Versatility is key to Gem’s design philosophy. We wanted to build a product that could accommodate not only traditional games, but also interactive narratives of all stripes and genres.
One such genre is the visual novel, or bijuaru noberu as they are known in their native Japan. A hybridization of roleplaying games and manga, visual novels can be described as comic books where the reader is in charge of the protagonist’s dialog and decisions. Visual novels have been a gaming touchstone in Japan since the 1980s, but are only recently beginning to enjoy success in the broader English-speaking global market.
Aeon Dreams Studios is an international all-female development team that “seeks to vanguard the new English visual novel industry.” As members of our early adopters program, they’ve had the opportunity to put Gem to the test as the narrative design tool for their next release.
Lithuania-based Eglė Dilyte is Aeon Dream’s lead script writer. We reached out to her to discuss the challenges of writing for visual novels, and if writing in Gem has made her job any easier.
“We were trying to come up with our own writing solution – something that could handle choices and non-linear narratives without being clunky and confusing. We started to map out what we needed, and it turned out to be Gem.”
Eglė characterizes herself as a meticulous writer. Before using Gem, it would typically take her close to a week to complete a visual novel chapter. Now, it’s taking her two or three days.
“I didn’t realize it until someone pointed it out. Writer’s block doesn’t feel like writer’s block [in Gem] – it was so easy to jump to another part of the story and then jump back. Everything is quicker.”
Aeon Dream’s creative team has found that Gem makes taking their plot ideas and adapting them into complex interactive narratives easier. It’s not just about writing either – Gem also helps to ensure that Aeon Dream’s artists and programmers are able to accurately utilize script data on their end. “ All the components of our product now have specific script elements tied to them, which is very convenient.”
“Gem’s flexibility is a definite advantage. You can do a linear thing in it very easily, but if you want something with lots of branching storylines, you can do that too. It’s really fun.”
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