Ask @yanderegumi:

I recently got a chance to look at the Break Chance Memento demo and it looks fabulous and the system is perfect! So I was just wondering how you go about coding your renpy programs. Do you have any tips for beginners? Are there any good resources to learn from? More importantly how did you learn?

Aww thanks so much! Honestly, I learned the most by diving in and trying things out for myself. I also read A LOT. The Ren'Py documentation is pretty helpful: http://renpy.org/doc/html/
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!

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What does true friendship mean to you?

Trust and honesty. Knowing that your friend has your well-being in mind, not just your comfort and amusement. Sometimes you will do/say something horrible or callous or just ignorant. In those times, a true friend should share their concerns with you and guide you rather than just blindly defend you or tell you what you want to hear or, more extremely, cut you off without an explanation.
Sometimes the truth is hard to hear. And on the flip side, being honest and risking confrontation is really difficult, as well. So to me, a true friendship is one where my friend can be honest with me and I can be honest with them. We may not see eye to eye all the time, but at the end of the day, we're always there for each other.

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[Artist anon again here] Were your friends with the artists that illustrate your games? Or have you just always been able to pay commissions?

Auro and I started out with commissions. BCM was a much smaller game back then (haha)... I was planning to use photos for the backgrounds and do the GUI myself, so I think I only asked her to do the main 5 character sprites and like 3-5 CGs. Which wasn't cheap, exactly, but affordable if I saved up. She was nice and let me pay as she finished/in installments, too. Eventually, she got a full-time job as a corporate designer, so she didn't need the money from commissions anymore. And it turned out we work really well together and get along great, so we formed Cyanide Tea and started doing things together at that point.
Aside from Auro, every artist I've ever worked with has been a close friend to start with. Someone approached me with "hey, we should do a game together" and if the idea was good then we ran with it. Sometimes on very short notice like with Neon and the Cake Game we did basically in a day.
.........or I *did* before I got to this current level of being busy. -.- Now I'm pretty much booked through to 2017...
A warning: I'm a little hesitant about this because I don't want to give off the impression of suggesting that you go befriend artists so that you'll have people to do free art for your games. If that is your end game, please stop now. Treat artists like people and don't befriend them while having ulterior motives or else you'll both have a very bad time.

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hi! your blog came up when i was googling tokires (which i just started on two days ago lol). question: do you still play it? also, i've been seeing touken ranbu art on tumblr and twitter recently, but what is it exactly about? and what do you play it on? thank you! ^^

Oh no I quit Tokires a looong while back, haha. I usually end up forcing myself to quit games when I get too addicted to them and it was getting to the point where I was setting alarms to make myself wake up every 2-3 hours to check the game + spending lots of money on it... It became unsustainable so I quit. I feel very fortunate that I am able to pull myself back from addictions so I never get too badly burnt by anything. I've also pulled back from playing Kare (BF Kari) for the same reason, though I still have the app on my phone and flip through it from time to time.
Touken Ranbu (it's a browser game so you have to play it on your computer pretty much) is much friendlier game for me because there's really no reason for me to spend a lot of money on it and I don't feel compelled to check on it constantly. Umm I'll just copy-paste my explanation of Tourabu from Tumblr:
"Uhhh think of it as like… Pokemon but with swords that have been turned into beautiful men? You gather materials to craft different swords (there’s 42 different ones right now, soon to be 44), then you can send them on expeditions to gather more materials or go into battle with them. They level up and you can also use your materials to craft troops (kinda like equippable weapons/armor) for your swords.
Each sword is based on a historical/mythical sword from (so far just) Japanese culture and their designs reflect their backstory and how the original sword looks. So beyond the basic gameplay, there’s rich layers of history, angst, and character interactions—just enough to get a creative mind going wild, hence the explosion of fanart and fanfiction.
I feel like what sets Tourabu apart is that you can make your own team of swords, so each person has a different set of characters that’s special to them and that they get attached to. They can imagine in their head how their team interacts with the saniwa/main character, as well. I rarely see the same team twice, dream or otherwise. Not to mention the guys are all very appealing and the game is pretty simple to pick up, so! Hopefully that helps explain, haha."
If you want more information on it, here's some links to check out:
http://princeduck.tumblr.com/post/108436380057/sword-boys-masterpost
http://touken-ranbu.wikia.com/wiki/Touken_Ranbu_Wiki
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hLbqBAi9HOizbk5eZmuNP6zukDktnWzpd8-x-XIZ_Uw/edit?usp=sharing

