Should I sell my game when it uses mostly base assets, little custom coding, and no plugins?

theweirdnerd

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I've seen and read that RPGmaker games get really bad flak for being lazy asset flip kind of games. So much so that I seen RPGmaker being called an "Asset Flip generator". I've been working on a project for well over a year now (started in December of 2019). It uses mostly, if not entirely, the base assets that came with the engine. I've yet to learn any programming languages, I'm no artist, and yet, I've put my heart and my passion into this project. I've really tried to make the gameplay feel unique and the story and characters engaging, even though it was all done with the engines Event Editor.

I'm planning on selling the game for less than $5, maybe only a $1 on steam when it's finished because it uses 90% base assets. But hearing the reputation that RPGmaker games get, I've gotten to thinking, "Should I even bother and just move on to other things?"

I'm sure this counts as oversharing but it's something that's plagued my thought process since I picked RPGmaker MV up back in 2015. I'm sure other people starting out have thought similar things once in a while.

I'd love to hear anyone else's thoughts on this. Do you think having having base assets matter if the design the creator was going for shines through; or do you think a developer should pick up a coding manual and draw some art if they're going to sell a product that's worth something?
 

Milennin

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If you think your game has enough value that it's worth asking money for, you should go for it. The worst that may happen is people not buying your game or leaving a bad review.
 

TheTitan99

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I've seen several base asset RPG Maker games for sale on steam, some with even pretty good reviews. So, selling such a game is not always a death sentence for bad reviews and being accused of being an asset flipper. It's more likely to just be ignored than hated on, from what I've seen. Most RPG Maker games that use clear default assets just get overlooked.

I've never seen one of the games have good sales. Then again, that's just the life on an indie developer. For every 1 Undertale that sells millions, there are millions f games that sell 1.

I say, sell it if you want to. You might make a little bit of money back, but you probably shouldn't expect high sales even if its good. But, if you're happy with the game, why not sell it? So many people release passion movies to youtube that get only a handful of views.
 

SigmaSuccour

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The question is: Is your game bad & boring to look at? If yes, then you have to make it look interesting. (Games are a visual medium, after all.)

Once you are done with the game, spend a month or two, adding details, animations, effects, lightings and shadows. (These are things that make the graphics attractive. And not necessarily the objects/assets you use. You can keep the base assets, and make your game look interesting in different ways.)

Once your game looks good, attractive. Then definitely yes, sell it.

Edit: Oh I thought it was just the base assets. For gameplay, it just needs to be fun. If you yourself are having fun playing it from start to finish, then congratulations, it's fun.


P.S.
I've put my heart and my passion into this project.
Our heart and passion doesn't matter to the gamer. What matters to them, is if we cared for their heart, and their passion.
So I ask @theweirdnerd, did you care for them as you made the game?
 
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Bendyizzt

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I think if you're selling your game, it must have a good [and I mean Good] storyline.
 

TheGentlemanLoser

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@theweirdnerd:

IDK, is it any good?

Like in all seriousness THAT should REALLY be the first and foremost thing in your mindbrain when you're considering whether to charge money for your game.

I think if you're selling your game, it must have a good [and I mean Good] storyline.

Why? VideoGAMES are about GAMEplay, stories are optional in most genres, and even then good story/good storytelling doesn't necessarily mean you have to have a good "storyline", emergent storytelling is a thing (think of the finer roguelikes and sandbox games) as is distributed worldbuilding/lore (think Dark Souls) and neither of those requires or mandates a plot.

Once you are done with the game, spend a month or two, adding details, animations, effects, lightings and shadows. (These are things that make the graphics attractive. And not necessarily the objects/assets you use. You can keep the base assets, and make your game look interesting in different ways.)

Gotta say I strongly disagree with the assertion that lighting effects and overlays are mandatory. If a game that uses RTP assets handsomely is fun to play...well I'm still not going to buy it because of the obscene number of RM games available for free that I want to try but never find time for...but I am no less likely to buy it than if you throw a bunch of overlays and lighting effects and shadows on top of it. I agree with the fact that a game that is visually interesting will be more likely to sell but these aren't the default, only, or main ways of making your game look interesting even if you are using RTP assets.

For gameplay, it just needs to be fun. If you yourself are having fun playing it from start to finish, then congratulations, it's fun.

This is far from always the case. You might like playing your game even when other people will hate it because people's tastes in design choices vary from person to person and what is "good game design" is extremely subjective. You also might absolutely loathe playing your game due to having playtested it 8 billion times to the point where all of the fun has leached out of it leaving only familiarity, breeding contempt even if your game is fun for a normal person that didn't make it to play.
 
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Wavelength

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Very good question.

There are three things you need to consider here:

1) Is your game very good?
This can be such a hard question to answer yourself. If it's your first effort, the odds are it's not as good as it needs to be to justify selling it. However, there are certainly exceptions (especially if you've put over 500 hours of work into the game and are doing things that very few other designers do). If you have friends or acquaintances who are also gamers (especially RPGM fans), ask them to give you a run and give you their honest opinion on whether they think it's worth selling. (As a second-best option, post a video of the single best ten-minute segment of your game here, and we can give you snap opinions on whether we think it's worth it.)

