StoryDevs — a site for finding VN & IF devs

Recently I’ve been working on a new website called StoryDevs. It’s designed to help developers of visual novels, interactive fiction, or other story-oriented game types to find one another. It will allow you to make and search profiles based on criteria like availability, role (artist, writer, etc.), type of compensation (volunteer, commission, etc.), whether individuals are comfortable with adult content, and so on.

Most of my knowledge and experience is in visual novels. Since I’m not that knowledgeable when it comes to IF any suggestions on how to improve things for IF devs would be very welcome. While the main goal of the site is to make recruitment more efficient (less tabs, less loading, no need to ask for examples), a sort of stealth-goal is to get the IF and VN talent pool to mix a little more online. I’ve always found it really weird how insular visual novel communities are from other similar forms (and even from other VN communities for that matter). I occasionally see IF devs/players mention VNs but the reverse is considerably more rare.

Lastly, there’s a beta version of the site with more current search options like writing, editing, etc. If you select a skill you’ll see more specific options for it and you can hover over stuff with (?) next to it for more info! Unlike the www version of the site, the search options on the beta site are almost totally cosmetic… i.e., I temporarily broke them! But they should give an impression of how it’ll work. The beta’s about page is also a little more fleshed out. Just make sure to reserve handles / sub to mailing list on the www site and not the beta.

Thanks for your time. Oh, and I’ll be sticking around of course. What follows is an explanation/pitch but it’s a bit long so I stuck it in a rant block.

[rant=The Long Story][center][/center]

When you perform a search on the talent database the results will appear on the right and your search criteria will remain saved on the left in case you decide you want to change them. You don’t have to specify everything—as you can see below I didn’t specify the compensation type I’m looking for, nor whether I want someone comfortable with adult material.


After you select a result, the search column on the left will collapse and the profile column will expand. (You can expand the search again later if you want — your search criteria will remain saved). The profile column will give you details on whatever you have selected. The page won’t refresh when you do this so you don’t have to worry about losing your place in the results. Work examples (art, writing excerpts, etc.) will always be at the top — those without them are simply not listed.


In the above image you can also see an “+ Add To Collection” option. This allows you to add profiles that you like in a list so that you can look at them later. Your collection will be able to be searched the same way you would the database except that it’s limited to the things you put in it. Unfortunately, since registrations aren’t open yet you won’t be able to do anything with it as it requires an account.

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[center][size=175]Reserving Your Handle[/size][/center]
As mentioned above, registrations aren’t open yet. However, you can reserve your StoryDevs handle! Your handle will form the link to your profile, e.g., It will also appear in search results and on your profile page:


We’ve had a little trouble with emails from our mail server being mistakenly identified as spam, so check your spam for the confirmation email if you can’t see it in your inbox. If you don’t receive any confirmation email let me know, either here or via — it’s important as if you don’t confirm your email address your handle won’t be reserved.

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[center][size=175]Future Plans[/size][/center]

  • Increase the number of profiles. Once there are more profiles it will be easier to see how useful the search is. So far the profiles have been hand-picked, hence the small number.

  • Add other profile types (writer, editor, musician, programmer, etc.) The only reason I haven’t already done this already is because I’d like the work examples for each type to be unique. Musicians will have an audio player, programmers a monospaced text area, and so on.

  • Open registrations to the public. It’s hard to say when this will be ready, but I’m thinking roughly this time next month. The login system actually already works, so most of the work will involve making a nice system for creating and editing your profile.

  • Make a mobile version of the site. At the moment StoryDevs is designed for a widescreen display. The idea I have for the mobile version is similar, but it will involve having to fundamentally change a few things so I’m waiting until the dust settles with the desktop version.

  • Make some cosmetic changes to the site. At the moment the profile images don’t expand when you click on them and it’d be nice if they did. The home page banner would like better animated. The experience section of profiles really ought to have the dates aligned. Stuff like that.

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[center][size=175]How To Help[/size][/center]
If you’d like StoryDevs to be a success the best way to help out is by letting other people know that it exists, that you can reserve your profile handles now, and doing stuff like reblogging/retweeting etc. Here’s various links for that:

If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions I’ll address them in this thread.

