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The Visitor ~ Classic Horror

PG-13! -- What was originally meant to be a B-grade Horror spoof turned into a full B-grade Horror Story. While writing it, the plot became way more complicated than I ever expected with two well-earned characters deaths (off-screen, of course,) a couple of vampire bites, and more than a few characters getting their lights punched out.

Don't click too fast with your mouse! You may miss something!

Poor Count Bela Blasko has a few issues.

In addition to his Dietary issues...

He has family issues.

Which include a few eccentric uncles...

Uncle Chaney...

Uncle Peter, Uncle Vincent, and Uncle Boris...

Plus three cousins staying over while suspended from school...

And two freeloading students working on a Science Project.

He also has nosy neighbors...

Very nosy neighbors...

And Dating issues.

Beyond that, he's a pretty normal guy -- for a vampire.

Upgraded with interactive Contents page.

Old horror movie images from:
Dracula 1931
Frankenstein 1931
Phantom of the Opera 1925
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein 1943
The Raven 1963

Music by:
Zero Project
Ozzie Nielson Orchestra 1930-1940
Kevin MacLeod

Download from:

1024x768 - 300 MB!
The game contains 1,808 screens of dialogue.
These screens contain a total of 29,378 words,
for an average of 16.2 words per screen.
The game contains 13 menus.

4 Endings: 1 Happy, 2 Sad, and 1 Stupid.

Fair Warning: The commas and the periods look identical.

I hope you enjoy playing it for laughs if nothing else.

Latest Blog

Planning the Multi-path / Branching Plot Game by Adam Strong-Morse

Planning the Multi-path / Branching Plot Game
Ruthlessly reorganized for clarity from:
How We Plan a ChoiceScript Game
By Adam Strong-Morse

Some people who are starting up the process of writing a game have asked how to plan/outline/storyboard/etc. a game before writing. I don’t presume that we know the best way, let alone the one true right way to do things, but I thought people would be interested in how we plan our games.

We typically start with...

A pretty strong genre choice -- a concept, often embodied in a title.
...We might say, “okay, this is a game about werewolves in the modern day” or “this is a James Bond/Mission: Impossible super spy adventure.”

Our next step is typically...

Brainstorm a list of possible vignettes.
Vignettes are mini-stories or side-adventures inside the main story. This is just “here’s a bunch of ideas for awesome vignettes within that genre.”

A werewolf vignette list might include:
  • Waking up in a strange place with no memory of how you got there and blood all over your tattered clothes.

  • Battling another werewolf for dominance in the local pack.

  • Dealing with a werewolf hunter who’s trying to track you down and shoot you with a high-powered rifle with silver bullets

A super spy vignette list might include:
  • Infiltrating a foreign military base to find the secret files.

  • Assaulting the master villain’s underwater lair with a team of Navy SEALs.

  • Skiing down the Swiss Alps in a running gun battle on skis.

  • Seducing the villain’s daughter to get her to betray her mother (and maybe falling in love in the process).

  • A totally awesome car chase in a tricked out sports cars through the narrow and winding streets of Rome.

  • Escaping from a horrible death trap.

Some of the vignettes might be incompatible, and they might be in entirely the wrong order. That’s fine. My goal at this stage is to come up with cool ideas for vignettes that will be fun to write and play.

Also, note that while there are characters in these vignette descriptions, those characters are totally undefined archetypes at this point. I haven’t decided if the villain has a daughter, I’ve just brainstormed the idea that a seduction scene could be cool and in genre.

One part of the brainstorming process is to...

Make sure you have all of the tropes you need!
I might look over the super spy list and realize, “Hey, the high-stakes gambling game in a tuxedo is totally a trope that we’re missing,” so I add another vignette for that. Anything that you would feel like "there totally needs to be X” belongs on the list.

[For a full list of genre tropes, TVTropes is your friend!]

At this point...
We have an unwieldy mess of vignettes in no particular order–and typically way too many, like 15 or 20 vignettes for a 10-ish vignette game.

We then start doing the work to make it coherent and more satisfying.

  • Pick the themes, (also known as the Premise.)

