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Crystal Game Works

A member registered May 22, 2014 · View creator page →

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Hybrid VNs are allowed but the gameplay must be supplemental to the visual novel- it has to be a visual novel first and foremost. Some hybrid VN examples where people can move around and interact would be Ace Attorney or AI: The Somnium Files.

Swears are OK. Slurs are not.

From Wikipedia:

log line or logline is a brief (usually one-sentence) summary of a television program, film, short film, or book that states the central conflict of the story, often providing both a synopsis of the story's plot, and an emotional "hook" to stimulate interest.

Basically, it's a one or two sentence pitch for the game that should intrigue players who know nothing about the game to want to play it.

Yes. These are just a handful of resources available to developers.


Yes, VN hybrids are allowed as long as it can still be called a visual novel. The gameplay should enhance the visual novel parts rather than the visual novel parts being tacked on to a game. An example of this would be like Ace Attorney, where it has point-and-click segments that enhance the story rather than being the focus- Ace Attorney's story can stand alone without the gameplay.

That'd be against the rules.

Yes, RPGM games and RPG hybrids are allowed! Check out some of the previous entries from last year, as several of those were made in RPGM.

If you intend for reading to be a focus then you should be fine.

No, that's not against the rules.

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Writing & Design




More resources for making your own VNs

Yes, public domain works are OK to use.

No, they're not allowed as the base trained models are from dubiously sourced pools. I'd recommend using websites like Unsplash where creators can upload their stock photos for people to use for free and editing those.

Here's a list of resources that might help you in making your games!

Visual Novel Resources:


New to Game Jams?

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Here's a list of resources that might help you in making your games!

Visual Novel Resources:


New to Game Jams?

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Here's a list of resources that might help you in making your games!

Visual Novel Resources:


Writing & Drawing Shounen/Action:

New to Game Jams?

Hiya! 1) physical or magical fighting is acceptable. Sports competitions wouldn't fit our definition of battle action, unless it's blown out of proportion. 2) it can be grounded in reality but it needs to still have fantasy elements. A modern fantasy is acceptable. 3) characters don't have to have super powers, that's just an example of typical chuuni & shounen tropes we gave.

Yep, Twine games are accepted!

No problem, feel free to ask any other questions here or in our Discord server! Happy jamming ♥

Rule 2 is for any otome game that has been previously started on.

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Josei Jam is a game jam focused on the broader range of otome-esque games, namely any game that's made with a female demographic in mind. It's a sister jam that runs parallel to Otome Jam for anyone who wants to make an otome-esque game but not necessarily one with a female lead and male LIs or even romance.

Josei Jam accepts a much wider variety of games such as boys love, girls love, and even non-romance games- the only condition is it has to be for a female audience. Any entry submitted to this jam needs to have the josei tag attached.

We created Josei Jam after receiving feedback from participants and other developers who want to make a female-gaze game for Otome Jam but don't want to go by the GxB rules. Taking inspiration from NaNoRenO's IntRenAiMo, a jam that runs parallel to NaNo for developers who want to work on a previously started project for NaNo, we created Josei Jam.

Aside from the GxB rules, the ruleset for Josei Jam is basically the same as Otome Jam- 18+ works are allowed, you can work on a previously started on project, your game can be free or commercial, no AI, etc. The host server for Josei Jam is the Otome Development Server.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or reach out to either of your hosts, myself (Arimia) or Akua on Discord.

Thank you so much, glad you're enjoying it!

Thank you so much for the kind words, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

As long as it's PG-13 it should be fine. Mutilated bodies would definitely be a no, but dead bodies would probably be fine.

That should probably be fine. Basically, this is a PG-13 jam.

Congrats, it's well deserved! ♥

This is a visual novel jam. RPG VNs are accepted, but you have to be making something with the thought that "I'm making a VN". If you're making an RPG without going "this is a hybrid RPG VN", then no, it's not accepted.

Yes, that's fine!

Yep, that's fine!

Yep. The jam rules state:

  • You can use the jam to complete a project you've already begun working on, so long as it fits with the jam's theme of winter.

Hello everyone! This jam is supported by the Devtalk community, a Discord server for visual novel developers to share their progress and meet new people. As such, we'll be hosting 2 voice chat session called Meet and Greets in November where participants can come to find new members for their teams!

