Submissions open from 2024-09-01 04:00:00 to 2024-10-01 04:00:00
Starts in

Our sponsorship drive is live!   If your organization is interested in powering the biggest visual novel competition of the year, check out our sponsorship package page!  Sponsorship contributions are due by July 25th!

For the first time ever, we're adding crowdfunded prizes! In addition to seeking sponsors this year, we've also made smaller anonymous donations possible through through our asset releases:

This contribution period ends September 1st! For every $150 contributed to these packs, we'll be able to add a new special category to the competition!  

As of May 22nd, we've already secured two new special categories!

Now back to our regularly scheduled jam page!

Welcome to our 6th annual Spooktober Visual Novel Jam!   We are running a competition with prizes based around the best holiday of the year!


Here's how it works. During the month September,  participants will create submissions based around Halloween related themes.  Then, through the month of October, we'll invite itch users, streamers and visual novel lovers to join in to celebrate and vote on their favorites! Prizes will be awarded to teams selected by our judge panel!

We are DevTalk!  We represent a vibrant and diverse community of visual novel creative professionals and hobbyists.  Our objective is to provide a safe learning space for people to develop professional skills related to visual novels, provide networking opportunities focused around actionable problem solving.  Our community, between jams we host or support, our bots, and our helpful Discord Server, helps over 500 visual novels get created annually, many of which are available here on on! 

The Spooktober Visual Novel Jam is our biggest event of the year, and is our only sponsor backed event.  We hope that Spooktober Visual Novel Jam being the competitive event that it is will encourage game developers to try their hand at visual novels using any and all of their skills, and inspire existing visual novel developers to shoot for the sky with their submissions.

In this Game Jam, you are tasked for completing a spooky or Halloween themed visual novel.  This could mean...

  • A Horror Genre Visual Novel
  • A Visual Novel that takes place on the holiday
  • Individualized themes related to Halloween.  Examples: Monsters, Ghosts, Costumes, Candy, etc.
  • Creepypasta version of an existing work you created.

Offshoots, spin offs, and 'fan-disc' style submissions are allowed and encouraged!  Please see this from our community if you intend on making a spin off entry:

We will be offering awards for the following categories! Awards do not have prizes unless otherwise noted.

Submission based criteria:

  • Judge Favorite: Receive the most votes from the judges!  Judge selects receive a portion of the prize pot!
  • Itch.IO Favorite:  Receive the most votes from the public!
  • Best Logline:  Judged to have the best log line (1-3 sentences with what your visual novel is about.)
  • Best Thumbnail: Judged to have the best thumbnail in your submission!
  • Best Monster/Costume

Creator based criteria:

  • Best Voice Actor
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Original Music

Jam ends October 1st and judging ends October 28th!  Extensions may be requested, but it disqualifies your team from prizes!


Click on the rules for details and explanations!

Submissions must be made in their entirety between the jam's running period of September 1st and October 1st.

You are permitted to create concept art, written outlines and log lines prior to the start date. With the exception of the log line, these prior creations cannot be used as-is in your final submissions.

Tag your submissions with content warnings appropriately.

Please be mindful of commonly reported content descriptors!

The ESRB's content descriptors are a good guideline of what we want to be mindful of!

No sexually explicit content.

Our judges do not wish to review and rank sexually explicit content, and many of our participants and audience are minors in their location.

We won't complain if you change it after the jam.

No glorification, endorsement, or instruction of self-harm or suicide.

Our judges do not wish to review content where upon suicide or self-harm is promoted, glorified, or instructed. In the past, participants have submitted pranks raising alarm about their own state, and the stress associated with having to handle these situations are not something we expect our judges to need to deal with.

Text, whether in-game or in the non-executable files of the submission, containing instructions, encouragement of, or statement of intent of suicide or self-harm are similarly disqualified and reported to Itch.IO staff where applicable.

If you do not feel safe or have ideations of self-harm or suicide, please visit to find a crisis helpline in your country!

Pre-existing third party resources are permitted as long as they are also available for usage/purchase by all other participants at the time the jam starts.

Jams can be tough, and it can be hard to create a complete experience on your own in such a limited time frame. We encourage utilizing pre-existing, pre-packaged assets to help supplement your development to ease the burdens of skill and time.

Note: Third party means it was not created by you, or on your behalf.

No generative AI usage in any aspect of your project.

Humans must illustrate, write, program, etc every part of your submission!

