Tom Rothamel on Ren’Py


November 6th, 2015

58 mins 52 secs

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About this Episode

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Tom Rothamel is an embedded systems engineer who spends his free time working on Ren’Py, a visual novel engine written in Python. Ren’Py allows you to write interactive fiction experiences and deploy them across desktop and mobile platforms. By creating a purpose-built DSL for describing the interactions, users of Ren’Py can focus on crafting polished experiences without fighting through the vagaries of programming languages, while still providing access to the internals when necessary. Listen to our interview with Tom to learn more about this long-running project and what makes it so interesting.

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  • We are recording today on October 19th, 2015 and your hosts as usual are Tobias Macey and Chris Patti
  • Today we are interviewing Tom Rothamel about RenPy
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Interview with Tom Rothamel

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • What is Ren’Py and what was your inspiration for starting it?
  • I noticed that Ren’Py supports a number of different styles of gameplay. Can you explain the differences between interactive fiction, kinetic fiction and RPGs?
  • I notice that RenPy has clearly been around a while (Some of the games for OSX are PowerPC binaries!) – what problems have you encountered maintaining such a long lived project and keeping it current?
  • What libraries does Ren’Py leverage and how did you go about selecting them to allow for cross-platform development and deployment?
  • What underlying Python graphics toolkit does RenPy use for display, and how did that choice affect RenPy’s design?
  • While reading through the quickstart in the documentation I noticed that there is a special syntax that you have created for defining the dialog and narratives. Can you explain how you created the DSL for building the storylines?
  • It feels to me like RenPy was heavily inspired by the JRPG genre and as such there are games where sex plays a prominent role(I noticed a mention of Hentai in the docs), which is less readily accepted in the west. Have you ever encountered any pushback on this issue?
  • I noticed that some of the games that were created with Ren’Py are available on the Steam platform. What elements of the Ren’Py project lend themselves to producing games with enough polish to be published on such a mainstream platform?
  • If you were just starting out today implementing RenPy, would you still use Python? Why?


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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA