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Free Visual Novel Design Engine Released 143

Ayaka Hahn writes to tell us that they have just released a free game construction kit designed to make Visual Novels easy to construct. The "Blade Engine" was based on a professional Visual Novel engine being used in Japan with the hopes that it would spark greater interest in this medium in the west. From the press release: "In the West, there is a stereotype of: "Visual Novel = Dating Sim Game = Hentai", but that is wrong. Visual Novels CAN be Dating Sim games, Ren'ai games, Bishoujo games but also can be Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Adventure and Horror Fiction games, or anything that the user's creativity comes up with."
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Free Visual Novel Design Engine Released

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  • Wha? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Visceral Monkey (583103) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @09:41PM (#15767512)
    Visual Novel? Hentai?

    I'm lost already? Does this make cartoons or something?
    • []

      Basically, it's a Choose Your Own Adventure, done electronically.
      • Basically, it's a Choose Your Own Adventure, done electronically.


        And sometimes with cartoon porn.
    • Re:Wha? (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think it would allow a person to make a SCUMM style game (Think Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle, the Dig, etc...) []
      • Re:Wha? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Cryptnotic (154382) *
        You'd be wrong. These are much simpler (think "Choose Your Own Adventure", as another poster noted).
        Mainly these are about the art and characters and the story and not wandering around solving puzzles like in the SCUMM games.

    • No.

      It makes games. Interactive novels. Really simple ones.

      I must admit that 'Visual novel' is a stupid name for it, but the summary even explains what it is.

      Visual Novel = Dating Sim Game
    • Personally, I suffered about 5 seconds of extreme confusion as my brain first tried to fit the words "Novell" and the other "novel" (as in, "unusual") to the story.
  • by aersixb9 (267695) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @09:43PM (#15767516)
    Although it's always nice to have more tools for software creation and/or building...these so called visual novels will probably be made by a bunch of idiots, and therefore will be worth less than the time it takes to read / play them...Perhaps these people's time would better be spent creating non-clonable goods instead of easily cloned, nonunique software? Only a few can create superior software products, and because software is copy-able there's no need for hordes of idiots to manufacture it...unlike traditional products, which require hordes of idiots to manufacture...
    • Just wanted to disagree with the flamebait moderation.

      Just because someone isn't being nice about doesn't stop him from being right.
      • Just wanted to disagree with the flamebait moderation.

        Just because someone isn't being nice about doesn't stop him from being right.

        Consider the difference between these two true statements about your post:

        1. Your second sentence lacks the word "something", you semi-literate cretin !
        2. Your second sentence lacks the word "something".

        Number 1 is flamebait, number 2 is not. Both are also true. Flamebait is about not being civil, not about being wrong.

    • Although it's always nice to have reply buttons to post comments these so called news sites, they will probably be filled with comments by a bunch of idiots, and therefore will be worth less than the time it takes to read them. Perhaps these people's time would better be spent creating non-clonable goods instead of easily cloned, nonunique posts? Only a few can create superior posts, and because comments are copy-able there's no need for hordes of idiots to type them...unlike traditional products, which req
    • Your argument, reworded:
      Although it's always nice to have more tools for content and information dissemination...these so called webpages will probably be made by a bunch of idiots, and therefore will be worth less than the time it takes to read / download them...

      Maybe you should realize that the point of visual novels isn't the engine itself, but rather the content. Besides, any type of entertainment software is copyable, but would you want to play 20 copies of the same game?
  • "Visual Novel == Dating Sim Game == Hentai"
    • On an American compiler, this evaluates to true, but on the binary the Japanese compiler made, this statement evaluates to false. Shame on you for writing non-portable code! Shame!
  • by skynare (777361)
    visual novel = manga dating sim = dating sim hentai = porn
  • by Speare (84249) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @09:50PM (#15767542) Homepage Journal

    I might be missing something, but I found NO mention of the platforms this game format supports out of the box. The Buredo ("blade" in Japanese syllables) folks should mention it SOMEWHERE before people bother to download stuff.

