List of visual novel engines

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This is a list of visual novel engines.

Digital Novel Markup Language[edit]

Digital Novel Markup Language (DNML) is one of the first scripting language game engines for creating visual novels, also known as interactive fiction games. DNML was developed using C++ by a Japanese programmer known by his or her Internet name, Karin. The initial release was in 1998. The programming structure is similar to HTML, which made it easy to produce dōjin games. DNML was succeeded by software like NScripter, KiriKiri and Ren'Py.[1]


Developer(s)Takahashi Naoki
Initial releaseSeptember 6, 1999; 20 years ago (1999-09-06)[2]
Final release
final version / February 23, 2018; 21 months ago (2018-02-23)[3]
Operating systemWindows
TypeGame engine (visual novel)
Original author(s)Ogapee
Developer(s)Studio O.G.A.
Initial releaseFebruary 6, 2002; 17 years ago (2002-02-06)
Stable release
20191022 / October 22, 2019; 43 days ago (2019-10-22)
Written inC++
EngineSimple DirectMedia Layer
Operating systemWindows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS
Platformx86, ARM, Zaurus
TypeGame engine (visual novel)
LicenseGPL v2

NScripter is a visual novel engine[4] written by Naoki Takahashi. Due to its simplicity and its liberal license (while it is not open-source software, royalty-free commercial use is permitted), it quickly became popular in Japan, and was used for a number of high-profile commercial and dōjin titles, such as HaniHani and Tsukihime.[5]

The original NScripter is closed-source and only available for Windows. A number of cross-platform clones have been written. The best-known[6] NScripter clone is the free and open-source software implementation, ONScripter. Its popularity among the visual novel localisation community is attributed to the ease of modifying the engine to support languages other than Japanese.[6] It strives to maintain compatibility with visual novels designed for NScripter.[7] ONScripter is based on the Simple Directmedia Layer (SDL) library, and can thus be used to run NScripter games on platforms supported by SDL, such as OS X, Linux, PSP and the iPod.

ONScripter-EN is a branch of ONScripter that is maintained separately by the English-language community, for convenience and for ease of introducing enhancements that are suited to the community. PONScripter (abbreviation for "Proportional-OnScripter") is a fork of ONScripter-EN. Its stated goal is to provide an easy porting target for translation projects, with emphasis on Western languages.[7] PONScripter has made heavy modifications to the ONScripter-EN base code, and is deliberately backwards-incompatible. PONScripter was originally maintained by Peter "Haeleth" Jolly. Since September 2009, it is maintained by Mion of Sonozaki Futago-tachi, the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni translation group.[8]

KScripter is a Flash-based scripting engine that was inspired by NScripter but uses ActionScript and SWF.[9][10][11]


Initial release1998
Stable release
2.32 rev.2 / October 26, 2010; 9 years ago (2010-10-26)[12]
Operating systemWindows
Available inC++
TypeGame engine (visual novel)

KiriKiri (吉里吉里) is a scripting engine[4][13] by Japanese developer "w.dee", initially released in 1998. It is almost exclusively used with the KAG (KiriKiri Adventure Game System) framework as a visual novel engine.[14] Usually, the package of the two components is regarded as the whole engine, and referenced with major version numbers. Thus, the current version is called KiriKiri2/KAG3. It is available under the GNU General Public License, though commercial licenses can be acquired if somebody wishes to expand the software without disclosing the changes.

