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We are a team of two people with virtually no budget, and one day we decided to make a videogame. Visual novels seemed like the most suitable option back then: they are not particularly hard to programm and allow a decent story.

By now we have most of our story layed out and are building scenes with sketch art. Its going to be a short, choose-your-own-adventure kind of story, somewhat ironical in tone with crude and dark humor, set in a low fantasy world full of cynical assholes. Its mosltly inspired by The Witcher and the original Thief games, with some influence from criminal thriller movies.

What I am concerned about, though, is selling the game once it is made. Sure, it has anthropomorphic characters which is probably a plus, but it's entirely un-erotic and un-romantic, characters are designed to be quirky and often outright ugly, and the art style is quite un-anime. We simply have now idea how and where we can advertise such a game once we have cool stuff to show.

As an example of my art, I'd love to show some pages from a webcomic I abandoned a while ago. It's set in the very same world our VN is gonna take place in, and is drawn in the same art style

(careful there's strong language and occasional graphic violence)

http://badamned.thecomicseries.com/comics/25/

We also made a demo/test VN with primitive sketch art and a nonsensical story:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz-k56Eamc2FWHZ6WVJFZ2ZqMmM/view

 

pls help ur my only hope

12-anh-leia-help-me-obi-wan-kenobi.jpg

Edited by Gluma

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Well, you can always use something like GOG or steam greenlight, but I think itch.io is your best bet as your project fits perfectly there in terms of the platform environment. Publishing on steam will get your VN to be lost, while GOG has only begun accepting VNs, so most people will not look at GOG for any kinds of VN in the nearby future.

Saw through you demo and it intrigued me precisely because of these points:

1 hour ago, Gluma said:

By now we have most of our story layed out and are building scenes with sketch art. Its going to be a short, choose-your-own-adventure kind of story, somewhat ironical in tone with crude and dark humor, set in a low fantasy world full of cynical assholes. Its mosltly inspired by The Witcher and the original Thief games, with some influence from criminal thriller movies.

What I am concerned about, though, is selling the game once it is made. Sure, it has anthropomorphic characters which is probably a plus, but it's entirely un-erotic and un-romantic, characters are designed to be quirky and often outright ugly, and the art style is quite un-anime. We simply have now idea how and where we can advertise such a game once we have cool stuff to show.

 

Assuming the end product is similar to the demo overall, it will definitely gather attention as I have not seen another VN with that kind of graphics and writing style. At least it will appeal to jaded VNs readers like myself who are looking to read something different.

Alternatively, you could try something like a Kickstarter campaigne, but I still think itch is your best bet. Right now the most important thing is to get people to try your project in order to get people past the initial bad impression of your VN, and what better way than to let people pay what they want with it?

Best of luck with your project! :)

Edited by phantomJS

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1. Being different when it goes to tone and story isn't a bad thing, market it through the fact you're doing something unique and far-detached from typical anime cliches. 

2. From the fact you said you don't like being described as a furry artist I guess you don't have that much reach within that community? I would still market the game on furry-related sites, there's a few successful VNs within the furry formula - those are rather too hermetic for other audiences, but there's no reason your project can't work for both. 

3. Activity in places such as the Visual Novels subreddit or Lemmasoft forums can do a lot to highten your profile among VN fans, if you market your game right.

4. When/if you get on Steam, reaching out to curators or sending review copies to blogs can help you not get buried under the tons of shovelware that gets released every day. 

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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9 minutes ago, phantomJS said:

Well, you can always use something like GOG or steam greenlight, but I think itch.io is your best bet as your project fits perfectly there in terms of the platform environment. Publishing on steam will get your VN to be lost, while GOG has only begun accepting VNs, so most people will not look at GOG for any kinds of VN in the nearby future.

Saw through you demo and it intrigued me precisely because of these points:

Assuming the end product is similar to the demo overall, it will definitely gather attention as I have not seen another VN with that kind of graphics and writing style. At least it will appeal to jaded VNs readers like myself who are looking to read something different.

