[QUESTION] How to make a good and interesting game?

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ngzfirlo67

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Hi guys, 

I am fairly new to RPG Maker (I usually use VX ACE), and was wondering if some "veteran" could help me in making a good and interesting game? I have some knowledge about events, switches, etc. Please post any ideas and/or tutorials that could help me and hopefully a lot of other newbies as well!

Thanks in advance,

ngzfirlo67
 

Shaz

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A "good and interesting game" is all about your characters and story, and nothing to do with the maker you're using.


Do you want help with Ace, or help with story and character ideas?
 

ngzfirlo67

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I am used to the editor.
 
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ngzfirlo67

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Lars Ulrika

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Well, depends on which audience you're targeting in first place. An older public will be more likely to sigh at a 29834983749879th "dark hero with long hair standing on the cliff thinking about his oh so dark past" than younger audience for exemple :p
And even in this case , depends on how you bring that. Using gimmicks is not necessarily a bad idea. 

Exemple : Magus in Chronotrigger. Was badass, didn't get old a single bit. 
 
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ngzfirlo67

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Well, depends on which audience you're targeting in first place. An older public will be more likely to sigh at a 29834983749879th "dark hero with long hair standing on the cliff thinking about his oh so dark past" than younger audience for exemple :p

And even in this case , depends on how you bring that. Using gimmicks is not necessarily a bad idea. 

Exemple : Magus in Chronotrigger. Was badass, didn't get old a single bit. 
Good point there! I think I want to introduce a new kind of storyline, targeted at all audiences. This may be a very very, very dumb question but what are gimmicks again?
 

Lars Ulrika

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Gimmicks (and furthermore clichés) are recurring action, character, phrase etc that comes back usually as a "trademark" for a concept (by concept I mean anything from a brand to a video game character passing by an object etc). When it gets lame or old then it transforms into the dreaded cliché (Exemple : the young boy that finds a magic sword and must find 8 crystals to save a princess.) 

BUT, here again, if smart enough you can turn a cliché into something awesome or hilarious if treated an original way! 
 
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Shades

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 How to make a good and interesting game?
I start by considering the kind of game I'd like to play. Then I consider how to improve that kind of game. That pretty much tells me what kind of game I want to make. As for those other things:

Story:

Every story worth telling is driven by the characters in it. Each of those characters wants something, so every story must open by introducing the characters and then revealing to the audience (and perhaps also the characters) what exactly it is that the characters want.

Once the opening is out of the way and the story is begun, you introduce The Big Problem. This is something that your character(s) has to solve in order to get what they want. If the Problem is Big enough, it may even change what it is that the character wants, or at least the order in which (s)he wants it. The characters will spend some time reacting to and analyzing this problem or question or whatever it is until they finally come up with:

The Decision: this is the character's answer to The Big Problem. They've mentally adjusted, they've had time to think it over, and now they're ready to take action. And when they do, they run into...

The Complication: Our hero's first major setback since the Big Problem. This complication may render The Big Decision useless and force another solution, or it may just complicate the decision in any number of ways. However The Complication manifests, it generally forces the Hero to work under additional pressures.

Add more complications and setbacks as needed. Eventually your heroes will resolve their problems and reach

The Climax: This is it. The big revelation, the final showdown, whatever it is that your story has been leading up to all this time. Here's where the problem is dealt with, the mystery gets solved, the piper gets paid... you get the idea.

The Resolution: The characters react to everything that's been happening, deal with the aftermath... and realize that *somebody* is going to have to clean up the mess.

The End: roll credits and pat yourself on the back when you make it this far.
Characters:

Remember that from one scene to the next, your characters *want* something. It is from this desire that you get dramatic tension. And when it crosses with an opposing desire from another character, you have a good recipe for the conflicts that will drive your story forward.

Also remember that happy characters = boring story. Its a rather sad fact, but the more miserable your characters get, the more interesting the story gets. This only really works, though, if the player has at least a little emotional investment in the character. Think of it like the old 'carrot on a stick' cliche. The idea stops working once the horse, mule, or whatever actually gets the carrot. So keep moving the carrot away until it's time to remove the tension. Make 'em chase after it.

