Iron_Brew

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Hey folks!

Something which has come up in a bunch of threads recently (Advice You Disagree With, Things in RPGs Which Annoy You, Are RPG Maker Games Asset Flips) is the undeniable public opinion that RPG Maker Games - which is to say games made with RPG Maker, not the engines themselves - have an image problem. Words like 'shovelware', 'low effort', and 'low quality' get thrown around a lot, but it seems like we all seem to understand and have thoughts on the validity of these criticisms, and opinions on how to circumvent these issues.

The reason I wanted to start this thread was to get a list of these issues together and discuss them in an open and friendly place! I don't mean posts saying, for example: "I hate the RTP, every time I see the RTP I assume a game will be bad." I'm not interested in that kind of bias without a suggested solution - what I'm looking for moreover are things like:



Issue: A lot of RPG Maker games are criticised for repetitive or uninteresting combat.

Possible Solution: Designing more interesting encounters, and seeking testers both for design and usability prior to any kind of commercial release.



That way we, as a community, can look at crowd-sourcing a list of potential pitfalls which creators can then navigate around by adjusting their content appropriately (or even to see which they prioritise as issues personally, and which they are willing to release with).

I do want to make absolutely explicit that I don't want to necessarily see critique of specific projects in here. I don't want to know that you have personal beef with a specific user or project's narrative, or design. The intention is not to have this thread lead to any fights, be they personal or just rehashing the same three points people have about the RTP for the sixtieth time. This is a place for us to look at the stigma attached to games made in RPG Maker and figure out what can do as individual creators to not fall into these pitfalls.

I'm looking forward to hearing what you guys see as the priority issues with RPG Maker games, as well as the issues you see with those same games in terms of their outward perception and how we can fix this! I hope this discussion yields really positive results for everyone! :D
 
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I think one of the problems with RPG Maker is how the simple engine works as a whole.

In theory, you have all these really nice tools, simple mechanical buttons, and a bunch of nice plugins for some real basic things that should be in the engine, but aren't.

Now, I know it might sound a bit wonky, but hear me out...
I feel like RPG Maker is very user-friendly, and to a certain extent, that's why it is flawed. RPG Maker's interface is so simple....and with that alone, you can only do so much before you run into the problems of needing extra things to make your game really stand out. The trade off with the simple software is that while it's easy to use, it's harder to implement things you actually "want" or "imagined".

That's usually when people realize they need to start using Plugins when it comes to that kind of creative wants. And that's fine of course, no shame in that if you're willing to agree to some terms like credits, and perhaps even profit share if you're planning that route.
But other times, you'll need to use direct coding/scripts which lots of folks aren't familiar with. (Including myself.), and seeking help with that can be a hassle. Especially when you get either no response, or responses that are all mixed. (Testing out multiple suggestions, and seeing which one is better.).
They may also have to learn something 'easier' as to avoid all of those plugin/script control nonsense, when in reality, the 'easier' thing is a rather complex thing to do through specific events/common events/switches manipulation. But that's just how it is.

It can be a frustrating process sometimes! Especially when it comes to something that should really be easier to manage/manipulate like menus. The amount of work that goes into simply making a UI is really pushing RPG Maker's limits.

Also, when you go to other game engines like Unity, they offer a lot more contextual freedom, and that's really not something RPG Maker has. RPG Maker has (in my opinion) some of the most limiting software in terms of game design and mechanics, because it is mainly based around this idea that you're trying to make well...an RPG game. It really shouldn't be a wonder as to why so many RPG Maker games use the same mechanics...(At least I think so).



Anyway, my main point now that all of my jumbled thoughts are on the screen...
I just think that the stigma of RPG Maker games 'being all the same' is inevitable. What can you expect from an engine that's limited in certain basics?
Sure, you can have really unique things like Omori, Lisa, The Witch's House...etc... in all of those titles, they usually required rather extensive work or plugin usage/script calls, and I can't even imagine the kind of manipulation they'd need to have to make their UI's work...not to mention their unique mechanics. (Also for Omori, I think it had a massive fund if I'm not mistaken?).
Thing is, those kind of games are really out there and outstanding because they went beyond the limits of RPG Maker's basics...something a lot of general users of RPG Maker aren't going to venture past.

The engine was clearly designed for a certain type of game genre, but it also gives just enough dose of how game creation/game design works that you could apply the same kind of thinking and logic to other game software.

I think something like RPG Maker is a great step for beginners, but the cracks do start to form later on.
 

