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!READ THIS! Rules, Interpretations, & FAQ Sticky

A topic by tofurocks created Jun 23, 2021 Views: 1,587 Replies: 55
Viewing posts 1 to 19
Jam HostSubmitted (18 edits) (+2)

Welcome to the jam! Once you've read the rules on the main page, here are some more specific cases to give you an idea of what you can work with.

If you can't find your specific case or situation, feel free to ask!

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GENERAL CLARIFICATIONS

You can:

  • have more than a single choice or fork in your VN/story
  • use your existing universe so long as the player does not need prior context to understand your entry
  • have unlimited solid color backgrounds in menus and in-game
  • use Text-To-Speech without impact on any audio limits
  • use any freely available asset (paid, Creative Commons, and others)
  • provide additional information on the VN's website including separate character drawings, backstory info, banners and cover images, provided they don't make diminish the VN-only experience
  • use your own existing assets not made for a VN/game (e.g. vacation photos, childhood drawings, old poem)
  • use previously created custom menu styles, even if they appeared in other games before.
  • submit NSFW/R18 work, provided it's tagged/flagged appropriately
  • draw by code, but only when the results are equivalent to having a single sprite and single BG

You cannot:

  • use sprites, backgrounds, scripts or other assets made or commissioned for a different VN/game project before (even if it's unfinished)

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ONE SPRITE

It is within the rules to:

  • have many facial expressions for the sprite by changing eyes, nose, eyebrows and mouth.
  • have many off-screen actors / characters, so long as only one is visually represented by a sprite
  • have a character sprite have an auxiliary character that does not feature in interactions (e.g, a woman holding a baby, a pirate with a parrot, blind person with dog)
  • have an "extra item" which is a single non-central element that will be hidden (man loses a hat, child's balloon flies away) or appears. 
  • use the single sprite for twins, clones, ghosts, swarms, etc.
  • mirror and otherwise transform the sprite in game
  • show only a portion of a sprite, including cut-outs or zooms.
  • have an inanimate object as the sprite (e.g. UFO, a portal, a robot)
  • having multiple small ambient objects as the sprite (e.g. adding traffic to the city, searchlights to prison)
  • fully or partially assemble a sliced up sprite in game, and apply effects to individual elements (e.g. a snowman's head)
  • animate parts of the sprite to achieve effects of breathing, bobbing their head, or other idle animation
  • have a single alternate movement of a single body part (head, single arm) so long as it doesn't change the pose, and so long as the VN does not also use the allowed "extra item".

It is not allowed to:

  • have multiple changes of clothes for the sprite, or any other separate layers that overlap with their non-transparent parts
  • use a sprite overlay to vastly transform the background (e.g. pre- and post-war city)
  • create animations of the sprite that use extra bits for transitioning from state to state
  • change the sprite's pose (e.g. move the torso)
  • drawing alternate forms of hair or shaded clothes for any movement

Illustrations (CGs) can:

  • be used instead of a separate sprite and background
  • feature characters with expression changes and other alterations analog to sprites
  • feature simple crowd silhouettes, or suggestions of people

Illustrations (CGs) cannot:

  • show multiple people
  • show a silhouette next to a fully shown character

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ONE BACKGROUND

Allowed:

  • using the engine's functions or scripting to alter the background (e.g. blur, night filter, mirroring) 
  • small looping animation (e.g. inside of train with passing scenery, waterfall)
  • zooming, panning and cutting around a larger image
  • revealing previously obscured information or areas through pans, zooms and cuts
  • using layers to show a sliced up an image as a single background (no opaque parts of layers can overlap)

Not allowed:

  • creating secondary versions (multiple separate files) of the background image (e.g. blur, night version)
  • using masks to create secondary versions of the background image on screen
  • using an image which is created in such a way that focusing on segments effectively changes scenes
  • achieving the background by overlapping fully or partially opaque layers, even if the in-game result appears as a single image

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ONE THOUSAND WORDS

When in doubt, pure words counted by Google Docs are to be taken as standard. 