Be mindful if you are using third party assets as per the previous rule, as this extends to 3rd party assets.

Your jam submissions must be made freely available during the month of October.

In order to judge your entries, we need to be able to download them, and afford to download them. You're welcome to charge for your submissions after the judging period.


Why is this jam called Spooktober when it starts in September?

Running our competition in September means your visual novels will be ready by October.  While Halloween is only one day of the year, people will consume Halloween and horror content leading up to the holiday, after which it sharply declines.  Timely releases make your visual novels more likely to be seen, and we want visual novels to be seen!

Can I update my jam submission after I submit it/after October 1st?

Yes! In fact, we encourage it!

We download ALL of the submissions at the point where the jam closes and we judge that copy of the submissions. Those copies cannot be updated, but you can update and fix your submissions for your players.

Can I submit my (Other Game Jam) Jam submission too?

As long as it fits the above criteria and was created within the same time span as this jam, then yes! 

Are you looking for judges?

Yes!  Inquire on our Discord Server or at

Can I charge for my submission?

We expect that people be allowed to stream and consume the content during the month of October freely.  If you'd like to add a price after October 31st, we won't object. 

Who owns my game jam submission?

We claim no ownership of any jam game submitted.  By submitting to the Spooktober Visual Novel Jam, you do agree to allow the hosts of Spooktober Visual Novel Jam and its sponsors to use all or part of your submissions for jam promotion and sponsorship news purposes. (It's usually just a screen shot or short video clip)

Where can I ask for feedback on x, y, z?

If you have any concerns about your jam submission, whether it be a rule based on or you'd just like some feedback on improving it before submitting, check out our Discord server.

Will judging scores be public after judging?

The community votes are publicly visible on Itch.IO.

The Judge rankings that are publicly visible are only the three main prize winning submissions and the special category winners and nominees. A combined list of short listed and honorable mentions will be added to this page in addition to that for all submissions that make it to final judgement or are of special interest to one or more of the judges.

Do all judges read all entries?

Short answer: No. All of the judges do not read all of the entries. At least two judges will evaluate each submission.

For the first pass of judgement, two judges are assigned to each submission to determine whether or not it is likely a submission will be able to compete in the top 10 entries for the competition. Those that are confirmed as potential contenders for ranking are added to the 'Short List.'

Entries that make it past the first pass of judgement are then read by all of the judges, and then ranked accordingly.

Do the judges write reviews of our submissions?

Yes and no.

Judges are permitted to write reviews if the team lead of the project specifically asks for a written review from the judges. This does not mean a request will be fulfilled, as the judges can elect not to give feedback.

What can we do to improve our odds of making the short list?
  • Test your game before submitting! Most entries that do not make it into the short list crash, have typos or other visual bugs that could have been avoided.
  • Show your Spooktober pride! Include the Spooktober Visual Novel Jam 2024 logo as a splash screen if you can. It helps the judges know that the submission was specifically made for the jam and not a random submission.
  • Winners credit their help! Credit your team members on your submission page. If you are the only member, credit yourself as a sole developer.
  • Be mindful of your loudness! Consider having someone master your audio prior to submission. Especially your on-launch sounds and title music!
  • Be mindful of standard features! Save/Load functionality, skip previously read and automatic progressing of text are usually a good idea to include and come pre-built into many visual novel engines and tool kits!
What can we do to improve our odds of winning?
  • Pay attention to the year's special categories. Every year we emphasize certain key aspects of visual novels that we want to celebrate, emphasize, or encourage. Many top ranking submissions are also category winners, nominees, or runner ups.
  • Make complete, self-contained experiences. The best of all submissions can be consumed and adored in their entirety, even if they're small.
  • Work on your opening segments, log line, and other promo material. While the judges do not score these, first impressions are extremely important, and no one, not even the judges, are immune to a good pitch and eye-catching visuals.
  • Join the Discord and get advice for your specific scenario. Getting advice in DevTalk won't convince the judges to give your project better scores, but DevTalk is home to many, many skilled writers, programmers, artists, composers, voice actors, many of which have been successful in their visual novel careers.

We are still seeking sponsors for this year's Spooktober Visual Novel Jam!  If you are interested in sponsoring the Spooktober Visual Novel Jam and reaching hundreds of passionate visual novel developers and related professionals, please reach out to!

Our sponsorship program can be found in more detail in our community section!

Prizes are determined by sponsor contributions and will be announced alongside of this year's sponsors!