Building Distributions link

Ren’Py includes support for building game distributions. Upon choosing “Build Distributions” in the launcher, Ren’Py will scan itself and the project to determine the files to include in the distribution, will create any archives that are necessary, and will build package and update files.

With no configuration, Ren’Py is able to build the following kinds of packages:

PC: Windows and Linux
A zip file targeting Windows x86, Linux x86, and Linux x86_64.
Linux x86/x86_64
A tar.bz2 file targeting Linux x86 and Linux x86_64.
Macintosh x86_64
A zip file containing a Macintosh application targeting Macintosh OS X on Intel processors. Game data will be included inside the application, which appears to the user as a single file.
Windows x86
A zip file targeting Windows x86.
Windows, Mac, and Linux for Markets
A distribution that contains the information required to run on software markets like and Steam. This isn’t meant to be run directly (and probably won’t work on the Mac), but should be fed to the app store upload process.


The zip and tar.bz2 files that Ren’Py produces contain permissions information that must be present for Ren’Py to run on Linux and Macintosh.

Unpacking and re-packing a zip file on Windows and then running it on Linux or Macintosh is not supported.

Basic Configuration link

The build process can be configured by setting variables and calling function that live in the build namespace. This must be done from inside an init python block. The default settings for these configurations are set in options.rpy.

There are a few basic variables and functions that many games will use. = “…” link

This is used to automatically generate build.directory_name and build.executable_name, if neither is set. This should not contain spaces, colons, or semicolons.

build.directory_name = “…” link

This is used to create the names of directories in the archive files. For example, if this is set to “mygame-1.0”, the Linux version of the project will unpack to “mygame-1.0-linux”.

This is also used to determine the name of the directory in which the package files are placed. For example, if you set build.directory_name to mygame-1.0, the archive files will be placed in mygame-1.0-dists in the directory above the base directory.

This variable should not contain special characters like spaces, colons, and semicolons. If not set, it defaults to a dash, and config.version.

build.executable_name = “…” link

This variable controls the name of the executables that the user clicks on to start the game.

This variable should not contain special characters like spaces, colons, and semicolons. If not set, it defaults to

For example, if this is set to “mygame”, the user will be able to run mygame.exe on Windows, on Macintosh, and on Linux.

Special Files link

There are two files that can be included in your game’s base directory to customize the build.

The icon that is used on Windows.
The icon that is used on Macintosh.

These icon files must be in specific formats. You’ll need to use a program or web service (such as and ) to convert them.

Classifying and Ignoring Files link

The build process works by first classifying files in the Ren’Py distribution and your game into file lists. These file lists are then added to package files.

The classification is done by the build.classify function. It takes a patterns and a space-separated list of filenames. Patterns are matched from first to last, with the first match taking precedence (even if a more-specific pattern follows.) Patterns are matched with and without a leading /. Patterns may include the following special characters:

The directory separator.
Matches all characters except for the directory separator.
Matches all characters.

For example:

Matches all txt files.
Matches txt files in the game directory.

There are seven file lists that files can be classified into by default. (Ren’Py places its own files into the first six of these.)

These files will be included in all packages, and in Android builds.
These files will be included in packages targeting Linux.
These files will be included in packages targeting Macintosh.
These files will be included in packages targeting Windows.
These files will be included in packages that require the Ren’Py engine files. (Linux, Macintosh, and Windows.)
These files will be included in Android builds.
These files will be included in the archive.rpa archive.

Files that are not otherwise classified are placed in the “all” file list.

To exclude files from distribution, classify them as None or the empty string. In this case, * and ** at the end of the pattern must match at least one character.

For example:

# Include README.txt
build.classify("README.txt", "all")

# But exclude all other txt files.
build.classify("**.txt", None)

# Add png and jpg files in the game directory into an archive.
build.classify("game/**.png", "archive")
build.classify("game/**.jpg", "archive")

Documentation link

Calling the build.documentation function with patterns marks files matching those patterns as documentation. Documentation files are included twice in a Macintosh application – both inside and outside of the application itself.

For example, to mark all txt and html files in the base directory as documentation, call:


Packages link

It’s also possible to add new types of packages to the Ren’Py build process. This is done by calling the build.package function with a package name, type, and a string containing the file lists to include.

Say we wanted to build a normal version of our game, and one containing bonus material. We could classify the bonus files in to a “bonus” file list, and then declare an all-premium package with:

build.package("all-premium", "zip", "windows mac linux all bonus")

Supported package types are “zip” and “tar.bz2” to generate files in those formats, and “directory” to create a directory filled with files.

Archives link

Ren’Py supports combining files into a simple archive format. While not very secure, this protects files from casual copying.

By default, all files classified into the “archive” file list will be placed in an archive.rpa archive, which is included in the all file list.

By calling build.archive, it’s possible to declare a new archives and the file lists they will be included in. (It’s rare to use anything but the all file list, however.) To use an archive, classify files into a list with its name.