Counts against the 1.000 word limit:

  • foreword / afterword / author's notes
  • text of all the VN's branches combined
  • text of choices
  • images of letters or longer-form text
  • any additional parallel language / translation
  • custom menu items like "Start your adventure" instead of "Start"
  • emoji-only statements (count as a single word)
  • emoji made of words (count as the amount of words in the emoji)

Does not count against the 1.000 word limit:

  • minigame using words if it's purely a game mechanic (does not advance story)
  • chapter names, even if displayed on screen
  • signs, posters, even if they relate to the story
  • short factual glossary, if explanation cannot be reasonably provided in game
  • credits, help / controls
  • emoji used to only accompany and reiterate a word or statement
  • repeats of blocks of text achieved by scripting (e.g. common route, recurring dream)
  • surplus text generated from a base text that is within the word count limit (e.g. chat bot, AI generator)
  • name tags, so long as they are not directly conveying narrative

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ONE MUSIC TRACK OR ONE AMBIENT BACKGROUND NOISE

Allowed:

  • a looped sound effect acting as ambient background noise (e.g. rain)
  • a track with multiple melodies / styles, if it existed prior to the jam, and only a single segment is looped, with another segment looped only for a special short segment / occasion.

Not allowed:

  • a track combining music and ambient sounds
  • a mash-up or mix of multiple songs with timed transitions (megamix, medley)
  • additional menu music (if the VN also has in-game music/ambient noise)

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ONE SOUND EFFECT

The single sound effect...

  • can be used multiple times
  • cannot be looped continuously (if yes, it counts as background noise)
  • can be made by a person different to the voice actor
  • limit does not apply to interface sounds

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ONE VOICE ACTOR

The O2A2's single voice actor...

  • can use use variations of voices
  • can have their voice modulated and processed to create completely different sounding voices
  • can be replaced by sound effects / beeps processed to act as voices
  • can speak lines not part of the VN's text, provided they don't go over 1.000 words combined.

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ONE PIECE OF MENU BACKGROUND

The main menu / title screen background...

  • can be different to the in-game background. 
  • can have separate versions of itself with menu location indicators
  • can contain any version or portion of the in-game sprite, background or the CG (e.g. cropped, filtered, lineart).
  • can contain a heavily stylized or abstract version of the single sprite character (e.g. logo, chibi, mascot)
  • cannot contain a new character, or a new pose for the single sprite character.
  • can be accompanied by an unlimited quantity of solid color backgrounds for any menu screen..

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ONE PROJECT

One person in the O2A2 jam...

  • can only be the primary creative lead for a single project (e.g. producer, director, author)
  • can additionally be a secondary creative contributor for someone else's project (e.g. draw a sprite)
  • can further collaborate on other projects in a non-creative role (e.g. coordination, marketing)
Submitted

can the title screen/menu background contain a character without counting against the one sprite limit?

Jam HostSubmitted (1 edit)

Edit: Please refer to Mikey's answer below.

Yes, that is allowed! Your main menu counts as the User Interface.

MAIN MENU/TITLE BACKGROUND:  The main menu or title screen can be different to the in-game background.
HostSubmitted (1 edit)

The title screen/menu BG can contain some segment of the in-game sprite, such as closeup of the eyes or its silhouette. It would also be OK to use a lineart-only version, of the in-game sprite as well (as long as it's the lineart layer from the in-game sprite). A new pose, or a completely different character however would go against the idea of a single "sprite", despite it being a baked in part of the (allowed) special menu background. If you had a stylistically unrelated representation or suggestion of a character in very abstract form (such as a simplified logo or chibi/mascot) be a part of the menu background, then that would be fine.

Does this jam have a theme or is open?

HostSubmitted

The theme is open for any genres (comedy, drama, fantasy, sci-fi...). And like everywhere else, when tackling sensitive issues be respectful, and tag the content appropriately. But otherwise, anything goes. Have fun!

Submitted (1 edit)

hello is it possible to not have a voice actor :,0

Jam HostSubmitted

A voice actor is not required for your game! If you're so inclined, you don't even need to have a sprite (such as if you're opting for NVL mode) or write exactly 1k words. These are more like limits, than anything.

Submitted

thank ye kindly

Submitted

Hi! I have a couple questions. For one, is it allowed to have two main menu images – one a black screen with sprite line art, and the other the in-game CG? Also, can we have a different itch.io cover altogether that is not a sprite or in-game CG? Thank you!

HostSubmitted (1 edit) (+1)

Hi! 

Before answering the first question, the rule is that you can use a CG, but that means you can't use a sprite and a background anymore (since a CG is counted as background+character).

