How RPG Maker Games should handle their presentation?

eluukkanen

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First off I have to mention that I have not yet developed a fully released video game, so take all what I say with a grain of salt. I am in progress of developing my own RPG Maker MV title with custom resources, and not all cannot put all that time to either pay comission to get custom art or make that art themselves...

but by god, so many rpg maker titles turn me off from even trying them as they all seem to be such clones of themselves. Same resources, same plugins. While that is not bad to use plugins and resources people offer, many take these resources and use them as they are. (not that most of the times awful writing does not help)

I know this argument is as old as RPG maker games themselves, and some might argue that games made as a hobby do not need too much care for their presentation, but I see these games being published in places like steam, and it simply makes me ashamed.

You can hardly recognize this game coming from RPG Maker MV, and that is absolutely how a developer should do it (there are some like these ones I have found, this is one of the examples) https://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?threads/path-of-a-samurai-new-art-video-added.90059/

Question for you who have more knowledge and experience, what are the other ways to make RPG maker game not to seem like a mere clone? What are the major pitfalls rpg games mostly fall into when it comes to presentation?
 

Plueschkatze

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Simplest trick if you can't afford/do custom art: Open up a image editing software and change the colors and saturation of the RTP slightly to get a better atmosphere for your games. It will already make a difference.

Next thing would be getting good at mapping. Don't do square interiors that fill the whole canvas and stuff like that... Don't be afraid of black on the screen. Look how old games handled their maps! Think about using Doodads to break up the boring grid. Or do parallax maps.

Add other resources to the RTP. A lot of nice people did a lot of amazing stuff which are usable for free.

Exchange the standard SE for OK, chancel, menu etc. They let you know the easiest that you're playing a RPGM game. You can get additional sounds from opengameart.org or somewhere else.

There are SO many things that are small but enhance your game. Working interior doors for example.
 

Milennin

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I'd say presentation should probably be the least of people's worries, as most RPG Maker projects don't even get their base mechanics and features right (not that I'd blame them for that, because for most people, it's their first game ever that they work on all on their own). Maybe once you're confident your gameplay mechanics and features are solid and fun to play, then it's a good time to start worrying about your game's presentation.

For me, I don't care if an RPG Maker game is purely RTP (lol, my own MV game is all about being just that). The RTP exists for a good reason, and it's to get people started on making an actual game itself, instead of spending their time on creating assets that don't impact the game they're making itself. What matters to me is if whoever is the creator understands what makes a game fun to play (like, knowing how to pace their story, writing interesting characters, making an engaging battle system, maybe some funny mini-games etc). If I don't want an RPG Maker clone, I'll get an RPG on my 3DS, or something.
 

Tai_MT

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What tends to turn me off of most RPG Maker games isn't the "graphics", because let's be honest here... Your game is not AAA and it won't sell based on its graphics. If it does, I suspect the rest of your game has suffered as a result. Even AAA games in the last 10 years are having this problem where vast swaths of their budgets have been spent on "making the game look pretty" and that's all it does well. The gameplay ends up suffering, the story ends up suffering, the mechanics end up suffering.

For me, what turns me off of the vast majority of RPG Maker games is just two things: Story. Gameplay. So many of the games are clones in these two areas that I can't help but think, "I've played this game before, except a better version of it 10 years ago". That's not to say there aren't some great games made with RPG Maker, but the vast majority of them contain a lot of the same or similar elements and do nothing with those mechanics beyond the default. In fact, a great many of them are like the AAA developers who have focused their entire budget and time on making it "look pretty" instead of investing something that would make it unique as a game instead.

So, let me run down the list:

