For the past few months, I’ve been entrenched in one project in particular: creating a dating sim game based off of Secret World Legends. I’ve been meaning to write about the creation of this game, but I keep working on the game straight through time set aside to write this blog post. That’s pretty indicative of how focused I’ve been on this project.
For years I’ve toyed with creating an interactive story, but I’ve never been satisfied with any particular framework for creating it. Now, however, what started as a silly idea has grown into a full blown visual novel for me because I discovered an open source visual novel engine that has made this project actually feasible. Let me break down this strange series of events for you.
The Secret World Aspect
For those of you who know what video games I play the most, you already know about Secret World Legends and my extensive playtime in that game and its predecessor, The Secret World. I seriously enjoy the game and its lore, and I love supporting that world in any way I can. While watching one of the Funcom community live-streams, Andy and Nicole, two of their awesome community managers, joked about a Secret World dating sim involving some of the characters in its Kaidan location. I decided to poke at the idea and come up with a way to make this happen.
Drawbacks and a New Plan
After some testing and experimentation, I was having trouble identifying what to use to create my game. Oddly enough, something else caught my eye at the same time: a piece of software in the Linux software “store” called Ren’py. Ever since I set up my laptop with Linux, I’ve had my eye on the store looking for cool programs. I gave Ren’py a click out of curiosity. What I found was a fully-fledged visual novel engine, complete with a game-like tutorial that introduced you to the engine and game development. I was a little nervous about trying it as it is built off Python, a language I’ve never used before, but the language seemed easy enough to understand. I decided to give it a try.
Ren’py and an actual working game file
Ren’py works like magic. It handles all the menus, volume controls, resource management, etc. All I had to do was put the files in place and learn how to call on them as I needed. Within an hour or two of starting, I had converted all my drafting to Ren’py’s framework and had a game that not only ran, but had images, music, and clickable dialogue options. I can’t describe how it felt to have an actually working program that felt like a real game. I suddenly realized this whole thing was very doable.
So, here I am, chugging away at a fan-game for the Secret World universe. This has gone from a “ha ha, that’d be funny” to a legit “how much can I do with Ren’py” test. I have several goals here in mind. The first is of course to get this project completed. Once I have this project done, though, I aim to take what I’ve learned and apply it to my own, original stories. I’m also treating this project very seriously, learning how to manage my project in GitHub across multiple branches and maintaining documentation as I go in order to keep things orderly.