But yes even so you can still have a main menu solid background with lineart (from the CG) as a form of alternate menu, that specific graphics would also be within the rules. But it has to be the lineart from the CG, not a separate sprite line art made specifically for the menu. 

The second question, the itch.io cover does not count for the jam limits, that can be anything.

Submitted

Thanks for the answers! Also, just to be on the safe end, an alternate menu has to be line art from the CG? Can it just be a solid color background then?

HostSubmitted

Yes, you can have the alternate main menu be just a plain color. There are no restrictions on plain colored backgrounds.

Submitted

Hi, I have a question about the one character rule: 

-can a faceless player character interact with the sprite character? Or the  player character count as one characters so the sprite character have to be the player character and it have to be essentially an one-man show where the only thing the character can interact with is the background?

 -If the character talk about their interaction with someone in the past, does the people they mentioned count against the character count?

HostSubmitted

Hi saitoki, the one character is only for the "sprite", which means you can have many more characters in your story, also interacting, as long as they are not shown. For example you can have a press conference where a person (1 sprite) is in a press area (1 background), and you can have several reporters ask questions.

The same goes with the second question, you can mention and interact with as many characters as you need to (in the present or past), as long as only one sprite is used in the game. 

This may be a very silly question with an obvious answer (apologies in advance) but are the game page assets also included in the one character rule? Aka is it impossible to have a second character appear in a decorative banner on the itch.io page, even if they don't appear in the game?

If so, I may have to just run away with my idea, leave the jam and simply be happy that O2A2 is still with me in spirit :')

HostSubmitted

Hi Leporine, the jam rules apply only to the actual VN, not its website or any extra materials (see also above crystal's question about the itch cover which follows the same principle).

A game page that features a decorative banner with people not shown in the game should be fine, but just try as best you can to make sure the player who only plays the plain game without this context has a full experience. For example if you have a romantic game where only the Love Interest is shown as the sprite and the game is narrated by the Protagonist, then an itch banner that shows their faces inside a heart shape is fine. 

Thanks so much, and sorry that it had sort of been addressed above. I did read all of the comments first, but I guess I didn't register that one bit at the end of Crystal's message!

Submitted

Hi! A question: if I have some overlay SFX graphic (like a vignette effect) applied to a solid color BG (created in engine, i.e. there's no image file for it), would it count against the BG limit? 💦💦

HostSubmitted

Hi omure! Using effects that the engine provides (blur, vignette,...) or that you program yourself is within the rules. Have fun with the jam!

Submitted

Understood! Thank you very much!

Quick question! As the Itch thumb/banner does not count against the limit and is completely separate from the game itself, I was wondering... is it allowed to make that image before jam start since it isn't part of the game itself?

HostSubmitted

In general it's possible to create game pages, thumbnails or banners before the jam, provided they don't use any assets which are part of the final game (for example if the banners used detailed character designs, or the VN's logo, they would disqualify the future VN), and at the same time provided such allowed assets also don't deny the the player who only plays the plain game without this context a full experience. Creating a placeholder / draft page on itch before the jam can be seen as preparation, but putting in customization work, writing up synopses or character bios is in itself work on an auxiliary final asset and would go against the spirit of the jam, even more so if such created content were also published before the jam. In other words if at all possible, good etiquette would be to wait with preparing and publishing the itch page beyond a simple draft/placeholder until the VN is done or close to being done.

Thank you for your detailed answer!

Submitted

Hi! Would using something like Cloudnovel be okay? I'm not super efficient with coding, and I didn't notice it in the list of resources.

Jam HostSubmitted(+1)

You would need to find a way to export your project in order to submit to the jam officially. As I remember, CloudNovel does have that option available, but those builds are known to be buggy.

Submitted

What's the limitations for mini games? Can for example a crossword puzzle or Kakuro be used as a mini game without counting against any limitations?

Jam HostSubmitted

See the below rule:

MINIGAME USING WORDS: If you include a minigame that uses words (e.g. Scrabble, word associations, phonetic alphabet etc...), this does not count against the 1.000 word limit, if it's purely a game mechanic, and does not specifically advance the narrative.
Submitted

that does cover the word restrictions, but for avoidance of doubt the visual representation of the puzzle is not counting against any of the limitations?

HostSubmitted (1 edit)

Specifically if you make a crossword type minigame, and the grid is on a solid color background, it does not count against anything . If you also create a detailed background for your crossword however that is different to the in-game background, that would be against the idea of a single background. The actual visual of the grid does not count against any other limits such as sprites or objects.