    The first sample story is a Windows EXE, but from the tutorial files I just browsed, it doesn't look like it would be particularly hard to make a Un*x/Linux/OSX version out of nothing more than perl-sdl or pygame. The story script is essentially a big text file and graphics and sound assets.

    • by Futaba-chan (541818) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @10:37PM (#15767643)
      Unline ONScripter [] (a freeware implementation of the engine that was used to create Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, among other things), there doesn't seem to be a Linux port of this yet.
      • The is a linux port... Of sorts A version of onscripter has been released on the GP2X which runs Linux
      • There is very much a linux port of onscripter, and not just for the gp32 as someone else mentioned. Insani have a complete SDK [], which they use when translating nscripter based games (see here [] and here []). It runs on OSX too AFAIK, hence most of insani's releases being tri-platform~
    • by afree87 (102803) on Monday July 24, 2006 @12:12AM (#15767862) Homepage Journal
      The saddest thing about this story is that there is already a GPL visual novel script program, called Ren'py [], which supports Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. But Slashdot gave Ren'py zero publicity. And why should they? It's only a tool for making dating sims. The crazy arbitrariness of the editors never fails to astound me.
      • That's exactly the same thing as I was thinking. When I saw the topic in the RSS feed, I was thinking that a new Free Software visual novel engine had been released, but this Blade Engine thing is closed source (and even comes with a pretty scary EULA). I can't even use it, as it's for Windows only! It's free of charge, sure, but why couldn't they at least make a link to the Ren'py project in the article?
    • Maybe you are thinking of something like Ren'Py [] ? (made with pygame).

      I played with Ren'Py about a year ago, trying out the game "Reconstruction 01" []. It seemed to work pretty well, but then again I'm no connoisseur ... that was my first real foray into visual novels.

      Personally I still prefer the Infocom-style interactive fiction, without all the nasty graphics.

    • There is already a system built on pygame called Ren'Py ( [] ). It would compete with "Blade". I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned here already.
    • System Specification
      CPU: Minimim: Pentium3 1GHz
      Memory: Minimum:
      256MB (For Windows2000)
      512MB (For WindowsXP)
      OS: Windows 2000/XP (Game will run on 98SE/Me,
      but might have some language display issue)
      Video Card: Video Card which supports DirectX 5

      For WindowsXP, we recommend you install "far east surpport", which will install Japanese font.
  • by walnutmon (988223) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @09:51PM (#15767543)
    You read slashdot... You notice that the most recent article is about a choose your own adventure virtual book engine. What do you do now? (Make fun of hentai at the risk of being modded troll)(Give to the community a clever take on games in Japan) ...

    You start to articulate how gay it is to play games that are dating sims, and poke fun at the pathetic losers who do it...
    • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @10:09PM (#15767582)
      Free Visual Novel Design Engine Released

      You are in a Slashdot discussion about a dating sim engine. There is a summary and a link to TFA here.

      You are an average Slashdotter. Your karma is Normal.

      "This program lets you design visual novels. Even though most people think that all visual novels are dating sims, that is not entirely correct."
      > READ TFA

      > NO

      Thought so.
      > WRITE POST

      About what do you want to write?

      You write a funny little piece about text adventures that is just barely connected to the thread.
      > POST

      Unfortunatly for you the moderators are on some particularly bad crack today and your post ends up with a score of -5, Funny. Maybe you should have posted anonymously.

      Your karma has been reduced to below zero. As people around you sense your negative karma they shun you, leaving all future posts unread. You are dead, as far as this community's concerned.
      Your final score is 5. You must be new here.
    • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @10:44PM (#15767654)
      *cheerful, bland MIDI music starts playing*
      Noriko: *fades in* Brother! Brooootheeeer!
      Noriko: *makes angry face* You are reading Slashdot again, aren't you?
      Noriko: You spend too much time on the internet!

      [Yes] [No] [Stick it in]

      You: Hey, eight hours a day is not that much!
      Noriko: Yes it is!
      Noriko: *takes cheerful pose* I can't let you sit in front of the computer all day.
      Noriko: Today we're going to do something together, no discussion.
      Noriko: Do you have anything you want to do?