Iron_Brew

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The engine was clearly designed for a certain type of game genre, but it also gives just enough dose of how game creation/game design works that you could apply the same kind of thinking and logic to other game software.

I think something like RPG Maker is a great step for beginners, but the cracks do start to form later on.

I see what you're saying, for sure - I'm trying to get a sort of focus on possible solutions to these issues rather than settling into acceptance that there are limitations to what we can do :D

Short of "Deciga, please give us better tools," do you have any suggestions on how we as developers could get around this? Like you said, there's a lot of games out there which don't suffer from this mechanical similarity (Omori, Lisa, et al) - do you think that part of overcoming the stigma is in the community/developers putting more emphasis on UX and UI design for their games?
 

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Well, the point of hating rtp games is still valid. While the rtp asset look pretty great in general, it's kind of save to assume most games that don't have a single custom asset are usually those who give rm games their stigma.

Same goes for everything else that is default. "Magic water, Potion, Stimulant, Dispell Herb" and "Heal, Fire, Spark, Dual, Triple, Quadruple attacks" already show that very little effort seem to be taken in those games. Start the game off as harold and you can hit the uninstall button right away.

Character levels and exp. Why is every rm game the same? You got that chosen warrior, who is obviously level 1 with no skills. Why? Then you have his loyal healer friend who is also level 1 and comes with the basic heal skill. And of course both of them need the exact same amount of exp to level up. Do they not have any previous life experience? Did the hero never train with his sword?

Best advice I can give is: Change everything you can from the default. Easy ones are the font, Character and item names, Title music and the likes. Rm comes with a character creator. Use it.

You have to be creative with your names as well. Same thing for the battle system. It's no use relying on the default system. Ontop of that, many games have different enemies that aren't different whatsoever. Just different sprites and stats. All they do is "Attack, attack, attack."

Just in general: Be more creative, change defaults as much as you can, especially if you plan to have a commercial product. Too many games I've seen are so blatantly asset flips with no effort put into them.

Next up: Learn the god damn engine. People keep releasing games that are barely playtested, buggy and whatnot.

Also, going beyond what the engine offers by default should be normal, even though you can create very unique games with just that. Seeking out help with plugins/scripts is not too hard either. Sure, it's not exactly easy, but who said that it would be? If you want to sell a game, you better level up your game making skills.

Now if you're making a free game, do whatever you want. Will a lot of people play your game? Unlikely. But at the same time, people don't expect much from free rm games anyway.
 

TheoAllen

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First of all.

Where do you market your game? Are you promoting your game here and other indie dev discord with a lot of them are the fellow developers who also know about the engine? Or are you promoting your game to the people in your neighborhood who probably know nothing about RPG Makers?

If you want to flex your game in RPG Maker dev clubs like this forum and wanted to get validated. Then brace yourself, because we also have our own game to flex around as well. We all want to boost our own egos. You're likely to get "I don't like RTP" simply because we all have it.

This is a place for us to look at the stigma attached to games made in RPG Maker and figure out what can do as individual creators to not fall into these pitfalls.
So my take is, most of the dev just fall into the trap of promoting their game to fellow developers (and wanted validation from them) rather than seeking the actual audience.

As far as I know, there are several audiences for RPG Maker games.
  • Horror game players
  • Adult game players (general adult game or specific fetishes)
  • Aldorea (sorry if I misspell it)
I believe there are more out there but I'm not that knowledgeable.
 

HarlekinLehl

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First of all.

Where do you market your game? Are you promoting your game here and other indie dev discord with a lot of them are the fellow developers who also know about the engine? Or are you promoting your game to the people in your neighborhood who probably know nothing about RPG Makers?

If you want to flex your game in RPG Maker dev clubs like this forum and wanted to get validated. Then brace yourself, because we also have our own game to flex around as well. We all want to boost our own egos. You're likely to get "I don't like RTP" simply because we all have it.


So my take is, most of the dev just fall into the trap of promoting their game to fellow developers (and wanted validation from them) rather than seeking the actual audience.

As far as I know, there are several audiences for RPG Maker games.
  • Horror game players
  • Adult game players (general adult game or specific fetishes)
  • Aldorea (sorry if I misspell it)
I believe there are more out there but I'm not that knowledgeable.
How did I miss that in my post? True. Marketing your game on sites like this one is not going to do much for you.
 