Another good thing to keep in mind is that everyone has their secrets. Make your characters' secrets as interesting as their goals and desires.

Finally, your players need to be able to identify with your characters for them to care much about them. Give your characters a couple of interesting personality traits to set them apart from each other.
Don't forget to use your imagination. If your story and characters don't come alive in your own imagination, they'll probably fall flat in the game as well. And don't forget your setting, either. Much like your characters, places have their own moods, personalities, secrets, and stories to tell.
 

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In the starting point tutorial linked in my signature I wrote a lot of important things about how to start making a game, but this topic is about something different - how to make an interesting game. So I'll add a bit from an entirely different perspective.


The first step for a game developer to get to a good game should be to select a game made by another one as an example to learn from.


That game should fulfill the following criteria:


1) It's of a type similiar to the game you want to make (it doesn't need identical mechanics or stories - but you can't learn about RPGs by playing a chess game).


2) It should have received average reviews of 80% or more (it's difficult to learn from a bad example)


3) you should have played it to the end before (and that is very important, you should have played it to the finish and not just dabbled around a bit with it)


Now - play it again to the finish.


Only this time, you don't care about the story (you already know it, having it played once before) - instead you start to analyse the components - why did the developer choose to place the maps in that order, why did the enemy behave in this way and so on.


That is because one of the more important facts about any task is that you get better by experience. Some experience you can only get by making your own game, but other parts can be learned from examples - and playing a game to learn about story pacing or enemy design is a lot faster than making your own game to learn that.


And if you think it's booring to play a game again, then you better stop now - during playtesting, you'll have to play your own game a dozen times from beginning to end if you ever plan on getting it stable and out...


One more tip:


Making a good and interesting game requires a lot of work, because nothing breaks interest as fast as unplayable bugs or balance issues, no matter how good your idea is. And that doesn't only include bugs by error messages - you should always consider that players can't read your mind.


If there is only one way to get pass an enemy, then you cannot expect all players to automatically know that way - you either need to make it obvious (for younger audience, older players probably get desinterested if there is no challange) or to include hidden tips which help the player finding the correct way.


That is another reason why you always need more playtesters who haven't played the game a dozen times yet - only those can tell you if the added hints are enough. Playtesters who already know how to solve a problem won't be able to judge if the later added hints are enough...
 

Celianna

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ngzfirlo67, please avoid double posting, as it is against the forum rules. You can review our forum rules here. Thank you.


I've moved this thread to General discussion. Please be sure to post your threads in the correct forum next time. Thank you.
 

Aryam

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As many before me has said, story is a big thing when it comes to make sure your playes follow your game to its end.

Now, story includes main over reaching arc, small subplots that expands the world setting, your party characters and level design.

Main story usually boils down to the BBEG has done something now go fix it.

Subplots could be side quests from hub towns or world events that makes the world feel more alive in different ways.

Main party characters could be given a reason for doing what they are doing and some hints or more thorough back story, either in gameplay or hints.
 

Level design plays a major role in the whole "it's alive!" department, while i suppose many of today's playes don't give much thought to why props are placed like they are but small pieces

spread around in your maps can tell stories of the area without text or other input.

Gameplay is a whole nother side of the coin that makes or breaks your game.
 

Stridah

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To me the story is everything! The problem with stories however is the quality is generally subjective and a story that one loves might not appeal to others.  For instance as a reader or gamer i generally only have interest in medieval fantasy (darker is better) so i will play games like the witcher, ogre battle 64, dragon age origins etc.  

I am more inclined to buy a game in that genre then say sci fi.  

So what im getting at is you either need to choose a genre that has a fan base & create an engaging story in that genre or come up with something super creative & innovative that has not been done before.  

hope this made some sense, i sometimes have trouble expressing my thoughts!

p.s. of course creating work in saturated genres means more competition, but hey a good game is a good game
 
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BlissAuthority

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Three-act structure is going to be your very best friend when writing a story, even one in a game.  Try to get ahold of a pair of books by Syd Field, Screenplay and The Screenwriter's Workshop: used, they shouldn't be more than ten bucks each.  While they're focused on feature-length screenplays, the advice is applicable to any visual medium - like this one.