      [Play a dating sim together] [Kill her] [Stick it in]

      You: Your life is -5, Overrated!
      Noriko: *makes scared face* What are you doing with that knife?
      *screen fades out*


      PS: I'm not trying to undermine my potential +5, Funny, but I don't want to write yet another post. When Wikipediaing for dating sim companies I noticed that according to the 'Pedia Leaf had to release the source code to some of their games under the GPL. Maybe that could be used for a free alternative to the program the TFA talks about? I gTranslated the corresponding page on Leaf's website (http://leaf dot aquaplus dot co dot jp/product/xvid.html - please spare their server if you don't intend to read the text) and it says something about how they distribute the source by email and/or CD. Maybe someone who speaks Japanese might want to get in touch with them...

      (And don't tell my that the FOSS community has no need for this. We do things because we can, not because we need them ;)
      • by Virak (897071) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @10:51PM (#15767673) Homepage
        They don't give you a choice as to whether or not you stick it in, only how long to delay it for. (Though they generally will give you a choice as to whose to stick it into, and occasionally a choice as to where to stick it in)
        • Actually, the constant "stick it in" options were an Excel Saga reference. One episode parodies dating sims and has selection boxes popping up whenever a certain character has to make a decision. "Stick it in" usually is among the options. (Actually, the "kill her" option was from Excel Saga, too.)
          • I've been meaning to get around to watching Excel Saga (along with a few other series), but I haven't had the time.
      • [Play a dating sim together] [Kill her] [Stick it in]

        You: Your life is -5, Overrated!
        Noriko: *makes scared face* What are you doing with that knife?

        [Go back to the computer] [Stick it in]

        You: Ooohhhh yaaaa...
        *screen fades out*

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You misspelled NOOOOOOOS!!!
      • I had written about the whole Leaf debacle in an article submission previously to Slashdot but it was rejected. Anyway, a few weeks after their declaration, an anonymous person uploaded the entire source code to an upload service, thus giving it out to anyone who wanted it. Keep in mind, though, that the guts of Leaf's games are the actual content, like graphics, music, art and story, instead of the engine. In fact, I'm pretty sure some capable programmer could come up with Leaf's engine in maybe a month
      • PS: I'm not trying to undermine my potential +5, Funny, but I don't want to write yet another post. When Wikipediaing for dating sim companies I noticed that according to the 'Pedia Leaf had to release the source code to some of their games under the GPL.

        Heh - bit embarrassing for them, especially as ffmpeg is LGPL and would probably have done everything they needed. Just goes to show - check the license.
  • think more of a branching storyline game engine, where users can create their own content.

    basicially, an attempt to make a text adventure a bit easier to program than basic. which it would seem is a long forgotten skill with kids these days. I guess being japanese, they weren't familiar with what the slashdot community would know this as best. it's a modern equivalency of programming text adventures (like nethack) in an easier format.
    • I spoke too soon, but that's the closest thing to it that i could think of, think 'graphical overlay to a text adventure game.' basically, you could use the engine to build your own game, from scratch, the way the myst developers did, only now instead of making 'myst' you can make your own 'kings quest' with clickable dialogs instead of 'try to figure out the text command the programmer meant for you to type'
    • Nethack actually isn't a text adventure game. It's a top down hack n' slash that happens to use ascii characters for graphics. A better example of a text adventure would be Zork or ADVENTURE.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Um, have you ever played NetHack, or an IF game? Roguelikes are nothing like text adventures - they're CRPGs without the graphics and with a heavy focus on tactical hack 'n slash. IF games tend to be focused on prose and/or puzzles, neither of which is a major component of NetHack(Sokoban excluded).
  • Hmmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @09:56PM (#15767558)
    This might be an interesting way to (user) document GUI appliactions. Take your screenshots and write your script.
  • by guardiangod (880192) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @10:03PM (#15767572)
    I will try to ignore the whole "visual novel == hentai with tentacles" arguement. I play/read visual novels (or AVG as they are properly called) so I will be biased.