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I see what you're saying, for sure - I'm trying to get a sort of focus on possible solutions to these issues rather than settling into acceptance that there are limitations to what we can do :D

Short of "Deciga, please give us better tools," do you have any suggestions on how we as developers could get around this? Like you said, there's a lot of games out there which don't suffer from this mechanical similarity (Omori, Lisa, et al) - do you think that part of overcoming the stigma is in the community/developers putting more emphasis on UX and UI design for their games?

Yes, I believe so. I would never be opposed to have more options or custom design choices.

If anything, something like UI could be expanded upon greatly in RPG Maker such as battle dialogue, the speed of dialogue, where you want menu screens located via X and Y widths, sizes, fonts, etc...
I know we have tons and tons of plugins and script calls for things like those, but I feel like something like that should really be expanded more in RPG Maker's basic interface.


I'm sure there lots of other features I'm not thinking about on the top of my head, but that's one example I can think of right now to explain my point further.
A good solution for these kinds of troubles is to have more help/tools available at the get-go. But of course, I cannot expect that from a really old engine either.

I know you said to not propose 'give us better tools', but...I can't really think of other solutions if that's what you're asking about. I'm still quite a recent user of RPG Maker myself. So I can't give much opinions/ideas further than what I already know.
 

Iron_Brew

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Hey! I'm so glad to see this thread getting off to such a strong start and wanted to weigh in on what's been said so far :D :D
Well, the point of hating rtp games is still valid. While the rtp asset look pretty great in general, it's kind of save to assume most games that don't have a single custom asset are usually those who give rm games their stigma.

Same goes for everything else that is default. "Magic water, Potion, Stimulant, Dispell Herb" and "Heal, Fire, Spark, Dual, Triple, Quadruple attacks" already show that very little effort seem to be taken in those games. Start the game off as harold and you can hit the uninstall button right away.

Character levels and exp. Why is every rm game the same? You got that chosen warrior, who is obviously level 1 with no skills. Why? Then you have his loyal healer friend who is also level 1 and comes with the basic heal skill. And of course both of them need the exact same amount of exp to level up. Do they not have any previous life experience? Did the hero never train with his sword?

Best advice I can give is: Change everything you can from the default. Easy ones are the font, Character and item names, Title music and the likes. Rm comes with a character creator. Use it.

You have to be creative with your names as well. Same thing for the battle system. It's no use relying on the default system. Ontop of that, many games have different enemies that aren't different whatsoever. Just different sprites and stats. All they do is "Attack, attack, attack."

Just in general: Be more creative, change defaults as much as you can, especially if you plan to have a commercial product. Too many games I've seen are so blatantly asset flips with no effort put into them.

Next up: Learn the god damn engine. People keep releasing games that are barely playtested, buggy and whatnot.

Also, going beyond what the engine offers by default should be normal, even though you can create very unique games with just that. Seeking out help with plugins/scripts is not too hard either. Sure, it's not exactly easy, but who said that it would be? If you want to sell a game, you better level up your game making skills.

Now if you're making a free game, do whatever you want. Will a lot of people play your game? Unlikely. But at the same time, people don't expect much from free rm games anyway.
This whole post is gold - thank you for putting so much thought in! I also very much appreciate your final point about free games basically having no rules! Although I might argue that low effort/quality games bearing the engine's name harm the engine's reputation as a whole (although if they're not being widely distributed the only reputation damage would be within the community).
First of all.

Where do you market your game? Are you promoting your game here and other indie dev discord with a lot of them are the fellow developers who also know about the engine? Or are you promoting your game to the people in your neighborhood who probably know nothing about RPG Makers?

If you want to flex your game in RPG Maker dev clubs like this forum and wanted to get validated. Then brace yourself, because we also have our own game to flex around as well. We all want to boost our own egos. You're likely to get "I don't like RTP" simply because we all have it.


So my take is, most of the dev just fall into the trap of promoting their game to fellow developers (and wanted validation from them) rather than seeking the actual audience.

As far as I know, there are several audiences for RPG Maker games.
  • Horror game players
  • Adult game players (general adult game or specific fetishes)
  • Aldorea (sorry if I misspell it)
I believe there are more out there but I'm not that knowledgeable.
I think this is relevant, but as I said above, the reputation of games created within the community of people making them isn't really my primary focus - it's more the stigma surrounding games created in RPG Maker in the mind of the broader consumer base. It's very telling that the successful RPG Maker games generally aren't identified by the consumer as being made in RPG Maker - things like Lisa and Omori - so the only people who hold them up as examples of what can be done with the engine only really helps the stigma within this community.