  • Select core conflicts/issues in the game.

These let you make choices about what stays and what's cut based on the overall design you're aiming for.


Create a one-sentence capsule summary of what the game is about.
The themes, the points, what the game is about not just in terms of genre, but in terms of dramatic tensions and so forth.

I prefer the one-sentence summary to have an active verb. For Dragon, it was: “The dragon seizes control of the kingdom and defends it from external threats.”

For Broadsides, it was: “The hero seeks fame, glory, social status, and prize money battling the Gauls in the Royal Navy of Albion, while struggling to contain mutiny within the fleet.” IMO that was a little weaker than I would have liked; we considered but rejected a sentence like: “War at sea is a constant struggle to maintain control.” -- Dan

After that we...
  • Identify recurring characters and build a draft of the dramatis personae (character list). This is a list of the main characters and the archetypal characters for the vignettes; such as “your obnoxious older sister” and “the girl next door".

  • Determine the order of the possible vignettes and string them together into a coherent whole.

  • Adjusting the vignettes so the characters match up.

As the list becomes closer to an outline, you start asking questions like:

  • Do we like the pattern of dramatic tension that’s forming?

  • Is there enough space between when your CIA contact is introduced, when you begin relying on him like a brother, and when he betrays you (or, depending on stats, reveals that he was supposed to betray you but couldn’t bring himself to do it)?”

We rearrange the order to make the whole satisfying, and we cut like mad. This is the point where we start saying, “that vignette would be cool, but it doesn’t fit” and so we cut it.

In Broadsides, the Fleet Action, and a vignette with fire-ships were both in the original brainstormed list of ideas. They’re staples of the genre and would probably have been awesome vignettes. However, they didn’t fit the outline we were developing, so we cut them.

Next is...

A couple of vivid scene concepts for some of the vignettes.
This is a natural part of brainstorming the vignette ideas–”I can totally picture this scene” or “I know I want the player to make a choice between this and that.” I find that having “that scene that I really want to write” helps me get started . Once I’m started, it’s much easier to keep going, or to find the awesome in another vignette idea.

So now we’re most of the way there, we have:
  • The one-sentence summary

  • The list of vignettes

  • A draft dramatis personae (character list)

Next comes...

The Outline.
A list of the vignettes, roughly in order, with about a sentence or two describing each one.
  • For example, one of the vignette descriptions in the outline might read “Your older sister tries to humiliate you and ruin your budding romance with the girl next door.”

A list of branch vignettes; events that only happen with certain choices.
  • For example, our current outline has a couple of vignettes that are listed as “if X is true, then a vignette about blah” and “if they get to this point and make XYZ choice, the game ends; otherwise, they move on to the next vignette.”

The internal structure of the vignettes is typically not present at this stage, or it’s only alluded to–”an evil wizard sends a demon to try to kill you; you play cat-and-mouse with the wizard as she tries to trap you and you try to force her into a battle” might be the description of the Evil Wizard vignette from Choice of the Dragon, which ended up having a huge number of internal choices and complexity.

For games on the scale of Choice of the Dragon or Choice of Broadsides, there should be roughly 8 to 12 vignettes in the outline. For a really long game, with maybe 30 or 40 vignettes, I would organize it into acts, or some other form of structure above the vignette level.

That said, I do NOT recommend starting with a game that’s much longer than 8 or 10 vignettes. (If you're a beginner.)

Next is...

A Dramatis Personae (character list)
List all of the major characters. This should include the “villains” or antagonists, but it also can include friends, allies, romantic interests, and rivals.

The most effective stories are heavily character driven.

We perceived the relative lack of well-developed characters in Choice of the Dragon as one of its greatest weaknesses. By identifying some major characters upfront in Broadsides (Jones, Villeneuve), we were able to weave them through the story and make for a more satisfying set of conflicts and interactions.

Major characters should show up at least 3-4 times as important parts of vignettes. As that implies, there really isn’t room for more than 5 or 6 major characters at the most in a 10 vignette game, although there can be many more minor characters.

Then we set up...

