The Creation of Aurora’s Nightmare Part 3: Adding Interaction

Since I originally planned Aurora’s Nightmare as a traditional novel, I needed to make a number of changes to the story in order to convert it into a visual novel.  Namely, there wasn’t enough of it.  An unchanging linear story is all well and good for a novel, but a visual novel needs lots of places where the player can make choices and those choices have to change things.  Some of that is pretty easy to do.  Make the right choice and the story continues, make the wrong choice and it’s game over.  In other cases, I took what might have normally been a single conversation and broke it apart into several different topics so the player can decide which one he wants to pursue.
But that’s all relatively minor.  To make a good visual novel, you need decisions that drastically change the story.  Aurora’s Nightmare now has three distinct story paths (each containing a number of smaller decisions).  The first follows the plot of the original novel pretty closely but the others take things in very different directions.  Planning them out involved a lot more than just thinking where the story could changes.  Tia, for example, had a relatively small role in the original story, despite her importance.  So I made sure to give her a much larger one in the other story paths.  Of course, giving her a larger role meant that I needed to spend a lot more time developing her as a character (personality, motivations, etc.) as well.  It meant more work, but she’s a stronger character because of it.
Tia isn’t the only character who got a major increase in screen time and two entirely new characters were created as well.  Then there’s the world building.  While the original story revealed the truth behind the mysteries of Lucerna, it only covered the basics.  Having additional story paths allowed me to dig much deeper into the truth behind the world and characters, adding a number of additional twists and elements which will be progressively revealed as players progress through the game.   While completing a single story path will leave you with a “complete” story with a satisfying conclusion, you’ll need to play through all three to truly understand the world and characters.  I wish I could give an example, but I’m trying to avoid heavy spoilers in this blog.   Anyway, in the end, converting Aurora’s Nightmare into a visual novel hasn’t been an easy process, but it’s allowed me to greatly expand the story, creating a far deeper and more engaging experience than I could have done with a regular book.