Back when I first started developing Deeper, I had a clear picture in my mind of the story that I wanted to tell, and I figured that was enough of a place to start. For a brief period that was fine but before long I began learning more about Ren’Py and Python and their relationship and what started out as a very simple premise, started turning into a gargantuan and convoluted nightmare.
I’d draw inspiration from everywhere and figured that If I liked something, everyone else was likely to agree. The issue was that implementing these ideas became a bit of a problem. With my coding ability now I have no doubt that I could implement all of the mechanics and features without any problems if I were to try to do it again, but back then everything was interfering with everything else and 50% of my development time became fighting fires rather than writing new content.
What I learned from this primarily was that just because I can do something, doesn’t mean that I should.
A good portion of the questions I get asked are from people who are still struggling to implement one of the more basic Ren’Py / Python concepts such as displaying images or writing conditional statements that cause an hour / day / month / year cycle to increment by one, but are already trying to use advanced coding to add complicated game mechanics or mini-games to their code.
There are several problems with this, firstly they have absolutely no idea what they are doing, just copy-pasting from the Ren’Py cookbook without any knowledge of how it’s going to impact the rest of their game, meaning that there is a high probability that they will become overwhelmed by the code and either give up or double down and add even more code they don’t understand to their game.
A good visual novel doesn’t have to be complicated it just needs to be compelling, in fact, based on what I’ve seen recently, there are so few decent games out there, your VN doesn’t even have to be compelling, it just has to work. I won’t dwell too long on that point, the majority of content out there seems to be written by people who have neither mastered, code, nor rendering nor basic spelling and grammar. My point being that there is a huge gap in the market for good games.
Before anyone gets all annoyed and starts going on a character assassination rampage, I am the first person to admit that the first permutation of Deeper was a train wreck. This is why I am re-writing it without using Subscribestar or Patreon so that I can write it in my own time, taking care to make sure each render is at a standard I want it to be, and no random mini-games and mechanics that just make things more complex.
As hard as it is to resist, once you start coding your game you need to stick to the planned features and not be tempted to add little bits here and there.