    That having said, there was a pretty famous incident that involved GPL and a Japanese AVG game makers. Apparently the company used Xvid codecs for their animation clips for their popular games (ranked top 10 ero-game in 2005) without releasing the engine source code. When someone pointed out the GPL, the company promptly released the whole engine code (without the comments unforturnately). The engine was designed with win32 API in mind, btw. But it still counts as something

    Off topic: I was amazed that a Japanese hentai game maker respects the GPL more than, say, SCO, a multi-million dollar company; Then again, comparing SCO to a hentai game company would not be fair- to the game company :) .

    • Off topic: I was amazed that a Japanese hentai game maker respects the GPL more than, say, SCO, a multi-million dollar company

      It's not so surprising; where the national character of Americans is arrogant and all about number one, the Japanese are fundamentally in love with rules and structure. It's not universally true, but it is particularly common amoung Japanese businessmen: they would rather die than go against the grain. If the rules clearly say "you must do X", the Japanese will often just do it (wher

    • by Anonymous Coward
      On a tangent--

      Having downloaded the Blade Engine, here's something pertinent from the readme:

      3. Blade Engine Features

      Blade Engine Free Version supports:

      - Graphics
      - Sound / Music / Voice
      - Option Command
      - Visual Effect (fading, Earth Quake effect etc)
      - Save / Load function

      - Blade Engine logo and URL are displayed

      Blade Engine Professional Version supports:

      - Graphics
      - Sound
  • That's right! (Score:3, Informative)

    by simonbp (412489) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @10:23PM (#15767604) Homepage
    That's right! Visual novels can be can be Sci-Fi pron, Fantasy porn, Adventure porn and Horror Fiction porn!

    Simon ;)

  • Unimpressive (Score:5, Informative)

    by A non moose cow (610391) <> on Sunday July 23, 2006 @10:26PM (#15767611) Journal
    I couldn't figure out what this "visual novel engine" was from the summary so I thought I would RTFA for a change. After doing that I still wasn't clear about what kind of thing you could make with it. I downloaded one of the samples to see what they were talking about. For those of you like me who are out of the loop on this state of the art technology I offer you this 5 word summary: Zork with stills and sound.

    How long did it take to make an "engine" to do this anyway? A whole day? two maybe? Lets see, a database with music samples, stills, and text, throw in some trivial branching, done. It seems to me that the only work in the first place was making the creative content, which, with this wonderful technology, is still the only work.

    Also, once you know what they are talking about, saying this bit: "Visual Novels CAN be Dating Sim games, Ren'ai games, Bishoujo games but also can be Sci-Fi Blah Blah Blah..." is really moronic. It's like saying, "Did you know that when you buy magazines, they don't all have to be porn! There are also magazines about cars and computers, and hobbies like painting! Did you know that you can actually make a magazine about anything you want!?"

    Is the whole point of this Blade engine just to establish some sort of standard? Because the problem it seems to be trying to solve just isn't that tough. I wouldn't pay money for it. Am I off the mark here? What am I not getting?
    • Re:Unimpressive (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LordLucless (582312)
      It's not a tool for programmers, I'd imagine. It's a tool for animators/illustrators/writers who don't have the first clue about basic, but still might want to make a piece of interactive art. So no, it's probably not targetted at any of the slashdot audience. And the quote about Visual Novels not necessarily being hentai might be moronic, but if it is, it's because it's debunking a moronic attitude that's quite prevelant - that Visual Novels (and I've heard the same thing said about anime/manga) are nothin
    • Re:Unimpressive (Score:2, Informative)

      by Tacvek (948259)
      Zork with stills and sound.
      Actually the Z-Machine (which is the VM that Zork used) Does support sound and stills. Infocom themselves used this in a few games. The Visual Novels are usually more linear, with less chance for interaction. A bit more C.Y.O.A.-like than the Infocom games with multimedia.
    • Well, since you didn't know what a visual novel was, you never got the associated and unfortunate preconception that it's generally used for hentai-ish dating sims. (Which it is used for a lot, but not entirely.)
    • " For those of you like me who are out of the loop on this state of the art technology I offer you this 5 word summary: Zork with stills and sound."

