Pre-Release Thoughts on TyranoBuilder

So a new visual novel engine is heading for the English market. Comes at an interesting time where Visual Novels have penetrated the Steam market and is growing. But what of this new visual novel engine from the perspective of a developer who has pushed Ren’py to the limit? Rather interesting thoughts.

Keep in mind this is based on screenshots of the interface. References to Ren’py will naturally be made.

I will try to keep in mind the perspectives from the super-indies and the money-making indies as much as possible.

Easy-to-Use IDE Interface a Half-Step Away from Writer’s Comfort Zone

The interface looks extremely welcoming and friendly to new people to this area. If it has a built in spell-checker it would be amazing. Lots of visual elements to indicate what everything does.

However, writers aren’t actually scared of huge walls of text. They feel comfortable in this. Look at any word processor and the word density is big.

So the minor nag that might happen is that writers would have to do more scrolling around since they can’t see as much. Maybe there would be an option to decrease the size of the visual elements? They are still helpful.

Of course you can view the source text files directly for more dense reading. However, when you expose some writers to anything that looks like coding with equals signs and brackets they may be more reluctant to change things like position of characters for example.

Compared to Ren’py, for most basic scripting I can literally hand off the raw script to editors and writers and they would be able to understand it.

Based on HTML5 Technology… Which a lot of People are Good At

TyranoBuilder is based on HTML5. So if you had to get a web programming job or even made your own website, you would feel right at home with a few minor speed bumps. Also a lot of people out there who are good at HTML5 so finding talent wouldn’t be as hard.

Sometimes you do choose a technology because a lot of people out there are good at it. As a Computer Science major who likes all the programmically efficient algorithms, it really hurts me to admit it. But it’s true.

Source Files are in Plaintext for your Source Control Needs

While this may seem like a minor point, it would be a MAJOR dealbreaker if the source was not saved in plain-text. Especially with larger teams. Using source control is incredibly helpful.

Standalone Desktop Theoretically Should be Bloaty… But Probably Most People Wouldn’t Care that Much

If you are exporting to a standalone desktop application, it “should” be somewhat bloaty in size and computational complexity. You have to bring along a HTML5 simulator or something to run it.

However considering that Visual Novels aren’t by nature computationally complex by any means and people watch HD Cat Videos for fun, the only people who would notice are the techie people. It wouldn’t be as huge of a factor in the case for Visual Novels.

Ren’py is still scripted but should run closer to the “native” application performance than TyranoBuilder. At least in file size. Although this point is more due to me being aware of more Ren’py specific optimizations that have been done over many years.

“But what about Sakura River’s games? You guys are always trying to do something interesting! At least you talk about it!” That brings us to our next point.

JavaScript Programming Going Wild

JavaScript is a Turing complete language. So the crazy story structure of Fading Hearts should be possible on TyranoBuilder as well. I can’t say this for every “interactive story” engine out there however. Heck, industry-strength interactive story design tools can’t model Fading Hearts properly or easily.

But TyranoBuilder can… and that says something about the potential and future-proofing of it.

Live2D is Possible… With Some Programming

That’s right! If you’ve been dying to use Live2D in your Visual Novel, you can with TyranoBuilder. However since using Live2D does require more programming, you’ll need some programming chops to use it.

I hear in the future there might be something for the less-programmically minded however.

I’ve been wanting a feature like this for Ren’py for so long. It currently doesn’t exist for Live2D.

Ren’Py Steam Integration in Pre-Release… TyranoBuilder Steam Integration is Under Consideration

This is an interesting point that only directly affects developers on Steam. However TyranoBuilder in English is being sold on Steam.

I am so unsure of what to make of this. The casual developers in English require a Steam account to get TyranoBuilder. Ren’py developers don’t require Steam to get Ren’py. However Ren’py will have Steam API support very soon.

You see, for more people to accept TyranoBuilder (in English) you need English games released on it commercially. At least one as “proof” that it can be done (this is a business-minded thinking). The path of least resistance is through Steam at this point. If you’re going to release on Steam everyone is going to try to convince you to get achievements and trading cards.

Cost Factor of Free vs. Price of a Dinner

This is an interesting part to talk about. For those on the super-shoestring and for those making money on Steam, Ren’py is going to be the choice.

However TyranoBuilder isn’t that expensive to get. It also can be easier to find HTML5 programming talent if you’re doing a business. So it might save you on labour costs.

So this part really depends on your particular situation.

Conclusion? How’s Your Money/HTML5/Writing/Desire for Live2D?

So both can compete with each other with trade-offs here and there. If money is a concern then Ren’Py is usually the safer bet unless you have easy access to HTML5 talent than Ren’Py talent. The exception(or not) is if you are on Steam. Writers might feel they may have to scroll more often. TyranoBuilder should be easier to get into than Ren’py but not by that much. If you want Live2D and have programming chops, then go for TyranoBuilder.

Hopefully that sums everything up. They are definitely comparable (at this point). And keep in mind, this is by looking at screenshots of TyranoBuilder and working with Ren’py. So kinda uneven exposure bias.

Let’s see how well these thoughts hold up in the future though.