5 things I wish I'd done from the get-go.

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(Mods: please move if this is the wrong place for this)

It's been about three years since I began working on my game LifeWeaveR. I'm approaching the finish line with it, and that's given me time to reflect on some of the things I wish to God I'd done from the beginning, since it would have saved me a whole lot of problems later down the line. Here are some of those, feel free to add your own.

1) Use the crap out of the character generator:

A lot of people will use this to create party members and certain high-attention NPCs, but what about common, everyday people who's only function is to stand near a town entrance and give you the "Welcome to blahblahblah" spiel? It might sound overly tedious and/or a waste of time, but at least consider trying to custom-make as many NPCs as possible instead of relying
solely on the defaults the game comes with. because going from place to place and seeing clones of NPCs you've already used 100 times is going to get real boring real fast. If you decide to go this route, look around and find some add-on parts for the generator before you start.

newpeeps.PNG

2) Incorporate custom tilesets:

Much like generator parts, custom tilesets will go a long way towards making your game world stand out instead of looking like just another crap-tastic RPG Maker game. You don't have to replace literally every single tileset you start with, but adding additional assets can do nothing but help you.

newhouses.PNG

3) Organize items, weapons, armor, and accessories:

Before you start setting up shops or filling up dungeons with treasure chests, get a spreadsheet going so you can make managing items/weapons/armor/accessories simple. For items, make a list that includes what the item is named, how much it costs, and where to find it. For equip-ables like weapons or armor, list what it's called, how much it costs, where you can get it, and what properties it has (atk power, def power, etc...) Using swords as an example, your list might look something like this:

Wooden Sword - 50G - +2 - Greentree Village
Copper Sword - 75G - +5 - Town of Autistickitten

Or if it's not sold in stores:

Razor Sword - 4,500G - +15 - Bunnyhug Tower (4,500G being the resale value)

This may take a while and it's not very fun, but you'll thank me for it when you decide to add new equipment to your game and don't have to dig through the database for an hour trying to figure out what stats to give it and where it fits in with everything else.

4) Wait a while before adding enemy troops:

Much like items/weapons/etc, it's a good idea to organize enemy troops before you actually add them in. That doesn't mean don't create enemies (it wouldn't be a bad idea to list them by name, HP, exp, and $), it means before you fill your maps with enemy region IDs, take the time to plan out what goes where and with who. In my case, I created a ton of "Overworld" troops, took the enemy list, and started assigning enemies to troops based on difficulty. For example, Overworld1-3 might contain "beginner" enemies, Overworld 4-7 might contain harder enemies than OW1, and Overworld 8-12 might have even harder enemies than both of those. Once you've got your troops organized, start adding region IDs. The starting areas of the game should be low ID numbers, with the late-game areas having the highest region ID's (trust me, you don't want to run into 25HP slimes right outside the final dungeon).

enemyregion.PNG

5) Make a "credit record" so you'll know who to thank once the game's finished.

This record should include not only what scripts you used and who made them, but who made whatever custom assets you're using. Open your game folder, start a new text doc, and record who made what. If you used one of Yanfly's scripts, write down what the script name was and add his name next to it. If you have some of Ayane-chans furniture sets, just write something like "Tilesets" and under that write her name. This will help avoid situations where you use somebody's custom assets without crediting them for it.
 

Shaz

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This is not really a tutorial, more a list of tips for development, so

Moving to General Discussion

 

TheoAllen

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1 to 4 is various from person to person or even the game design. For example, I don't do 1,3,4.
But the 5th is the thing everyone needs to do.
 

ScorchedGround

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One thing that I didn't really do in the beginning I really regret is not using common events more.
Since then I've learnt how versatile they are and how much pain and time they save you. Now I use them vigorously whenever the possibility presents itself.

Thats why I operate by the mindset "If you have to copy-paste a block of event commands more than twice, put it into a common event instead".