Crafting System. Seen it before. Unless you're doing something interesting or unique with it, I'm going to give your game a pass, because it's likely more annoying than "fun".
On Screen Battles. Seen it before as well. Unless it's as good as it is in Earthbound, as dynamic, or interesting, and a fully-fleshed out feature... Don't bother. I'm going to find it annoying and tedious instead of "fun".
"Save The World" storyline. While I have nothing against this trope, most people simply have terrible writing skills and can't make this compelling at all. Plus, if a writer does have some good writing skills, they're not going to use "Save The World" as a storyline unless they can make it compelling and unique, because that's what a writer does... Makes their own story, using their own ideas.
Class System. Sometimes these are done well. I like to see what a dev does with them, but most are so "cookie cutter" that they're not really worth engaging with. "You gain Job Points from combat! Level up your jobs and get cool abilities! Use those abilities with other classes to mix and match!". This effectively ruins any characterization you could've had in your game for telling a compelling storyline from the perspective of your characters.
Survival Horror. This is a genre that relies pretty heavily on immersion. I'm sure there are people who enjoy an RPG Maker game that is Survival Horror, but my opinion is that a third person overhead view does not lend itself to horror... well... At all. If I am playing a Survival Horror game, I expect to be 100% immersed in the game with as few menus and HUD elements as possible. I also expect to have the living daylights scared out of me and have that horror be "atmospheric". These are things that I've yet to see an RPG Maker game do well. It's probably possible to do it, but I haven't seen it yet. It's like trying to make a "survival horror" game out of a Platformer. It just... doesn't work well.
Zombies. While zombies are one of my favorite "genres", I haven't seen it done well in a long time. Every single Zombie Genre Game makes the same error. Zombie films and TV series and such do the same thing. They make the primary threat... the other humans. Look, I get that's "the point" with a Zombie outbreak. But, it's handled wrong. Humans are a threat because the zombies are an ever-present threat that causes stress, resource draining, and many other things. Unless you are treating them like an ongoing Natural Disaster on scale, I feel like you're doing it wrong. Also, these Genre's tend to handle "human drama" all wrong. The minute someone became a liability in any group, with a situation as dangerous as Zombies, you would either kick them out or put them down, rather than have to deal with their nonsense that puts everyone else in danger. It is the only "world ending" genre that doesn't do this, and it does it for the sake of creating False Drama.
Default RPG Staples. We're talking about all the usual suspects here. Female Dedicated Healer Class Love Interest... Typical RPG Skills that are in every single game... Mash attack to win... Augments for weapons/armor... Etcetera. I like to see new things, or new takes on old things. I don't like to see the "defaults". Too many people design an RPG Maker game by saying, "I want this feature in my game", they put it in their game, don't actually make that feature their own. They do nothing with it. They insert it and leave it alone. You need to flesh this stuff out, otherwise you've just made RPG Title #37649.
Great Graphics. While I find nothing wrong with a game having fantastic graphics to be a bad thing in and of itself... Too many devs who "publish" a game have focused entirely on their graphics. Usually, if I see something that looks fairly on par with AAA developers or other Indie Titles... It makes me suspicious. It makes me worry where you've spent your budget and what you prioritized. What makes a game good is... well... the game. Not the artwork. I play Dwarf Fortress. I don't need graphics to have fun with a game. I play D&D using little more than rough sketches of maps and worded descriptions and we have fun. Why? Because gameplay is fun, not the way something looks. Besides, players get desensitized to "great graphics" after about an hour of gameplay and cease noticing them. I prefer if a game has great aesthetics instead of graphics. The style is what I care about. The vibe that style creates. That atmosphere. Too many devs who make RPG Maker games focus entirely too much on making things "look good" instead of getting "a unified style". If you have to commission 100 different things from 100 different artists, you've lost your entire "style". May as well just use the RTP at that point as at least all those assets mesh well and create a unified aesthetic, even if they don't "look great" or "look unique". I've seen a lot of games focus on graphics and their story suffers, mechanics suffer... they use tropes as a crutch instead of a starting point to do something unique to their game... So, anything that advertises it's "graphics", I tend to just avoid. You should be advertising your gameplay.

Okay, that's my short list of things that I see everywhere in practically every RPG Maker game and why they turn me off. When I'm browsing for a new game, even AAA games, I look for "unique" things. Something that sets it apart from everything else. Something it does that no other game does. Because, if it does something every other game does, then I'll just go play the game that did it the best and not give your game a chance, since it's an unknown, but the one that did it the best isn't.

Unfortunately, there's just a lot of "copy and paste" that goes on. People copying other RPG's and such rather than making their own unique game.
 

Tuomo L

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RPG Maker will forever have the stigma. You can make a game that looks literally nothing like RPG Maker, but people will still not play your game since it's made by RPG Maker. Some people just literally refuse to do so because of the engine itself. That's not to say, your game can't have success while making RPG Maker games, it's definetly possible but you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses and plan your games acordingly.

A lot of the problem also comes from fixed camera angle that's always stuck in the birdview. That sort of camera angle system hasn't been popular in RPGs for very long time. The fact that you can only show so limited amount of things without breaking the perspective is kind of the curse of the engine, especially for people who care about immersion and stuff in their RPGs.
 
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I have gotten into the habit of only telling people my game is made in RPG Maker if they ask. Just sending screenshots of my projects to people most assume I am working in game maker, its all because I use my own original assets. That said I use an 8-bit aesthetic which is easy to hide these things with.