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Favorite EVN you've ever played? Also what's your favorite VN to come out of nanoreno? (Not including your own)

Oof this is hard. Frozen Essence (http://unbrokenhours.com/fe/) holds a very special place in my heart and Venus is such an inspiration to me. (one-woman VN dev army, seriously)
Cupid (https://fervent.itch.io/cupidvn) might be my overall favorite, though. It caters to my tastes so well and it's so polished! I pushed it at anyone and everyone, haha. I'm so glad it won VN of the year for 2015! Cupid was technically a NaNoRenO game, too, but I think only the demo came out during the NaNo period?
A NaNoRenO game that I really liked and still think about a lot is Green Eyed Monster (https://carrogath.itch.io/gem). It's a very fresh and bittersweet take on mahou shoujo without the male gaze moe stuff that plagues...some other mahou shoujo things. Come to think of it, 2015 was a pretty good year for EVNs, huh?

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what are the differences between writing about other peoples characters (esp from popular franchises) vs writing about your own ocs? what do you like about creating content for your ocs?

I think the main difference is that when writing about others' characters, I don't have the same feeling of security that I have when writing my own. I'm a huge perfectionist, so I always want to do a lot of research when writing fanfiction, or at least get to know characters very well before I write them (especially writing things from their POV). As interesting as I find AU fanworks and stories that put characters in extreme situations that warp their personalities, my favorite kind of comment on my own fanwork is "This feels like it could be canon!" That's just the kind of writing I gravitate towards, personally, when writing myself.
Obviously, real people don't always stick to a bullet point list of personality traits. People do inexplicable things sometimes and their personality/values go out the window in specific situations or for specific things. So fictional characters should be the same way. I want them to feel like living, breathing people. When it's my own character, I know where those lines are. I know whom a character is more casual around and whom they might be more guarded against, or what might cause a usually reasonable character to turn violent or desperate. However, I don't always know where those lines are with other people's characters. I can make my best guesses, but there's always this worry of "Is this really in character?" looming in the back of my head. It can drive a perfectionist a little bit insane.
In the end, after all, I'm just simulating another person's character(s) and there's no way that I can know that what they're doing and saying in my writing is realistic unless their original creator comes to me and says "LORE, GOOD JOB." Sometimes that does happen and it's very satisfying, but of course it's pretty rare. ;_;
Writing about my OCs is the most satisfying for me because I get to explore these characters that I've very lovingly crafted. My OCs are extremely self-indulgent. A lot of times when coming up with a cast of characters for a VN or other creative project, I have to make sure that the cast is balanced. I have to make sure each character can serve the story in some way. But with my OCs, each one exists almost in a vacuum—at least at first. I can make them however I want and set their story to match rather than make characters that fit into a certain story. I can create the characters and character relationships I most love to write and think about, even if they're trash or implausible or ridiculous. ♥

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(same asker) I just remembered, didn't you also face a lot of criticism for translating diabolik lovers by tumblr users?

I wouldn't say /a lot/ haha I got a handful of people saying things like "Eww Diabolik Lovers is so gross and misogynistic, you must be a deluded misogynist/stupid fangirl/idiot/promoter of domestic violence to like it!" No skin off my back if people attack me over their really bad misinterpretations (spoonfed to them by other people) of Diabolik Lovers. Also, I will be one of the first people to agree that Diabolik Lovers is terrible. I love it in spite of that. :'D
tl;dr yeah I faced criticism, but I would hesitate to call it "a lot". I drew back from the fandom more because I didn't like the entitlement I saw there and also my interest in the franchise has waned some.

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Why do you think people look down on/shame mental health topics and treat them as a joke? Is it because people are ignorant, or is it because there are people who just think they're superior because they ~aren't ill~/aren't diagnosed? Do you think we need to raise awareness even more?

I don't know if it's superiority, I think most people are just ignorant. I majored in psychology, but I still have my parents and other people tell me a lot that "psychology isn't a real science" and stuff. My family's response to my anxiety and depression tends to be "get over it". I think because mental health isn't as obviously noticeable as physical health, it gets treated like a non-problem. Depressed? Well just cheer up! Like that actually works. Even if they have mental disorders themselves, some people will still refuse to admit that it's a problem. And this view has been reinforced over the years by popular media. Awareness needs to be raised, but we're fighting against centuries of stereotypes and misinformation, so it's not going to happen overnight.