Also:  Super unpopular opinion time here, but pay attention to gameplay and story integration.  I've seen a lot of games where the gameplay is an afterthought or, worse, where the gameplay is at complete odds to the story you're trying to tell.  Whenever possible, reflect a character's personality through their mechanics.

Frex:  I have a character from a Chinese-inspired culture whose wizardly powers are based on a theme of transformation and transition; all of his spells add status effects as well as dealing damage, and his TP based abilities are all buffs based on a theme of "making the target more like a dragon or a phoenix."  In the fluff - that is, the descriptions and the art as opposed to the 'crunchy' mechanics - he transmutes air into other elements, turns someone's blood into acid to poison, and so on.
 
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Dandydan

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Considering that I just finished an MA in writing this past semester I should have something to say on this topic.

As for books, the writing book I found most helpful is Fiction Writer's Workshop.

http://www.amazon.com/Fiction-Writers-Workshop-Josip-Novakovich/dp/1582975361

What I love most about this book is that it is designed as a set of exercises so it breaks everything down into easy to digest bites. For a person who doesn't have a degree in English but wants to start writing IMO its the best book there is.

As for game design, I am new to this so I cannot comment much. The book that has been recommened to me is Theories of Fun.

http://www.theoryoffun.com/

Lastly, I am going to add these words of wisdom from Greg Street, who up until yesterday was the lead system designer for Blizzard's World of Warcraft but now is at Riot games.

http://twitter.com/OccupyGStreet/status/410100823155171328

"We're never certain. Game design is very much a crap shoot, tempered by experience, feedback and your gut."
 

wallacethepig

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How to make a good and interesting game? Look to Nike: Just Do It. Seriously, that's it. Just do it. Just make something, anything. Then, when you've finished that, make something else. Don't spend all your time trying to make your first game a masterpiece, because then it will live on your computer and no one will play it because you'll fiddle with it until you're all fiddled out. So, to reiterate: Make something. Post it. Rinse and repeat. Trust me, you'll get better and better. Also, play other people's games. They were a success--why? Why did you enjoy their game so much? Did their game have humor? Maybe yours should too. Look at other good games and use them as a launching pad for your own. "On the shoulders of giants" is what Newton said. So, go ahead and be a video game Newton. Stand on the shoulders of video game giants.

-Wallace
 
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To build on wallacethepigs post.

When you have posted a product that can be tested, pay heed to those who test it and be thankful for the feedback.
 

MagicMagor

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I always find it funny - the question was about making a good game yet most of the advice is only focused on writing a good story. A game is no movie and no book, it's an interactive medium. If you focus too much on the story you are probably better off writing a book.

The best advice so far would be Andars advice about playing other games and analyzing them. When playing a game, try to anwser this question: "Why is this game fun?" - This will lead you to the core idea of the game, its source or definition of fun. The core of a game is rarely unique, there are probably only a handful basic ideas, that are fun. But the important thing about the core is, that everything resolves around it. Every decision about the game design is weighted in light of the core - does it add to the core or does it distract from it?

The story can be the core, but it doesn't have to be. Often the story is just an excuse to get the game rolling, to give it a direction, but the real core is progressing your characters, customising them with classes, skills and equipment, or exploring the vast world.

This also doesn't mean you can ignore the story if it is not your core. A good story helps you sell your core to the player. Story-sequences are rewards for finishing certain parts of the game and are what ties it all together. It is like the icing on the cake, without it the cake would be really bland. But icing alone isn't fullfilling, it needs to be on top a cake.

I have played only very few games where i would say that the story is their core - and none of them were RPGs.

Don't confuse a good story for good gameplay - and the gameplay is what makes a game a game, otherwise write a book.

Use the story to sell your gameplay - not the other way around.
 
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BlissAuthority

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On that note, some excellent advice from Level-Up Games - you know, the Defender's Quest people? - is to come up with your core gameplay mechanics first, then write a story informed by them.  That link is to their blog article on the subject.

If they didn't know every mechanic in detail before writing the story, it would have suffered; but as it stands, it's one of the best examples of gameplay and story integration in the genre.
 

ngzfirlo67

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Thanks for everything so far guys! It has helped, and I have now finished 3/4 of my game. So far, going well. Only stuck on the boss battle now :)

-ngzfirlo67
 
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