About First Projects

Dark Gaia

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On First Projects

This article is intended to show new RPG Makers why a simple first project is often the best choice. In this article, I'll try to explain the reasons why newbies should, at first, put their ambitions on hold, including:

  • A simple project is not overwhelming
  • Simple projects allow the user to play around and learn.
  • Simple projects offer no distractions for inexperienced users.

As you all most of you know, I've been a part of the RPG Maker community for quite a while now. I haven't yet reached the elusive status of "legendary" but I've been around long enough that I begin to notice trends and failings in the community. In my many years in the community, I've seen and played uncountable projects. Some were great, some only mediocre. Some were horrible. Over time, I've noticed that game making trends change, so new projects eventually steal the thunder of old ones, and the community moves on. There's one thing, however, that has remained the same ever since I first opened up RPG Maker to make my very first Final Fantasy fangame.

How many times have you seen newbies announce their epic, 20+ hour long, feature ladden, script infested first projects that they cancel shortly after? Why are first projects almost always doomed to fail? It seems that people new to the art of RPG Making are far too ambitious for their own good. I've done it myself, many moons ago; I've decided that my first project's going to be an epic saga set to rival the cherished classics of the RPG genre. Eventually, I learned that trying to pull off an ambitious project with little or no experience under my belt has two possible outcomes: either I become overwhelmed with the sheer scale of the project, realise I don't have the skill to do it justice, and cancel it, or else I finish it and release a bug-ridden crapfest. The moral here is that new RPG Makers must learn to recognise their limitations, and work within them until they are experienced enough to tackle a project that is truly spectacular.

The key piece of advice that anyone new to game making should heed is that to make a truly revolutionary game requires patience, skill and experience, three things that people often lack at the start of their RPG Making careers. A first project should be a tool for refining these things. The ideal first project should be something simple that isn't too hard to make. It's important for new RPG Makers to learn the finer operations of the program such as switches, variables, making skills, and editing the database. Likewise, there are fundamental aspects of RPG design that must be learned, such as how to create a balanced difficulty level, how to create interesting battles and strategies and how to construct an interesting, well paced storyline and likable characters.

This is a tremendous amount of things to learn, and this is why it's often better to start off with something simple rather than that epic saga (powered by 10,000 scripts and custom systems) that you've always dreamed of making. Furthermore, it's important for any game maker to learn how to present a game correctly, and how to read and respond to criticism, so that they can further their abilities. Taking on a simple project that has a steady rate of progress and is not too overwhelming allows newbies to have the very valuable experience of actually releasing a completed game to the community and receiving feedback.

You don't always have to make a game so tremendously revolutionary that it turns the community upside down. A large part of being a member of the RPG Maker community is learning skills and gathering experience. Even a very simple game with no fancy scripts or custom features can be a joy to play if it's made well and clearly shows effort. Likewise, even a game done badly gives its creator an important opportunity to learn how to improve and become a better game maker. Think of it this way, new users: would you rather release a short, simple game that's helped you learn the nuances of game making and release that epic saga later and really do it justice, or would you like to release it now and have it fall far short of your ambitions? Taking on a small, simple game as your first project is really the most logical choice a new RPG Maker can make.
 

Crazetex

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Minor addition: don't be discouraged if nobody gives a Frick the first time you release something. The practice is in the completion and release; no, not many people may be willing to play BOBBY'S FIRST RPG!!, but you can totally sit back and be like "woah, yeah, I did that. Awwweeessooommmeeee."

Another thing to remember if you're new to the RPG design process is that the more story-oriented you are, the more you're going to have a bad time. That sounds mean and awful, but think about it: in the cliche fantasy adventure, it's a simple romp where loose objectives easy lead you through vague enemy-filled dungeons - they could be anything, as long as you get the princess and the crystals and make your way to the demon king. The more you try to force ~~S T O R Y~~ in, the harder it becomes to link locations and events in a way that is both logical and has a good gameplay:story ratio.

Basically, don't forget that you're making a game. If you want a great story, more power to you... but when you're new, letting the genre mold your narrative will help you learn the essentials faster.

Don't try to break the RPG mold before you've fit into it once. =3
 

Nagasaki

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Agree. Think of it:

At a person's first day of schooling, he/she even don't know what is 1 plus 1, but he/she has very high ambitions, just because he/she wants it. The fame... the glory...

Now, he/she knows almost everything, but he/she realizes that his/her first ambition is just a trash and it's impossible to make it.

Do you want to make your dream RPG become like your ambitions when you're a kid, where they vanish into nothingness after some time?

