- May 18, 2012
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As part of my interview series, I'm speaking to prominent developers/contributors in our RPG Maker Web community to gain insight on their inner workings. Today we speak to Deckiller, RPG Maker veteran and community VIP, contributor to a great many projects, manager of RPGMaker.net and staff here at RMW. He developed the prize-winning Valera: Episode One, as well as contributing to many promising titles such as Reincarnation: Dawn of War, and literally too many projects to count.
First off, thanks Deckiller for accepting this interview. Would you mind telling our audience exactly who you are, for those who may not know?
Sure! I'm a staff member for RPG Maker Web as well as a submissions manager and general staff member at rpgmaker.net. I've been around the RPG Maker community since about 2007 or so, but it's only really been in the last 3-4 years that I've been seriously active. VX Ace has given my passion in RPG design a new lease on life. I'm also working on a variety of games at the moment, including Reincarnation, Porcupine Princess, and A Tale of Valera. Most of them are group projects, but Valera, for instance, is a solo affair.
I see. So how did you first catch knowledge of RPG Maker? What was your initial experience with the engine?
I first caught knowledge of RM back in the early days of XP. At that time, the 2k/2k3 communities were still thriving, but the rise of the new scripting fetaure in XP opened up a whole slew of new possibilities. I have only recently begun tapping into such potential, mostly with the most recent engines, but my initial reactions to all the makers was: "Wow!" Seeing what people were able to make with the engines was truly eye opening.
Like everyone else, I had difficulties with switches and variables at first, but I really enjoyed the flexibility and ease of use.
Carlsev Saga: Episode I
Carlsev Saga was certainly outdated even upon its release, so I knew it would not receive significant attention. I gave it the George Lucas treatment: constantly updating it over my first 2-3 years using the programs, for better or for worse. Most of the feedback was positive at first, mostly centering on the complex story and the maps. It wasn't until 2010, the year I really started diving head-first into RM, that Solitayre gave the game the bashing it deserved. It was a mediocre game with weak characters who ultimately made the story interesting to only those who preferred plot over characters. It was a hodgepodge, scrapped together affair from someone who was certainly no artist. But it was certainly a learning experience in both story writing and game design! I want to remake the game on VX Ace and finish the trilogy.
That would be fantastic if Carlsev was remade. Of course now you are the Redactor-In-Chief, the manager of RPG Maker Net, as well as a staff member for RPG Maker Web. So far what is the best way you'd use to describe how management has been so far? You could say it has involved a lot of redacting?
Definitely. We have a somewhat high standard of inclusion on RMN relative to some other sites (for better or for worse) and I try to weed out games that either need extensive work or aren't games at all (e.g. spam, nonsense, and so on). We also want to make sure the games and articles demonstrate some sort of competency in English. A game page is usually a solid barometer of a game's quality, and it's the first thing people will see, so we expect a polished game page. I typically deny about 2/3 of all games, and I believe Solitayre denies around the same amount of reviews. The standards could be higher, but they could also be lower. Right now we have a happy medium, but we're discussing the possibility of having a section for newcomer ("newbie") games so that they aren't excluded from the benefits of game pages.
Kentona is the true manager and administrator of RMN: he is the site's life blood. I do whatever I can to help out with submissions, events, etc. since he's got quite the family now. We also have a great staff of moderators who know when to step in and when to stay back, as well as enthustiastic event runners and other helpers. An on-going joke we had was that he was Picard and I was Riker, since I have a beard and all that stuff. We never did finish the Star Trek analogies, but I would say Solitayre is Data and Shinan is Worf.
Valera: Episode One
Valera: Episode One
You are also a Wikipedia Administrator, and have been for around 7-8 years, mostly focussing on game and film pages. How has that experience shaped you as a person?
Wikipedia helped me develop a ton skills, such as writing, researching, forming/upholding consensus, critiquing articles, writing guidelines, copy-editing, and so on. I also learned a lot about RPGs, movies, and a whole slew of random subjects. It's a great mental exercise to read an article for pleasure and then go through it again with a fine-tooth comb to improve it. I am extremely grateful for the time I spent on that site and for the amazing, hard-working people who helped me out. Although I haven't been very active for the last couple of years due to other pursuits, I still have a fondness for the spirit of Wikipedia and the amount of progress the community has made. Not a single regret.
Another point I'd like to make is that to me, legit work on Wikipedia is a form of community service. Wikipedia is a great introduction to a variety of topics. Concerns have been raised about its reliability, but all significant claims have to be cited. Volunteering for the site not only helps you build writing and people skills, but it also teaches you how to be self motivated and how to give/take criticism. There are no deadlines; everything is on a volunteer basis. If you can be productive on Wikipedia, you can certainly be productive at the work place.