However an additional thing to look out for is that the minigame doesn't overwhelm the VN aspect - otherwise it won't be primarily a visual novel and thus would not qualify - this is a VN jam. With a 1000 word limit the time spent on the minigame may be disproportionally large, so only very short minigames are suitable. 

Submitted

Thank you for a fast reply. Indeed the time spent with the mini game is something to consider, so it won't take a center stage in the game. Much obliged.

Submitted

Hi, I have another  question.  Does the characters  name tag count against the word  count?

Jam HostSubmitted(+1)

It does not, as long as you are using the name space appropriately. An example of fair use would be "Bob, Duke of So-and-So" or a dynamic name going from "Mysterious Man" to "Bob." An example of something that shouldn't be done is "Bob, who is now eating an apple" which turns into "Bob, who is sleeping on the couch."

Submitted

Can I make 1 song that plays, and a part of that song loops for the special moments in the story.

HostSubmitted(+1)

Yes, you can have a single song, and loop let's say a segment from 1:20 to 1:30, and from a certain point let the rest of the song continue. You need to do this in engine / via scripting, but it's allowed.

Submitted

hey, this is sort of late, but regarding this rule

  • can contain a heavily stylized or abstract version of the single sprite character (e.g. logo, chibi, mascot)

if let say i wanted to include a little unicorn mascot ( which is not the single sprite character ) on the title and menu bg would that be against the rules? 

HostSubmitted

Never too late! What you describe is within the rules, if you make it relatively simple and clearly a different simplified style, especially if it's meant to fulfill a logo function of sorts.

Submitted

Does the screen fading to black or white at the end count as an additional background?

HostSubmitted

No, any solid background is allowed in unlimited quantity, so you can have fade to black, white out, or just plain blue to represent a clear sky for example. So if you have your one background already, you can still have many more solid backgrounds.

Submitted (1 edit)

Is it within the rules to have the sole sprite be a live2D character? 

(It will have expressions and idle breathing, but the pose will not change)

HostSubmitted

We actually never explicitly mentioned live2D, but what you describe is equivalent to what is allowed, so it's OK to use live2D in this simple way.

Submitted

What about minor animations during the expressions?
(Eyes moving around when nervous. Head moving when dizzy.)

HostSubmitted

Eyes moving is fine, head movement would also be allowed, if there were no new frames added to create the animation, meaning if you're working just with idle skeletal animation, a head bobbing is fine. Turning the whole head to the side etc would be allowed only as a variation on a single body part (i.e. no frames in between). It would also mean you can't have an extra object you can hide/show (hat, mask), you'd have to choose one or the other - one change of body part, or extra object.

Submitted

Do show/hiding things such as blush/tears count as an "extra object" on the character?

HostSubmitted

No, those would be part of facial expressions and free to do without restrictions. The extra object would be something like a hat, or a magic orb, etc. that very clearly changes the visuals.

Submitted

Is it within the rules to have a voice actor only voice certain lines? Or does it have to be fully voiced to not count as a sound effect?

Jam HostSubmitted

That is fine!

Submitted

Awesome! Thank you so much!!!

Submitted

Awesome! Thank you so much!!!

Submitted

Mine is pretty story heavy, and I just realized doesn't have any actual choices. I can force one in there to make it a proper "visual" vs "kinetic" novel, but feel like that would detract from the experience. Can I just keep it as is? 

HostSubmitted

For the jam there is no distinction between a VN with choices or without, so feel free to just make it "kinetic", there are quite a few VNs without choices in the jam. Have fun and thank you for participating!

Submitted

Thank you. I have one more question. 

I have a completed song, is it okay if I chop it up for narrative tension? 

(Eg introducing looping bass line first, add looping melody during climax, etc.) 

HostSubmitted

Yes, you can loop specific sections of the song if that's what you mean. If you have separate tracks for each instrument loop, you can still do it, as long as all instrument loops together form a consistent whole (i.e. you don't have separate melodies and mix and match since that would not really be a single song anymore)

Submitted

Makes sense. Thanks for the clarification. 

Submitted

Can we add credits at the end of the story in video format?
(A video of rolling credits unrelated to the story.)

Jam HostSubmitted

Yes, assuming the video does not contain visual or audio assets that were not used in the game itself.