In terms of what turns me off playing RPG Maker games, number one is length, im in my 30s and free time is a precious commodity, if a game cant tell its story in under 6 hours im not interested in hearing it generally speaking. Nothing scares me away like seeing someone brag about their 70 hour epic.

RTP is also big turn off for me, I know why it exists and its a good tool for learning but I always will be of the opinion people shouldnt be able to publish games with it, it should simply serve as a foundation for learning. Id rather play a game with bad original art than the RTP purely because it means the game will have a unique voice, theres nothing unique about RTP, its no different to stock film used in movies, its dull.

This is a more specific one but fonts are also a big deal to me, I see SO many games where people grab some crazy fonts off DaFont, slap a bevil and drop shadow on it before dumping it on a title screen with some generic anime art. RPG Maker more than any other engine seems to attract people who dont understand graphic design, no doubt due to the low barrier to entry. Seeing uncohesive menus, character art, fonts that are hard to read, color palettes that dont work, it all just turns me right off.

Lastly anything that looks like its inspired by Final Fantasy, not because I dont like those games, but most developers fail to capture its nuance. Fantasy titles (and Sci Fi to a lesser extent) tend to have a lot of poorly written dialogue and world building. Its not that small devs cant do this stuff right (plenty of games absolutely nail their world building and dialogue, OFF, Hylicss and Space Funeral being a few good examples) but its certainly rare.

In the end I want to play small, experimental, interesting titles. If I want to play a Fantasy RPG I have a tonne of triple A options, same for Sci-Fi. HOWEVER, If I want to play something weird with the distinctive voice only a solo developer can provide, well, RPG Maker is where I go to look.
 

The Stranger

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In addition to the things others have mentioned, please change the default menus and sound effects. Nothing screams RPG Maker game like seeing that default menu and hearing those high pitched beeps.
 

Poryg

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Times have changed.

In past if you wanted to make a game, you needed to learn some programming and know your stuff. Otherwise you wouldn't sell. But now everything is getting streamlined and simplified. While in past you had to be unique, mainly because you had no other choice, this is no longer the case. We have unity, game maker and rpg maker. These simplified game making to a great extent. Since it is simple nowadays, many people have the idea to create their own game. However, how many of them are good even at just storytelling, let alone transformingtheir story into a game?
Well, not too many. Let's be honest. And because many people can't create their own. they will copy, because copying is natural and easier. So we have games with story from Chrono trigger, battle system from Final fantasy, pets from world of warcraft, etc., etc. Except they don't have the qualities of these games, because they're made by people without the skill.
There's one simple concept that would prevent people from falling into pitfalls of game making. It's learning, improving and training. In other words effort. However, try to find enough of that in times where patience is almost a bad word.
 

TheoAllen

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I'd say one of the major pitfall is some if not most people were too focused on the graphics presentation itself. But not knowing their gameplay were falling apart. Although those are my personal experience. There're had been too many cases (my cases actually) where I tried some games that really focused on making the top notch graphics, but fail at the fundamental gameplay. I wasn't even expecting an original mechanic or something (especially RM games, I always lower my expectations), they copied an already existing system, but even with that, something like game balancing were poorly done, fail to give some necessary information, and some other crucial parts.

At this point, I'm not even get hooked because people are making original graphics. I'm fine people publishing their game even using RTP, as long as they're proud and know what they're doing with their game contents. But if they're only proud because they're making an original resources and presentation, I'd give it a second though if it's really worth my time. I'm having scepticism over that.

Granted, people judge something by its cover. So presentation is still just as an important as the content. However, I'd say, "cover" is one major reason of many reasons people hooked to try your game as stated in your opening post. However, what makes people stay is the content of the game itself. At most, one hour into the game, you're admiring how beautiful is the presentation. More than that, it would sink on you and started to evaluating the gameplay and forget about the presentation. All you think might be "why it worked this way, it should be this way", "Oh this enemy/boss is really unfair", "Uh, the game didn't tell me about this information", "This puzzle is suck, I couldn't pass".
 
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coyotecraft

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This is going to sound like I'm arguing semantics. But there's a difference between presentation and craftsmanship. I think what everyone here is looking for is a show of effort - which has nothing to do with the game and everything to do the creator showboating. People want their game to look attractive and people want to be attracted to it. But that's not what presentation should be concerned with.

