Visual novel or Text based game?

As the title says, which do you think is easier to make. A visual novel or a text based game?

Why am I asking this? Well, to be honest I’m leaning towards the VN. I guess the shortcut version of using VN as opposed to Text based is charming. Let us say in a VN setting you make your MC go to a room, technically you as the writer are not required to elaborate about the room. It’s just that a freaking room. Elaboration regarding that said room is optional. On a Text based, you as the writer are required to make sure the reader knows the environment and etc. etc. etc.

I found some topics that talk about visual novels, but nothing about comparing it to a text based game.

Which do you think is easier to make a visual novel or a text based game? We have to take note of the pros and cons about the two forms. In this can I ask any of you why you choose the VN or Text based and why?

  • Both
  • Both are hard to make
  • No opinion
  • Text based game
  • Visual novel

0 voters


It’s easier to make a text-based game to be honest, I said this from the perspective of a visual novel’s writer. There are a lot of factors you have to take into account when it comes to writing visual novels, sometimes text-based games have those, other times it don’t.

Because the visual novel is also large on the visual part of it, that’s what make the visual novel harder. The art needs to be suitable and appealing, it’s one of two large focus of visual novels in my opinion. Text-based has its own difficulties when it comes to description etc. but it leaves space for imaginations while visual novel is the exact opposite.

tl;dr Visual Novel is harder because of the amount of effort needed to be poured into making one.


What tool are you using to make your visual novel or text based game?

I would say that Twine makes making text based games extremely easy. When I was very young I was able to make very simple text based games using BASIC.

What are your own strengths and weaknesses as a game maker?

I’m not at all artistic so making a visual novel will certainly have some challenges for me. (As in I’ll need to recruit an artist to work with.) Programming the art assets is an extra layer of complexity that you don’t need to deal with if there’s no art. Unless you’re using a tool that makes that simple.

I’m also really bad at writing descriptions. I prefer writing snappy dialogue. They say that a picture speaks a thousand words, or something. For me it would definitely be easier to have pictures in order to cover up the deficiencies in my own writing. And I won’t need to have “Character said” every other line, because you know who’s speaking, you can look at their pictures and get a hint of how they’re feeling too. Although when I’m playing those games my vision usually narrows so I’m just reading text most of the time.

Soooo I think it depends. It depends on your skills, what tools you plan to use, and also the story you want to tell. I think visual novels are good for some things, and text based games are good for others.


For a text based game I use Quest, Choicescript and Ren’Py. (note: for Ren’Py you really need to very creative to make it into a text base game. It is do-able, but not recommended.)

For VN games I used Ren’Py, Novelty and Belle.

Me too :cry: I’m really bad at trying to describe a situation or place which is the reason why I lean towards the VN to save me ahahah.

Still a VN does not necessarily need OMG arts. It also needs some great story to really make someone like it, same as text games I guess. The pressure about the game I think is lessen. I’ll list some VNs that I know of and I think my examples can be added to the other thread English Otome Games?

An example of a VN turned into a text based game is Digital: A Love Story by Christina Love.
Another one is A Summer Story by Sakevisual

An example VN that has an okay story, but not great art is §lanets - the life of normalcy has ended! by teacup

This one is on a mature category, 18+ only game. The art (sometimes it gets cheesy lols), sounds, and story wise is good. The original tittle for it is Queen of Darkness 暗黑女王外传 the Second Reproduction. For the English one it’s called Queen of Darkness 2: The Second Reproduction. Developed by Heterodoxy.

And lastly some free VNs that have great art and short story lines are. RE: Alistair++, Backstage Pass, and Autumn’s Journey.

I have more VN examples, but that is all that I’m willing to share.

These are just examples of VN types, but text base does have its benefits. Although, I feel like I’m bias :fearful: considering at the moment I’m leaning towards VN more.

This is only in terms of creating a game :confounded: because I do still enjoy text based games. It’s just making it seems rather harder?