Alternatively, you could try something like a Kickstarter campaigne, but I still think itch is your best bet. Right now the most important thing is to get people to try your project in order to get people past the initial bad impression of your VN, and what better way than to let people pay what they want with it?

Best of luck with your project! :)

Thanks for the reply, never heared of Itch.io before! 

Do you think it would be a good idea to publish on multiple platforms at the same time, like all three of them?

 

As for getting people to try the game, we could make a free demo. There is a perfect point in our plot to end it, theres just enough information to show that theres something wrong going on, there isnt too much branching and the consequence of the choices you make aren't yet apparent. It even ends with what I think is a perfect hook.

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1 hour ago, Gluma said:

they are not particularly hard to programm

By now we have most of our story layed laid out and are building scenes with sketch art.

It's mosltly inspired by

We simply have now idea how and or where

A number of people are willing to skip a VN if it contains poor English. When writing in public, particularly when it's about the VN, people will read your writing as the level of English in the VN. Because of this, I will recommend you review what you have written prior to actually posting. I know I'm nitpicking (particularly the last one), but if you want to sell as best as possible, don't overlook this issue. I wouldn't call your English skills poor and most of the issues are in the realm of typos, but it's still the first impression and a bad one if you want to convince people to pay for a VN.

6 minutes ago, Gluma said:

Do you think it would be a good idea to publish on multiple platforms at the same time, like all three of them?

Don't sell untested ports, but I see no reason why you shouldn't sell for as many platforms as possible if you are able to test them prior to release. You care about sales and less about which platform people use. Particularly mac and linux ports seems to be just adding executable files (for ren'py), in which case it's a very cost efficient way to include non-windows users as your target customers.

Edited by tymmur

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6 minutes ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

1. Being different when it goes to tone and story isn't a bad thing, market it through the fact you're doing something unique and far-detached from typical anime cliches. 

2. From the fact you said you don't like being described as a furry artist I guess you don't have that much reach within that community? I would still market the game on furry-related sites, there's a few successful VNs within the furry formula - those are rather too hermetic for other audiences, but there's no reason your project can't work for both. 

3. Activity in places such as the Visual Novels subreddit or Lemmasoft forums can do a lot to highten your profile among VN fans, if you market your game right.

4. When/if you get on Steam, reaching out to curators or sending review copies to blogs can help you not get buried under the tons of shovelware that gets released every day. 

1-Good point, however Im not sure how to do it elegantly enough. Blatanly saying "hey look were not like all that mass!" might be a little bit distasteful.

2-I do reach out to furries in fact, I post in the anthro section on DA (which sometimes gets my drawings sandviched between fetish art <_<), sometimes on other resources too. I admit though, I could go deeper than that

 

Thanks for good advice in general, we shall se how it goes once we have the pretty pictures to show

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3 minutes ago, Gluma said:

Thanks for the reply, never heared of Itch.io before! 

Do you think it would be a good idea to publish on multiple platforms at the same time, like all three of them?

As for getting people to try the game, we could make a free demo. There is a perfect point in our plot to end it, theres just enough information to show that theres something wrong going on, there isnt too much branching and the consequence of the choices you make aren't yet apparent. It even ends with what I think is a perfect hook.

I don't see why not.

Doing the usual Internet forums advertising (I assumed you already knew about this, so i didn;t mention it before) and publishing on as many platforms as you can should net you at least some success based on the novelty of the graphics and writing style alone.

First impressions are important though; like what Tymmr said, if the VN read like a MTL, then it's gonna turn people off very quickly. Got to get this part right

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3 minutes ago, tymmur said:

A number of people are willing to skip a VN if it contains poor English. When writing in public, particularly when it's about the VN, people will read your writing as the level of English in the VN. Because of this, I will recommend you review what you have written prior to actually posting. I know I'm nitpicking (particularly the last one), but if you want to sell as best as possible, don't overlook this issue. I wouldn't call your English skills poor and most of the issues are in the realm of typos, but it's still the first impression and a bad one if you want to convince people to pay for a VN.