This is especially useful for evented gameplay mechanics and systems you use generously throughout your game. Putting that stuff into a common event enables you to control and edit every instance of said mechanic/system right from your database.
 

bgillisp

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On 3 you can also do that on a word document. I have one where I organize what kind of equipment there is in my world, what is available, what each town is like, what the side quests are in each town, and so on. In fact you may want to add

#6: Make a word document to organize your project.
 

akoniti

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2) Incorporate custom tilesets:

Much like generator parts, custom tilesets will go a long way towards making your game world stand out instead of looking like just another crap-tastic RPG Maker game. You don't have to replace literally every single tileset you start with, but adding additional assets can do nothing but help you.

I would add the caveat here that you should take care that custom tilesets don't style clash with RTP you may use (speaking as someone who has made this mistake before and caught flack for it).

5) Make a "credit record" so you'll know who to thank once the game's finished.

Hah, yes! I now diligently update my Credits textfile each time I incorporate a new creditable asset during development. Saves a ton of time compared to digging around in folders later on to get it all in one sock.
 

Cythera

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1. General organization + file naming. So using organizational maps (mostly pertains to larger games), database organizing (always always always applies), switch+variable organizing (it surprised me how big a difference this makes, honestly). And file naming, oof...I have a file named 'R-RS_K--A_M' in my project files. It's a character sprite sheet, but who are they? Where are they? I have no idea. And I'm scared to remove the sprite sheet, but I have yet to locate the characters on said sprite sheet. Whelp!
2. Mapping style. Not necessarily parallax mapping, but have a certain mapping style consistent throughout your game. It is so obvious when maps are made in a different style in the same game, and it does hurt immersion. I've had to remake maps to match up with others in my game, and it's no fun. It also helps to have your resources ready at the start. This doesn't mean getting everything you could want, and never adding anything else. It means, know what art style you want for your tiles/animations/enemies/characters/etc
3. Dreaming too big. Still guilty of this haha! Start small, then expand. Don't start with 'I want to add open-world and branching endings and bonus recruitable characters and houses you can buy+customize and all the side quests!' because you will either hit a wall, or have to whittle down like crazy - and neither of those feel good, or encourage you to continue game development :3
4. Don't compare your work to others' - you have no idea how much experience others have, and this can really be discouraging! Some devs have thousands of hours of experience. Comparing your work to them can lead to 'I'll never make something as good as that...' moments. Been there, done that, it's rough, 0/5 stars for the experience
 

Kalombi

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Thanks for this breakdown of advice. #5 we've started from the beginning and it already is helping a lot. It's kind of like keeping track of all your citations when doing a research paper so you don't waste time later retracing your steps frustrated.
I hadn't considered #1 yet, but that sounds like a good idea. I've been enjoying making the main characters for my games, so it wouldn't be that much extra work to create more unique players for NPCs.
 
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I regret failing to add footstep sounds into my project properly. The script $gamePlayer.isMoving() inside of a conditional branch does not seem to work, so I had to add footstep sounds into my project manually using a button press as the trigger, but that causes other problems, such as touch controls will not play the footstep sound. Another thing I regret is using so many switches. It is very difficult to change something, without breaking something else, but at the same time, my project simply could not be done without a vast number of switches, since the butterfly effect is such a massive part of my project.
 
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The third town in my game has two identical maps: One with a bunch of spectators watching exhibition matches, and one where they've all gone home and the town is near-deserted. I didn't realize you could just add an event page to NPCs and make them bugger off with a switch condition. I ended up keeping both maps anyway because one of them has several tents pitched that are gone by the time the spectators leave.
 

Celestrium

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1. General organization + file naming. So using organizational maps (mostly pertains to larger games), database organizing (always always always applies), switch+variable organizing (it surprised me how big a difference this makes, honestly). And file naming, oof...I have a file named 'R-RS_K--A_M' in my project files. It's a character sprite sheet, but who are they? Where are they? I have no idea. And I'm scared to remove the sprite sheet, but I have yet to locate the characters on said sprite sheet. Whelp!
2. Mapping style. Not necessarily parallax mapping, but have a certain mapping style consistent throughout your game. It is so obvious when maps are made in a different style in the same game, and it does hurt immersion. I've had to remake maps to match up with others in my game, and it's no fun. It also helps to have your resources ready at the start. This doesn't mean getting everything you could want, and never adding anything else. It means, know what art style you want for your tiles/animations/enemies/characters/etc
3. Dreaming too big. Still guilty of this haha! Start small, then expand. Don't start with 'I want to add open-world and branching endings and bonus recruitable characters and houses you can buy+customize and all the side quests!' because you will either hit a wall, or have to whittle down like crazy - and neither of those feel good, or encourage you to continue game development :3
4. Don't compare your work to others' - you have no idea how much experience others have, and this can really be discouraging! Some devs have thousands of hours of experience. Comparing your work to them can lead to 'I'll never make something as good as that...' moments. Been there, done that, it's rough, 0/5 stars for the experience
Relate to all of this!
 

