Let me tell you something most people probably don’t know. The entirety of Roxiano Creations is just one girl. That’s right – until I decide to bring other people into the mix, it’s just me! And I’ll tell you how I did it. But first, I’d like to make a quick introduction to my first-ever video game:
It’s now available on both Steam and itch.io! I don’t know a good enough programmer to fix the issues for the mobile version, so for now, this game is sadly for PC and Mac only. But I hope you’ll check it out!
Here’s a little bit about it, in case you haven’t heard of it. Hotel Tutwin is a horror-based visual novel, where the player has three male love interests. The game has multiple endings, and only a third of them are good! Yes, you can die if you’re not careful.
How I did it
A little under two years ago, I found a visual novel software, called Tyranobuilder, on the Steam store. And of course I paid the fifteen dollars, even though I had zero game development experience, because I tend to jump into large projects occasionally throughout my life. It turned out to be the best $15 I’ve ever spent, because I realized this is the funnest thing I’ve ever stumbled through, and that I want to keep doing it for the rest of my life.
I’ve been drawing characters for as long as I can remember, so that was the easy part. But there’s more to a visual novel than the artwork. Every video game needs structure, and visual novels are no exception. After briefly writing out a plan that turned out to be too short and uneven, I had to make drastic rewrites in the middle of production. The game morphed unexpectedly as I was creating it, and the end result looks nothing like the original plan. Let me just say that the sassy main villain, Detrah, used to be a cool-headed, eligible bachelor named Wells (You can see a picture of him if you buy the bonus pack). Everything worked out in the end, but filling the plot holes I was constantly creating proved to be the most difficult part of the process. Writing is no joke.
I’m terrible at drawing backgrounds. I was never a landscape type of person, and frankly, drawing trees and rooms bores me. This is a serious problem in video game development, as you can probably guess. Plenty of the backgrounds in the game are pictures I took myself and edited. I’m not an experienced photographer by any means, but when I have a vision, I know what it should look like, and I know how to be creative with it. The hotel hallways are actually those of a hospice my grandmother was living in. The balcony attached to the dining hall is actually attached to my boyfriend’s bedroom, and the road outside the Tutwin hotel is really next to an old juvenile delinquent center. The backgrounds I couldn’t find around me, however, are stock photos I heavily edited and made sure are “free for commercial use.”
Around the time I began developing Hotel Tutwin, I had bought Fruity Loops Mobile for the exact same price as Tyranobuilder (14.99 USD). I fooled around with it on my phone for a few weeks, and next thing I knew, even with zero musical experience, I had a bunch of songs for the game! My dad is a musician, so I think I get that from him? The songs have no structure, but I’m proud of how they sound when played on loop with the story in Hotel Tutwin.
Releasing the game on itch.io is a simple, brilliant piece of cake. And as long as you download and use the recommended packaging software, your customers will have a simple, easy download. Steam, however, is complicated, costs a hundred dollars, and takes a long time. There are so many steps, and the uploading process could not be more of a hassle. Plus, you have to wait at least thirty days after creating the store page to actually release the game. And that’s if Valve approves of every detail of your configurations. God forbid if I wanted a cinematic trailer. But Steam is the most popular PC gaming storefront, so it’s not like you can skip it completely. The marketing is way easier there, too.
Hotel Tutwin has been released for all of one day, but I’ll forever be a video game developer (popular or not). There’s no secret to success other than commitment, so if you know what you want to do, just jump into it. Start with something simple if you prefer, but don’t wait! I waited too long to join instagram, and if I’d been posting my art there since I was in high school, I’d probably have more than 65 followers on my page. So, get yourself out there, make mistakes, and figure it all out. You can do it!