Don't sell untested ports, but I see no reason why you shouldn't sell for as many platforms as possible if you are able to test them prior to release. You care about sales and less about which platform people use. Particularly mac and linux ports seems to be just adding executable files (for ren'py), in which case it's a very cost efficient way to include non-windows users as your target customers.

Yeah, good point about grammar. I'm kinda relaxed when it comes to forum talk, spoiled by the internet if you will. Very good advice, I think I should ask my native English-speaking friends to proofread before writing important posts

Oh and by platforms I mean the ones that sell your game, like steam and GoG

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12 minutes ago, Gluma said:

1-Good point, however Im not sure how to do it elegantly enough. Blatanly saying "hey look were not like all that mass!" might be a little bit distasteful.

True, true, I think the way Project Pastorate guys handled their marketing around here is a good example, they didn't have to tell anyone their project is different, just the general tone of their presentations and assets they've shown all established a very unique, dark climate. There's no need to point your finger towards any other work, just saying that you're making a "Non-romantic, low fantasy tale about X & Y" can tell your potential readers a lot about how far it is detached from the usual waifu games. 

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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7 minutes ago, Gluma said:

Oh and by platforms I mean the ones that sell your game, like steam and GoG

Oh heh, as a cross platform programmer, I was thinking about what I usually refer to as platform and "all 3 platforms" fits "windows, mac and linux" well :wahaha:

If you want an early release, use Itch.io as it's a place where people know they can get work in progress games. Once you consider it done, release it in as many shops as possible at once. You want the the hype from being new and exposed everywhere at once. Personally I don't think early releases, or public beta is well suited for VNs as it spoils the storyline for the final release, but it is an approach to get an income before being done if you absolutely have to get one.

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Well, who is your audience? Depending on the kind of people you want to sell the game to, it's not worth it to sell it as a visual novel even though it could be considered one. "Interactive fiction", "narrative-based adventure game" and "story-based point-and-click" or any other rearrangement of these terms caters to people who might be more used to the kind of VN you're making. I mean that as how the game shows itself, its official description etc. "Visual novel", the term, has a lot of stigma around it. Might not be the most useful term since your project doesn't lend itself to what people normally associate the words with.

That said, and judging from the demo right now (which I liked a lot, the expressions are gold), what you have to offer that other games in the same vein don't offer is the humor and the cynicism. You can play that card. That, and the art style. You can easily describe your project as "that game with sketch art and sketchy people" and focus the entire campaign on these two factors, everything else referring to them somehow.

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37 minutes ago, Palas said:

Well, who is your audience? Depending on the kind of people you want to sell the game to, it's not worth it to sell it as a visual novel even though it could be considered one. "Interactive fiction", "narrative-based adventure game" and "story-based point-and-click" or any other rearrangement of these terms caters to people who might be more used to the kind of VN you're making. I mean that as how the game shows itself, its official description etc. "Visual novel", the term, has a lot of stigma around it. Might not be the most useful term since your project doesn't lend itself to what people normally associate the words with.

That said, and judging from the demo right now (which I liked a lot, the expressions are gold), what you have to offer that other games in the same vein don't offer is the humor and the cynicism. You can play that card. That, and the art style. You can easily describe your project as "that game with sketch art and sketchy people" and focus the entire campaign on these two factors, everything else referring to them somehow.

I thought about this too, except I only went as far as "adventure visual novel", or "quest novel" or even "visual quest". Removing the term visual novel entirely is a good idea.

Well, the art style is not gonna be like that - the characters are drawn the way they are simply to save time, the finished art is going to be fully colored and shaded, and characters would have more realistic proportions (still stylised enough to not look uncanny). This art style goes well with the demo's lighthearted story, but the actual universe is a little bit more serious, or rather less absurd.

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47 minutes ago, Gluma said:

I thought about this too, except I only went as far as "adventure visual novel", or "quest novel" or even "visual quest". Removing the term visual novel entirely is a good idea.

Well, the art style is not gonna be like that - the characters are drawn the way they are simply to save time, the finished art is going to be fully colored and shaded, and characters would have more realistic proportions (still stylised enough to not look uncanny). This art style goes well with the demo's lighthearted story, but the actual universe is a little bit more serious, or rather less absurd.