KiriKiri has been used in both dōjin and commercial visual novels, the most well known of which are TYPE-MOON's Fate/stay night and Fate/hollow ataraxia. It is often used as a more modern and expandable replacement of the older NScripter engine.[15][5][13] Another game notable visual novel that is known to be implemented using this engine is 1999 Christmas Eve (1999クリスマスイブ). The Nekopara game series available on Steam also uses a modified version of Kirikiri.[16]

Due to a lack of updates since October 2010, from 2013 onwards the code has been forked and continued as Kirikiri Z (吉里吉里Z).[17]


The Ren'Py Visual Novel Engine is a free software engine. Ren'Py is a portmanteau of ren'ai (恋愛), the Japanese word for 'love', a common element of games made using Ren'Py; and Python, the programming language that Ren'Py runs on. The easy to learn script language allows anyone to efficiently write large visual novels, while its Python scripting is enough for complex simulation games. Ren'Py has proved attractive to western hobbyists; over 1000 games use the Ren'Py engine, nearly all in English. Visual novels, kinetic novels, role-playing games, simulation games, and many other games can be made with Ren'py. [18][19]


TyranoBuilder Visual Novel Studio is a paid visual novel engine that supports exporting finished projects to Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and HTML (Browser-based). TyranoBuilder is potentially suitable for non-programmers at it primarily uses a graphical interface for development and scripting of visual novels.[1]


  1. ^ DNML website
  2. ^ "高橋直樹のホームページ" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 1999-10-11.
  3. ^ Takahashi Naoki. "". Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  4. ^ a b Owada, Shigeru; Tokuhisa, Fumiaki (2012). "Kadecot: HTML5-based visual novels development system for smart homes" (PDF). IEEE 1st Global Conference on Consumer Electronics. GCCE'12. pp. 17–19. doi:10.1109/GCCE.2012.6379572. ISBN 978-1-4673-1500-5.
  5. ^ a b "VN/Eroge Script sizes".
  6. ^ a b README, ONScripter-EN source code, 20101010 release
  7. ^ a b README, PONScripter source code, 20100502 release
  8. ^ Mion releases first alpha build. Checked 2009/09/26
  9. ^ Kawakami, Masatoshi; Yasuda, Hiroshi; Sasaki, Ryoichi (2009). "情報セキュリティ教育のためのeラーニング教材作成システムELSECの開発" [Development of an e-Learning Content-Making System forInformation Security (ELSEC)]. コンピュータセキュリティシンポジウム2009 (CSS2009) 論文集. CSS'09 (in Japanese). Information Processing Society of Japan. pp. 1–6.
  10. ^ Kawakami, Masatoshi; Yasuda, Hiroshi; Sasaki, Ryoichi (2010). "Development of an E-learning Content-Making System for Information Security (ELSEC) and its Application to Anti-phishing Education". International Conference on e-Education, e-Business, e-Management, and e-Learning. IC4E'10. pp. 7–11. doi:10.1109/IC4E.2010.63. ISBN 978-1-4244-5680-2.
  11. ^ Kawakami, Masatoshi; Yasuda, Hiroshi; Sasaki, Ryoichi (March 2011). "情報セキュリティ教育のためのeラーニング教材作成システムELSECの開発と評価" [Development and Evaluation of an e-learning Content-making System for Information Security (ELSEC)]. 情報処理学会論文誌 (in Japanese). Information Processing Society of Japan. 52 (3): 1266–1278. ISSN 1882-7764.
  12. ^ "吉里吉里 変更点の詳細" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  13. ^ a b Romppanen, Janne (April 2015). Visuaalisen novellin kehitystyökalut länsimaissa [Visual Novel Developer Tools in the Western World] (Bachelor's in Information Technology) (in Finnish). Karelia University of Applied Sciences. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  14. ^ gutchie (2007). Kirikiri/KAG noberu gēmu seisaku nyuumon 吉里吉里/KAGノベルゲーム制作入門 [Kirikiri/KAG NovelGame Product Guide] (in Japanese). ISBN 978-4-7980-1659-7.
  15. ^ Blau, Tief (January 2013). "Habakiri–Play Your Kirikiri Games on Android".
  16. ^ "Nekopara engine?". Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  17. ^ Kirikiri Z GitHub
  18. ^ "List of Ren'Py games".
  19. ^ QuickJump staff (24 November 2007). "Ren'Py Visual Novel Engine: make your own visual novel, dating sim". QuickJump. Retrieved 13 February 2013.