For example, the following will archive images in images.rpa, and game scripts into scripts.rpa:

# Declare two archives.
build.archive("scripts", "all")
build.archive("images", "all")

# Put script files into the scripts archive.
build.classify("game/**.rpy", "scripts")
build.classify("game/**.rpyc", "scripts")

# Put images into the images archive.
build.classify("game/**.jpg", "images")
build.classify("game/**.png", "images")

If an archive file is empty, it will not be built.

Please think twice about archiving your game. Keeping files open will help others run your game on future platforms – platforms that may not exist until after you’re gone.

The Old-game Directory link

When making multiple releases, like when a game is distributed through early access or platforms like Patreon, it’s necessary to keep the old .rpyc files around. The .rpyc files contain information that is necessary to ensure that saves can be loaded, and omitting these files can cause problems.

At the same time, Ren’Py will update the .rpyc files in the game directory when these files are changed, making the files unsuitable for inclusion in version control.

To solve this problem, Ren’Py allows you to place the .rpyc files from a previous distribution into the old-game directory, which is alongside the game directory. The directory structure of old-game/ should match the directory structure of game/. For example, game/scripts/day1.rpyc should be moved to old-game/scripts/day1.rpyc. Files in old-game that are not .rpyc files are ignored.

The advantage of using old-game is that the old-game .rpyc files can be checked in, and that Ren’Py will always start from a known source when generating .rpyc files. While this might not be necessary for a single-developer game with minor changes, old-game is useful for large multiple developer games.

More information about how .rpyc files help with loading saves into changed games can be found at:

Requirements link

Some stores ask the requirements for Ren’Py applications to run. While this varies from game to game, here’s a set of minimums for a generic visual novel.


  • Version: Windows Vista or higher.
  • CPU: 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo
  • RAM: 2.0 GB
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 or DirectX 9.0c


  • Version: 10.10+
  • CPU: 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo (64 bit only)
  • RAM: 2.0 GB
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0


  • Version: Ubuntu 16.04+
  • CPU: 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo
  • RAM: 2.0 GB
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0

The amount of disk space required is entirely determined by the assets in your game, and the amount of CPU and RAM needed may also vary.

Build Functions link

build.archive(name, file_list=u'all') link

Declares the existence of an archive. If one or more files are classified with name, name.rpa is build as an archive. The archive is included in the named file lists.

build.classify(pattern, file_list) link

Classifies files that match pattern into file_list.

build.clear() link

Clears the list of patterns used to classify files.

build.documentation(pattern) link

Declares a pattern that matches documentation. In a mac app build, files matching the documentation pattern are stored twice - once inside the app package, and again outside of it.

build.executable(pattern) link

Adds a pattern marking files as executable on platforms that support it. (Linux and Macintosh)

build.package(name, format, file_lists, description=None, update=True, dlc=False, hidden=False) link

Declares a package that can be built by the packaging tool.

The name of the package.

The format of the package. A string containing a space separated list of:

A zip file.
A tar.bz2 file.
A directory containing the files.
A Macintosh DMG containing the files.
A zip file containing a macintosh application.
A directory containing the mac app.
A macintosh drive image containing a dmg. (Mac only.)

The empty string will not build any package formats (this makes dlc possible).

A list containing the file lists that will be contained within the package.
An optional description of the package to be built.
If true and updates are being built, an update will be built for this package.
If true, any zip or tar.bz2 file will be built in standalone DLC mode, without an update directory.
If true, this will be hidden from the list of packages in the launcher.

Advanced Configuration link

The following variables provide further control of the build process:

build.allow_integrated_gpu = True link

Allows Ren’Py to run on the integrated GPU on platforms that have both integrated and discrete GPUs. Right now, this is only supported on Mac OS X.

build.destination = “{directory_name}-dists” link

Gives the path to the directory the archive files will be placed in. This may be an absolute or a relative path. A relative path is considered to be relative to the projects directory.

The following values are substituted in using Python’s str.format function.

The value of build.directory_name.
The value of build.executable_name.
The value of build.version.
build.change_icon_i686 = True link

If True, and icon.ico exists, the icon of the 32-bit Windows executable will be changed. If False, the icon will not be changed. Setting this to False may prevent some antivirus programs from producing a false positive for your game.

build.exclude_empty_directories = True link

If true, empty directories (including directories left empty by file archiving) will be removed from generated packages. If false, empty directories will be included.

build.include_i686 = True link

If true, files necessary to run on 32-bit x86 processors will be included in the Linux and Mac builds. If False, these files will not be included.

build.include_old_themes = True link

When true, files required to support themes that existed before Ren’Py 6.99.9 will be included in the build. When false, such files are excluded.

This is set to False when gui.init() is called.

build.include_update = False link

When true, Ren’Py will produce the files required for the updater to work.

build.itch_project = None link

Setting this allows the Ren’Py launcher to upload your project to This should be set to the name of a project registered with itch. (For example, “renpytom/the-question”).

Once this is set, after the distributions have been built, you can click “Build distributions”, “Upload to” to cause an upload to occur.

build.mac_info_plist = { } link

This is a dictionary mapping strings to strings, that can be used to add or override keys in the mac’s Info.plist file.