Should I put money into this non-commercial first time project?

Ragpuppy87

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It seems like a stupid question. Ask me a month ago and I would have said no.

But now I find myself with $1,200 burning a hole in my pocket. And now I'm not so sure.
It's easy to say "no" when you don't have the money to spend.

I've been working steadily on my first RPG Maker project for (Wow , 2 years now?)
It's slowly evolved in that time from a personal endeavor in my spare time that was never meant to leave the confines of my computer, to a three person team project with a goal of creating a free to play game for the public to (hopefully) enjoy.
And in that time my passion for this project has only grown.

With my current team, I could create something I would be very proud of. I have no doubt of that. I have two wonderful artists on board each specializing in something unique. By all means I should pay them. But, they won't accept it.
Every enemy in my game is being custom drawn! You would think I would be content. "It's a first time project. You already lucked out by having these volunteers. Just settle down and be grateful for what you have!"
No I want that clear. I am very grateful. I truly am.

But what if... I could actually commission some of the talented people I see on these forums for something.
I'd love to have some custom music created! A professional playtester and debugger would truly be beneficial!
There are several things I could think of.

At the end of the day, when this project is finished, I want to say I threw everything at it. I did my absolute best.
There's a very strong chance that not one person will even play this game once it's finished. I realize that. I accept it. Every game designer takes that risk.

Would investing some money increase those odds however? To come out with the most polished and complete project I could come up with?

I've played some AAA games with millions of dollars behind them, that quite frankly I thought were terrible. Buggy horrible messes with a subpar story who relied far too much on graphics. So yes. Throwing money at a game doesn't necessarily make it better. I know that.

But should I consider what it could do for my project?
Or am I getting way over my head?
Settle down. Work on refining my game design skills with this game. Maybe save that money for a new game once I have more experience.

Or I could take a vacation.
 

FleshToDust

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It's tough to say and only you can really make that call. If you think the game has potential then it might be worth it. Show the game to a few people and see what they think. First game or not, what matters is if it has pretty solid gameplay and story. It's been 2 years so you're no beginner.

If you do put money into it I'd make it a commercial project though. No reason to not make back the money you put into it.
 

Nenen

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You can never guarantee success as an indie, so even if you spend money on a project you might not see results.

so don't spend money just cause you have it, definitely think hard before doing so.

Regarding commercialization, @FleshToDust, it could be a way to make back any money spent, but you need to be sure about that route as well. Assets need to be allowed for commercialization, etc. And you'll need a sellers licence in most countries... so be careful if you want to switch to that route.

https://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?threads/a-starting-point-for-new-users-v1-2.14727/ mentions a few things.

Edit: in a way, for us to tell whether it's worth it, we'll need to try it. I would certainly be happy to be a (unpaid) tester. Just don't expect speedy feedback :D
 

Restart

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Use free/placeholder assets first until you have a rough-but-playable game, then once the game is mostly complete you can figure out exactly where putting in original music or a really good sprite/tileset would be most effective at punching up your presentation.

Even for obvious things like having a custom sprite for your protagonist, if you once you've finished your game it ends up having a lot of rope climbing or blacksmithing or something, you'll know exactly what unusual custom animations or sfx or music you'll need. Having a firm and thorough list of what you need is important to make sure you get the best art possible, and don't end up commissioning stuff that ends up getting wasted.
 

Dororo

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Invest one third of the sum. That's what my old ones told me. Always invest only just one third of the sum. So you can fall on your feets whatever happen.

I've seen you own a YT channel, but without a true following. YT is not the ideal hub for unknown devs. A website is (and Twitter is a bit too). First: release a free beta on a well known marketplace like itch.io if you can. So people have something to discuss about.
Then you can create a blog with a personal domain and a couple social profiles to connect with people, publish tutorials, update on the game and link your videos, so find playtesters, volounteers, players and customers. It also work as an hub to have your game reviewed, commented, and help you in SEO searches against all games that doesn't rank.
Of course that require for you to connect with other devs, commenting their blogs and quoting them.

Carefully study how to create hype around a game to be released and evaluate every single cents, the web is full of "good opportunities" that end to be irrelevant or total waste.

That's probably the best thing you can do both for your game than your game dev activity (investing on yourself is always the best thing to do), and cost just a small fraction of such money.
 

Ragpuppy87

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A lot of good tips so far. Thanks everyone.

If I were to spend any money on this it would be quite a while from now.

I'm currently in the very beginning of reworking my project into something far more playable.
General consensus from my initial Beta release seemed to be , the story was there, but the gameplay was "lacking" to say the least.
There's a long road ahead.
As Restart said, I want to polish what I do have into a playable game before seeing where I might invest money in improvements.

I do have a demo planned to release pretty soon however.

Thank you Dororo for recommending itch.io as a possible place to test it against an audience.
 

Ellie Jane

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Invest in things that can be used in future projects too, rather than anything specific for this one. Build up a backbone that you can then use in your next games.
 

Tai_MT

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My general rule is "no". Why? Very simple.

Complete your game first. Once your game is completed and playable... THEN spend money to "polish" it. Buy your music, your custom assets, whatever you need, and replace the "placeholder" stuff you've been using.

With RPG Maker, there is zero guarantee you even finish the game you're designing. We all say we will, but the amount of unfinished games among the forum-goers is astoundingly high.

So, don't spend any money on it until you absolutely have to. Yes, even if it's a commercial game. Use placeholders until your game is finally completed and you can play it from start to finish. Then, buy what you need afterwards in order to polish it up.

Money spent should always be the LAST thing you do with a video game. If you can finish making the game without spending money, do that. If you can't polish it up without spending money, save that polish and customization as the last step. That way, you're guaranteed that the money you spent went into a finished product instead of a black hole.
 

The cute chicken

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If you have the money and you want to spend it in something related to your project I can recommend you buying software that is going to help you in the long run and not only in your current project. Like Game Character Hub if you want to learn how to make sprites or Rytmik Ultimate if you want to make music. (Those are the two that I bought almost three years ago and are pretty good for beginners.)

Spending money in assets seems like a good bet at first but you can easily end with a game that looks like a ugly collage pretty easily so be careful.
 

Wavelength

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It's entirely up to you. Do you want to pour a lot of money into something you're creating as a hobby? Only you can answer that.
You have to consider how much better the version you spent money to develop would be over the version you develop almost for-free (it really depends on what you're making and the quality of what you can pay for), and how much you care about having it be that much better (completely personal and subjective).

And you also have to remind yourself that developing stuff like this will always cost more money than you think. There are always some small details you didn't think of. And it's hard to go halfway - you proably can't have half of your actors be custom, and the other half be RTP.
 

HumanNinjaToo

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I think you have to look at RMG maker like any other hobby. We all spend money on hobbies as long as we are receiving some enjoyment from it. So you have to ask yourself if spending the money results in any enjoyment. At least this is how I look at it. I will spend money on resources from time to time. Probably most of the resources won't even make it into my main project. And I don't plan on ever charging money for what I've made if I do end up releasing it anyways. But I get enjoyment from tinkering with RPG maker, so spending a few dollars here and there is no different to me than buying a new video game every couple of months, or spending money at the bar on beer and billiards.
 

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