I was really self-conscious about asking questions that already had answers, so if I ever had trouble, I would just do a search of the Lemmasoft forums to see if anyone else had already had the problem before. http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/ LSF is kind of the Ren'Py devs' home base and there's a lot of helpful tutorials and answered questions throughout. But yeah, like I said, the best way for me was to just try stuff. I'd put in some code, run the game, and constantly tweak and refresh until I got what I wanted. Luckily, Ren'Py is pretty easy to use and easy to learn if you are diligent with it. A recent resource is also Fuck Yeah Ren'Py on Tumblr http://fuckyeahrenpy.tumblr.com/ which isn't official, but pretty great.
My tips for beginner visual novel devs:
- Start small. Everyone says this and it's for good reason. BCM was the first VN that Auro and I ever worked on together. Four years later, we're still working on it. Why? It's a behemoth and we've had to fix SO MUCH over the years. :/ We learned a lot from working on smaller games like Ristorante Amore (our first released game) and actually finishing them. With your first game, you want to learn the ropes and see what you're good and/or bad at. Don't try to make your magnum opus the first time around. Also, avoid feature creep https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feature_creep
- Reach out to other devs if you're feeling stuck or need advice. (obviously you're already doing this) We're a pretty friendly bunch, though some of us are a bit busier than others. PyTom is exceedingly nice and accessible if you are having issues with Ren'Py.
- Don't feel like every VN you make has to shake up the genre and/or be innovative and/or be your magnum opus and/or be universally likable. Also, don't try to advertise your VN by saying that it is any of those things, because that just sets you up for intense scrutiny and probable failure. You want to make a VN about a bunch of catgirls going to school? Go for it! A self-indulgent vampire BL game? Follow your dreams! Just make sure you can stand behind your work 100% and have fun while doing it because development is hard enough without you having to slog through something you're not even that interested in.
- Please don't use Kickstarter/IndieGoGo/etc for your first game. Until you've actually made a few VNs, you have no idea how much things will cost, how much time things will take, or what it feels like to have hundreds or thousands of fans breathing down your neck constantly. It almost never ends well.
- Lastly, find a workflow and plan that works for you. Everyone is different, so tutorials and advice can only get you so far. You have to figure out for yourself what works for YOU and what YOU can do to get your VN done in a way that is satisfying to YOU. Have at it!