I'll pick on Path of A Samurai since it's already been pointed out. "A tale of bloody revenge" is how the topic begins. Open "Story" and there's no story, only a setting. Open "Features" and it list gameplay. I mean, gameplay isn't really a feature since that's what categorically makes it a game in the first place. At this point, if it said it was an RPG I wouldn't believe it. The screenshots show a bunch of customize menu skins, but it's not selling the "bloody revenge" experience with the vibrant colors and sense of serenity. It's got the samurai part down at least, but personally I think it's trying too hard to be authentically Japanese.
Somehow you get graded on following the code of the bushido. But the tenets seem to contradict the "bloody revenge" concept. On top of that Gadani, being the genuine samurai that he is, is only following his master's orders. So perhaps it his master's revenge? Maybe there was a reason everyone became a ronin and that's connected to Gadani wearing a blindfold. But that conflict isn't actually being presented and I'm just drawing my own conclusions. I'd end up disappointed if that's not what it is. Informing me on what it is, is the whole point of presentation.
 

XIIIthHarbinger

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I would say that presentation should depend greatly upon the game in question.

For example I tried recently explaining to someone that listing off game content by numbers in bullet point format, is something that you do when you want to emphasize the scope, scale, & grandeur of your game. However, the numbers they were listing off were very small, even for RPG Maker games, so they were essentially stating that their game contained very little content.

This was made all the detrimental, because in their description they were largely glossing over the story, & focusing on the games crafting mechanics, NPC interactions, & combat system. But from their description they only had ten monsters, nine NPCs, & forty items to craft.

With numbers that small, rather than writing a presentation that was intended to convey scope, but reveal the lack of it; they should have instead focused on selling that the game is small, fun, & with an interesting story. To appeal to people like VisitorsFromDreams, who prefer smaller more focused games.

Whether it's a promotional youtube video, a website page, or a forum post, people need to think of these things less as checklist with boxes to mark off, & more like a tiered presentation pedestal. I.e. determine what are the top three selling points of your respective game, devote the most time to the primary, the second most amount of time to the secondary, & the third most to the tertiary.

Using my own project as an example, I would emphasize player choice first, as it's the primary focus of the game. Multiple distinct campaign paths as the second, because it's one of the player choices that most defines the gameplay. & environmental immersion as the third, as things like day & night cycles that effect NPCs & monsters, weather systems, readable books, rotating market stocks, & a more complex than usual NPC interaction system are what I am focusing on to make my world feel inhabited.
 

Aesica

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You can hardly recognize this game coming from RPG Maker MV, and that is absolutely how a developer should do it (there are some like these ones I have found, this is one of the examples) https://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?threads/path-of-a-samurai-new-art-video-added.90059/
I hate to be "that person" by being critical, however there's one thing about what I'm seeing in that game that really bothers me. It's something every game developer should actually avoid doing at all costs, and that's mixing various art styles. While their character/scenery artwork is gorgeous, it's cheapened greatly by the use of 3d-styled bevel menus, rendered fonts with dropshadow, and other similar things going on. Had they created the UI in the same style as their scene artwork and perhaps created a custom font to match, that game would look so much more professional than it does currently.

Now that aside, the stigma against RM games (as many know already) comes from the fact that it's very easy to sit down and crank out a low-effort product. Lazy writing, bugs, uninteresting characters, unbalanced skills, boring/basic combat, and punishing mechanics are all much bigger turnoffs to me than using generic assets.

I think developers should actually focus on their graphics as one of the last things they do. First, get a good story going, build your world, develop your characters, plan your combat and other systems so that they're fun (a relative thing, I know) and not cumbersome/annoying, and soforth. Once (and if) those things turn out to be as solid and enjoyable as you hoped, only then might it be worthwhile to invest time (or money) into some decent assets.

Graphics are important, make no mistake, but so is everything else. Don't neglect the everything else. And again, avoid mixing art styles because it usually ends up looking like ass.
 
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I think the reason for a lot of people graphics are so important is your games visuals are your foot in the door to players. RPG Maker has its fans, but if you want to appeal to people outside of the community then you need your work to look distinct. Most people on these forums are happy to play something with RTP, but your average consumer scrolling through Steam is going to overlook most RTP games due to them looking the same. Great gameplay doesnt mean much if you cant entice people outside of a very small niche to give the game a chance in the first place. As they say, first impressions are everything.
 

Aesica

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I think the reason for a lot of people graphics are so important is your games visuals are your foot in the door to players.
Only to a degree. Undertale's graphics pretty much suck and would've never sold the game by themselves. It's everything else coming together that makes it a good game.

On the other hand, I've played a few RM games (I don't want to be mean by listing them off) with plenty of nice custom graphics and such that I ended up hating because the actual game systems were mediocre and generic. In fact, one thing I specifically look for now is the battle system. If I see what looks like the default front view battle system, I honestly don't care how good the graphics are--that kind of thing tells me that, under the graphics, there's not much else to care about.