Edit: Was just discussing this in Discord! Thought it was worth bringing up here too that the usual interaction I have when I tell people I'm using rpg maker they're generally like "ew" not "oh, nice, wasn't Omori made in that?"




I know you said to not propose 'give us better tools', but...I can't really think of other solutions if that's what you're asking about. I'm still quite a recent user of RPG Maker myself. So I can't give much opinions/ideas further than what I already know.
I appreciate this as an answer! And your thoughts on tooling are also relevant, but I fear well out of the realm of what we as individual developers using those tools are going to be able to affect :D
 
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SigmaSuccour

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#1
Issue: A lot of RPG Maker games are criticised for repetitive or uninteresting combat.

Possible Solution: Designing more interesting encounters, and seeking testers both for design and usability prior to any kind of commercial release.

Let me rephrase the above part for you. So everyone understands the complain people put up against RPG Maker games.

Issue: You didn't put enough effort in your game to make it good.

Solution: Put in that effort, and make it good.


Replace 'issue' with uninteresting combat, uninspired UI, unappealing graphics, bad writing, and so forth.
What does all of that say? The developer didn't focus on these aspects, or put enough effort to make them good.
So the solution that most suggest? Put in more effort.
That's essentially it.

Now I understand the idea of this thread, is to get to specifics.
Specific issue, and specific solution for it.
But let's be honest... does anyone believe the information of 'how to make a good' game / battles/ puzzles (e.t.c) isn't out there already? And accessible to all of us?
Of course it is.

Before I started working on my first game 4 years ago. (With zero experience in game dev, art, creativity, writing) I spent a few months learning a bit of writing, and watching a solo game developer on YouTube. Who hammered into me the idea, to FINISH games. That... FINISHING is the most important thing.

And then, I start my first project in RPG Maker.
Four months later, I release episode 1 of the game:

I get busy with my job for a couple of months.
Burn out.
Quit.
Then get back to working on the game, and release episode 2 with 1.5 months of work.

My first game,
my first story.
And what sort of comments I got?


1640671222665.png

1640671235055.png

1640671243218.png


How?
Why?
Because I put in the effort. And I was smart about it.
I learned from people more experienced than me. (Through literally, YouTube.)
And then followed through with what I was told.
And so, I got results.

What is my point?
This thread is simply putting out information, that is already out there.
And you think people who didn't access that information already, are going to access this one. And that will solve the issue.

It... won't.
It's doing the same thing again, hoping for a different outcome.

And what I would like to do instead, is clarify the core problem to everyone.
That many RPG Maker users, don't take the time/effort to learn from experienced individuals.

They don't even know how to understand, who is experienced, and who is not.
Who to listen to, and who not to.
And so a lot of these sort of threads, end up a waste.
Because experienced advice, isn't that lovely... most of the time.
And gets overshadowed by rose-lipped inexperienced one.
That is... when people even seek this sort of information.

While we're on this topic... I've brought up the issue, so I might as well quickly touch on the solution:

Solution: People can only pull you up to where they themselves are.
If someone has repeatedly finished games. Then their advice on finishing, will help you finish your games.
If someone has repeatedly produced good writing. Then their advice on writing, will help you write good.
So always look into the experience and achievements, of the person you are listening to.

If they have what you want. Then ask them how you can get it yourself. And follow through, blindly.

If they tell you about something... that they do not have. Then by listening to them on getting it, you will also... not have it.

Everyone telling you how to finish your game, without having ever done it themselves.
Well... listening to them, you're going to also... never finish games.




#2

This is a place for us to look at the stigma attached to games made in RPG Maker and figure out what can do as individual creators to not fall into these pitfalls.

On the topic of Stigma, I see an issue...

The Issue: Some in the RPG Maker community think their game is underperforming, BECAUSE of the 'RPG Maker' stigma.

Solution: That's an excuse. And I explain it in this reddit comment (click this). That just as many people hate RPG Maker games for being RPG Maker games. There are many who love RPG Maker games, for being RPG Maker games.
Which balances out.

Edit: Here are example videos, showing a unique love gamers have for specifically RPG Maker games:





And so if your game is underperforming... it's not the 'stigma'.
It's your game.
It's your marketing.
It's your effort.






#3

In case someone wonders why I first suggested this thread is a waste.
And then went onto writing so much...
Because when I make these sort of posts, I market them to people (click this). I don't just post, and forget.
Putting out information/game is one thing, many do.
Marketing that information/game is another thing, most don't.