      Worse than that, it's like the primitive graphical adventure games that came out at about the same time as the Infocom games.

      This has modern graphics, but it has a similarly rudimentary parser. Assuming it even parses anything. It may just be click-one-of-the-choice buttons, in which case HTML would work just as well.
  • by MBCook (132727) <> on Sunday July 23, 2006 @10:34PM (#15767634) Homepage

    So after a quick look, it seems like this would be the kind of thing to make a game like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney []. Is that right?

    I recently managed to get my hands on a copy (they are in the Capcom online store... ORDER NOW!) and I've got to say the game is FANTASTIC. After 2 trials I would have been happy with the game, but it's got a full 5 (I just finished the fourth today). The game is an absolute blast. If you love courtroom dramas, you've got to play this game.

    The characters are all great and the stories and good. The murder plots are excellent (they can be tricky). The touch screen isn't used very well in the game (which isn't surprising given it was a GBA game first, I think). You can use the touch screen just fine, it's just hardly ever needed (which is also nice, so you don't need to use it if you don't want to). They have already announced that there will be a sequel both here in the US (hooray!) and in Japan (where it will be a re-issue of a GBA game for the DS). The music is nice (which is a SERIOUS plus compared to most handheld games) and fits in very well (at the right moments in the trials, like when you present key evidence, it changes to a real pumping-up beat).

    Give it a try. The game needs support.

    It would be great to be able to make something like that, but I'm not creative enough. I wish this genre (and point-and-click adventure games, which I see as a bit similar in some was) wasn't dead over here. What I wouldn't give for another Lucas Arts point-and-click. Loom [], Day of the Tentacle [], Sam and Max [], The Dig [], Grim Fandango [], and all four games in the Monkey Island [] series.

    I never got to play Full Throttle (which was supposed to be great) or the Indiana Jones games (also supposed to be great). I ought to look into those. I only played the Monkey Island games a few years ago.

  • Novels (Score:4, Insightful)

    by glwtta (532858) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @10:45PM (#15767659) Homepage
    Graphic novels, Visual novels... you know, these people must actually understand the difference between their, lets say, "limited" creations and what is traditionally referred to as a 'novel'. Otherwise, it seems, they would not insist quite so ardently on calling them 'novels'.
  • ==Lame (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @10:52PM (#15767677) Homepage
    "In the West, there is a stereotype of: "Visual Novel = Dating Sim Game = Hentai", but that is wrong.

    It is?

    Umeda is a self-confessed otaku, one of Japan's growing legion of men obsessed with anime, comics, action figures, and videogames. And when Umeda claims otaku status, it's no idle boast. "Here's the real evidence," he says, producing a certificate and ID that confirm his standing as "otaku elite." He earned this rank by getting a very high score on a rigorous National Unified Otaku Certification Test last summer. The exam was something of a Japanese obsession, despite having been available only as an insert in Elfics magazine, which features cheesecake drawings of scantily clad, underage girls on the cover. l?pg=5 []
    • Honestly. It took me a few years and an actual trip to Japan to realize that the Japanese believe most of the stereotypes American non-fanboys have about anime, games, etc. too because they're mostly true. Anime is either made for kids or for otaku. Most "visual novels" ARE dating sim / porn games. Those that aren't are exceptions, and the industry mostly caters to the otaku and not to the mainstream.
    • You will find that while a majority of these games are crappy porn-laden games, the ones that sell record quantities are the ones that keep the porn part to a minimum and focus on the story, character development, art and music. In fact, once these get popular enough, clean versions of the games are made (for the PS2, for example) and sell quite well compared to the "dirty" versions. There are also many of these games that start out without the adult content and sell well because of the story and characte
    • How does a quote saying "A nerd exists" prove that "Visual Novel = Porn" o_O?
  • by stubear (130454)
    ...we call these "Choose Your Own Adventure" novels and I read many when I was a kid. I outgrew them, apparently the Japanese haven't. I guess it's cool, though, because it's Japanese?!? Whatever.
    • Imagine plugging a Lovecraft story into this engine (my first thought after going through the sample game), with artwork, music, and interactivity. Would it still be childish?
      • Oh god (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BlackCobra43 (596714)
        Please, we have enough tentacle rape hentai without Cthulu getting into this.