These two Meet & Greets are:

November 12th 2PM EST

November 19th 2PM EST

They'll be hosted in the voice channels in the Devtalk server. Being on mic is not required, you can stay muted and introduce yourself in our text channels.

We also have a channel dedicated for this game jam in the Devtalk server, so feel free to talk about your concepts and look for teammates before our Meet & Greets!

Thank you so much!

Ah, so glad to hear you liked it!! ♥

I'll look into some ways or options for improving the readability during the filmed scenes.

Thank you so much, so glad you enjoyed it! ♥

Have fun, Georgia is a very pretty state and the climate is pretty nice compared to the rest of the South haha. I hope to showcase more of it (and other towns in Georgia) in the full game!

Thank you so much!

Thank you so much! It's all blood, sweat, tears, and Clip Studio Paint haha

Thank you, it was such a crunch at the end LOL

I don't think I did any of the challenges, but thank you for hosting!!

This game is fully complete, it's not a demo.

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When we decide to make a project, we typically don’t assume that the project will fail, that members will ghost us, that we’ll be hit by real life problems. But these things do happen, and quite frequently.

Whether you’re working solo or with a team, it’s important to sit down and make backup plans. Why and how? Let’s look at that today.

what are backup plans?

Backup plans refers to your plans for the future if things don’t go perfect (which they won’t). Backing up your assets and files is important, yes, but not what I’m talking about here. This is specifically about plans, possibilities of a future that may or may not happen.

why should I care?

When you’re working solo, you’re much more flexible with change- after all, you’re doing everything. However, when you’re working in a team setting like game jams, there’s a lot more on the line. You have deadlines to meet, team members expecting a finished product they can add to their portfolio, etc.

Things happen. Things will happen.

If your team project goes completely smoothly with no road blocks, no deadlines that have to be pushed back, no major changes, then you’re lucky. Because more often than not, life happens.

what should I plan for?

Let’s set up an example.

You’re leading a large team, around 10-20 people, for a game jam. The game jam is only 1 month long- perhaps it’s NaNoRenO, the annual 1 month long visual novel jam in March. Your team consists of volunteers, most of which you’ve only just met. The game will be a dating sim with 3 routes and full voice acting- already, this is a hard feat to achieve for veteran devs if everything goes smoothly.

Now let’s throw in some road bumps.

What’re you going to do if the person who’s doing backgrounds is procrastinating and won’t meet their deadline? What will you do if all 3 of your musicians ghost* the project? What’s going to happen if the writer for one of the routes goes MIA without having written a single word and it’s the last week of the jam?

These are all scenarios I faced when leading projects for NaNoRenO. If I hadn’t been thinking ahead, the projects wouldn’t have finished on time- or worse, not at all.

* “Ghosting” means a person has stopped responding and seemingly vanished.


Here’s some bad scenarios I want you to think about:

  • What happens if my [sprite artist, musician, route writer, editor, programmer, etc.] ghosts me?
  • [asset] is taking longer than planned to make. What if I think the deadline won’t be met?
  • The scope we planned at the beginning is too large now.
  • [person] on the team has to leave immediately. Who will finish their half-finished work? Can it be finished, or is there a conflict of styles?
  • [asset] is finished, but it didn’t come out how we want or won’t fit the game.
  • The game won’t be finished before the deadline.
  • [person] on the team is butting heads with [other person], which is straining the working relationships and their progress.
  • [person] is not working well with anyone and actively being a disruption.
  • The person working on [asset] isn’t responding to messages.

These are just some of the scenarios you might run into on a group project- and keep in mind, none of them are mutually exclusive. Any and possibly all of these could happen, including more.


Let’s go through some now and list out some potential plans.

what happens if my sprite artist ghosts me?

Your sprite artist isn’t responding. Maybe they’ve started on their work, maybe they didn’t.

When I ran teams, I would make sure I had backup artists before the jam started– multiple people who can do a task. We would assign one or multiple people to do sprites (such as one person sketching/lining and another person coloring).

If your sprite artist leaves, ask another artist who can do sprites to finish them. If this doesn’t work, the sprites might have to be redrawn from scratch.

In the case that this doesn’t work, you may have to recruit a new artist in the middle of the jam or use the half finished artwork. Your last choice might be to use stock sprites- already finished artwork from Lemmasoft Forums or right here on

what happens if my musician ghosts me?