The good information is already out there.
The good RPG Maker games are already out there.
Their marketing... isn't.

Solution: Learn from experienced individuals on how to market. Individuals who have gotten results.
I haven't, in this department. So I will not advise.
 
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Iron_Brew

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Hi Sig! Thanks for taking the time to put together such a long and detailed response, but I'm afraid there are a ton of logical fallacies in your post which make it kind of unusable in the context of what this thread is about. This might come across as harsh in places, but you've given some opinions here which I think are actually pretty problematic, so I'm going to address each of your points specifically.

#1


Let me rephrase the above part for you. So everyone understands the complain people put up against RPG Maker games.




Replace 'issue' with uninteresting combat, uninspired UI, unappealing graphics, bad writing, and so forth.
What does all of that say? The developer didn't focus on these aspects, or put enough effort to make them good.
So the solution that most suggest? Put in more effort.
That's essentially it.

Now I understand the idea of this thread, is to get to specifics.
Specific issue, and specific solution for it.
But let's be honest... does anyone believe the information of 'how to make a good' game / battles/ puzzles (e.t.c) isn't out there already? And accessible to all of us?
Of course it is.

Before I started working on my first game 4 years ago. (With zero experience in game dev, art, creativity, writing) I spent a few months learning a bit of writing, and watching a solo game developer on YouTube. Who hammered into me the idea, to FINISH games. That... FINISHING is the most important thing.

And then, I start my first project in RPG Maker.
Four months later, I release episode 1 of the game:

I get busy with my job for a couple of months.
Burn out.
Quit.
Then get back to working on the game, and release episode 2 with 1.5 months of work.

My first game,
my first story.
And what sort of comments I got?


View attachment 211031

View attachment 211032

View attachment 211033


How?
Why?
Because I put in the effort. And I was smart about it.
I learned from people more experienced than me. (Through literally, YouTube.)
And then followed through with what I was told.
And so, I got results.

What is my point?
This thread is simply putting out information, that is already out there.
And you think people who didn't access that information already, are going to access this one. And that will solve the issue.

It... won't.
It's doing the same thing again, hoping for a different outcome.

And what I would like to do instead, is clarify the core problem to everyone.
That many RPG Maker users, don't take the time/effort to learn from experienced individuals.

They don't even know how to understand, who is experienced, and who is not.
Who to listen to, and who not to.
And so a lot of these sort of threads, end up a waste.
Because experienced advice, isn't that lovely... most of the time.
And gets overshadowed by rose-lipped inexperienced one.
That is... when people even seek this sort of information.

While we're on this topic... I've brought up the issue, so I might as well quickly touch on the solution:

Solution: People can only pull you up to where they themselves are.
If someone has repeatedly finished games. Then their advice on finishing, will help you finish your games.
If someone has repeatedly produced good writing. Then their advice on writing, will help you write good.
So always look into the experience and achievements, of the person you are listening to.

If they have what you want. Then ask them how you can get it yourself. And follow through, blindly.

If they tell you about something... that they do not have. Then by listening to them on getting it, you will also... not have it.

Everyone telling you how to finish your game, without having ever done it themselves.
Well... listening to them, you're going to also... never finish games.

I'm really glad that you got such positive feedback. It is not relevant to this thread.

Simply directing people to "put effort in" is patronising, rude, and most importantly not actionable.
This thread, and this area of discourse, is not redundant, or repetitious - trying to collate people's specific experiences and perceptions of RPG Maker might lead to some doubling up of information, but it also might lead to new information, or discussion of a specific issue which could help junior developers do better.

If this seems harsh, I apologise, but trying to actively undermine the search for how we improve our games as a community seems ridiculous when you could have simply said nothing and let the thread try to help people by collating that information for them which you had to go out and find independently.



#2



On the topic of Stigma, I see an issue...

The Issue: Some in the RPG Maker community think their game is underperforming, BECAUSE of the 'RPG Maker' stigma.

Solution: That's an excuse. And I explain it in this reddit comment (click this). That just as many people hate RPG Maker games for being RPG Maker games. There are many who love RPG Maker games, for being RPG Maker games.
Which balances out.

And so if your game is underperforming... it's not the 'stigma'.
It's your game.
It's your marketing.
It's your effort.

This does not make sense and is antithetical to the spirit of the thread.
More than that, it doesn't even make mathematical sense. Your point only makes sense if the number of people who like games because they are created in RPG maker is equal to the number of people who dislike games for that same reason.