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Thank you so much for being such a good inspiration sorry if this is weird lol but I was always doubting that it was possible to learn a language by yourself with no class but seeing you encourages me to keep going and learning thank you again and good luck in all your studies and pursuits!

Awww this is so sweet. ;_; Thank you so much and best of luck with your language studies!

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Hello! I saw a video you recently retweeted about planning for a novel from the bottom up. Do you by any chance have any tips like that for planning for a visual novel from the bottom up? I keep coming up with ideas but never really know what to do next.

I have this handy-dandy visual novel design document I made up: https://docs.google.com/document/d/18LJ5F43dySGE8dzlpwvdWBFzfSBIgjQrkG23V4qnS7g/edit?usp=sharing
The first version of it that I came up with was for Ristorante Amore. Back when we first started with Cyanide Tea, Auro and I mostly communicated via Google Docs. So having a document that we could pass back and forth was really crucial in the planning stages. The template went through a lot of changes every time I used it, but it’s been in this form for the last three projects I’ve worked on.
The story and character sections are important, of course, but I think the art assets part at the end is crucial, too. It’s a good way of keeping scope in mind. If I can see a list of (potential) BGs at a glance, I can figure out how many scenes can take place in each one and maybe eliminate BGs that are less useful. Passed back and forth between your team members, you end up with a really good way to see the skeleton of your project at a glance and cut the fat when you can. It’s also great for making sure that everyone’s on the same page.
It's important to figure out your role in the project and what you're going to be contributing so that you can then find other people to fill in parts you can't do (maybe). Ideas are great, but you need something more concrete to work off of.

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Hey there! I'm new to Diabolik Lovers and otome games and I've recently played HDB. I'll play More Blood soon but the other games I cannot play since I don't have a PS Vita so anyway, can I ask for more otome game recommendations from you? Thank u!

Oh sure! Umm, Hana Awase, Double Score (the first two games, please pretend the third one doesn't exist), Ken ga Kimi, Tokyo Yamanote Boys, Koezaru wa Akai Hana (R-18), Black Wolves Saga, Gakuen Tokkyuu Hotokenser, Hakuouki, Sweet Fuse, Amnesia, Toki no Kizuna... These are various games for PSP and PC! A few English otome games I really like: Autumn's Journey, Cupid, The Knife of the Traitor, Frozen Essence, and Princess of Ruin! Hope this helps~

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Do you have any gender or sexuality headcanons for the DL boys or do you just see them all as straight and cis?

HMMM I don't talk about this a lot but I actually do headcanon Kanato and Laito as either being genderfluid or outright transmen at times. Kou, too. Though I guess it's more of me thinking about "what if" scenarios than anything else. The thought of a female Kanato really interests me, and thinking about how little the relationship structures of the family would change if Kanato or Subaru were daughters instead of sons.
Pretty sure most of the Dialovers characters are at least bi, though. There's no possible way that Laito and Shu are straight. LIKE THAT'S NOT EVEN HEADCANON ANYMORE, I REALLY THINK THAT'S CANON...

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How do you make a VN and how hard is it? And how do you get your name out there?

Basically, the answer to all of these questions is "it depends." :'D
There's lots of ways to make a visual novel nowadays. I use Ren'Py for mine, but now there's all kinds of different engines you can use depending on what you want to accomplish and how good of a programmer you are. Most of the ones other than Ren'Py cost money, though, so there is that. Just google "visual novel engine" and see what floats your boat the most.
How hard is it? It's as hard as you make it. I spent 14 hours yesterday implementing a new sprite system into one of my VNs so that I could have tinted/lighted sprites (relatively) easily. In other games I've coded, the sprites have only one outfit and no animation or tinting, so I can just work with Ren'Py's core features in a shorter amount of time. These visual novel engines come with a lot of features right out of the box. You don't have to code a save function, you don't have to code a skip function (usually), etc. In that sense, making a basic visual novel is pretty easy nowadays. If you want to go above and beyond basic functionality with extra features like minigames, customized user interface, more complex sprites/CGs, etc., though, it's going to be more difficult. Even if you're a pretty seasoned programmer, it'll still take time. I'm not a seasoned programmer and so I've sunk hundreds and hundreds of hours into working on my VNs to get them to the point they are now.
Lastly, "how do you get your name out there?" Once again, your mileage will vary. Social media is important nowadays, but you can't just make a new Twitter account and start screaming about your game into the void. You have to connect with other people and give them a reason to pay attention to you and your work. Maybe join up with a team for a game jam or write an article for a blog or attend a convention. Make some friends! Pretty much the same way you "get your name out there" for anything else...? There's no one way to do it and all ways are pretty difficult unless you've got millions of dollars and a rabid fanbase to start with.

