TyranoBuilder – Review
Follow Genre: Development software
Developers: STRIKEWORKS
Publisher: STRIKEWORKS
Platform: PC, Mac
Tested on: PC

TyranoBuilder – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Fluid, intuitive UI, great customer support
Bad: Still relies quite heavily on the user's knowledge of TyranoScript
User Score
9.3
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)

Visual novel creators have been clamouring for user friendly design studios for a while now. This demand has inspired software such as Novelty and Ren’Py, both of which are free. However, in our first exploration of the creators’ scene, we came across some difficulties with both of these engines. We tried Ren’Py first, which is entirely text based and thus requires knowledge of scripting languages. Novelty was already a bit more to our liking as it contained a more streamlined user interface, but it still took us a while to create our first game scenes. Finally, we booted up STRIKEWORKS’ TyranoBuilder and managed to produce a small demo within six hours thanks to a clear UI and a lot of help from the devs, but more on that later.

As you might have noticed from this introduction, we aren’t very experienced with the craft of visual novel creation and editing. To put it bluntly, 3rd Strike plays games; we don’t develop them. Therefore, this review is primarily aimed at those who find themselves interested in the genre and would like to dabble their toes in its creation processes. With this in mind, the review will start with a brief explanation of the visual novel, followed by the review of our first forays into the wilderness of game creation in TyranoBuilder.

 

Visual novel

The art of visual novels blends video games together with the age old concept of choose your own adventure books. Traditionally, it uses anime characters, but creative types who appreciate a more western feel can implement their own art as well. All visuals are static, which almost makes the genre feel like a collection of interactive comics. Common examples of this genre are dating sims and role playing games, as the players’ interaction with the other characters is often limited to dialogue options.

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TyranoBuilder

As mentioned before, visual novels are based on scripting languages. STRIKEWORKS’ TyranoScript is one of these languages, but does not alleviate the complexity of working with such scipts.TyranoBuilder, however, is an entirely different story. It visualises the important and most used pieces of TyranoScript into a drag and drop interface while allowing advanced users to add a little spice using manual coding.

Yet, that doesn’t necessarily mean that aspiring creators should jump on the Tyrano bandwagon. The visual studio misses what seems to be basic functions, such as the possibility to fully manipulate images’ positions. Moreover, the online tutorial is pretty vague, leaving new users with nothing but the mere basics to help them overcome any problems on the way.

After a few hours of searching for the programme’s functions, however, it became clear that TyranoBuilder hosts a wealth of options for creating the perfect scenes for any story. We do advise potential buyers to study TyranoScript in order to work around some of the less polished feats of the software, but other than that, the Builder did seem to enlighten the massive workload that is game developing.

Especially helpful is the option to preview your game, allowing you to test every line of programming. However, it always starts the game from naught, meaning that you’ll have to play through the entire thing every single time you want to test the latest addition. Once you’ve properly tested everything, the game can be rendered in just a few clicks, allowing you to choose the output: browser-based, Windows executable or Android game, it’s all possible, though it should be noted that TyranoBuilder needs third party software – it recommends the freeware PhoneGap – to export mobile titles.

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Dev support

As our testing sessions were also our first steps as Visual Novel creators, there was a lot to learn. Luckily, TyranoBuilder does a pretty good job of streamlining the process, although it still took us about six hours to program a demo with about one minute of gameplay.

This was partly due to a naming issue which required all imported files not to contain any spaces in order to get recognised by the engine. While looking for this issue, we turned to the Steam forum and asked the developer how to fix this. We got a response within ten minutes, after which we chatted for almost two hours, trying multiple methods to trace the problem until we found it at last. This is the kind of customer support each company should strive to uphold and STRIKEWORKS should be commended for its efforts.

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Conclusion

TyranoBuilder is definitely worth a try if you’re looking for a fairly easy to use, beginner friendly and streamlined incorporation of TyranoScript. This is largely due to its quick and friendly customer support, which stops at nothing before its users are helped. However, it can be difficult to stomach paying €14.99/$14.99 for the software when so many of its competitors are available as freeware. It is clearly aimed at the inexperienced, as more serious creators would take the time to learn and enjoy the larger amount of freedom that scripting languages provide. Considering its audience, however, we can image new creators being more than a little grateful for the clear visual representation of TyranoScript, so it should be considered a great gateway into a new hobby – and, who knows, maybe even a job one day.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
TyranoBuilder - Review, 9.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Tom Cornelis
Tom Cornelis


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