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[center]Keep in mind that this is still a work in progress. That being said, I think it’s a decent proof of concept and I hope you like it!

Thanks for your time.[/center][/rant]

I don’t think a site like this would be very useful for most text-based IF folks, except to the extent that they want to try switching to writing/coding VNs in a team.

“Marketplace” sites like yours suffer from a “chicken/egg problem.” Nobody wants/needs to post a profile on your site unless there’s a community of people recruiting help, but nobody would go to your site to recruit help unless there were already a fair number of active profiles on the site. Thus, you can’t get a chicken without an egg, and you can’t get an egg without a chicken. (Dating sites have a similar dilemma.)

Is your site affiliated with an existing VN community? Typically a site like this would pop into existence when somebody looks at a “help wanted” category on a VN forum and says, “this is a mess; this should be a proper CRUD app.” But first there would have to be clear demand, as evidenced by some forum with a meaningfully busy “help wanted” category, and some demand internal to the forum to clean it up and replace it with a proper app.

But in my experience, “help wanted” doesn’t work well at all for text-based games. Everybody wants to work on their own thing; nobody wants to be the assistant on someone else’s project.

Most finished text-based games are solo projects, one person doing all the writing and all the coding, with no art and no music. IF authors typically recruit some beta testers via platform-specific forums, and maybe they recruit a designer to do some cover art, and that’s that. (For cover art, any designer will do, really; IF experience is not required. So existing art/design marketplace sites already satisfy that need.)

For VN, it’s different; it’s not unusual to see a dozen names in the credits of a VN. It makes more sense to have a developer do all the writing and coding for a VN and recruit help for the art (even recruiting separate background artists and character artists; they’re surprisingly different skills), and say nothing of music and sound effects.

On the CoG forums, we actually have a rule against posting “I’m a writer, looking for a coder to help me develop my game” because there were so many writers and so few coders that they were cluttering the forum, unanswered. (We do allow posting the other way, “I’m a coder, requesting a writer” because those were so much rarer, but those, too, typically go unanswered.) doesn’t even have a help-wanted section, except the “Announcements and Beta Testing” where you can go to announce games and request beta testers.

As for the separation in the IF/VN player communities, I’ve noticed that, too, even with the Choice of Games community, the Twine community, and Most folks on the CoG forums couldn’t care less about IFComp, XYZZY, and Spring Thing.

IMO, it turns out that IF is so broad an artform that most people aren’t actually interested in all kinds of IF. As you explore your tastes (do you like puzzles? choices? freedom? poetry? smut?) you start to settle into a community of other readers who mostly don’t read that “other stuff.”

Similarly, despite how popular movies are in modern culture, there are relatively few “movie fans” who just like any kind of movie. Instead, there are fans of particular kinds of movie, and those niches mostly don’t talk to each other.

Er, “Looking for Collaborators” viewforum.php?f=33

It’s true that usage is very low.


I’d drop into a “seeking collaborators” site if it included a section set aside for “…and I am willing to pay you.” (I pay the bills with game dev, after all!) But I doubt that folder would get many posts.

Some feedback about the site itself:

  • The language list looks really random at the moment. It seems to have the X most spoken languages in the world, but that doesn’t really reflect the Internet population or the IF community. For example I know for a fact that the community includes speakers of Finnish, Norwegian, Danish, and Hebrew, which are missing from the list. I would either have a full list of all ISO 639 languages with autocomplete, or if you want a smaller list, include at least all European languages. Not trying to be elitistic here, and I do wish for a broader geographical participation, but the fact is that at the moment Asia and Africa are severely underrepresented.
  • The artist/dev profiles don’t show what kind of compensation they’re willing to work for.
  • The profiles show the person’s email address directly. If I signed up I would rather have a contact form instead of displaying the email address because it’ll get harvested for recruiter spam very quickly.

This is pretty much the main problem: people are generally not looking for collaborators, they have a vision and they’re looking for someone to implement it. If you’re willing to pay market price for it, then it’s trivial to find someone to hire. If you’re looking for someone to work for free, it’s almost impossible: skilled artists have enough personal projects that during their spare time they’d rather work on them than get an unpaid job working for a random stranger on a project that might never even see the light of day.

Hopefully the site will grow to somehow find a way to solve that problem. Anyway, good luck!