There’s an annual writing contest / game jam called NaNoReNo which happens in March. Have you heard of it? The reason that it can be both a writing contest and a game jam is because the focus of the competition is specifically visual novels. NaNoReNo is, by far, the most famous visual novel game jam and one that gets dozens of submissions annually. It’s also a game jam for which my friends and I often tease the idea of one day submitting our own entry.
Making a visual novel has become easier over the years. For the most part, you can download Ren’Py and get started right away. The engine allows writers to quickly get their ideas off the ground, taking care of the details that a developer may not care as much about, such as layout, a save system, and asset management. A lot of famous English language visual novels have been made with the engine, such as Katawa Shoujo, Doki Doki Literature Club, and Analogue: A Hate Story.
Back in University, my friend Brandon would always try to come up with game ideas to write. We’d have different people come and go, but the ultimate goal was to come up with a decent story we could complete for clout. Some ideas that have been tossed around and somewhat developed include:
- The main character is an undertaker who’s responsible for understanding the people who reside in the graveyard. Every person has a “memento”, which is a physical object representing their lingering attachment to the world.
- A light-hearted game where you work in a cafe.
- A barren future where you’re the radio operator on a planet where everyone is widely scattered.
This year, I discovered that it was the last day of NaNoReNo submissions by some fluke. I searched up the contest out of curiosity and noticed that there were only 8 hours left before the submission deadline. Just for fun, I shared the contents within a friend group of mine to see if anyone wanted to write a visual novel for submission in less than half a day. I wasn’t particularly serious with this plan or anything, I just thought it would be funny if people were actually interested in some way. The submission deadline ultimately passed but the thought still remained. Hell, I even spent an hour or so brainstorming with some of my friends today to come up with a half-baked plot.
The next story we want to write is a world in which smoking weed grants individuals power. Let’s see how far this one goes.