2) How thick is your skin?
Developers on Steam - even devs who make the most original and most beloved games - are going to take flac from the community; some deserved, much of it not deserved but nevertheless doled out, and will have to deal with demands from gamers who can't get the game working or aren't satisfied with what they got. Developers who give away their game for free (and especially ones who stay off of Steam entirely) will obviously take less flac and hear fewer demands. Ask yourself honestly: Am I able and willing to accept the criticism without getting angry? Am I willing to put more of my own time and passion into this game (rather than starting another game and devoting all my time/passion to that) to make things right if people have legitimate complaints (like rare crashes)?

3) What are your personal goals?
Steam is a great platform for getting your game (and your name) out there for people to consider, though it's worth remembering that you can either give your game away for free on Steam or charge money for it. For some people, it might be more fulfilling to have 20,000 people decide to give their game a try because it's free, find that they love it, and give great feedback, rather than have 4,000 people ultimately decide to make the $0.99 purchase and bank about $2800 (after Steam fees). Or for some people, knowing they earned money from their hard work will feel more rewarding. Ask yourself what you really want to get personally out of putting your game out there, and decide what your distribution model should be and whether your game should be paid based on that.
 

Frogboy

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As others have mentioned, a game that only took a year to make and uses strictly stock assets is unlikely to garner much attention, even if it is really good. So you have to ask yourself one question. Which one of these options holds more value to you.
  1. Put the game on Steam and maybe make a little bit of money off it.
  2. Give your game away for free and try to get people to critique it and provide feedback for your next game.
 

PixeLockeT

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From my 35-years experience as both a GAMER and a dev, that stuff rarely matters. Marketing and exposure makes much more difference in sales than does an objectively good game, tbh. Most of the mainstream trash have next to nothing of value and sell on nostalgia factor "I played this with my dad when I was like 8 so it must be good so I'm gonna buy everything of it thats comes out, hey why doesn't this game seem as good 15 years later" and name alone, and sometimes for dumb reasons such as "they did it first", while actually objectively good games that do everything better fly under the radar because they spent nothing to market.

And then you get those rare instances where a game will be a bit mediocre/average and fly under a radar for a few years and suddenly gets discovered or picked up by an influencer and then the sales go crazy.

Marketing is literally everything. And watered down games that have mass marketing will nearly always do better than a brilliant game that has none.

There are RTP games with insane sales. There are RTP games that get called dumb asset flips and barely a soul sees it even if the game is a good one that just so happened to be made with RTP.

If you're passionate about it, market the heck out of it, highlight what you feel is its best feature and show it off. Create a demo of the best spots/aspects. Preach it on every platform you can stumble across. You will get an audience, even if your audience is small at first.
 

bgillisp

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Short answer. Yes.

Long answer. Don't concern yourself with is it default or not. In my experience default games have outsold most custom games out there. There are exceptions, but when it comes to what people *actually* spend money on (not what they say they will but what they actually do spend it on), you will find some curious trends, and the trends are not usually saying the same thing people say they want to buy.

But in all honestly you are asking the wrong people. What devs want =/= what customers want a lot of the time too. I'd say you should ask some people who mainly play games their feedback on it.

And finally, no matter what you charge someone will say it should be cheaper. So just be prepared for that.
 

ShadowDragon

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there can be done many good things with RTP alone and no scriptcalls
or plugins added.

Story needs to be nice, maps should look stunning (even if it's rtp)
and I see many great maps with rtp alone.

small edits of rtp like beds/clocks/plants with around 24 pixels up does
already great things to create more space.

light effects, custom menu alone can give an amazing feel when it fits the
game, but I also unique features that arent many times inside a game.

there are games with nice mapping but a horrible story, or to many empty
maps that bad battle experience.

if those are not to default (at least the battle), than try for it, and see
what reviews you get, or let them through some testers for feedback,
and see what they suggest, so you can also decide to sell, or let them
donate if they love the game :)

it is totally up to you rather you sell or not, but there are some nice pointers above.
 

Sword_of_Dusk

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Our heart and passion doesn't matter to the gamer. What matters to them, is if we cared for their heart, and their passion.
So I ask @theweirdnerd, did you care for them as you made the game?
Okay, this annoys me. The minute you start making a game to cater to other gamers instead of doing something you have confidence in, and are passionate about, you dun sold out. It's one thing to get feedback from fans and make improvements, that's normal. However, I firmly believe that a dev ultimately needs to do what they feel works. If they don't, it ends up not really being their artistic vision.
 

Featherbrain

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I've been working on my game since around late 2019 as well. It has custom graphics (and music, and sound effects). Includes numerous plugins and custom code. And I also ask myself the same question. Should I sell this game? Will it sell?

