[OLPC-Games] Ren'Py and Visual Novels games

francois schnell francois.schnell at gmail.com
Sun Feb 25 10:31:11 EST 2007


What about visual novels ?

according to a wikipedia article [1]:

A visual novel is an interactive fiction game featuring mostly static
graphics, usually with anime-style art. As the name might suggest, they
resemble mixed-media novels or tableau vivant stage plays. Visual novels are
classified as a sub-genre of adventure games, referred to as AVGs in Japan.
Visual novels are especially prevalent in Japan, where they make up nearly
70% of PC games released.
This kind of game are still rare in the EU and US market but they are now
coming with title like "Phoenix Wright" [2] and "Hotel Dusk"  [3]  for the
Nintendo GBA and/or DS.

I'm not myself a regular 'user' of these games but  they could be
interesting to consider in the OLPC context:

- they encourage reading or 'learn' to read (but in a colorful and
multimedia context which helps comprehension)
- the kid read at their own pace
- they are graphically static most of the time which should be good for the
XO (low on hardware in theory)
- it's also often possible to integrate minigames in the Visual Novel itself
- user interaction is usually required with different endings

Obviously for kids the best educational and fun part is to actual make their
own Visual Novel possibly in a collaborative way:

- imagine  a story  to share if possible with different choices
- learn to draw (characters ?) or take pictures of
landscapes/scenes/characters or use existing contents
- use/create some sound/music
- share it with other kids through the mesh network ? (a kind of minimal
"You Tube" of Visual Novels ?)

Few hours ago while browsing pygame.org  I stumble on Ren'Py framework that
didn't noticed before (they've released a new  version -  0.6 - few days
ago). See www.renpy.org.  I've tested the Demo novel (which explain how it
works in a Visual Novel itself) and looked at the website,

I like:

- very neat end result and nice UI to select, load or edit a Visual Novel
- Open Source and Multiplateforme and Python/Pygame based
- possibility to include directly Python code in the easy to learn Ren'Py
scripts (a '$' prefix for a single line or 'python:' for a block of code)
- possibility to integrate pygame minigames in the novel (there's a Pong
game in the Demo novel)
- good documentation, cookbook, etc
- distribution tool of the visual novels
- lively community on their forum

I've also noticed someone in the forum 'remaking' a chapter of the original
"Phoenix Wright" (with Ren'Py and some Python extras) : it looks to me very
near to the quality of the original Nintendo version (with items and people
management tool also nicely integrated).[4]

So far I  like what I've seen and just thought that this kind of tool could
be interesting for the XO (which explains my mail) but I have no idea if
Ren'Py would work smoothly on the XO and don't know the people behind

Also do someone here know if  Pygame is already or will finally  be
supported on the XO ? I found this on the wiki (but the conversations seem
to date from 2005):

# ... few minutes latter,

and I just found this:


I f right  SDL and so Pygame won't work on the OLPC ...

Argh,  I obviously knew that the Blender Game Engine couldn't work on the XO
specs but somewhat I was hoping Pygame would at least make it.  :(

Anyway I wish all the best to the OLPC project.


PS: maybe someone should update the Wiki about Pygame / SDL

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_novels
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_Wright
[3] http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,72702-0.html?tw=wn_columns_6
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