This -completely- comes down to the factor of: Is one person creating all of the artwork for the VN, as well? If so, that’s a heeeeeeeeaaall of a lot more work. Unless you’ve specially trained yourself to do speed-drawing in manga style. (most people haven’t) Also… should a kinetic novel be considered a VN? It’s possible that total time, a kinetic novel might end up less work because it’s one path, artwork and writing included- but take one that branches quite a lot- Fate/Stay Night or Kara no Shoujo, for example, and there’s more work because you have art on top of writing. Even if you recycle some of the artwork, there’s still compilation and arrangement. So if you take ‘the same story, which branches’, and consider whether it would be easier to make it into a VN or text based choice-story, the VN is the same thing, with graphics added in place of descriptive wording. The artwork takes a lot longer than writing a page of writing. If on the other hand, you take a story and convert it into either VN or text based game… you can make either as complex or simple as you want. At the most simplistic level, compare a kinetic novel with a regular novel. There you go: will it take longer to create a kinetic novel, or write a regular novel? If you’re not creating the artwork- probably the kinetic novel would be faster; there’s typically less writing involved, though the artwork must still be arranged and matched with writing. A novel’s pace is mostly limited by how quickly an author can come up with the content for what’s happening and what’s happening next. How much condensing is done, from description - words on the page, into artwork- what isn’t being written as VN text, but instead shown graphically, plays a factor too. Personally…

I’d say they’re equal. Not as a hard solid rule, just as a consideration for what I’ve seen. In some VN editors, some of the code-work is done for you- it’s simply drag-and-drop for graphics, and arranging when text shows up or what happens when. But the artwork (especially for characters, with multiple expressions) isn’t provided. There are routes- but choices happen much less frequently, ending up with a lot less overall ‘writing’ - and VNs often don’t have stat-tracking at all, though flags can still be a part for some. Writing for text games tends to be more… expansive, needing to convey the visual aspects as well as auditory and anything else. Ah, that too- adding voice-overs in VNs can be a big factor for time, creating the script to record, recording, and then adding the audio in. Though it’s not a necessary component for a VN, it’s worth bringing up. Personally, I find it faster to write creatively than to compile. Because I can draw, but not manga/anime style (and not fast), progress for a VN would plod along much more slowly for me personally than work on a text game. It’s also comparably easier to learn how to code than to learn how to draw, if starting from scratch in that regard.

:\ But time-wise…? It’s certainly possible to have an equal investment. It just depends on so many factors. Length, amount of branching, quality of writing/artwork, resources available, and natural aptitudes of the game creator.


I vote text base is easy because it has the power of imagination versus expected art image.

But I do not agree with this line because it can be said as well to text based programs out there over the vast rainbow.

Quest is a drop code type. No need to code at all. It will do all code. Adrift can be programed to be a drag and drop text based game. Ren’Py is while a VN maker is not drag and drop at all. It use Python scripting. Novelty on the other hand is a kind that uses drag and drop, but coding is still involve. It has own language that you must follow.

I have never hear of Belle. What is that? Link pulis.

True, most VN no tracking, but now it is tracked. Some even have elaborate and more complex looking stats sequence that a text base game cannot emulate. Even simple games of VN keep track of love meter? Is that what it called when you romance someone? It on par with a text base game on tracking stuff. One VN that i played tracked so many skill that It produced different results. It called long live the queen.

My sum is that a VN is more nit picky where as in text based you can get away with some stuff. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


@boredhypocrite You make a point- I wasn’t thinking about raising sims when I made my previous statements about VNs on this thread. I’ve played Long Live the Queen. It… would actually not be that hard to reproduce the stats it tracks with CS. If one were to actually know the code for the game, which I don’t- but a CS game can absolutely emulate everything within any such game. The only difference is that you wouldn’t have the graphics. If a game does not have moving parts, it can be coded in a text based game. This includes any complex array of stats you can think of. Effort required? Different matter. I’m not saying it would be easy- then again, I doubt it is in any other case, either.

A Raising Sim might be considered a different genre of game separate from a VN, or might be considered a VN- a number of them have aspects of both. Littlewitch Romanesque, Tales of Wuxia, Long Live the Queen certainly, ohh- what’s it called… Aselia the Eternal - Ein no Aselia, that’s it, Kikouyoku Senki Tenkuu no Yumina (had to look that one up to remember the name), and others that escape my thinking about them off the top of my head. Absolutely, these games track a wide range of stats. I suppose my original regard for VNs was not inclusive of other game types or as incorporating mini-game elements. Both which some indeed do.


as for me… both are hard to make :sob: coz the only thing im good at is just making art. im not really good at writing–not to mention my english isn’t that good, and im suck with programming (i try to learn renpy and understand nothing bout it :weary:). maybe i’ll try to learn Choicescript later (after im confident enough with my english grammar). and as for VN maybe i’ll need someone else for coding and writing if im intend to be serious about making it.

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We do have a visual novel written in Choicescript. It won one of the cs comps.

There’s no proper save feature using choicescript. There’s no skip to the point you previously played, no rewind either.

I think Choicescript is very good at what it was created to do.


Visual novels are harder, I think. It requires more coordination and… I can’t art.

