What is Ren’Py?
Ren’Py is a tool for creating visual novels and an engine for running them.
There are a couple of ways to think of visual novels:
- As a “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style book, but in electronic form, and backed with visuals, sound effects, music, and interactivity, or
- As a story-driven, turn-based multimedia game, which can fit any number of genres, including adventures, simulations, or role-playing games.
Why is it called Ren’Py?
Ren’Py is a portmanteau of ren‘ai (恋愛), Japanese for “romantic love”…
…and Python, the programming language in which it’s implemented, and one of the languages you can use to create Ren’Py visual novels / games.
How much programming do I need to know to make visual novels or games in Ren’Py?
You’ve got options!
- If you’re new to programming, Ren’py provides a scripting language that’s easy enough to let you get started writing visual novels after a couple of minutes’ worth of learning, but powerful enough to add a surprising amount of interactivity.
- If you know Python or are an experienced programmer, you can harness the entire Python language and its libraries and geek out to your heart’s content.
And, yes, you can program using a mix of both Ren’Py’s programming language and Python.
What platforms can I develop Ren’Py visual novels and games on?
You can run the Ren’Py development tool on Windows, macOS, and Linux…
…and with a little work, you can even do Ren’Py development on a Raspberry Pi!
Aside from Ren’Py, do I need to install anything else?
You’ll need a text editor specifically made for coding — feel free to use your favorite one.
Of course, if you also want to create you own graphics, sound effects, and music for your visual novel or game, you’ll need the appropriate software for those tasks as well.
Once I’ve made a visual novel or game in Ren’Py, how can other people play it?
Ren’py games can be easily packaged for the following platforms:
With a little extra work, they can also be packaged for these platforms:
- Web (currently in beta)
And with even more work (and the right amount of luck), they can be deployed on these platforms:
- Nintendo Switch
How do I get started?
You can get started by downloading the current version of Ren’py from the “Latest” page on renpy.org. At the time of writing, the latest version is 7.3.5, code-named “The world (wide web) is not enough”, released October 17, 2019.
Ren’Py comes with two projects:
There’s Tutorial, a Ren’Py tutorial in visual novel form, where “Professor Eileen” takes you through the basics. It’s well worth going through at least once.
There’s also The Question, which introduces you to the concept of visual novels, the interactivity, and that never-ending visual novel and anime trope, “Boy is too shy to ask the girl of his dreams on a date.”
Be sure to look at the code for both — you’ll pick up a lot just by reading it.
Watch this blog!
I’ll post some Ren’Py articles and links to the source code for a couple of games soon.