Juanita Star

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1-Make a script instead of putting the words directly into the game. I dont know why that didnt ocurr to me.

2-Excel is excellent to organize things like characters, balance and so on. Organizing here first, then is just pasting into the game later.

3-Save your progress regularly.

4-Don’t try to do a big project on your first try. It never works out.
 

Hyouryuu-Na

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I'm pretty sure a lot of these have been said before.
1. Don't go for a big and complex game first. Try something small and limited (not bloated with features) for your first few games. And know that your first few games won't probably be that good and that's perfectly normal.
2. If you don't have custom resources but plan on using it, keep working on the game with default rtp. When you get the custom stuff made, replace the rtp with them. This makes you procrastinate less and lets you actually get work done.
3. Make a script for your game first instead of just 'going with the flow'. You will get mood swings and want to change stuff if you don't and that's just a lot of extra work gone to waste. Dialogue is really important so try to capture your character's personality in the dialogue. This doesn't mean that it needs to be fun or whatever because a character may be dull or boring or awkward but it's important to express that in the dialogue and make it feel natural. Make sure to have the script of the game checked by someone like friends or family members for feedback.
4. Please give your switches, variables, events and common events meaningful names. You will probably forget what each one does further into game development if you don't and it will be inconvenient if they accumulate.
5. Keep you game folder organized. Make backups regularly and delete unnecessary files before they accumulate. Make a separate 'would probably need later' assets folder instead of dumping them wherever. Also make a txt file listing all the asset makers to easily credit them later. In your game, arrange maps properly under their category. Like forest maps 1,2,3 go under the main forest map etc.

I think most people do all these things but I didn't do these when I started (and still don't do some of them even now XD) So just felt like writing them down XD
 
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Featherbrain

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One thing I haven't seen mentioned yet: use comments liberally. Document what your code/eventing is doing clearly enough that someone who has no idea what you were trying to achieve can understand it--because in another three months when you go back to look at that event, that someone will be you!
 

Azurose

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To add on the character generator:

I DO try to make almost every NPC unique, but what I sadly didn't know was how the import/export system of RPG Maker MV worked. So, instead of having neat, tidied up lists of various NPCs (just like People1, People2, People3) every individual character and NPC got their own separate file, completely cluttering up my database and files.

While making someone in the character generator, export the file, and import that same file when you've created the next character. This way you can store more faces or sprites in a single file.

Probably a big beginner mistake I made...
 
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Scorps

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1. Working with others/ seeking help
I was working on my own for several years constantly running headfirst into walls, stubbornly trying to archive everything on my own. While i learned a lot from that experience there is a point where you should seek the help of others.

2.Not planning out everything from the start
When i started out several years ago i always wanted plan everything in detail. It is good to have a script or a plan to follow, but you will always run into some trouble. A dialog that looks good on paper might not work as intended when it is put on the screen. Mechanics that you thought would be fun may turn out to be boring. Many hurdles you cannot foresee will constantly change things in the project and thus make changes to the "plan" inevitable.

3.Use comments
When you have complex events you may understand every part of it while the creation progress is still a fresh memory. But at a later date you may have to change some things. When you look at the event you may have no idea how it works or where the little thing is you have to change, if you even know what to look for in the first place.
A few lines declaring what the event does, what switches/vars are used and separating blocks from each other to give it structure will really help. Even if its is just "Char X is walking to the table" or "Char X and Y are talking about rubber ducks"
 

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