A tentative list of Global Variables.
The goal here is to make sure you have some handle on what sorts of things the player is going to be trading off.
  • Honor versus cleverness?

  • Intelligence versus strength?

  • Pragmatism versus idealism?

  • Romance versus ambition?

Variables can come in pairs, but they don’t need to, and it’s often better if they don’t.

If you define things strongly as pragmatism versus idealism, the temptation is to write lots of choices that are basically the same: do you do the pragmatic thing or the idealistic thing?

If instead you have pragmatism, idealism, ambition, and honor as independent variables, then it becomes easier to see all of the different combinations. Sure, you can have the pragmatism versus idealism choice, but you can also have the idealism versus ambition choice, or the honor versus idealism (do you do what your duty ostensibly is, or do you do the thing you know is right?).

Don’t forget relationship variables.
  • How well do you get along with the major characters?

  • Are they all still alive?

In our development, the initial variable list has never been totally accurate. We’ve always added variables as we write, and we’ve always designed in variables from the beginning that were either underutilized or cut entirely in the actual game, but having a rough list up front makes things easier.

Then you should have...

World-building stuff that I need for this game.
  • How does magic work?

  • What are the relevant nations in the political drama?

  • What is religion like?

For the most part, we’ve taken a very light approach to world-building.

Dragon started with “a fantasy medieval world with dragons and goblins and humans and magic,” and that was pretty much it.

Broadsides started with “the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom circa 1800, in a war with a France analog, with the serial numbers filed off and archaic names in use (Albion for England, Gaul for France) and the option of gender flipping.”

However, sometimes you need more.

For one of the games currently in development, we knew that we wanted magic, but we had to spend some time figuring out what our magic system looks like. We knew that we needed something analogous to the Reformation, but we didn’t want to use that directly, so we needed to come up with the social/religious conflicts that would fill that role without

In general, I encourage people to do only the world-building that is necessary to producing their games, or at least to be aware that while world-building is fun, a lot of world-building can be something that’s done for its own sake, not because it’s actually contributing to making the game.

Okay, next ...

  • We fill in the rest of the dramatis personae, drawing from a basically complete outline.

  • We then go back through the vignettes in the outline with an eye on the characters, making sure that they show up at the right times and get enough space to develop and become meaningful.

  • Now that we have some sense of what the big picture choices are going to be, we start sketching out the variables for the game.

  • This is also the point where we do any real world-building that needs doing. We’ll already have some implicit world-building done, but here’s where we might say, “Hey, we say that this triggers a religious conflict, but we don’t really have religion defined. Let’s figure it out to some extent.”

Continue some editing, tweaking, and adjusting, and you end up with these prep products:
  • A coherent summary

  • An ordered outline of vignettes

  • A dramatis personae (character list)

  • A list of variables

  • World-building info

  • Some vivid scenes ready to spark writing.

Then I pick a vignette to start with and begin writing.

Keep in mind that as we write...
-- All of these (except maybe the capsule summary) are still subject to change–maybe a character who seemed important is turning out flat and uninteresting and should be cut, or maybe we should combine scenes 4 and 5 or add a comic relief scene between 7 and 8.


When writing a game, it’s tempting to think that you should write the game the way that it will be played:

1. Start with the first vignette (maybe with some character-generation questions),
2. then write the second vignette,
3. then the middle vignettes,
4. and finish with the concluding vignettes
5. and epilogues (if any).

That can work, of course, but I don’t think it’s the most effective way to approach a game.

When I start writing the first vignette of a game, I’m not trying to produce a finished product right then. Rather, I’m trying to get the process going that will end with a really good, fun, interesting game. I don’t want to ever write a vignette that then gets tossed entirely, but it’s happened, and if that led to the production of a better game, it was still a worthwhile process. So that means I have to accomplish several things in writing my first vignette.

First, I have to get writing.
It’s all well and good to have the perfect outline or the ideal list of characters or whatever. If we can’t turn that into actual, playable vignettes, it’s not a game.

As with any writing process, simply cranking out the text is an important part of the process. Some of the text will be great; some will be terrible and get edited out or redone; and some will be okay and ideally get tuned up or made more punchy, but all of it matters.