Telling junior developers that it is a lack of effort which is causing their game to underperform is simply abhorrent behaviour in my view. In some cases, that will be the case, but taking a Field of Dreams "If you build it they will come" approach to game development and marketing is reductive and oversimplistic. You're completely ignoring market competition factors, trends in the consumerbase, hardware and engine limitations - and most importantly the stigma surrounding the Engine which was the whole point of this thread to begin with.



#3

In case someone wonders why I first suggested this thread is a waste.
And then went onto writing so much...
Because when I make these sort of posts, I market them to people (click this). I don't just post, and forget.
Putting out information/game is one thing, many do.
Marketing that information/game is another thing, most don't.

The good information is already out there.
The good RPG Maker games are already out there.
Their marketing... isn't.

Solution: Learn from experienced individuals on how to market. Individuals who have gotten results.
I haven't, in this department. So I will not advise.

I feel like point three might actually explain why you took it upon yourself to attempt to derail the thread in the first place - do you feel like I'm in some way attempting to encroach upon your status as the de facto source of information for things on RPG Maker? Because I'm not. At all. The point of this thread was to try and get discourse going to help move us forward in the things we make - and as you said in your "Solution", you haven't had any results, so you can't advise. I appreciate that you have collated some information yourself, but discourse around the subject doesn't do any harm, and I don't understand why you posted the reply you did.

I feel like I shouldn't have to ask you to stay on topic, but I would really, really appreciate it because this topic was started in good faith as an attempt to try and get actionable information on specific areas we as developers can improve on, not for you to show us feedback on your own game while actively undermining discourse on how we improve the games we make, and the perception of them.

Thanks for reading, sorry if this seems harsh, but I really cannot abide someone saying to other developers that it is a fundamental lack of effort which causes them to fail in a market which is often beyond their control.
 

Dark_Ansem

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Look, to be honest, I've tried a LOT of engines (Aurora, Electron, DA, Creation Kit, Unity, Unreal...) but in the end, I came back to RPG Maker not just because of a resurgence of appreciation for SNES-era art for me, but also because, right now, with plugins, there isn't that much that is not possible. It may not be possible to do EVERYTHING, but to be honest, I'll have to make do. And it's not like I can 3d model to save my life.

Now, I just hope my writing has improved compared to when I first tried RPG Maker, hah!
 
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Iron_Brew

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Look, to be honest, I've tried a LOT of engines (Aurora, Electron, DA, Creation Kit, Unity, Unreal...) but in the end, I came back to RPG Maker not just because of a resurgence of SNES-era art for me, but also because, right now, with plugins, there isn't that much that is not possible. It may not be possible to do EVERYTHING, but to be honest, I'll have to make do. And it's not like I can 3d model to save my life.

Now, I just hope my writing has improved compared to when I first tried RPG Maker, hah!
You can do it, pal! Just keep at it.
 

Dark_Ansem

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Well right now, I've still to prepare all my assets, so that's gonna take a while - and learn dragonbones. In fact, are there some tutorials about learning Dragonbones applied to RPG Maker MZ?
 

NamEtag

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My only suggestion is to write a good synopsis on wherever you leave the game to be downloaded.

Most of the ones I've seen have better english than on google playstore, but you gotta aim a little higher than that. You and every dev out there is going to tell me the gameplay is "unique" or the story is "beautifully crafted", but I'm not really convinced if the description is vague enough that I could slap it on every other rpgmaker game on the list.

"This is the start of a grand adventure!"
"Little did he know what Fate had in store..."
"What will she do with this power?"
Yeah uh, these are exactly as convincing in manga and comics as they are in rpgmaker.
 
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What a good thread! I want to share my opinions.

I think first we need to identify the main stigmas and dissect them, taking it out from your post:
Words like 'shovelware', 'low effort', and 'low quality' get thrown around a lot...
  • Where do these come from? I think its mainly from association. There are quite a lot of RPG Maker games on internet (steam, itch.io, etc.), and sadly most of them are quite similar. You can see the same trees and buildings, you can see the same enemies, same gameplay loop, same UI, same music, and many more.
    People learn, and then those styles somehow became a genre itself. 'meh this is an rpg maker game'.

  • OK, so is the problem is because RTP then? Again, i think its due to the association. RPG Maker is a simple game engine for rpg, it has low level entry. Due to its simplicity and ease of use, it attracted many different kind of people, including some 'low effort, high expectation devs'. They didn't bother to learn the engine, didn't bother to learn some game dev skills (programming, art, writing, music, etc.) but already putting their RTP games for sale on internet.
    People learn, and associate RTP with those low effort games.