If there’s a collab type situation I think they’re on equal levels. CS is more involved writing, so two writers lessen the burden. On the other side of the coin, visual novels require less writing but needs art, which I think is equally difficult. I draw enough to know that drawing is hard! But so is writing… and plotting… and coding…

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From a writing perspective, I found both text based games and visual novels to be about the same difficulty, though a text game has more text if nothing else. Please note my experience is limited to ChoiceScript and Ren’Py

Of course, you do have to adjust a few things (as some people pointed out, you don’t have to describe as much of the background in a visual novel).

And if you wish to allow more player customization like skin color, hair color, etc. then text is actually easier since you can just have it save the descriptions, and leave it at that (although I will say that Hanako Game’s Magical Diary did allow for some customization of hair/eye/skin color).

If you start including other game elements, then I would say both are equally hard. If you are going a simulation route, for example, then mechanically there isn’t a lot different in Life of a Mobster and Long Live the Queen. Yes, the story, setting, etc. is different, but if you boil it down to just stat checks, as well as stat increases/decreases, they are fundamentally the same.

However, if you talk about overall work, then I would say a Visual Novel is tougher. For one thing, if you have multiples expressions for sprites, then you have to properly place them, as well as which expression to use, etc. If you have music included, then you also have decide when it plays, as well as sound effects.

Of course, all that depends on how much polish you put on a visual novel, and how many people you have working with it.

I’ve been fortunate that for the stuff I do with Visual Novels, I’m actually part of a team. Music, art, user interface, heavy coding, etc. are all handled by other people. If you were to do it all by yourself, then the extra stuff gets old very fast.


I really like that everyone who has shared their opinions vast differently from one another. It gives another perspective look when using text based or visual novel type game. I also think the discussion can help someone if they ever decide to make text or visual game.

The thing about Belle is:

  1. it’s composed by two (different) applications - the editor and the engine.
  2. the editor has a similar design to Novelty. (Familiar with Novelty? Then it looks like a carbon copy of it.)
  3. Belle engine uses HTML5. This means it can run in all of devices with the least of efforts and hustle.
  4. Belle is cross-platform, it can work on Windows (XP, Vista and 7), Mac OS X (10.4+), Linux and some others.
  5. Belle lacks proper documentation and tutorial on how to use it. Best to navigate Novelty before tackling Belle.
  6. Belle can be personalized by using Javascript , for those who might want/need it.
  7. Belle is still a work in progress and it’s not guaranteed to work flawlessly. Last update regarding this engine I think is on September 29, 2016.
  8. Belle recommends using Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 9 or newer, Opera, and Safari when playing the game.

I forgot about that part. I think it would be beneficial for choicescript to implement their own local save system which I think will really boost it among other text base games.


I really think a good text game is harder because the customitation and multiple paths. A visual novel just need a good artist and a barely competent guion. There is no customization, no brnching and one option each four options that 109% are fake or one is good and other are utterly a complete failure. And no i no hate visual novels I have my old tablet fill with some of Winterwolves and other occidental ones. But 99% of them are sexists and or garbage. Made a real multiple endings visual novel is almost impossible, would need too much work in artists. It would become a real videogame.


So Belle is basically like Novelty? So where do they differ?

To quote from the Belle web site.

Belle is cross-platform, free software (open source) and deploys games for the web, which can be played in a desktop or mobile, offline or online. Whereas Novelty is Windows only, proprietary (closed source) and deploys games just for Windows.

Besides the above differences, there are other ones, both technical and in design, which makes Belle completely incompatible with Novelty.

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A good visual novel is easier to make than a text game.

A visual novel has visuals and text. If the writing is bad with lots of errors, good visuals will save the game from being 100% bad. For a text game, bad writing means a game is 100% bad.

The audiences also differ. I’m ok with a visual novel having a defined protagonist or few important choices, because I feel more like I’m watching a movie and experiencing an author’s work. With CoG, players are the author. Many players won’t play a gender locked game that is not their gender (including me) and they want lots of choices even if they only ask how the player feels and doesn’t impact the story. I personally stop (or at least click next without reading until I can see where the next choice is) playing a game if I have to go through more than 3 pages without a choice at the start of a choice game.

I thought the walking dead game was good,but if it was a CoG game, people would probably complain about it being gender locked and forced to be a straight ( or at least attracted to the opposite sex) man and everything.

Text game authors need to be a good writer and write many branching stories in one book while visual novel author’s need to be mediocre or better at writing/ drawing and only have to really write a few nonbranching stories.

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