Part of why I suspect RTP is so unpopular is because usually RTP games are generic across the board--storytelling, graphics, characters, systems, etc. A game with custom graphics is far more likely to go that extra mile with custom systems and other things to set it apart from the pack. But again, graphics alone won't make your game good.

PS: Do not skimp on the music, either. This RM game sure didn't.
 
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If I see what looks like the default front view battle system, I honestly don't care how good the graphics are--that kind of thing tells me that, under the graphics, there's not much else to care about.

I think the default front view can work fine, it all comes down to the battle animations. Lisa's use of the party characters in the attack animations makes it look more involved than most side facing battles. Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass uses comic style text for its attack animations (and funky background animations) that only make sense in front view. Hell my own project uses a front view system because theres only one party member and the theme is fire arms, so all the attack animations are done in a style to the original Dooms guns.

Yeah I get that the default assets look boring in front view, but I dont think putting those same assets onto a side view plane really makes them any less boring. I know people have their preferences, but the front vs side view thing has always been just sort of weird to me personally. Its no more or less time consuming to make front view battles any better looking than side view ones and it has zero effect on glameplay mechanics generally speaking.
 

Tai_MT

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Only to a degree. Undertale's graphics pretty much suck and would've never sold the game by themselves. It's everything else coming together that makes it a good game.

On the other hand, I've played a few RM games (I don't want to be mean by listing them off) with plenty of nice custom graphics and such that I ended up hating because the actual game systems were mediocre and generic. In fact, one thing I specifically look for now is the battle system. If I see what looks like the default front view battle system, I honestly don't care how good the graphics are--that kind of thing tells me that, under the graphics, there's not much else to care about.

Part of why I suspect RTP is so unpopular is because usually RTP games are generic across the board--storytelling, graphics, characters, systems, etc. A game with custom graphics is far more likely to go that extra mile with custom systems and other things to set it apart from the pack. But again, graphics alone won't make your game good.

PS: Do not skimp on the music, either. This RM game sure didn't.

I'm probably in the minority on thinking this way, but...

I have a bunch of RPG Maker Games in my Wishlist on Steam. Not because I think they'd be good, but because at some point I wouldn't mind shelling out the $3 someone wants to play their game. Most of these use the baseline RTP. However, this is not why I assume they wouldn't be good. It's the Steam Storefront pages that they've got up that make me assume they wouldn't be good. They often don't even list a story premise... Or the story premise is filled with so much "fantasy" that it's hard to tell what the game is about ("The kingdom of Sleipnir is at war with the kingdom of Bazoingoda over the Right of Ship Keening and it's up to Ralph to find out the mystery behind this war and stop it!"). Lots of titles of characters and kingdoms and events and places, but not really anything about a story. Likewise, many of them list basic gameplay elements as "features". "Robust Crafting System!" What does that mean? I can program a crafting system in about 2 hours in RPG Maker, so what does one being "robust" actually mean? That it's big? Complicated? Lots of random garbage to collect? Lots of options for what to craft? Lots of side-grades? It doesn't mean anything to me other than to tell me that they have a crafting system.

I have some really terrible looking games from Steam with basic gameplay that I enjoy. I have Gnomoria, which is essentially a Dwarf Fortress clone, with a couple really cool features that make the game enjoyable to me despite it being fairly basic in about every respect. I have Unholy Heights which is like a Tower Defense game mixed with like a Sim Tower type thing where you raise monsters and the graphics are really basic and the gameplay even more basic, but it's easily understood and easy to get into and lose a few hours playing. But, if you look at the difference in their store pages and what RPG Maker game store pages look like... You can easily see the difference.

I don't blame people for seeing an RTP game and going, "Yep, it's going to be garbage", because frankly if you read the Store Page, most of them will indicate the same thing. You can see this even with some of the "higher quality" graphical games on Steam with assets. The "I know it's the RTP" is really just the fastest way for gamers to conclude you put no effort into your game, because the Store Pages tend to bear that conclusion out. It saves them the reading. Generic gameplay elements with generic story and a couple still screenshots of combat or out-of-context cutscenes. It should be worth noting that many people on this website could probably use a class on Marketing and Advertising.

Actually, I kind of wish this website had a place to teach young devs how to advertise their game, how to market it, and how to put together a gripping trailer.