Everything starts small, dude. Learn the basics before you go on complicated ones. If you don't get a certain topic, don't skip on it. Put this on your checklist:

Things needed in making a dream RPG:

Experience

Skill

Patience

Perseverance

Motivation

Inspiration

Purpose

Add anything else if I missed some.
 

Nagasaki

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Minor addition: don't be discouraged if nobody gives a Frick the first time you release something. The practice is in the completion and release; no, not many people may be willing to play BOBBY'S FIRST RPG!!, but you can totally sit back and be like "woah, yeah, I did that. Awwweeessooommmeeee."

Another thing to remember if you're new to the RPG design process is that the more story-oriented you are, the more you're going to have a bad time. That sounds mean and awful, but think about it: in the cliche fantasy adventure, it's a simple romp where loose objectives easy lead you through vague enemy-filled dungeons - they could be anything, as long as you get the princess and the crystals and make your way to the demon king. The more you try to force ~~S T O R Y~~ in, the harder it becomes to link locations and events in a way that is both logical and has a good gameplay:story ratio.

Basically, don't forget that you're making a game. If you want a great story, more power to you... but when you're new, letting the genre mold your narrative will help you learn the essentials faster.

Don't try to break the RPG mold before you've fit into it once. =3
Agree too. No maker starts with a lot of fans.
 

Kaiser

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I'm not gonna be mini mod but no double posting, and yeah the first project should be something rather simple and possibly short. My first one I released around my school and they beat it in like 45-50 minutes.
 

XPKobold

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Also basically if you want to make a epic game it's probably best to split them into simpler smaller game chapters start simple and slowly work your way up. I'd admit i fell into this mistake as well many years ago and still have all the old projects i've done which is very useful to know what i've done wrong.
 
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On First Projects

This article is intended to show new RPG Makers why a simple first project is often the best choice. In this article, I'll try to explain the reasons why newbies should, at first, put their ambitions on hold, including:

  • A simple project is not overwhelming
  • Simple projects allow the user to play around and learn.
  • Simple projects offer no distractions for inexperienced users.

As you all most of you know, I've been a part of the RPG Maker community for quite a while now. I haven't yet reached the elusive status of "legendary" but I've been around long enough that I begin to notice trends and failings in the community. In my many years in the community, I've seen and played uncountable projects. Some were great, some only mediocre. Some were horrible. Over time, I've noticed that game making trends change, so new projects eventually steal the thunder of old ones, and the community moves on. There's one thing, however, that has remained the same ever since I first opened up RPG Maker to make my very first Final Fantasy fangame.

How many times have you seen newbies announce their epic, 20+ hour long, feature ladden, script infested first projects that they cancel shortly after? Why are first projects almost always doomed to fail? It seems that people new to the art of RPG Making are far too ambitious for their own good. I've done it myself, many moons ago; I've decided that my first project's going to be an epic saga set to rival the cherished classics of the RPG genre. Eventually, I learned that trying to pull off an ambitious project with little or no experience under my belt has two possible outcomes: either I become overwhelmed with the sheer scale of the project, realise I don't have the skill to do it justice, and cancel it, or else I finish it and release a bug-ridden crapfest. The moral here is that new RPG Makers must learn to recognise their limitations, and work within them until they are experienced enough to tackle a project that is truly spectacular.

The key piece of advice that anyone new to game making should heed is that to make a truly revolutionary game requires patience, skill and experience, three things that people often lack at the start of their RPG Making careers. A first project should be a tool for refining these things. The ideal first project should be something simple that isn't too hard to make. It's important for new RPG Makers to learn the finer operations of the program such as switches, variables, making skills, and editing the database. Likewise, there are fundamental aspects of RPG design that must be learned, such as how to create a balanced difficulty level, how to create interesting battles and strategies and how to construct an interesting, well paced storyline and likable characters.

This is a tremendous amount of things to learn, and this is why it's often better to start off with something simple rather than that epic saga (powered by 10,000 scripts and custom systems) that you've always dreamed of making. Furthermore, it's important for any game maker to learn how to present a game correctly, and how to read and respond to criticism, so that they can further their abilities. Taking on a simple project that has a steady rate of progress and is not too overwhelming allows newbies to have the very valuable experience of actually releasing a completed game to the community and receiving feedback.

You don't always have to make a game so tremendously revolutionary that it turns the community upside down. A large part of being a member of the RPG Maker community is learning skills and gathering experience. Even a very simple game with no fancy scripts or custom features can be a joy to play if it's made well and clearly shows effort. Likewise, even a game done badly gives its creator an important opportunity to learn how to improve and become a better game maker. Think of it this way, new users: would you rather release a short, simple game that's helped you learn the nuances of game making and release that epic saga later and really do it justice, or would you like to release it now and have it fall far short of your ambitions? Taking on a small, simple game as your first project is really the most logical choice a new RPG Maker can make.
Nice tut. It actually enlightens me. Basically, for the start, I need to make small-scale RPG's which should be mainly intended to learn how to use the program as effective as possible.