    Unity environment encountered similar problem due to abundance of stock assets, but Unity is more general and complex (harder to use) than RPG Maker, even if the assets are same sometimes the game itself are different. Because mostly you need to code every features by yourself (movement, collision, battle system, UI, typewriter effect, etc.), it adds some originality.
    Unlike RPG Maker where it provides the base rpg game system.

  • Alright, what are the solutions then? I need to agree with Sigma here, the solution is we need to put more effort into our game. ESPECIALLY IF YOU WANT TO SELL IT LATER.
    The amount of effort depends on whether you want to sell it or not.

  • Yeah, but what kind of effort? In respect for the OP and thread, I'll focus on practical solutions for people who getting started in their game dev journey.
    • Issue: Using RTP means my game is harder to stand out, but I cant do art and cant commission people.
      Solution: Learn art, even if it's basic. It doesn't even have to do with creating new original assets. Try learning the fundamentals.
      Example:
      1. Basic color theory, apply it to your game color choices (windowskin and text color contrast so it can be easier to read?).
      2. Editing skills (photoshop, aseprite, or whatever), try modifying the RTP so it can fits your game direction? Apply new color palette on the RTP? Try monochromatic theme?
    • Issue: A lot of RPG Maker games are criticized for repetitive or uninteresting combat. I have an idea on how to improve it but I cant code.
      Solution: Learn programming language that your game engine uses. Try something simple first, making plugin is the end game. Basic understanding of programming constructs can already brings benefits.
      Example:
      1. Conditional (if/else) and loop knowledge + some function calls + yanfly buffs and states can be helpful for designing complex states/passives.
      2. Knowing how object and function works let you modify some plugins. Or you can even begin to make very simple plugin (rewrite the simple base code), like moving some of battle UI.
 

Iron_Brew

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  • Yeah, but what kind of effort? In respect for the OP and thread, I'll focus on practical solutions for people who getting started in their game dev journey.
    • Issue: Using RTP means my game is harder to stand out, but I cant do art and cant commission people.
      Solution: Learn art, even if it's basic. It doesn't even have to do with creating new original assets. Try learning the fundamentals.
      Example:
      1. Basic color theory, apply it to your game color choices (windowskin and text color contrast so it can be easier to read?).
      2. Editing skills (photoshop, aseprite, or whatever), try modifying the RTP so it can fits your game direction? Apply new color palette on the RTP? Try monochromatic theme?
    • Issue: A lot of RPG Maker games are criticized for repetitive or uninteresting combat. I have an idea on how to improve it but I cant code.
      Solution: Learn programming language that your game engine uses. Try something simple first, making plugin is the end game. Basic understanding of programming constructs can already brings benefits.
      Example:
      1. Conditional (if/else) and loop knowledge + some function calls + yanfly buffs and states can be helpful for designing complex states/passives.
      2. Knowing how object and function works let you modify some plugins. Or you can even begin to make very simple plugin (rewrite the simple base code), like moving some of battle UI.

These pieces of actionable advice and observation on issues are exactly what this thread is about! Nice one, couldn't agree with your points more :D
 

slimmmeiske2

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Something I didn't see come up in the RTP discussion in the advice thread is why the RTP is so disliked. It's not because everyone's using it (though that is a small part of it), it's because many people are using it wrong.
Solution: Please learn how to map, folks. There are some very skilled users out there, who can make the default RTP feel like it's custom assets just by mapping well. Also, learn how to do simple edits, such as recoloring and rearranging tiles (or clumping as Indrah always put it).

it's more the stigma surrounding games created in RPG Maker in the mind of the broader consumer base. It's very telling that the successful RPG Maker games generally aren't identified by the consumer as being made in RPG Maker - things like Lisa and Omori - so the only people who hold them up as examples of what can be done with the engine only really helps the stigma within this community.
I wonder... is the stigma really that big currently? It definitely was at one point, but it feels to me like much of that has gone away, due to the many assets flips Unity has been producing.
Also, To The Moon was always the prime example being used in the past, not Omori or Lisa, and it doesn't hide that it's an RPG Maker game considering it uses the RTP. :)
 

Iron_Brew

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Something I didn't see come up in the RTP discussion in the advice thread is why the RTP is so disliked. It's not because everyone's using it (though that is a small part of it), it's because many people are using it wrong.
Solution: Please learn how to map, folks. There are some very skilled users out there, who can make the default RTP feel like it's custom assets just by mapping well. Also, learn how to do simple edits, such as recoloring and rearranging tiles (or clumping as Indrah always put it).

