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Useful Notes / Ren'Py

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The Ren'Py Visual Novel Engine is a free Game Maker software geared specifically towards developing Visual Novels, but flexible enough to accommodate games in any narrative-heavy genre. First released to public in 2004, Ren'Py has been in continuous development ever since and is currently in version 7.2, available for Microsoft Windows, Linux, and macOS (it is also possible to make games for Android and iOS, but Ren'Py itself doesn't run in them). It has since been used to power over 1,500 original games by both hobbyist and professional developers. The title rhymes with "pie" and is a portmanteau of "ren'ai" and "Python"—the programming language it was implemented in.

The core of a Ren'Py game is its script, wherein the developer defines the order in which it presents lines of text, images, and sound snippets to the player. Most lines of this "code" correspond to a single line of spoken dialogue or exposition, so its structure is much more akin to a movie script than to actual program code. Apart from the main bulk of text, the game script also defines following common objects:

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  • Characters represent the Dramatis Personae of the game. A character object consists of their name, a color (e.g. how their name is displayed in the dialogue window), and a number of sprites showing them in different emotional states. Said sprites can be dynamically assigned different screen positions and transition animations.
  • Scenes are backdrops against which character interaction takes place. These include both generic backgrounds and unique "event CGs". Like character sprites, scenes come with several predefined transition animations.
  • Labels serve as anchors in the script, allowing the narration to jump directly to specific scenes.
  • Menus are the basic unit of interactivity in Ren'Py, facilitating Story Branching where the player selects a Dialogue Tree response or an action from a predefined list of options and the game reacts to their choice (usually by jumping to a different label).
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  • Music and sounds can be played over specific scenes and events. It is even possible to implement fully-voiced dialogue.

Beyond these common features, game developers can use Python syntax natively in the game script to extend it with arbitrarily complex game systems, such as Stats and Skill Scores for Role-Playing and Simulation Games. Most commonly, Python support is used to implement simple if-then-else structures that dynamically branch the narration depending on the Event Flags that the player had set earlier.

While the entirety of the game content is up to the individual developer, the engine comes with a lot of built-in comfort features, like customizable main menu, saving and loading the game, rollback to previous game screens, fast-forwarding the text the player had already read, etc. A completed script can be then compiled into a finished game that runs on all supported target platforms.


Ren'Py-based games that have a page on this wiki (see also the official database):


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