I'm not gonna be mini mod but no double posting.
The irony.
 
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Nagasaki

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I'm not gonna be mini mod but no double posting, and yeah the first project should be something rather simple and possibly short. My first one I released around my school and they beat it in like 45-50 minutes.
Oops, sorry. I wish I can combine my two first posts.

It's also a good idea to make a pre-story of your epic, such as the origin of this, that...
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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The same reasons why we suggest simple maps for first time wc3 mappers... XD...

This post should be showed to all new users...
 

ShadowFox

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I am a new user but at the same time I have released demos of a few old games that I made on RM2k3 or was it RM2k to my family that I have not released to the net. I also have to make a game with a story and everything for my course.
 
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Dark_Gamer15

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As a soon to be new user, I have to admit, this extremely helpful to know! :) I played around with the original VX before this, but VX Ace is something different and this has helped me out a bit in understanding how to go about things. Thanks for posting this :)
 

FinalHeaven

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I think this is great advice. My problem is trying to come up with something small and simple. I have a story in my mind, I've spent a while writing out information, key plot points, characters, and the general structure of what I want to do. Thing is, this particular idea wouldn't be a small and simple project. And when I try to think up something small and simple I could do, I'm absolutely brain dead. I either constantly draw a blank, or can't sort through my ideas to come up with something different than my "epic" project.

What do some of you guys do when trying to construct a smaller, simpler project?
 

mobychan

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Try to use a story you already know, for example a Fairy Tale (My boyfriend and I did this for "Game in a Week" on RMRK)

Or try to do some kind of "prestory" to your "epic" game or a first chapter maybe up to your first dungeon...

It doesn't have to be a complete own story, just try to stay away from using too much scripts and/or complicated event systems and concentrate on the basics first ^^
 

FinalHeaven

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Try to use a story you already know, for example a Fairy Tale (My boyfriend and I did this for "Game in a Week" on RMRK)

Or try to do some kind of "prestory" to your "epic" game or a first chapter maybe up to your first dungeon...

It doesn't have to be a complete own story, just try to stay away from using too much scripts and/or complicated event systems and concentrate on the basics first ^^
Yeah, I've been trying to go with the concept of putting out a "first chapter" type thing or something along the lines of a prequel, but I'm still running into the same problem. On the other hand, I don't actually plan on including a bunch of flashy scripts and stuff to the "epic" project as it is still technically my first game, so maybe I could still go with it.

I've also been considering trying to do something in Arum now, as I'm wondering if working in a setting that is already somewhat established and not something I am trying to sort out in my own mind would help.
 

Chaneque

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I like coming up with the story bit by bit. Make the settings, or the characters, or think of a species or a race or perhaps something like that. If the story seems too epic, all you need to do is dumb it down a little bit.
 

Dark Gaia

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It's not really a case of the story itself being too epic, it's more the point of the scope of the game being too ambitious for you to achieve if you're not yet comfortable with what you're doing. You can make as huge and epic a story as you like - that can still be conveyed in a game with simple mechanics. The thing you have to remember is to not let the game itself get too epic in terms of features, scripts and mechanics, or you'll lose momentum or go in over your head and end up cancelling it or turning out a bad game due to not being experienced.
 

Cryranos

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I always try to make a "Default Game" whenever I start working with a new engine. I change the database as little as possible and add only bugfixes and message system scripts.

...of course, I never finish these, either.
 

Sagitar

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Great article, Gaia (and great to see you again)!

I think the best nugget of advice in there is to keep your first project short and simple and save your grand epic for later on. I know this from personal experience... Years ago I was so excited upon discovering RPG Maker, I launched into a huge project that would have taken ages to complete, and even though I worked hard I couldn't sustain the pace. Looking back there's a million little things I wish I would have known that can only come through experience with the software.

So, be patient and even if it's not what you want to be doing, try a simple concept first. Once you've completed a small project and gotten a feel for all the steps that go into game design/production, you can move onto bigger and better things.
 

Luminous Warrior

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Hmmm... after reading this... I'm not so sure about my project. What about cutting down your epic super-project into a smaller, abridged version, until you're ready to tackle it in it's entirety?
 

Fafnir

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Hmmm... after reading this... I'm not so sure about my project. What about cutting down your epic super-project into a smaller, abridged version, until you're ready to tackle it in it's entirety?
Well, I axed my project completely and it did me good. But it depends on what you're doing.

The key is starting small.
 

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