This is a fantastic take, and the solution is something I think a lot of people really need to take on board :D

Top tier post, Slim!

I wonder... is the stigma really that big currently? It definitely was at one point, but it feels to me like much of that has gone away, due to the many assets flips Unity has been producing.
Also, To The Moon was always the prime example being used in the past, not Omori or Lisa, and it doesn't hide that it's an RPG Maker game considering it uses the RTP. :)

Honestly, the reaction of other developers I speak to when they're like "hey that looks cool, what engine is it in" and I say RPG Maker has been "Ew" or some variation on "Ew" 100% of the time - I'm not saying this to be contrarian, but it's this repeated interaction which caused me to make this thread in the first place. I love RPG maker games, and I'm just interested in shifting that perception and what can be done. The suggestions in this thread so far have been (for the mostpart) really great in terms of achieving that, I think :D
 

TheoAllen

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it's more the stigma surrounding games created in RPG Maker in the mind of the broader consumer base
If you mean "broader consumer base" as in people who buy games on Steam that already got tired of seeing RPGMaker tag (without even checking the game, they straight blocking the tag). Then one thing you need absolutely need to do is do your best to hide the fact that you are using this engine (avoiding getting tagged). From that onward, do your best to make a quality game (this is a whole different topic as each game requires different treatment on how to make it good).

Or, you can get your audience somewhere else in advance. For example, having a large following in social media (your friend, or from specific fandom you are trying to appeal to), or trying to get influencers (such as streamers) to play your game (with the assumption that your game is actually good, and only the stigma gets in the way). People who aren't regularly using Steam might use it just to buy your game and don't care if it is made in RPG Maker.

It's very telling that the successful RPG Maker games generally aren't identified by the consumer as being made in RPG Maker - things like Lisa and Omori
You're dropping a big title right here. You are aiming for a long shot and get viral. Nothing wrong with dreaming that big, but the fact that none of us here had an actual experience to actually do that, ultimately we can only speculate what went right and wrong by those big titles. Mostly our perspective focused on "it is using custom graphics and doesn't look like RTP". I believe there are several factors, but I don't want to sound like I know stuff.

But we can focus on the part of "it isn't identified as being made in RPG Maker". As someone who holds the stigma and avoids paying RPG maker games like a plague (except if I know I want something else from the game that I can let it go from the fact that it is RPG maker games, like adult factors, not that I bought em, but it is a legit reason to pay), here is my perspective I write in the Advice you don't agree with thread and my Twitter thread (which basically both are the same).

In short, RPG Maker games feel the same.
- If you press esc/X/back/right-click, you open a menu (why not skill menu/item menu)
- You have the main menu with the command in that exact order.
- You have the item menu with categories in that exact order.
- You have battles that played out the same as other RPG Maker games.
- And a lot of things that define RPG Maker games.

In short, RPG Maker shapes your game because of how something is built-in the engine, not the other way around. Other game engines, at least force you to make everything from scratch. This does not automatically make it a good game, but I personally would have more faith in people who is able to customize everything. Seeing a game that looks the same as other games just don't interest me.

EDIT: I pressed save before I finished typing ...

So what can you do?
I personally believe what you need to do is cater to the correct audience or seek them. Because improving the game quality (such as making custom graphics) and your skill as a game developer (such as learning how to code) is already an obvious answer.
 
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AphoticAmaranth

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A lot of RPG Maker games are criticised for repetitive or uninteresting combat.

Combat is repetitive and uninteresting if all you and the enemies are doing is spamming the same skill over and over again without thinking.

There are a few ways to fix this.

Give players reason to use different skills. The occasional buff or debuff can be a good way to break the monotony of spamming the same skills.

Make MP management important. One way you could do this is to set a low max MP while offering other ways to regain MP (normal attack, guard, etc.)

Make guard worth using. This can be done either by giving additional effects to guard, or giving enemies powerful telegraphed attacks.

Make enemies intelligent, or give them attack patterns. Whatever you do, please don't use the default AI with only attack.

In short... put effort into designing combats. And playtest a lot.

Also, if you're going to use RTP, editing it helps a lot. Especially with animations. Even if it's just a minor edit, like changing the hue/sound/pitch or removing the screen flashes on every skill, at least it ensures that you won't be using the exact same animation as all those stigmatised games.
 

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