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The Ren'Py Visual Novel Engine

Ren'Py development takes place on the master branch, and occasionally on feature branches.

Getting Started

Ren'Py depends on a number of Python modules written in Cython and C. For changes to Ren'Py that only involve Python modules, you can use the modules found in the latest nightly build. Otherwise, you'll have to compile the modules yourself.

The development scripts assume a POSIX-like platform. The scripts should run on Linux or macOS, and can be made to run on Windows using an environment like MSYS.

Nightly Build

Nightly builds can be downloaded from:

Note that the latest nightly build is at the bottom of the list. Once you've unpacked the nightly, change into this repository, and run:

./ <path-to-nightly>

Once this script completes, you should be able to run Ren'Py using,, or renpy.exe, as appropriate for your platform.

If the current nightly build doesn't work, please wait 24 hours for a new build to occur. If that build still doesn't work, contact Tom (pytom at, or @renpytom on twitter) to find out what's wrong.

The doc symlink will dangle until documentation is built, as described below.

Compiling the Modules

Building the modules requires you have the many dependencies installed on your system. On Ubuntu and Debian, these dependencies can be installed with the command:

sudo apt install virtualenvwrapper python3-dev libavcodec-dev libavformat-dev \
    libswresample-dev libswscale-dev libfreetype6-dev libfribidi-dev libsdl2-dev \
    libsdl2-image-dev libsdl2-gfx-dev libsdl2-mixer-dev libsdl2-ttf-dev libjpeg-dev git

We strongly suggest installing the Ren'Py modules into a Python virtualenv. To create a new virtualenv, open a new terminal and run:

. /usr/share/virtualenvwrapper/
mkvirtualenv renpy

To return to this virtualenv later, run:

. /usr/share/virtualenvwrapper/
workon renpy

After activating the virtualenv, install additional dependencies:

pip install -U cython future six typing pefile requests

Then, install pygame_sdl2 by running the following commands:

git clone
pushd pygame_sdl2
python install
python install_headers

Next, set RENPY_DEPS_INSTALL To a :-separated (;-separated on Windows) list of paths containing the dependencies, and RENPY_CYTHON to the name of the cython command:

export RENPY_DEPS_INSTALL="/usr:/usr/lib/$(uname -m)-linux-gnu/"
export RENPY_CYTHON=cython

Finally, use in the Ren'Py module directory to compile and install the modules that support Ren'Py:

pushd module
python install

Ren'Py will be installed into the activated virtualenv. It can then be run using the command:




Building the documentation requires Ren'Py to work. You'll either need to link in a nightly build, or compile the modules as described above. You'll also need the Sphinx documentation generator. If you have pip working, install Sphinx using:

pip install -U sphinx sphinx-bootstrap-theme

Once Sphinx is installed, change into the sphinx directory inside the Ren'Py checkout and run:



Ren'Py's documentation consists of reStructuredText files found in sphinx/source, and generated documentation found in function docstrings scattered throughout the code. Do not edit the files in sphinx/source/inc directly, as they will be overwritten.

Docstrings may include tags on the first few lines:

:doc: section kind
Indicates that this function should be documented. section gives the name of the include file the function will be documented in, while kind indicates the kind of object to be documented (one of function, method or class. If omitted, kind will be auto-detected.
:name: name
The name of the function to be documented. Function names are usually detected, so this is only necessary when a function has multiple aliases.
:args: args
This overrides the detected argument list. It can be used if some arguments to the function are deprecated.

For example:

def warp_speed(factor, transwarp=False):
    :doc: warp
    :name: renpy.warp_speed
    :args: (factor)

    Exceeds the speed of light.



For best practices when it comes to translating the launcher and template game, please read:


For bug fixes, documentation improvements, and simple changes, just make a pull request. For more complex changes, it might make sense to file an issue first so we can discuss the design.


For the complete licensing terms, please read: