Archive for April 2013

Embarking on an Epic Journey, One Step at a Time   Leave a comment

Welcome, everyone, to Gratuitous JRPG.  If you’re here, then either you followed a link here, searched for this, or I linked you to this blog.  In short, this blog is about creating a RPG Maker game, and showing people the process by which it is done, step by step.  I suppose I should give a notice now for people; this is not meant to be a “how to make your first RPG Maker game” blog.  If you’re following along to try and learn how to use the system, there’s other tutorials out there for RPG Maker VX and RPG Maker VX Ace that better suit this pursuit than this blog.  This blog is going to assume you know how to work with the system already, and in general be a more advanced look into the art of RPG design and some possible specifics that may not be gone over in other tutorials.

With that out of the way, I presume you’re all still reading because you at least want to see how I would go about making a RPG, if not want to make one yourself or pick up a few subjective pointers on game design.  Interestingly enough, RPG design does not start with even opening the maker program, or even picking such a program.  RPG design doesn’t start with a maker at all, in fact.  At least, not to begin with, though your choice thereof will affect a variety of mechanical decisions in the future.  In fact, your most important tool at this stage is going to be your notebook, or if you need a digital variant, a empty document and a spreadsheet.

paper-bound-notebook-1

Your most important tool.

This is not to say that RPG Maker is useless in any capacity of the word.  On the contrary, it’s the reason that being able to make a game is possible at all.  However, I will note that the first stage you will be going into is going to be conceptualization.  The game doesn’t exist as a game yet, but as an idea, and you will need to refine this idea thoroughly.  It’s going to sound silly, but think back to early school when teachers would make you brainstorm.  If you were anything like me, you hated that idea web worksheet that you were forced to do because you just wanted to do stuff.  Thing is, this is where that brainstorming pays off.

So yes.  Your first task in making a game would be to simply think about it.  In fact, think about it on as many levels as possible within the resources you have available.  By “available”, I mean “within your ability to feasibly and legally acquire if needed.”  And I will state this many times throughout this blog: I do not encourage, recommend, or condone theft or piracy.  This includes RPG Maker programs, graphics, music, scripts, -anything-.  Try to think about what this does mean to you, however, since no RPG Maker starts you empty-handed; in fact, each contains a RTP that serves two purposes.  First is to keep game files down in size, which is gone over, but basically means the game calls the RTP from your computer.  The other is to give you a starting resource set with which to build your RPG.  While this is a bit less diverse in later makers than previous (RM2K notably had an entire futuristic tileset), it will continue to be more than enough to create a game (albeit remaining within the vaguely medieval european fantasy JRPG genre).  If you have people who will sprite for you, or outside resources you have access to, all the better, but the point is that you shouldn’t worry too much about limitations to your concept for the time being.  Go ahead and think–and take notes down on something all the time.

While thinking doesn’t sound like it’s difficult, it is still a notably difficult step, and you will have issues expanding.  This is a universal factor–trying to think of a concept for your game will get slammed by real-life distractions, ideas not coming up when you want them to but then coming up when you’re least expecting it, ideas will get jumbled within other thoughts, and come from the least likely places, and your internal censor (and don’t lie, everyone has one) will be plugging away at it like Simo Hahya at Russian countersnipers.  This will be difficult when you finally try to get a concept down.  Even there, I have a few tips to help anyone who wants them insofar as brainstorming for a game will go:

1: Get sleep.  Get enough of sleep.  Ideas simply will not come if you’re tired, and you’ll simply want to doze off instead.

2: Get exercise.  Mental fatigue is another major blocking factor to ideas coming through, and sufficient exercise (along with the endorphin rush you will invariably get because of it) is an easy, nevermind healthy, way to clear this blockage.

3: Avoid alcohol, drugs, and overtiredness.  These seem like good ways to inhibit your internal censor but in fact will be problematic at best.  You know how something is described as having been done “on drugs”?  Yeah, too much disinhibition is going to ultimately be detrimental to your work.

4: Don’t fight a blockage.  If you can’t think of a specific aspect, think along other aspects of the work in question.  If you have no idea about characters, try thinking about plot.  Stumped on gameplay?  Look at characters.  Drawing a blank on plot?  Think about the gameplay a bit.  There’s always something else to look at, no matter what.

5: On that note, know when to take a rest.  If you literally can’t think of anything at all and you’ve been going at it for a while, take a break.  You’ll get ideas sometime along the way, probably while you’re eating a burrito or taking a shower.

6: Conversely, do not wait around for ideas to come up.  Inspiration isn’t something that will come to you on its own, as much as you’d want it to, so be sure to remember to set aside some time to think of this.

7: Do feel free to talk with people about your concept.  An outsider’s look on the matter will give you an angle on your game that you wouldn’t get on your own.

8: Set goals.  Contest games are an okayish way to try and do this “Make a game with X by date Y”, but if you’re not interested, set a goal for yourself to get something of your game done by a given time.

As for where I am, I’m in fact still at the concepting stage myself with my currently unnamed game idea.  So far, I only have vague ideas, but nothing I would put down on this blog just yet.  By next week, I intend to get to the point where I can get deeper into the game I’m creating–and possibly engage a bit on the angle of writing for RPGs–how to make it work and how not to try and make it work.  Until then, this is Epic Alphonse, signing out.

Posted April 28, 2013 by EpicAlphonse in Uncategorized

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