If you actually saw RPG Maker Games on Steam that took the time to Advertise/Market their games properly and put a trailer together, it would probably go a long ways towards removing the stigma the RTP actually has, as good Advertising/Marketing can make even terrible games look amazing (let's take Destiny 1 and Destiny 2 for the example). Otherwise, all we really have is a bunch of people using 3 or 4 still pictures with assets that look ripped from other games and you know very little about the game otherwise so it's easy to dismiss.
 
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Actually, I kind of wish this website had a place to teach young devs how to advertise their game, how to market it, and how to put together a gripping trailer.

Couldn't agree more with this. Trailers of the quality of the ones below should be the baseline for quality, not some sort of weird exception to the rule.



 

Conflictx3

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What tends to turn me off of most RPG Maker games isn't the "graphics", because let's be honest here... Your game is not AAA and it won't sell based on its graphics. If it does, I suspect the rest of your game has suffered as a result. Even AAA games in the last 10 years are having this problem where vast swaths of their budgets have been spent on "making the game look pretty" and that's all it does well. The gameplay ends up suffering, the story ends up suffering, the mechanics end up suffering.

For me, what turns me off of the vast majority of RPG Maker games is just two things: Story. Gameplay. So many of the games are clones in these two areas that I can't help but think, "I've played this game before, except a better version of it 10 years ago". That's not to say there aren't some great games made with RPG Maker, but the vast majority of them contain a lot of the same or similar elements and do nothing with those mechanics beyond the default. In fact, a great many of them are like the AAA developers who have focused their entire budget and time on making it "look pretty" instead of investing something that would make it unique as a game instead.

So, let me run down the list:

Crafting System. Seen it before. Unless you're doing something interesting or unique with it, I'm going to give your game a pass, because it's likely more annoying than "fun".
On Screen Battles. Seen it before as well. Unless it's as good as it is in Earthbound, as dynamic, or interesting, and a fully-fleshed out feature... Don't bother. I'm going to find it annoying and tedious instead of "fun".
"Save The World" storyline. While I have nothing against this trope, most people simply have terrible writing skills and can't make this compelling at all. Plus, if a writer does have some good writing skills, they're not going to use "Save The World" as a storyline unless they can make it compelling and unique, because that's what a writer does... Makes their own story, using their own ideas.
Class System. Sometimes these are done well. I like to see what a dev does with them, but most are so "cookie cutter" that they're not really worth engaging with. "You gain Job Points from combat! Level up your jobs and get cool abilities! Use those abilities with other classes to mix and match!". This effectively ruins any characterization you could've had in your game for telling a compelling storyline from the perspective of your characters.
Survival Horror. This is a genre that relies pretty heavily on immersion. I'm sure there are people who enjoy an RPG Maker game that is Survival Horror, but my opinion is that a third person overhead view does not lend itself to horror... well... At all. If I am playing a Survival Horror game, I expect to be 100% immersed in the game with as few menus and HUD elements as possible. I also expect to have the living daylights scared out of me and have that horror be "atmospheric". These are things that I've yet to see an RPG Maker game do well. It's probably possible to do it, but I haven't seen it yet. It's like trying to make a "survival horror" game out of a Platformer. It just... doesn't work well.
Zombies. While zombies are one of my favorite "genres", I haven't seen it done well in a long time. Every single Zombie Genre Game makes the same error. Zombie films and TV series and such do the same thing. They make the primary threat... the other humans. Look, I get that's "the point" with a Zombie outbreak. But, it's handled wrong. Humans are a threat because the zombies are an ever-present threat that causes stress, resource draining, and many other things. Unless you are treating them like an ongoing Natural Disaster on scale, I feel like you're doing it wrong. Also, these Genre's tend to handle "human drama" all wrong. The minute someone became a liability in any group, with a situation as dangerous as Zombies, you would either kick them out or put them down, rather than have to deal with their nonsense that puts everyone else in danger. It is the only "world ending" genre that doesn't do this, and it does it for the sake of creating False Drama.
Default RPG Staples. We're talking about all the usual suspects here. Female Dedicated Healer Class Love Interest... Typical RPG Skills that are in every single game... Mash attack to win... Augments for weapons/armor... Etcetera. I like to see new things, or new takes on old things. I don't like to see the "defaults". Too many people design an RPG Maker game by saying, "I want this feature in my game", they put it in their game, don't actually make that feature their own. They do nothing with it. They insert it and leave it alone. You need to flesh this stuff out, otherwise you've just made RPG Title #37649.
Great Graphics. While I find nothing wrong with a game having fantastic graphics to be a bad thing in and of itself... Too many devs who "publish" a game have focused entirely on their graphics. Usually, if I see something that looks fairly on par with AAA developers or other Indie Titles... It makes me suspicious. It makes me worry where you've spent your budget and what you prioritized. What makes a game good is... well... the game. Not the artwork. I play Dwarf Fortress. I don't need graphics to have fun with a game. I play D&D using little more than rough sketches of maps and worded descriptions and we have fun. Why? Because gameplay is fun, not the way something looks. Besides, players get desensitized to "great graphics" after about an hour of gameplay and cease noticing them. I prefer if a game has great aesthetics instead of graphics. The style is what I care about. The vibe that style creates. That atmosphere. Too many devs who make RPG Maker games focus entirely too much on making things "look good" instead of getting "a unified style". If you have to commission 100 different things from 100 different artists, you've lost your entire "style". May as well just use the RTP at that point as at least all those assets mesh well and create a unified aesthetic, even if they don't "look great" or "look unique". I've seen a lot of games focus on graphics and their story suffers, mechanics suffer... they use tropes as a crutch instead of a starting point to do something unique to their game... So, anything that advertises it's "graphics", I tend to just avoid. You should be advertising your gameplay.

