Visual Novel Design Doc

colorsample1Above: Preliminary art for my planned visual novel project. (Ignore the weird placeholder text.)

In a previous blog entry, I posted a video explaining what visual novels are and why I’d like to try making them. About a month after that, I posted a video of my first attempt at a visual novel, a Twilight Zone-esque short story entitled The Grandfather Paradox.

Making The Grandfather Paradox convinced me that I need to collaborate with a programmer from here on out, so I’ve gone ahead and made a document intended to explain to potential programmers what I want to do. You can view it here:

So… yeah. It’s pretty long, and probably not an interesting read. It’s basically intended to be a blueprint for how I want the visual novel to work on a technical level; nothing more, nothing less. But feel free to quickly scroll through and look at the screenshots, that could maybe be mildly interesting, I suppose.

Now that I have a design doc that explains what I want to do, the next step is trying to recruit a programmer. I feel a bit out of my depth; I’ve never really collaborated on an artistic project, having created Tonoharu pretty much all by myself. If any programmers (or people who have collaborated with programmers) have any advice, please let me know!

Related: Here’s a post I made on a Ren’Py forum: (“Ren’Py” being a popular program people use for visual novel development): 

It includes a bit more information if anyone’s interested (though again, it’s still pretty dry reading).

The Grandfather Paradox

(The “video description” referenced at the beginning of the above video can be read here: [ Direct YouTube Link ] or at the bottom of this entry)

Last month I linked to a YouTube video I made that discussed visual novels and why I’m going to try my hand at them.

That video included a link to the above video, but I figured I should should give this video a spotlight, since I’d like to get feedback from people. So as the video says, watch some (or all) of it and let me know what you think. Thanks!

[Original You Tube Video description]:

John receives an urgent text from a friend in the middle of the night begging him to meet at a designated hotel room. When John arrives he’s met not by his friend, but a heavily disfigured stranger.
So begins “The Grandfather Paradox”, a visual short story evocative of “The Twilight Zone” and “Black Mirror”.

Your feedback is welcome! Please let me know what you think of this, either in the comment section or twitter:

And if you know anyone who might be interested in this, please share it with them. Thanks!

Other videos by me:
What Visual Novels & Indie Comics Can Learn From Each Other:
4 Time-Saving Tips (from a guy who spent 13 YEARS drawing a comic):

–Technical Details–
“The Grandfather Paradox” was created using game development software (Unity ver. 5.1.2 and Fungus plugin ver. 2.2). As the introduction says, I intended to release it as a download, which would have allowed the reader to click through the text at their preferred pace.
But the downloadable version had three major problems that made me decide it wasn’t worth releasing in its present state:
1) There’s no way to save or bookmark progress, meaning if you close the program, you have to start reading from the beginning.
2) There’s no way to go back if you click through a line of dialogue too fast.
3) The file size was huge (like 400mb). Efforts to lower the file size resulted in really blurry graphics.
I’m not a programmer, so there’s nothing I can do to fix these issues, so I decided to release this exclusively as a video (at least for now).
But if you’re familiar with Unity and think you could help me sort out these issues, please get in touch!
Related: I’m going to do at least one more of these “Indie comic/visual novel hybrid” things, and doing this one has convinced me a need to collaborate with a programmer.
I was thinking of doing the next one in Ren’Py, a Python-based visual novel engine. Or maybe I’ll take another swing at Unity again. Anyway, if you have experience with either of those engines and would be interested in collaborating, please get in touch. Thanks!

Tonoharu Review in JQ Magazine!

jet-logo-boxI try to update this blog every Monday, but missed the past two weeks. Sorry about that! Let’s call it Christmas Break.

For now I’m still trying to get over my post-holiday daze. So this week’s entry is a link to JQ’s review of the Tonoharu trilogy:

I’ll try to update weekly again from here on out (hopefully)!

What Visual Novels & Indie Comics Can Learn From Each Other

[ Direct YouTube Link ]

In this video I discuss why Japanese visual novels and American indie comics could benefit from a bit of international cross-pollination.

Other videos by me: The Grandfather Paradox–A Visual Short Story:
4 Time-Saving Tips (from a guy who spent 13 YEARS drawing a comic):

Please let me know what you think, either in the comment section or on Twitter:

“Tonoharu: Part Three” Reviewed for Slate!


The conclusion of Tonoharu represents the end of a labor of love, a signature work in the past decade of comics, and a touching and satisfying reading experience.
–Dan Kois
Slate Book Editor

Read the full review here:

Thanks to Dan for the coverage!

Also, I did some illustration work for Slate this month. In addition to the header image above, I also provided illustrations for the following articles:


[ Direct YouTube Link ]

Here’s a little webcomic/slideshow thing I made and posted to YouTube a while back. I never posted it to this website so I figured may as well!

This was *supposed* to be something you’d view on a website, clicking through the text as fast or as slow as you prefer. But I could never get it to work smoothly. Just don’t have the technical chops yet! Oh well.