Recently I started going down the rabbit hole of what game engines are currently used. I found some statistics on itch.io which made me curious, so I sorted game engines by popularity, and as of 6/2/2020, Ren'Py is at the top.
I clicked the engine on itch and saw it was used to create visual novels. I quickly searched to see how to use it and was surprised by how straight-forward it was to create a basic game.
I downloaded the engine and started to run through their instructions to get started.
Before I go any further, I am using Windows 10, Visual Studio Code, 7-zip, and GitHub.
First, I went to https://renpy.org and clicked Download. As of writing this the latest version is 7.3.5.
I extracted the download to D:\RenPy, now my folder looks like D:\RenPy\renpy-7.3.5-sdk. This can be extracted to your preferred location.
Then, I double-clicked renpy.exe to begin exploring the engine.
Once launched I clicked "The Question" on the left panel then clicked "Launch Project" in the bottom right to verify it downloaded correctly.
My curiosity got me and I started to pick files from the launcher to see what would happen when I clicked around. When I opened script.rpy I was presented with the option to select what editor I wanted to use.
I didn't want another editor so I made Visual Studio Code my default editor. To do that I went to D:\RenPy\renpy-7.3.5-sdk\the_question\game and right-clicked script.rpy and selected "Open with..."
Once selected I was prompted with what program to use for opening. I made sure "Always use this app to open .rpy files" was checked and selected Visual Studio Code then clicked "OK" to set my preferred editor.
Note: Your program might not be visible so you may need to expand "More apps" to find your preferred editor.
Now that I set my default editor, I closed Ren'Py to allow my changes to be applied. I reopened Ren'Py. I clicked "The Question" then script.rpy to get back to the "Select Editor" screen. Next, I selected "System Editor" and now the file loaded in Visual Studio Code!
After opening Visual Studio Code, .rpy files were not recognized. Therefore, intelliscence won't be triggered. Turns out, there is an extension that could be added to fix this issue. To do this, click "Extensions" on the left navigation panel in Visual Studio Code and search renpy and hit Enter. You will find a result for "Ren'Py Language". Select this result and in the main panel click "Install". Close Visual Studio Code and reopen it to have the changes take effect.
As I poked around, I found their site states, the engine uses Python as the scripting language. However, the engine uses .rpy which is not a Python extension. Turns out, Ren'Py has their own framework over Python to provide some utilities for a basic visual novel. Some of these features are: saving, presenting dialog, and navigating dialog.
I already had some experience in Python, because in the past I created a professional goal to learn it. Back when I taught myself Python, I used pluralsight. As I came across Ren'Py I felt comfortable to dive in because I knew how to write a basic script and read the code.
I turned my sights to "The Tutorial" and poked around to get a better understanding of the engine. Side note, I really appreciated they used Ren'Py to create a tutorial on how to use the engine in a visual novel. It was really cool to see the potential and got me excited to try it out!
I began my search seeing how to add characters, scenes, and other scripts. I got lost because, there is either new documentation which has all the options but not a lot of examples, or old documentation which has examples but is no longer supported.
Full disclosure: I'm not good at searching on the internet. If there are any resources you know please drop a comment.
After seeing how light-weight this engine is, and wanting to complete a project to further build my skills I plan on using this engine to create my own visual novel.
My familiarity with this format is dating sims, such as Hatoful Boyfriend and KFC Dating Sim. I am not necessarily a romantic, however, I do enjoy food. So, my idea is more or less a "food dating sim" to find your dream breakfast.
So please join me on this journey and follow along on GitHub to see my progress.