Hey everybody, Tay here. A few weeks ago during the site outage (known by many as the “Fuwapocalypse”), community member Qberty was gracious enough to assist Nayleen and I with some exhausting and mind-bending database conversions. I’d like to thank him, on behalf of the whole community, for his time and help during that process. I may not quite be able to look back and laugh about it all just yet, but the outage was something else, and I know that people like Nayleen and Qberty helped to keep me sane throughout the process.
Today I had the honor of interviewing Qberty and discussing his intriguing Om3ga Visual Novel engine. The short version: Om3ga is a multi-platform VN suite aimed at making Visual Novels as accessible as possible on all your devices. What does this mean? After a single port to the Om3ga engine, you’ll be able to play any VN on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and (soon) iOS. Pretty dang exciting.
Again, my thanks to Qberty for his time during this interview! For more information about Qberty’s Om3ga engine, please read below, and visit the project’s homepage: VNEngine.com
Tay: Tell us a little about yourself, and the Om3ga engine.
Qberty: Well, I’m a software developer by trade, though being a pretty avid visual novel reader. After I had gotten in to mobile app development, I figured what better way to get more visual novels in to the hands of people that to make it easier and more convenient for them to experience. Enter the 0m3ga VN Engine. I designed it specifically to cater to a visual novels needs. I realized that a lot of people keep really close connections to old visual novels and actually replay the old ones more than new ones. So while the 0m3ga Engine can allow developers and creators to make their own visual novels without any programming knowledge, it is also meant to be able to play your old visual novels as well.
Tay: Before this interview, I polled a handful of VN community members who are generally considered “in the know”. When I asked them, “What do you know about Qberty’s Om3ga engine?” all three responded ponderously, as if scratching their chin, “I think that’s the engine that’s eventually going to let me play VNs on Android and iOS.”
Making VNs more accessible is really exciting to me, especially if it means mobile expansion. Could you help clarify which platforms the Om3ga platform currently supports, and which platforms you’re eyeing for expansion?
Qberty: Well at the moment, it is fully featured on Android, Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX. An iOS build will be released when that it fully functional as well. I am aiming to achieve complete OS convergence by making a single visual novel available for all major operating systems.
Tay: How is development coming along for the currently-supported platforms?
Qberty: Well aside from Android, the Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX releases are pretty much ready. All that’s left is perfecting multi-channel sound and I will release them all. iOS will be an easier affair. Once I acquire a development license, ill be able to release that as well.
I’ve dedicated a website for the development and growth of this engine @ http://vnengine.com
Tay: Let’s turn our attention to Android. There’s a lot of community excitement and interest in making VNs mobile (something Japan’s long-done), especially on android. The VNDS Interpreter app, and Ren’Py interpreters, for example, have gained a sizable following. I, myself, have spent considerable time evangelizing mobile options here on VisualNovelAer and on the Fuwanovel forums.
You’ve spoken to bringing Om3ga to Android and — in fact — have already published the app. One thing that continues to confuse people, however, is your diverse app profile on the Google Play store. On the Play store you currently offer:
- The Om3ga Visual Novel Engine app
- Princess Waltz (Full)
- Yume Miru Kusuri (Full/Demo)
- (and more)
How do these game-specific apps relate to the Om3ga app, and the Om3ga development platform? In other words, are these apps running the Om3ga engine? Will all VNs that use the Om3ga software be released as separate apps, or will they be accessed from the Om3ga Visual Novel Engine app? (eg a separate “Fate Stay Night” app; a separate “Rewrite” app; etc.?)
Qberty: Well that is totally dependant on the porter or the creator/translator of the visual novel. The reasons why apps like Princess Waltz or Yume Miru Kusuri require that you already have the game on PC is solely to respect the copyrights of the original publishers. Games like Narcissu, were already free and are still free on Google Play (without requiring anything on the PC). All of these games are running on the 0m3ga Engine app. The reason they are separate apps are because I felt that I should give each game their own custom menu that matches their original game menu in some way. The 0m3ga Engine app is already pretty flexible but having these games released as separate apps help categorize them, and market them on Google Play.
The porter/translator of any visual novel has a choice with my engine. They can make the visual novel available for the engine app, or choose to make it a separate app with it’s own android specific descriptions. So if I or someone wanted to port over Fate Stay/Night to all other platforms, they would only need to port it once using my engine, and it would allow that one release to be compatible with all engines. If they wanted to personalize it to match the visual novel itself, than that also can be done.
Tay: That’s going to please a lot of people out there. Good to know. How is progress on Princess Waltz and YMK coming? If I remember right, you’re doing weekly updates to the ports?
Qberty: Yes I release weekly updates that add more story to each of the games. For Yume Miru Kusuri, I might be able to release it in full sooner than later.
Tay: How’s Princess Waltz coming? Any specific benchmarks for either game?
Qberty: Well specifically, Princess Waltz was highly praised for the fact that it incorporated a turn-based card game within the story. So while i’m porting the scripts as well as the card game from scratch i’m also trying to improve on the engine by allowing more features. For example, when the card game is fully implemented for Princess Waltz, everyone will be able to use the same card game mechanics and incorporate something like it in to their own visual novels without any coding needed.
Tay: Neat! — That’ll be a cool addition.
Before I stray too far from Om3ga, let me ask you: how can people help support this project and its development? On your website you’ve put out a call looking for moderators to help curate the games database. Is that still a need? Any other ways they can help?
Qberty: Well yes, a moderator is needed to keep track of the database that holds records of games that use the Om3ga Engine. The best way people can help this project is by porting or translating their visual novels or other visual novels to the 0m3ga Engine itself. I fully respect the time spent on porting or translating, so much so that i’m offering to pay for ports of visual novels that people have a passion for. The engine itself is also able to accommodate commercial visual novels by encrypting the scripts and resources if the creators decide to.
Tay: I’ve looked through the documentation on your website (Documentation tab) and found a lot of information. For inexperienced coders, are there any other instructions beyond this?
Qberty: The great thing about this engine is that is was built to be modular from scratch. So that at any time, when I add features or new additions, no changes need to be made to the existing scripting language or engine builds. Every version will be compatible with every visual novel release for it. Currently the documentation is limited to the scripting language of the engine itself. Though recently, I have managed to incorporate the VNDS scripting language and soon the Kirkiri and Ren’py language.
So if someone already knows these languages, they don’t even need to learn anything new. I’ve also made the languages interchangeable so that a person could use the best and most efficient line of code at any point of a script from any of the available scripting languages.
Tay: Anything else you’d like to say?
Qberty: Well I’d mainly like more people to get involved and port their favourite visual novels mainly for mobile operating systems for the world to have better access. Another good perk about my engine is that once you port something to the engine, it allows me to submit the scripts to google’s professional translating service and have the scripts translating in a short amount of time without any run around.
More visual novels in more languages!
Tay: Last question — one for the fans back home: Do you have a favorite VN?
Qberty: Haha, well in my opinion, I have always favourited Yume Miru Kusuri since it first came out. I guess the reason why I like it so much is that I can relate to the deductive thought process of the main character in YMK. Though that’s a pretty generic reasoning, it’s pretty accurate from since I started reading visual novels since I was 13! If Corpse Party was considered solely a visual novel, than it’d definitely be my choice. Guess i’m a little creepy for being more interested in getting all the bad endings just to see the great details the developers put in to their work.
*(This interview contains a few minor edits in my (Tay’s) comments. No changes have intentionally been made to Qberty’s transcripts.)