NScripter1 Feeling creative? Here are 5 alternatives to Renpy, a popular visual novel builder

In the western world, the Japanese art form of the visual novel is beginning to take hold. With many of them offering an experience somewhere between a picture book, a choose your own adventure novel and a video game, many feel the desire to explore this new art form. Ren’py is one engine people use to generate these kinds of stories, but there are a few others.

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1) NScripter


Nscripter is a high profile visual novel builder, which has been used in professional commercial projects. The original utility isn’t free, and is only available for Windows. Most of the documentation and help for this program is still in its original Japanese which may make things difficult for English speakers. For those dedicated to the art form, this program may be worthwhile, but for beginners, something simpler may be in order.

2) KiriKiri


Budding visual novelists may also want to consider KiriKiri. This is another program which has been used in professional visual novels. In many areas it has replaced NScripter, though which of these programs you prefer is at least partially a matter of taste. The translation project for this program is ongoing, though not everything a new user would need is fully translated. However, many praise its extreme versatility, as well as the fact that it’s an open source utility.

3) Novelty


This visual novel creator and render is a free utility, available for download through its own site. The programmers request donations though you may use the program for free. The program is relatively simple, though some programming knowledge is required. This utility was developed in English, and all of the help for it is fully accessible to the English speaker. However, the project which was controlling the updates has died down, with the latest update, as of the time of this writing, occurring in 2010.

4) TyranoScript


While this is another Japanese developed Visual Novel creator, the localization seems to be moving at a faster pace than some of the others. The file types that the popular KiriKiri engine are easily ready by TyranoScript. For those who wish to publish visual novels which can be read in browsers like FireFox or Chrome, as well as on devices like the Android and iPhone, TyrnanoScript has this ability.

5) Narrative Game Engine


The Narrative Game Engine is a program which is compatible with Microsoft windows, and Direct X. This free program is also still under development, and updates seem to have stalled out though some use the program as is. This program can also utilize SDK files for those who are familiar with flash technology and MP3 files or Midi music can be used to enhance your story.

While there are a few alternatives to Ren’py out there, the only real competitor for English speakers is Novelty. There are dozens upon dozens of programs in various stages of completion and translation, but Novelty and Ren’py are the most popular for a reason. For those who are able to read Japanese, KiriKiri may be the best available.