      • Well, yes, but not because of the presence of media, but because of the woefully limited interactivity which pretty much would require such a project to be stupid and childish.

        I would recommend that they look at something like Inform 7 as an example of how to create interactive novels, and then contemplate how they could fully integrate multimedia with a sophisticated parser like that.

    • Imagine it being FF7 without all the x button wailing. . . and not having to switch discs ever, since it would only be a quarter of the size.
      • You know, this was the first thing I thought when I read this story. I never got the Japanese RPGs with their ridiculous plots (and no, they are not that complex, only convoluted and mind-boggingly stupid) and the lack of any real game play mechanics. These novels take the Japanese RPG and rip whatever soul was left right out of it.
  • Blade Engine was created to bring popularity to the AVG genre to non-Japanese audiences, as its website says. This intent suggests an implicit assumption on the part of the creators - that the genre is relatively unknown in the target non-Japanese areas. But the creators also assume that there is a stereotype that "Visual Novel = Dating Sim Game = Hentai" in the target non-Japanese areas, creating a conflicting representation of their intent.

    Are they trying to draw an audience by introducing this stereoty

  • Dang it (Score:4, Funny)

    by edmicman (830206) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @11:11PM (#15767719) Homepage Journal
    I thought this was a program that I could drag and drop plot, characters, etc., into, and it would write my novel for me. You're telling me it doesn't do that, and I have to still write all the words myself? Where's my Visual Studio 2005 Novel Edition?
  • Not new by any stretch of the imagination, at all. This sort of software has existed in english for years: []

    There's even a NaNoWriMo riff for these games. Python-based editor, everything. Blade's late to the party.
  • Does anyone remember Howard the Duck? now THAT was reality fiction of the viceral visual kind...
    • All I know is that my friend decided I looked like someone called Howard the Duck and called me "Howard" untill I moved away with my job. I'm assuming this was a bad thing, but I'd prefer a confirmation. Don't worry, I'm not gonna mail bomb him or anything, I'm sure I've called him much worse to his face and we'd still have each other's back in a fight.
      • Howard the Duck "trapped in a world he never made". The concept was a parallel universe much like our own only inhabited by Ducks. Howard slips through a crack in space-time and here he is; a Cigar chomping foul mouthed normal sort of guy who is constantly running into Marvel universe super heros and villans but basically represents the common Everyman... "every duck?" Oh and has a babe (human) GF...
  • First off game type is not rigidly defined anymore then say the term FPS must always describe a Doom clone. Generally visual novel type games are about story, often several story lines intertwined wich you choose between.

    Yes a lot of them involve various level of erotica especially the ones that have been translated commercially into english. For those of you with slightly more braincells then the average slashdotter this probably tells you a lot more about the english market then the japanese market.


  • W-in-a-box (Score:2, Funny)

    by Tablizer (95088)
    I tried to build one with scenarios for getting out of Iraq with our country still intact. I keep getting DIVIDE BY ZERO and INFINITE RECURSION errors.
  • Just one word about the "visual novel = dating sim = p0rn" thing.
    Play Planetarian. It's the most touching "game" I've ever seen. Doesn't have porn, it's a really interesting story and has the cutest female character ever designed.
    The thing basically takes place in a broken future where a biochemical war ensued, making the environment a complete POS. The world's population was decimated by the contamination and a permanent acid rain, and the battle robots released to keep the war on.
    The game is starred by a

"The urge to destroy is also a creative urge." -- Bakunin [ed. note - I would say: The urge to destroy may sometimes be a creative urge.]