Sadly, I’ve had this happen to me before. We recruited 3 musicians to split the workload between them, each composing 2 piano pieces and working together to coordinate. One of them didn’t realize this was a volunteer project and left without a word soon after. The second ghosted around the same time without a word. The third tried to take up the slack, but composing an entire OST by yourself in just a couple weeks is nigh impossible.

We ended up using the 1 piece of custom music we got. For the rest of the OST, I found creative commons pieces that fit.

Similar to the artist problem, you can try to find someone else- or have a second musician- and if that fails, CC assets are fine.

interlude 1 – a small aside

I’ve mentioned using Creative Commons assets a few times so far. For some people, this may be scoffed at. In my eyes, my highest priority was shipping the games on or around the deadline- that was my commitment I made upfront to the people who signed up for the project. I’m pretty good at sizing scope for myself, so I knew the projects I’d outlined were doable and wouldn’t take 5+ extra months to finish.

If using CC assets sounds absurd to you, then don’t. Make a different backup plan. Or perhaps only use the CC assets for a brief time while finishing the real assets. These are all just suggestions- it’s your project under your management.

the backgrounds are taking too long to make and deadlines are being missed.

Backgrounds are easily one of the hardest parts to finds artists for. When I ran applications for NaNoRenO, we’d have 100+ people volunteer, and we’d be lucky if 3 of them were applying for backgrounds. If you find a good background artist willing to work with you, treat them very well.

So what are you going to do when you want 8+ backgrounds and only have 1 artist? You should highly consider splitting this role up- maybe one person will do lining and flat colors and another person will do shading. Talk to your team members.

If you have a background artist(s) but they’re not getting done fast enough, talk to them about it. Don’t take “I’ll get it done I promise” as an answer, especially if you’d heard it before. Sit them down and ask what you can do to ease their workload- don’t accuse them of anything or insinuate it’s their fault, even if it might be. Ask them if they’d like someone to work on coloring or lining and such. Ask them if someone else working on other unfinished backgrounds would be helpful. Talk to them about options.

the scope we planned for is too large to finish in the time frame.

Cut it.

When you plan out your game, you should have an idea of what is core to it. What does your game absolutely need? What can it not ship without?

Once you have that, expand from there. What are some parts that would reinforce the core ideas, but not essential? List things that are like support beams, but not load-bearing ones. Components that help round out the game, but aren’t pivotal.

Now we get to the extraneous stuff. These are things that you might think your game needs, but it doesn’t actually.

For Enamored Risks, I wanted the player to be able to change their pronouns and the main character design. However, because we decided to have 3 love interests, we prioritized that over the player customization. Having a customizable MC is fun but increases the scope by more than you’d think- not only do you need another sprite(s), but you also need CGs for each MC design, a selection screen for the MC, any writing changes you’d want to implement based on the gender or look of the MC, and proper bug testing to ensure the correct artwork & pronouns are showing up. It adds a lot of work, so we scraped it for Enamored Risks as it was a month long project for NaNoRenO.

Be quick to cut extraneous parts out if there’s a chance they will delay the game. If we hadn’t cut out the MC customization early on before full development, we would have wasted time (and our volunteer’s efforts) creating artwork for the character and much more. When you have such a tight deadline and people working for free, don’t waste their time.

this piece of music didn’t come out how we wanted it to and now it won’t fit the game.

You’re working with a musician and they send you a finished piece of music that doesn’t fit with the rest of the game. Maybe this was because of miscommunication, rushed deadlines, or something else. Regardless, now you have a finished piece you don’t want to use but someone spent their time on it. Here’s some possible ideas:

  • Use the piece. Find somewhere in the game for it to be used-maybe the main menu, a small scene, just somewhere.
  • Ask the piece to be edited. If the piece can be changed to better match the rest of the game, ask. Talk to the musician about it and see if alterations are doable.
  • Let them keep the piece. If it really cannot fit in the game and can’t be edited, ask the person if they’d like to keep the piece for their own projects. Explain the problem in nice terms to them and thank them for their efforts.
  • Add the music to an in-game music gallery. If the person is completely unreachable or has ghosted, they are most likely still expecting their work to be included in the game in some form. Because you cannot work out with them changes, including it in a music gallery but not in the rest of the game is a compromise you can do.

