I was reading this article on Gamesutra. 24 clear do’s and don’ts, which you can read on that site. It’s a simple and easy read, but I agree with it. Now, the one I want to focus on a bit here is point #5.
5. Don’t bite off more then you can chew.
If you’re just starting out, think small, then think smaller. If you start on something big you won’t finish it and if you do you’ll be burnt out and probably won’t make another. A filmmaker never starts his career with a blockbuster movie. One of the easiest mistakes to make starting out is letting ambition drive you down a path you’re not ready to travel. Slow down, take your time and start simple. Prototyping is crucial for all designers.
Here’s the point 5. I think it explains a lot already, but let me apply this to the people on RPG Maker. Honestly, using RPG Maker cuts out a lot of the work required as you don’t have to code the engine or database from ground up. While making the task simpler, RPGs are still a very time consuming thing. I think some people forget that the great commercial RPGs were made by teams of people over the time span of at least a year or more, working 8 hours a day or more. We on the other hand usually have game making as a hobby to do after we get home from school/work or both, working on it by yourself.
Go on an RPG Maker forum, and you’ll usually see a forum board with people recruiting team members to their latest projects. Honestly, I’ve seen plenty of recruiting topics where they ask for just about every type of person to assist them (I need a spriter, a mapper, an artist, a scripter, a writer…), sometimes multiple of the same type. On your first game, this is absolutely the wrong way to go.
Your first game should not be your epic masterpiece. Save it for when you have more experience, so you can really make it as good as you’d like, rather than trying to figure it out as you go along. People have trouble with remaking loops, this is part of the problem. This is when you learn a lot, and the past parts look bad in comparison, so you remake them, learn more from that, then the next part looks bad in comparison… On the other hand, you really shouldn’t underestimate the work that goes into making a game. A game can take months, years even, and not knowing how fast you work on something or not knowing the program well is a good way to take far longer than you planned on a game.
"100+ hours of varied gameplay!" Look, this is NOT an easy goal to reach. RPG Makers will likely put in a whole lot of boring filler. Save your longer games when you can figure out how to make a game fun for that long a time!
Making small games will help you learn. “Let me try a simple project with a fishing system!” Then you can test it out, try different possibilities, and see if it’s even fun or worth making/adding on to a more complete project later. It could even help with trying out new ideas that you aren’t sure if it’ll be any fun or not. You do not have to release any of these, these can be experimental tests, just to see what systems/ideas would work, and what would not.
Many well made games are not the first games that the developer made. We all make mistakes, and we have to learn from them. That you spent a long time making a game is no indicator that it will be any good.
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