Ooh, I see - so more like the comics. In that case, investing in the story and the characters would be a good idea. the writing seems able to give them personality. As for terms, I suggest going for something people have seen before - "quest novel" and "visual quest" aren't, although "quest novel" is a good term I'd say. Either go for something super commonplace, like "interactive fiction", or use something so outlandish you might as well use it as a logline (like "Tactical Espionage Action" for MGS)

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I'd recommend marketing this as "interactive fiction", or depending on how much choice there is, a "choose-your-own-adventure" graphic novel.  Which is actually different than a visual novel!

Also, the furry fandom is probably the most natural audience.  You wouldn't market it just to them, but they would probably be your core fanbase, and most likely to champion your game.  Visual novel fans probably won't be very enthusiastic about your project, for all the reasons you listed.

Edited by sanahtlig

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The first thing that comes the closest in terms of setting and stylistic similarity is definitely Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth. As Sanahtlig said - you should consider marketing your game as an interactive fiction. A lot of people like to use the classic term, but in my opinion visual novels at this point are mostly considered "porn" games for horny teenagers and deciding to stick to this might bring some unwanted results in case of your project. Unless your project has appropriate size and quality, calling it a vn will instantly alienate a large portion of the player base, who would be otherwise supportive of your game. It's also worth to point out, visual novels are often considered games based on distinctively japanese art stylistics your game definitely does not have, either.

If played well, your game might actually attract both fans of low fantasy, as well as fans of anthropomorphic characters (the furry fandom, in others words). I can already see potential, considering the story is very much Bethesda-esque in terms of plot devices and crude, out-of-the-box humour. Keep it up and you'll make it worthwhile.

As an interesting remark, I'd highly encourage you to play the Along the Edge and it's spiritual sequel - Seers Isle (that one actually should be closer to your heart), which should be coming out soon. I consider Along the Edge one of the best interactive fiction experiences of the past few years, that clearly shows there's potential in these kinds of storytelling devices along with a community, that follows.

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On 01/06/2018 at 11:29 PM, Narcosis said:

The first thing that comes the closest in terms of setting and stylistic similarity is definitely Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth. As Sanahtlig said - you should consider marketing your game as an interactive fiction. A lot of people like to use the classic term, but in my opinion visual novels at this point are mostly considered "porn" games for horny teenagers and deciding to stick to this might bring some unwanted results in case of your project. Unless your project has appropriate size and quality, calling it a vn will instantly alienate a large portion of the player base, who would be otherwise supportive of your game. It's also worth to point out, visual novels are often considered games based on distinctively japanese art stylistics your game definitely does not have, either.

If played well, your game might actually attract both fans of low fantasy, as well as fans of anthropomorphic characters (the furry fandom, in others words). I can already see potential, considering the story is very much Bethesda-esque in terms of plot devices and crude, out-of-the-box humour. Keep it up and you'll make it worthwhile.

As an interesting remark, I'd highly encourage you to play the Along the Edge and it's spiritual sequel - Seers Isle (that one actually should be closer to your heart), which should be coming out soon. I consider Along the Edge one of the best interactive fiction experiences of the past few years, that clearly shows there's potential in these kinds of storytelling devices along with a community, that follows.

Than you for good suggestion, I'll definitely give them a try when I have time.

And thank everyone for your support!

Would anyone like some WIP assets?

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I wastly prefer writing when I already have the visual part, because it gives a much better idea of how the end result feels, so I make a lot of fast sketch art before producing finished stuff.

 

One of the early sections is set in this tavern

IMG_20180604_112837.jpg

IMG_20180604_113551.jpg

IMG_20180604_112818.jpg

IMG_20180604_112647.jpg

The local count and his bodyguards, in the castle hall

IMG_20180604_121713.jpg

(this one is a little outdated, I just noticed that I dont have the latest version on my phone)

IMG_20180604_112920.jpg

 

M.c. sketch, with some emotions

N9VvUcLgCAA.jpg

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