REVIEW: Visual Novel Maker

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

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Title Visual Novel Maker
Developer Degica Games/Andre Radomski
Publisher Degica Games
Release Date 17/11/2017
Genre Game Development Software
Platform PC (Steam)
Age Rating Unrated
Official Website

Game development is not easy. Ways to make it accessible to those with little to no programming knowledge is in demand by many aspiring developers. This enables more developers to express their visions. Degica have done this for RPGs already through the creation of the popular RPG Maker series alongside Kadokawa Games. Now the publisher is trying to do this with the visual novel genre as well with the release of Visual Novel Maker. Developed by Andre Radomski, VN Maker prides itself on being an accessible program for aspiring visual novel devs citing that it can be used for both free and commercial products. In short, it is — with a few rough edges. Allow me to elaborate.

Visual Novel Maker | Dialogue

I don’t think Lucy is reading the situation properly.

The user interface is point and click. You simply drag the item you want from the menus on the left into the box on the right. There are multiple tabs that contain the various commands from choice to scene settings, backgrounds, music and more. Once you select an option, the user simply types their commands, script or sprite/music name. This subsequently simplifies much of the complex programming that is normally required for game development. Additionally, you can also choose to tell parts or all of the story in either NVL or ADV mode, so if you want to make your own Banshee’s Last Cry-esque text-based sound novel you can do so with this software.

Visual Novel Maker | Naming Program

The naming program. A feature found in most VNs. Or at least more than the name Metis.

Included at launch are three preinstalled demo games designed to demonstrate functions of the game and serve as a tutorial for new users. One title is a conversation, the second is a card game that demonstrates the choice function and the third is a demo program that demonstrates naming the progress. Playing each one gives a basic idea as to how some of the functions within VN Maker work as well as show what order the command prompts needs to be placed, since if the order is incorrect they will not work properly. There are more demo games being released since the initial release (November 17th), further serving as tutorials to help users become familiar with the software. However I was unable to find a written manual included with the software itself. While there is a manual, it is only available when you are online via the store page, which is useless if you do not have an internet connection for whatever reason. This manual should have been included within the software so it can be accessed offline.

Visual Novel Maker | Portraits

All those character portraits — so much choice! Or you can make your own!

However another crucial way that VN Maker aids accessibility is by including pre-made assets so that aspiring writers can get started without the need to make assets themselves. These consist of backgrounds, music, sound effects and character portraits (complete with facial expressions). All of these assets are good quality and are a great starting point, especially for budding writers who lack music/art skills but need a demo game in order to boost their portfolio. All assets (the premade music, graphics, sound effects etc. as well as your own) can be selected by dragging and dropping the “Add [asset type you want]” button from the Commands into the script area at the bottom under the preview screen. Then the user selects the asset from the drop down list within the command box. Custom resources can be imported via the in-built Resource Manager. This is important, as VN Maker essentially serves as a foundation for developers wishing to make more original content. There are the JavaScript and CoffeeScript scripting and extension functions that allow developers to add additional elements to the games, subsequently expanding on the default engine. There are also options to export the VNs to Windows, Mac, Linux and mobile phones. Live2D support (including voice sync support) is also available via DLC. Furthermore, there are community programmers already releasing functions and assets for other developers to use freely in their projects. This will likely increase further over time.

Visual Novel Maker | Interface

The basic interface of VN Maker. A clean aesthetic, though as you can see it is clearly designed for the big screen.

There is also another, more major, omission that needs to be discussed. VN Maker appears to have been designed primarily for desktop PCs. This is because there are some settings windows in the game that pop up in order to set particulars that are too tall to fit on a 17 inch (and smaller) laptop screen — the same laptop build I used to review this game. While this wouldn’t normally be an issue, Degica did not include the ability to move the pop-up windows around so that players can select the confirm button (even though oddly you can move the lower windows around). The most major example I can think of is setting the movement of graphics across the screen. It means I have not been able to test everything, which is disappointing. Hopefully Degica can rectify this in a future build.

Visual Novel Maker | Screenshot

Yes. Yes it is cool Mr. Test Screenshot-sama!

As someone with no programming knowledge I found VN Maker easy to use — once I knew what I was doing. Hopefully as time goes on the VN Maker Community will blossom into one as big as RPG Maker’s in terms of produced games and developer/community support. The price is $59.99, which admittedly is a tall investment at first considering the program is new. However, the value is likely to increase over time as new assets, games and improvements (which hopefully include those discussed above) are released. So if you don’t think it is worth the purchase now, it may be worth playing the waiting game to see how the software and its community evolves before buying it. I spent around 15 hours checking it out and testing as many features as possible. There is definitely great potential within VN Maker and I hope it is expanded on — after all, the barrier to entry to making visual novels has become even lower.

Review Score
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

A copy of the game was supplied by the publisher for review purposes

About Joseph Puntschart

A university student who loves niche games and desires for them to be more fairly represented in the world. Favourite games include Persona 4 Golden, Super Mario Galaxy, Kingdom Hearts II and IA/VT Colorful. Hopes that one day a Japanese publisher will take the risk and make a Yaoi ecchi game. Think Valkyrie Drive with guys and you're on the right lines.