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When people ask me for advice, I always tell them there is not a single, universal, valid answer.There are several ways to sell your VN or dating sim (or games in general) and I know people who are successfully making a living using very different methods. ~ Freeware The basic idea here is first to gain popularity and a following through a few decent free VNs or dating sims and then try to sell new games to your fans.Those games usually have several characters that you can date and, through gameplay, you advance every subplot scene by scene.Both visual novels and dating sims usually have a "Gallery Screen" where you can replay previous scenes which are typically still images.For example, I've produced several visual novels and dating sims.Some have been quite successful even though I have not played many Japanese games.Instead, having very good writing skills is far more important for both visual novels and dating sims (although a bit more important for the visual novels).Writing skills also means coming up with original plot ideas and carefully planning each path.
These games can have rather complex paths with multiple endings.In fact, the more the better because it is normal to replay a game several times to unlock them all. You have a great idea for a story and all of your characters are fleshed out so now it is time to make the game.There are many free visual novel tools but, if you want to have flexibility and power of coding your custom stuff, there is simply nothing as good as Ren' Py.It's not always necessary to use them - especially with good tools like Ren' Py available - but they can help.
For dating sims, the best way is to split the story into scenes.
These games are very similar in structure to the old Choose Your Own Adventure books where the plot changes and follows a different path based on the reader's choices.