True. You say Wikipedia is like an MMORPG, where people of different classes help each other cover their strengths and weaknesses. Would you say the same for collaborative RPG Maker work?
Valera: Episode One
Valera: Episode One
Absolutely! On Wikipedia, people tend to fill roles. Some people don't even write articles; they either help fight vandalism or help copy-edit or support the community. The same is true with RPG Maker: there are many artists, composers, etc. who work on games but don't actually open the maker. Other users were great writers but poor copy-editors, and vice versa. If you have a skill, chances are it can be applied both on Wikipedia and with RPG Maker.
A lesson I learned from Wikipedia was that you can't have too many cooks in the kitchen. You should always have several sets of fresh eyes for critique, but if ten people are working on the same article it can become very cumbersome, especially since Wikipedia articles should remain consistent and must feature a neutral point of view. Consensus is far easier to uphold when the group is small. The same is true with RPG Maker: if you have ten artists and six mappers working on a game, you'll have far too many styles in play and someone is bound to try to take control.
You want to have an appropriately sized team: one that has no weaknesses but also one that won't bog down the project or lead to inconsistencies in style.
Now where do you see RMN and RPG Maker in general going in the next few years?
I see the community continuing to grow and the standards continuing to rise higher and higher, but I also believe that the barrier to entry will always remain reasonable. As long as people don't get discouraged, they should be able to join the RPG Maker community and improve at a steady rate. I see the series continuing to improve based on community advice and breakthroughs in the field, and I look forward to being part of it!
I also feel that team projects will become more and more popular. Users will find their niche and thrive in it.
That's a good vision. What is next for Deckiller in the recent future?
I'm helping out with some resource packs and other projects that are shaping up to be very exciting. I will hopefully finish another game by the end of the year, but right now I'm focused more on the administrative and community aspects of RM/game design. There will definitely be more RMN contests in the future, as well as a slew of updates on the RMW side of things. Also, there should be updates on Reincarnation and Porcupine Princess fairly soon!
Last question: 5 favorites.
Reincarnation: Dawn of War
Reincarnation: Dawn of War
Chicken Fried Steak, Spanish Rice and Beans, Tacos, Pizza, Chicken Parm. B: Oh right, you don't need to add 5 favourites. I'll do 5 for each anyway.
Daniel Day-Lewis is unbelievable, especially in There Will be Blood and Lincoln. Outside of him, I'd go with Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, Robin Williams, and Kiefer Sutherland.
Favorite ice-cream flavour?
Cookie dough, definitely. Runner up would be pumpkin. Only can get it around the holidays. Egg Nog Ice Cream is also great. Yeah, that's all I can pick for that category.
Favorite musical artist/style?
I'll keep this as short as I can, since a lot of my friends know I can talk all night about music. My favorite genre is Progressive Rock/Metal, as well as related genres such as Jazz Fusion, Symphonic Metal, etc. Rush is my favorite band (such great songs and fantastic musicianship), but Porcupine Tree is giving them a run for their money. Their front man, Steven Wilson, is an unbelievably talented song writer and producer. His records always sound immacculate, and he has collaborated with some of the most awesome musicians on the planet as of late. I highly recommend checking them out if you're a fan of Progressive, Alternative, or Fusion. Symphonic Metal has been sort of my latest enjoyment. I've been really getting into bands like Nightwish, Within Temptation, Delain, Kamelot, Amaranthe, etc. I've seen most of them live and in intimate venues, and boy: there's nothing like seeing a band you like at a small venue. Seeing Rush at an arena is great, but nowhere near as exciting as being 2-3 feet away from the three singers of Amaranthe.
To get back on topic, my favorite video game composer is Yasunori Mitsuda. His music is just packed with emotion and almost always fits the scene. Amazing stuff. And yeah, seeing Steven Wilson live was great. That album blew me away and got me to respect him as a Solo artist as much as I respect his band. It has that old school King Crimson/Pink Floyd feel; hell, Wilson was even able to bring Alan Parsons out of retirement to help with the engineering.Parsons worked on Abbey Road and Dark Side of the Moon, so you can definitely tell he was going for a warm, vintage, and organic sound with that record.
Favorite day of the week?
I would say it's Sunday, since it's a time-and-a-half day for jobs in my area. Plus it's on the weekend!
And you're a hard worker too. Thanks Deckiller for accepting this interview, it was certainly very enjoyable for me and I hope you also.
It was nice talking to you, and thanks!
[This is the tenth part of a multi-part series that will be released every few days, whenever I get the chance. The other parts are Archeia, Gorlami, Mister Big T, Shaz, seita, Tsukihime, Dark Gaia, Ronove and Hirei. Download and play Valera here.]