If you’re a fan of visual novels and have decided to try your hand at the development process, it can be both exciting and daunting. Luckily, the visual novel community is incredibly welcoming, and there’s a handful of community hubs and game jams you can join to get involved. Here are some ways to get involved in the visual novel community!
Get Involved in Game Jams
Game jams are events that allow developers to challenge themselves and complete a game by a certain deadline. They are an opportunity to set goals, meet teammates, and release small-scale projects by a certain date. This month, there is a visual novel game jam running called Winter VN Jam 2021. In this event, teams work together to create a visual novel revolving around the designated theme: winter. NaNoRenO is the most popular visual novel jam to take part in, and the next one will be in March 2022. What’s fun about NaNo is you can make a visual novel about anything—it doesn’t have to fit a specific theme! The main rule is to complete the novel within the month of March.
There are various visual novel jams scheduled to commence in 2022. If a one-month development period doesn’t seem like your cup of tea, then there’s the Summer Novel Festival, a two-month-long game jam during the months of July and August. Following that is the Spooktober Visual Novel Jam, which is scheduled again for 2022. If making games revolving around Halloween, horror, or mystery sounds fun to you, then consider joining this jam next year!
All in all, I have noticed a lot of developers start off with game jams and then branch off into bigger projects later on. I actually started off with bigger projects, and have only just now joined my first game jam. I have to say, I wish I started off with a game jam project, because they are very fun and extremely rewarding! They’re also a great way to meet new, talented people in the community.
The internet is your gateway for meeting other creators. Discord, Twitter, Lemma Soft Forums, and Reddit are just a few social media hubs you can get involved in if you haven’t already. The best thing to do is to establish a social media presence for yourself or your game. If you’re looking to jump on a team and offer your skills, it’s really beneficial to have a clean portfolio where you can show off your work. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and meet people, even if you don’t have any experience!
If you happen to be a multi-talented individual able to proceed as a solo developer, there’s still a lot of valuable resources and information posted online, especially in Discord servers such as DevTalk. Servers like this are hosted by community managers who seek to boost visual novel creation, promotion, and individual networking. You can meet other game jam creators in there, peruse job postings, post issues you have with programming, seek advice for Kickstarters or marketing—the list goes on!
While the other social media sites mentioned above can also be good resources as well, Discord is good for immediate help and communication. If you are serious about getting involved, there are a lot of creators on Twitter. It’s a hot spot for marketing and networking, so if you don’t have an account but want to establish a presence, I recommend creating one. Social media participation is not a requirement when it comes to visual novel development, so but it can be a useful tool for your creative process and it helps spread the word about your project.
Joining the Community
Like I mentioned, the visual novel community as a whole is a wonderful community to be a part of. It’s important to be respectful and present yourself well, so here are some quick tips on what to be conscious of when beginning projects with the community.
- Establish ground rules. Whether you are joining a project or a gathering a team, it’s important that everyone is clear on what is expected and by when. Understanding these early on can save a lot of confusion, headaches, and potential frustration.
- Communicate with team members. Sharing progress in increments rather than all at once is useful, especially when you’re just starting out with team members, as this method helps you become familiar with each other’s workflow. This includes communicating even when progress isn’t shared. If you can’t meet a deadline, letting the other members know rather than ghosting them helps them be prepared.
- Know your limitations. If a project has expectations that are higher than your capabilities or the work required reaches beyond your availability, it’s okay to turn projects down.
- Have fun! People naturally gravitate toward others who have similar interests as they do. My favorite thing about the visual novel community is getting to meet like-minded people who are passionate about visual novels. Overall, if you’ve decided to try your hand at creating in the visual novel community, then congratulations on joining a really cool hub of people!