Okay, that's my short list of things that I see everywhere in practically every RPG Maker game and why they turn me off. When I'm browsing for a new game, even AAA games, I look for "unique" things. Something that sets it apart from everything else. Something it does that no other game does. Because, if it does something every other game does, then I'll just go play the game that did it the best and not give your game a chance, since it's an unknown, but the one that did it the best isn't.

Unfortunately, there's just a lot of "copy and paste" that goes on. People copying other RPG's and such rather than making their own unique game.

This is really heavy and eye-opening, i came up with a story for RM2k3 when i was in middleschool 15 years ago and recently got the bug to finish it with MV but i've been rewriting the entire thing and "maturing" the plot, happy to say im only guilty of 2 things on your short list, "Save the world" trope & the "RPG Default" of a female healer class love interest.

its really crazy the culture of rpg maker, in 2003 it was easy to say we were just trying to recreate the magic of our favorite games from SNES & PS1 as kids but now many of the ppl using rpg maker for the first time were very well raised on Ps2 and only 16-18 years old themselves right now yet these over done tropes still exist, makes you wonder if these (and other) common 90's presentation are due to the devs stuck in believing they should preserve the "golden era of RPGs" or just simply a limited imagination of the type of stories they THINK can/should make with rpg maker in its current state.

side note: is it weird that i believe if RPG maker made a 3D version for the PC that the type of games would be way more varied? like an RPG Maker 3 for Steam w/ a much stronger MMORPG level Character Generator. i feel like if we threw away brids eye view for 3rd person the story of devs games would instantly evolve a few levels to match the better visuals of a 3D PC RM
 

Tai_MT

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This is really heavy and eye-opening, i came up with a story for RM2k3 when i was in middleschool 15 years ago and recently got the bug to finish it with MV but i've been rewriting the entire thing and "maturing" the plot, happy to say im only guilty of 2 things on your short list, "Save the world" trope & the "RPG Default" of a female healer class love interest.

I came up with my first RPG Maker story when I was... 12, I think? Just starting High School? "Save The World" affair. I had two Dedicated Healers. Why? I can't remember. I think I thought it would be cool to have someone who could only use healing items and someone who could only use healing magic.

That being said, there's nothing wrong with these tropes or these "defaults" as long as you don't leave them "as is". By all means, save the world! But, put your own spin on it. Your own take on it. Make the story your flavor of saving the world. If I have to summarize your game and I start by saying, "The plot is about saving the world", then you've gone wrong some where. Think about that for a second. What's the plot of Chrono Trigger? Save the world, right? It's my favorite RPG of all time, but that's not how I'd describe that plot. I'd probably start with, "Heroes time travel to try to fix the world and discover just what the end of the world means as well as how to stop it".

Same with "female healer class love interest". If you leave her default, she'll be boring. But, what if, she's the love interest of someone other than the main character? Final Fantasy 6 does this. Terra is introduced to your party, more or less, with two spells. Fire and Cure. It's obvious she's our main character (or one of them), and from gameplay, she'll likely play our Dedicated Healer for most of it. We're introduced to Locke as well, and we assume he's our other main character. Initially, he has feelings for Terra, but the story shifts and that's not who he ends up with. He ends up falling for Celes, who is our other magical character.... But, she's a Magic Knight. She has Cure as well, but you're less likely to use her as a Dedicated Healer because her other skills are far more valuable than her healing in combat. Play with the default a little bit. Make it your own. Maybe you could even insert an interesting Lore reason why she has to be the Dedicated Healer. Or, maybe, why she's the designated love interest. Don't just leave it "Default".

its really crazy the culture of rpg maker, in 2003 it was easy to say we were just trying to recreate the magic of our favorite games from SNES & PS1 as kids but now many of the ppl using rpg maker for the first time were very well raised on Ps2 and only 16-18 years old themselves right now yet these over done tropes still exist, makes you wonder if these (and other) common 90's presentation are due to the devs stuck in believing they should preserve the "golden era of RPGs" or just simply a limited imagination of the type of stories they THINK can/should make with rpg maker in its current state.