And for most of us, momentum matters. It’s a lot easier to write another chunk of your vignette, because you always write another chunk of your vignette each day than it is to sit down at a computer with a blank text editor scene and start writing from scratch. So getting the ball rolling matters, because it’s easier to keep the ball rolling.

Second, I have to get a feel for the game I’m writing.
That means a couple of things. It means figuring out:

The tone of the writing.
  • Is the tone serious and epic?

The diction.
  • Informal and snarky?

The sorts of phrasings that fit the project.
  • Melodramatic and flowery?

Any of those might be the right choices for different games. Also...

How much detail do we include?
  • Is it a sparse game?

  • Is it a carefully descriptive game?

Is violence or sex alluded to but not shown?
  • Described in bloodless and circumscribed terms?

  • Described in evocative yet vague terms?

  • Meticulously detailed?

But beyond the level of writing, it means getting a sense for the world I’m writing in.
  • What sorts of choices are reasonable?

  • How do people behave?

  • What do various settings look like, feel like, function as?

I find that a lot of issues regarding feel are best developed through writing. I’ll have ideas going in, but I’ll need to actually start writing them to turn those ideas into concrete approaches.

Third, I need to have a sense of what’s next.
Usually, as you conclude a vignette, that will produce obvious links to the next vignette.

Conversely, you’ll know where the protagonist came from, and it becomes easy to fill in back-story. You’ll also have an interest in revisiting the characters in that vignette when they recur later (or earlier) in the storyline. Either way, having one completed vignette gives you room to right more and leads on how to do that effectively.

Fourth, I want to bring together all three of those points to talk some more about Momentum.
In addition to the momentum of a routine, of physically writing more stuff every day (preferably, although sometimes that’s every other day or every Saturday or whatever your schedule can fit in), there’s another sense of momentum.

Games are labors of love, things we write not because it’s our job but because it’s our passion--we write the games because we really want to. That’s true even for those of us for whom writing these games is part of our (sideline) job. We could all get better paying work elsewhere, but it wouldn’t motivate us in the same way.

This means that throughout any game project, remaining excited and determined is important.

There are slogs along the way sometimes... I don’t think anybody really likes getting a bunch of play-test commentary and going through and making small but important tweaks to make the game awesome, but it has to be done or the game will be only so-so.

The key is to keep motivation high.

If you start with a task that’s fun and exciting, you'll finish it with more enthusiasm for the project, with a desire to do the next cool thing. Sure, there’s going to be that vignette that the game needs, but that nobody wants to write -- but it’s a lot easier to write that when “Hey, as soon as we have that vignette done we’ll have a playable draft game!” or “And when we’re done with that, the whole game will be in place.”

Similarly, the thing that gets us through the debugging/editing slog at the end is that we already have this neat game that we like, and when we’re done with that process we can actually release the game!

So a first vignette needs to be part of the chain reaction, driving the project along and making it easier to be excited, not sucking the energy out of the project.

In many ways, maintaining our drive and energy and excitement is the most important part of everything we do on a game, or any other labor of love.

Those are my goals for writing a first vignette.
Notice that none of those goals, except maybe the third, are helped by starting with the first vignette.

The first vignette has its own set of constraints and requirements. It needs to:
  • Communicate the setting

  • Sometimes provide an info dump of what the player needs to know

  • Introduce and define the protagonist

  • Get the feel of the game across

  • Hook the player in so they actually play the game instead of fiddling with it for a minute or two and moving on (perhaps the most important aspect),

  • Often generate the starting scores for a set of variables and explain those variables to the player…

That’s a lot of stuff, and most of it is at best unrelated to the goals of building energy and getting the game writing process going full speed. Some of it appears related, but really isn’t: you want to convey the feel of the setting to the player quickly… that’s kinda like getting a feel for writing the setting, but they’re actually quite different.

Often, when you start writing the setting will be hazy, and as you write you will, over time, become comfortable and get a good feel. If you do that while writing the first vignette, you’ll have an ineffective vignette for immersing the player in the feel. Far better to write that introduction when you’re already comfortable. If you start with the first vignette, you may well need to totally redo it later.

