It’s almost March, and you know what that means don’t you? NANORENO TAIMUUU~! It is that wonderful time of the year when veteran and amateur visual novel developers come together for an entire month and develop a VN. Like any process that can share more than one metaphor with sausage making, NaNoRenO is often chaotic and not everyone completes their ideas. However, it has also led to some very strong EVN developers stepping up in the past few years. It’s messy but one Hell of a lot of fun and I still have no intention of joining in with the rest of you developers.
So, what can a non-dev, rage-inducing Internet asshole say to assist the development process during March? Well, I may have my issues, but you cannot watch four NaNoRenO’s come and go without learning anything. There is a lot I could say to help you guys, but I want to focus on a few universal ideas that often gets forgotten in the pressure cooker. Remembering them has helped me in my own private endeavors and, hopefully, they can help you as well as you work on your visual novel. With that in mind, let’s hit up the Top 3 NaNoRenO Tips.
3. BE STRANGE
Get it? Because it’s Hugo Strange? And the tip is about being strange? Yeah, I’m old.
I know this is going to sound odd coming from a critic, but NaNoRenO is about more than just doing your first or thirty-first visual novel. NaNoRenO is an international laboratory for you with the only restriction being your own imagination. I would say time, but for NaNoRenO time has always been bendable. So, the fact that we will be inevitably slammed with a bunch of Slice-Of-Life and Romance titles continues to baffle me. There is much richer Earth to till my friends and NOW is the time to do it!
You want to do a game featuring mechs piloted by vampires fighting werewolves the size of skyscrapers? Go for it. You want to do a sports visual novel focused on competitive Indian leg wrestling? Why not? At this rate you’d probably get an anime deal. You want to do an action VN featuring a mercenary who constantly breaks the fourth wall in a comedic manner? Watch Deadpool again. The most memorable VNs from this period are always the ones that gamble and manages to deliver on a unique premise. Why? Because then they have to figure out a way for their idea to make sense within thirty days and that sheds the usual tropes and clichés that can bog any fictional work down. I know the goal is to finish not necessarily innovate, but I also think that there is a fantastic opportunity for those who decide to take it and it always, always pays dividends when they do either at the time or for future development. So, I urge developers to take your most off-the-wall idea and find a way to make it real. You’ll have a blast doing it: I guarantee it.
No one take that Indian leg wrestling one though. I can do something with that.
2. EXERCISE OFTEN
Don’t leave this feature yet, because this is something that I suck at too. Ideally you’re supposed to get at least three hours of exercise a week. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t always hit that mark. So what I resolved to do this year is if I’m sitting for more than two hours at a time, to stop what I’m doing and do at least five minutes of exercise then get back to work. And if I work again for longer than two hours, stop again and do another five minutes. I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my capacity to work and in just my temperament in working because, believe it or not, I can get a little steamed every now and then writing reviews.
So if nothing else I wanted to share that tidbit. And at great risk of showing just how out of shape I am, I want to share my five-minute routine with those who will be spending a lot of time in their chairs in March:
- 50 Jumping Jacks
- 25 Squats
- 20 Push-Ups
- 50 More Jumping Jacks
- 25 More Squats
- 20 More Push-Ups
- 1 Minute Plank
- Collapse onto the Floor (This part is key to the entire routine)
Now you don’t have to do this exactly; this just works for me. However, inserting some sort of exercise into your development schedule will not only ease stress but also allow your mind space to come at any writing or artistic blocks from a different angle. So yes, if you’re working on NaNoRenO, please consider inserting at least five minutes of exercise every two hours you’re sitting down! (Also, do remember to stretch before you do anything and make sure you’re in an open area. Don’t want anyone getting injured!)
1.SPIKE THE FOOTBALL
Now here’s something I REALLY suck at. More often than not, once I’m done with something I’m ready to move onto the next one. But goddammit if you grind for thirty days and finish a playable visual novel, you’ve earned the right to spike the football. Take a moment to get a cigar, or a nice glass of bourbon, or a massive slice of German Chocolate Cake, or just go out for a joy ride. You devoted yourself to something and accomplished it. Why go through all of that if you cannot celebrate what you accomplished?
‘JP, I don’t see why I need to celebrating anything.’ Well that’s fair simple Anon, but the human brain needs positive reinforcement when it comes to certain behavior patterns and psychologically taxing work. Otherwise, ‘What’s the point?’ will dog you through the entire process until you stop and look for that positive reaction point elsewhere. By planning a celebration at the end, you give your mind a reaction point for the necessary chemicals to keep you going when you REALLY don’t want to. Planning not just to celebrate, but to REALLY enjoy yourself at the end of the process is just good strategy and something that is universal for every age group in any intense environment.
Also, here’s a thing you might have forgotten when it comes to that: I exist. Not just me, but others who will discern your efforts with no real concern about how hard you busted your ass in March. I’m not trying to be cruel here, but the truth of the matter is that you cannot stop critique of your work whether that work was done in ten years, one month or thirty minutes. But I’ve found that the people who have responded best to critique are the ones who don’t tie a feeling of accomplishment to it. In other words, if you’ve already patted yourself on the back for what you’ve done, you won’t put emotional investment in that pat coming from someone else.
There are plenty of other fantastic and healthy reasons for doing this, but it all boils down to being one of those cases where if you don’t toot your own horn, no one else will. So go all out. In fact, plan it. On April 1st, plan to be finished with your project and have the champagne in the ice ready to be popped and whatever else you need to spike the football and celebrate what you’ve done. You’ve earned the right to do it so bask in your moment. Cheers!
Anything else you need to know about NaNoRenO can be learned by being involved with the other developers participating over on Lemmasoft. Also check out the new website for NaNoRenO here! I wish everyone participating in NaNoRenO the best of luck during the coming month. I’m looking forward to seeing what you create! JP3: OUT.