So, You Wanna Write Visual Novels?

The answer is “yes.”

The idea for a visual novel has been collecting dust in my brain for some years. You know how these things work, though: there are more ideas than there is time to commit to them, and not all ideas are worth pursuing. But I told Tom at some point that I’d like to do this, and then he remembered his college buddy, Kai, is another creative down in the doldrums like the rest of us, so we reasoned that a collaboration would be best to raise our spirits.

katawa-1
I’m not crying, YOU are. Game is Katawa Shoujo.

My job as a writer is to figure out what kind of visual novel we’ll pursue. On my Anime Guardians blog, I wrote a post on life after immersive video games, and I know firsthand that some games resonate with you after completion. Some of this resonance correlates with how many in-game choices players are allowed to make, and how those choices impact the narrative. But I think “emotional investment,” as a deliberate tool in the writer’s toolkit, and not “choice” per se, is the cause of this. In other words, spending time with characters, watching them surmount ever-greater obstacles, and ensuring the conclusion satisfies a particular threshold of catharsis, is what makes any story memorable.

Fate-grand-order
Good story. GOOD STORY. Game is Fate/Grand Order.

As someone possessing no experience with game writing or interactive fiction, and considering the neophyte composition of our team (aka The Outfit), I think a linear story is the best place for us to start. Striving for technical competency, rather than finesse, would serve us well. It can be a short game, perhaps beaten in the span of an hour or two, with a couple of characters driving the story. And if we’re successful, and if we enjoy the process, then we’ll have a proof of concept for future work.