Also, because there are special constraints on a starting vignette, it’s harder to write than most vignettes.

  • It has to be grabby

  • AND it has to explain mechanics

  • AND it has to handle any character generation

  • AND it has to present the setting without being a wall of text with no choices.

That means that it can be hard to get started, hard to develop much sense of momentum. All that is what makes it a bad first choice.

Instead, start with a really vivid, grabby, early-middle vignette.
Not one that’s crucial to the plot or the climax–for reasons similar to the first vignette problems, you want to write those when you’re comfortable, immersed, and in the flow.

Write a vignette that’s easy to write, that you can picture in your mind, one that you know how it should feel, one that can get the ball rolling. That will get you going and get the game in place. After writing two or three vignettes, you'll have the momentum to tackle the first vignette. After that, you'll be able to play through the four vignette set that you’ve gotten going.

So that’s my advice: don’t start at the beginning. Start with a really grabby idea, a vignette you’re excited by and can easily picture and really want to write, somewhere in the early middle. Get the process going, and get a feel for it organically, while you build up habits and narrative momentum that will help carry you over the humps in the project.

Then get writing.

Adam Strong-Morse

What this looks like using FreePlane, the free mind-mapping program I use to plan my games:

View FULL SIZED image.
For those who use FreePlane or FreeMind, HERE is the .mm file.

Keep in mind that this is merely the PLANNING stage. I organize the actual working-test stage of a visual novel like this:

View FULL SIZED Image.

  • Completed
  • OokamiKasumi
  • Renpy
  • Visual Novel
  • 07/28/2012 04:22 AM
  • 08/28/2015 02:52 AM
  • 07/26/2012
  • 49451
  • 11
  • 553


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Playing this.
Loved Faery Tale. It was really fun~
Playing this. Loved Faery Tale. It was really fun~

I'm glad you liked Faery Tale. I hope you like The Visitor, too. :)
yaoi.ca.... o_o

If you're asking if I'm that colorist...? Yes I am. :)
My AVG marked the download as malicious, you might want to look into that.
The bats have left the belltower.
My AVG marked the download as malicious, you might want to look into that.

Because Renpy uses an executable; an .exe file, most virus protections don't like Renpy games, but AVG in particular. There's no virus -- I did all the coding myself.

Bela Lugosi's dead.

Duh. He died in 1957.
roseangel, did AVG mark the file as suspicious because a low number of users had verified the file, or did it give a specific virus/malware threat? Sometimes antivirus software will be over-cautious about files that have only been executed by a small number of people in the world, but there are also viruses that can add their code to existing files, so it is theoretically possible something could have hitched a ride on Ookami's game. I'm going to update my Avast and give this file a try. We'll see if anything jumps out at me from it.

edit: scanned zipped folder with avast. Nothing malicious found. Unzipping folder, running .exe, then performing detailed virus scan.

2nd edit: I'm reasonably confident that this game is clean, but I'll update this post with the results of my full system scan, and post again a few days later if anything untoward starts happening with my computer.

3rd edit: no noteworthy results on the virus scan. As best my software can tell, this is totally clean. I'll try a boot scan just in case later this week, and in the meantime I'll give this a playthrough with intent to review.

4th edit: playthrough/review finished. Still no signs of infection. Will run boot scan later today and see what turns up.
Game downloaded, unzipped, and played. System scanned multiple times with updated Avast, including one boot scan. No viruses detected.

As best as I or my system can tell, this is clean.
Game downloaded, unzipped, and played. System scanned multiple times with updated Avast, including one boot scan. No viruses detected.

As best as I or my system can tell, this is clean.

Thank you for the very thorough check.
-- Verification is Much appreciated. :)
No problem. :)

For the record, it's been months and months since I played this game, and still no sign of a virus. roseangel's antivirus software was probably just reacting to the fact that the .exe hadn't been community verified.
I just start to play and I've enjoyed it. Very nice design a little bit nostalgic since I saw some movies in Black and With in the TV when I was a kid (Im not so old my TV has colors at this time ahahhaha).
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