the part of the developing software where you can see the changes you’ve made constantly crashes the game, so you have to save frequently. This is pretty annoying, considering that the alternative is too time consuming to go through with. The only other way to test the game would be to actually play it, and having to start from the very beginning every time is frustrating.
Annoying Design Choices
The game also has problems when it comes to changing scenes. If you test a new section of a scene, it won’t use the assets from the previous section in the demo. However, when you actually test it from the original scene, it’ll show up when you move into the new section. It’s annoying to have to go through the whole previous scene in order to see if the new section works properly. All the previous assets should retain until I explicitly use the command to get rid of them.
Another thing is that the UI feels tough to navigate in, and although I got used to it, I was incredibly confused when I first started. It’s also weird that there’s no general tutorial, it only leaves hints for you when you actually find the place you were looking for. It took me over an hour to find where I can change the text box and different menus. Once you find what you were looking for it’s not that bad, but a general tutorial showing you where everything is would’ve really helped. I mostly had to teach myself.
For some reason, when you want to choose where the text will appear on the screen, it won’t let you show it in relation to anything other than a background. No one is going to test the text area based on the background, they want to test it based on where their text box is. Essentially, this means the creators had the intention of allowing you to preview it alongside your text box, but made it exclusive to backgrounds accidentally.
Unfortunately, $59.99 is quite expensive considering all the poor design choices and bugs. However, if you’re genuinely invested in creating your own visual novel, then this price will be worth it. I do hope that the developers will fix many of the problems that plague the software, but if you’re willing to dedicate yourself, then this is a very fun program to use. It’s easy to learn, and you can create a number of different stories.
- THE GOOD
- Great Way to Express Creativity
- Import Outside Assets
- Simple to Learn
- Fun to Create
- THE BAD
- Some Poor Design Choices
- Few Native Assets
- Occasional Bugs
- Quite Expensive
Visual Novel Maker is a solid program created for those interested in building their own visual novels, although it’s buggy and a little overpriced.