Above all, talk to your teammate. People who join game jams and do work for them expect their work to be used. Don’t waste people’s time.

interlude 2 – unusable assets

I’ve ran into the situation above before where we were given a piece of music last minute and it didn’t fit the style of the game. There was no time for edits as the jam was almost over and this was the only piece of music the person was able to complete. In the end, I used the piece for a small part in the game and found CC assets for the rest of the OST. I had some complaints about the mishmashed styles, as the custom piece didn’t fit the rest of the soundtrack, but nothing terrible.

The person had put in effort to finish the piece, and while I knew it was in a rush, I knew it wasn’t in malice. They wanted to contribute to the project and did their best with the time given, so I didn’t want to throw their efforts away.

If you don’t value people’s time, they’ll realize it and won’t value yours.

a person on the team isn’t working well with others and causing disruptions.

I’ve yet to find a large volunteer group (10+ members) work smoothly without any drama, whether it’s small roadbumps or project-shattering troubles. Finding people suitable for roles is hard enough, but finding people who work well together blindly is nigh impossible sometimes.

Set boundaries in place beforehand such as proper conduct and expectations out of members. Realize your own boundaries and expectations beforehand and temper them- do you expect everyone to type professionally? Should people only discuss the project or are jokes and social discussions allowed? Not everyone thinks the way you do, and not everyone thinks the way each of your team members do.

When you get a complaint about someone, sit down first and see if there’s a reason for this behavior. Are they lashing out because their workload was too big? Are they overstepping boundaries because their role wasn’t defined well and they think they’re doing their job?

You should always try to work things out first and understand why they’re acting in such a way. Talk to the person. Don’t accuse them of anything. Don’t say you received complaints about them, at least not at first. Just talk things through. If the person is hostile to you when you discuss their problems, it might be time to let them go. Inform them succinctly and let them know that this project isn’t working out for them- don’t give them a long, drawn out essay on why you’re letting them go.

If their work was not crucial to the project and has to be used (for example a character route script is crucial, unused concept art is not), you can work with them to let them keep their work. Remember, even if you find out that they aren’t a good fit for the team, they’ve still put in time into the project.

Be ready to fill in their shoes with someone else. Who will finish their work? Will there be any fallout from losing this member? There’s a lot to consider before canning someone.

the person writing a character route isn’t responding to messages.

This, sadly, happened to one of my NaNoRenO teams. The second to last week of NaNoRenO we realized that one of the route writers had stopped communicating with the writing director. We gave them some leeway with communicating as we’d worked with them before, but deadlines were coming up. Plans had to be changed.

I had 2 choices:

  1. Hope they come back and have their writing finished before the jam ends (as it still needed to be edited and coded)
  2. Assume they won’t return and assign the work to someone else

With just over a week until the end of NaNo, I went with the later. We started contacting the other writers, who were all done by this point, and asked if any of them would volunteer for the role. They all declined. We didn’t push, as they had signed up for one role and already completed it- taking on an entire route wasn’t a small task.

After we asked the writers, I asked the other directors. They both declined. At this point, I had a few directions I could go:

  1. Hit up recruitment channels and try to add someone new to the team, wait for responses, and hope they can deliver before the deadline
  2. Cut the route entirely and apologize to the artists who had already finished artwork for the character and the route
  3. Write the route myself

 For the very last weekend in March, I sat down and wrote an entire route from a barebones summary.

This wasn’t a perfect choice. For one, the route was rushed and several thousand words shorter than the other route, something some players point out in their reviews. For another, it was exhausting! I spent 2 full weekend days writing it when I could’ve spent that time making sure everything else was going smoothly, marketing the game, etc.

However, this was my choice because I didn’t want to let down the people who had already invested time into the route, namely the artists.

When it comes down to it, what will you decide?

wow that was a lot

Project management, when it comes down to it, is all about risk management. Planning around roadbumps- both how you avoid them to begin with and how you navigate around them when confronted with new problems- is a core part of leading any team.

Transparency and solid communication are fundamental to good project management, but so is planning. Before you make your next recruitment post, I hope you consider what I’ve talked about today. If you are serious about seeing a project through to completion, make backup plans! Even if you’re a solo dev, itemize some parts of your project in regards to scope.

I wish you all well this game jam season! Be sure to share your projects in the DevTalk server for visual novel development and Otome Dev for otome development.

— Arimia

Yes, they are!