Most of us want to recreate that feeling we got as kids when we played these games. When they were new to us. When the tropes weren't so well-tread. That feeling of being sucked into a new world and wanting to keep playing because it's all new and interesting and engaging. A few people think that the only way to do that is to copy the successful games that came before. They want the magic of playing their first Final Fantasy game to be shared with everyone, so they essentially mimic the game exactly. Or, the intrigue of playing Pokémon for the first time, so they essentially copy the whole game.

We don't necessarily want to preserve the "golden age of RPG's". We want to create those feelings we had in the next generation. Share our experiences with others. Most of us just aren't sure how to do that beyond copying what we already know.

But, what we should be doing is trying to capture something new for them. Something they might not have seen. Trying to give them that, "The first great RPG I've ever played" experience. That one that makes them hunger for more. The one that makes them compare every subsequent game or use of a game mechanic to a new game.

Personally, I believe this is easiest achieved by just taking what exists... and building on it. Subverting it. Warping it. Playing with it. Changing the expectations of your players.

It's easy to come up with new and interesting stories if a dev really wants to. But, a lot of people are just afraid to take chances or they get a glimpse of all the work that could possibly be involved... and don't give it a shot. Even worse, you have devs who bite off more than they can chew and don't recognize their own limitations, so their good ideas and stories languish in Development Hell for all eternity.

side note: is it weird that i believe if RPG maker made a 3D version for the PC that the type of games would be way more varied? like an RPG Maker 3 for Steam w/ a much stronger MMORPG level Character Generator. i feel like if we threw away brids eye view for 3rd person the story of devs games would instantly evolve a few levels to match the better visuals of a 3D PC RM

Honestly, I think it'd be harder. Most MMO's have fairly basic story that is even worse than amateur gave devs come up with. Assets for a 3D environment are a lot harder to create, as such, I think everyone would resort to the RTP or the few artists willing to design a 3D model. Just look at what happened to Unity and all the games currently shoveled out to Steam using that engine. While I would love a 3D engine to play around with in RPG Maker... I imagine what it could do as well as assets for it, would be insanely limited. Too limited to really produce very many games or even good stories out of games. But, that's just my opinion on it.
 

Aesica

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I think the default front view can work fine, it all comes down to the battle animations. Lisa's use of the party characters in the attack animations makes it look more involved than most side facing battles. Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass uses comic style text for its attack animations (and funky background animations) that only make sense in front view. Hell my own project uses a front view system because theres only one party member and the theme is fire arms, so all the attack animations are done in a style to the original Dooms guns.

Yeah I get that the default assets look boring in front view, but I dont think putting those same assets onto a side view plane really makes them any less boring. I know people have their preferences, but the front vs side view thing has always been just sort of weird to me personally. Its no more or less time consuming to make front view battles any better looking than side view ones and it has zero effect on glameplay mechanics generally speaking.
The keyword is default front view, as in front view with little/no customization. Front view as a conscious design choice can work if the developer puts effort into it and the results are in line with the examples you mentioned. I'm referring to games where front view was chosen not as a design element, but as an "it requires less work" element.
 

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A woman gave me her number without me even asking for it. Then she left because she had other patients to see.
oh, hey, I forgot about all this!

my old project got abandoned after I started working too much on stuff I'd already worked on - plus, starting to hate the story I wrote for it. Then, well, a lot of serious life **** went down. I ended up moving across the country, cutting off some people, etc. - **** was rough.

So, uh, I guess I'm back for now? Funny how things work.
I'm glad I'm sticking to my guns on having fighting game mechanics in my game, from what I've read, it's not for everyone. but for the most part, I've made it so you don't have to use them motion inputs for attacks if you don't want to.
And my project's just entered the Lunar New Year Sale 2022... Let's see if it reaches it's goal of $ 7,77.
Ohmygoodness I played Dicey Dungeons for the first time last night. Gave me SO MANY IDEAS for how to fix Heidi.

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