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What teacher in school made the most impact on you and why?

My 8th grade English teacher! Not only did she get me on the road to being the huge Shakespeare fangirl that I am now, she was also been the most supportive of my writing out of the adult/mentor figures I've ever had. I wrote a novella that year and she happily read it and critiqued it for me, which was a really big deal. And in my yearbook, her message was "I look forward to seeing your name in print!" which....was just super inspiring. "Look forward to" is very different from "hope to", you know? I haven't had a chance to speak with her much since then (I did visit once because my younger brother also had her) but I've never forgotten her kind words of support, especially since most of the other adult figures in my life then (and now) are very unsupportive of my creative work.

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How and why did you learn Japanese?

I am entirely self-taught in Japanese. I’ve been watching anime from a young age. I think I was like 6 or 7 when I started watching Sailor Moon because my cousin was living in Japan for a few years and would constantly bring me Sailor Moon stuff… I moved on to CLAMP after that (I loved Magic Knight Rayearth and Cardcaptor Sakura) and then Watase series such as Fushigi Yuugi. When I was 12 or 13 I started branching out and watched Rurouni Kenshin, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and other shows like that.
ANYWAY, before I end up giving you my life story, to make a long story short, I had early exposure to the language and picked up phrases and words here and there like most any anime/manga fan does. It also helps that I am fairly fluent in Vietnamese. The Asian languages have some common tones, words, and grammar structures, so it made Japanese easier for me to remember.
I didn’t actually get serious about learning Japanese until I started playing otoge in 2009—starting with Starry☆Sky ~In Spring~. Playing Starry☆Sky opened my eyes to the world of (pure) visual novels and the power of storytelling. It also showed me that if I wanted to enjoy any VN without having to rely on reviews and waiting for other people’s translations, I needed to improve my Japanese.
I use(d) a lot of online resources to study, suchc as Textfugu and Wanikani. There's a lot of free resources out there, as well. So the short answer is I taught myself Japanese so I could play otome games. A++ decision, 0 regrets since.

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Are you more right-brained or left-brained?

SORRY, I studied psychology/neurology so you're going to get a bit of tl;dr here. The idea of people being more right-brained or left-brained is a myth perpetuated by pop culture. You need both sides of your brain to function and characteristics/tasks are often shared by both hemispheres. It's not as simple as "oh all your creativity is in your right brain hemisphere". It's like that weird saying that "people only use 10% of their brain capacity" that is also completely false... People need their whole brain and they use their whole brain all the time. So I'm not right-brained or left-brained, I'm whole-brained just like you. :3c

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What do you think of the announcements of otome games getting localised? I'm happy that they've started with the pretty big titles, but I'm also hoping for the localisations of VNs with more mature content (or just mindbaffling) like Koezaru, BWS, or dialovers.... Do you think it's possible?

I'm pretty happy about it! They wouldn't be localizing so many games at once, surely, if they didn't think it would be profitable, so I guess that means Hakuoki and the few other localized games have been doing well. I'm cringing a little at the translation quality seen in the screencaps so far, but these are works in progress and I suppose some things will always get lost in translation/localization.
I'm not really sure if Diabolik Lovers could do well with western audiences, honestly. It's a lot more...kinky? At least when compared to stuff like Code Realize. Like, the fanbase is a niche within a niche. Plus, how the heck would that even do with ESRB ratings? There's rape, incest, violence, murder... It sounds like a nightmare to categorize. THAT SAID, AMNESIA has some thematic similarities and *it's* been localized... So I think the reaction to AMNESIA will be very important if we want to see more stuff along that vein. Koezaru I could actually see happening under MangaGamer because of who they know and the game's content and all that, but it's a pretty long game and I think the reaction to Ozmafia will be important. :c
BUT YEAH I think it's certainly possible, I wouldn't get my hopes up just yet.

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