Dating sim ideas
My first visual novel, Heileen, was made of 15 different painted backgrounds and 16 characters, each one with different outfits and expressions.
That is the shortest and smallest VN I've made.
While it certainly helps - especially for gameplay - it's really not necessary to play original Japanese visual novels or dating sims.
For example, I've produced several visual novels and dating sims.
For dating sims, the best way is to split the story into scenes.
Those games usually have several characters that you can date and, through gameplay, you advance every subplot scene by scene.
That tool combines the powerful Python language with a full set of commands that lets you easily create a visual novel or dating sim.
Unfortunately this means that, if you're on a tight budget, it may be hard to create a visually appealing game.
That does not mean, however, that you need to have countless images.
Both visual novels and dating sims usually have a "Gallery Screen" where you can replay previous scenes which are typically still images.
Usually the endings all feature a beautiful art moment but you can also use it for other particularly important points of the story.