These questions aren't limited to RTP-only games or even RPG Maker games. While I understand that those games face a certain reputation, the question of whether a product will sell is the fundamental question that faces an independent producer of any media or product.

Certainly there are RTP games that have sold respectable copies.

Personally, I plan to proceed in making and marketing the best product I can, and see where it goes. My goal is to release a free playable demo online for feedback and a basic barometer of interest level. Then try a fundraising campaign to build out the scope of the final game. From there I'll try a Steam release, at whatever price seems justified at that point, possibly including free.

Have you considered making a small free demo or prototype of the game available to gauge interest?
 

Cootadude

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If this is your first game and your new to the Game Development World I would say it's best to not sell it.

But if you know what your doing and people know how good you are then you can sell the game.

Marketing is everything when it comes to selling the game, the more people that know about the game the better.

Use social media get YouTuber's or Twitch Streamers to play it (Best to give them a free version), and if you want to spend loads of money (Can be up to a thousand dollars for just a short time) you can use advertising.

This is half me but... When I see a game and it's the Developers first game, I have a conflict in wanting to help the new Dev but since I'm forced to be strict with my wallet I only purchase games that I know is good from Dev's that I know is good.

When players pay with their hard earned money they expect the game to be good and players are less forgiving the more money they spend on the game.

Make sure the game is polished, bug free and tested, have friends and family and/or the RPG Maker Community play the game to give you much needed feedback so that you can be sure the game is ready to sell.

I'm currently working on a video where I talk about the 10 most common ways a game dies and here are some of them that you should avoid.

1. Boring
Make sure the game is as fun as it can be, if the player gets bored midway it's a bad sign. Note what parts of the game the player feels bored or what their tired of.
Mix things up once and a while to prevent it getting Repetitive boring the player.

2. Bugs
Test everything in the game, I even sometimes try to get the game to crash or try things to reveal any bugs while testing.
The more testers you have the more bugs you'll find, take note that even after release you might find some bugs to fix.

3. No one knew about it
Get as many people to know about the game as possible.
As I already said in the above use Social Media to your advantage!

4. Not Interesting
This is the biggest reason why I don't buy a game is just because it wasn't interesting to me.
Now every player has different things they find interesting, I like deep story and complex gameplay while my younger brother likes to play sandbox games with almost no story.
Put up screenshots and a trailer showing the player the best moments of the game (Don't give any big spoilers!), In the desc put all the information the player needs to know about the game including:

What is the game
What the story is
What is the gameplay
What Age the game made for and what it contains (Violence, Blood, Language etc.)
What makes your game special
And why they should buy it

Many Game Dev's use a "Call To Action" technique where after they tell you everything about the game they tell them to check it out and download/purchase the game at that moment with the phrase "Download Now!" and the like.

I don't want to make this too long, and I'm not a Pro Game Dev... yet. But I hope this is useful to you and others.
 

TheoAllen

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Advertising and the actual game quality aside. Because a lot of points have already been saying.

Ask the wrong people, and you will get a bad review. Or simply ignored
Ask the right people (who don't mind paying for RPG Maker games), and you get your money.

For example, if you sell on Steam and it looked like an asset flip, people might not be going to notice it.
But if you, for example, make a game for a specific niche (such as an adult game), and sell to those who are willing to pay. You will get your money.
 

Mr. Detective

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mostly base assets, little custom coding, and no plugins​


You can sell whatever you want, but people just won't buy it. I can already tell this won't be a game worth paying for. Your story might be really good, but to tell it with a game, especially one made with everything default, is going to be very difficult and I have no confidence that this can be done by someone new.
 

maliyana

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I would like to add that there's a difference between games that use a lot of RTP assets and the "stereotypical RPG Maker game."

The former are the ones that can sell well and/or be well-received. They use a lot of the default tiles and sprites, but they add a lot of custom sprites and artwork as well. They know how to map well. They create battle systems that aren't just the base system, and if they are the large quantity of games that aren't the typical RPG, they often can be categorized in RPG Maker subgenres(ie: horror, vn, hentai, etc.) that have a market.

The later "stereotypical RPG Maker games" are the ones that contribute to the bad reputation the engine has. Mind you, these games aren't bad merely because of the RTP assets, but they don't help much, and perhaps serve as kind of a warning of the type of game they may have seen numerous times in the past. The UI's and menus will be completely unchanged, use the same default sound effects, have 'Theme6' as their title screen music. In my opinion, the worst aspect is that the gameplay would be as boring and unchanged as it can possibly be. Collectively, these games feel more akin to "series of custom areas created in a pre-existing game" than standalone games, like trying to sell me a collection of 8 Mario Maker levels for 5 bucks.

What it boils down to is that selling a game with absolutely zero plugins/programming/non-base RTP will be a uphill battle. That's not to say dumping a bunch of plugins into a game will make it good, or entirely custom art will inherently make the game visually interesting, but the base engine with no customization is quite limited in allowing a game to be personalized.
 
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starcrescendo

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Totally agree with this! I don't care if the game looks outdated if it looks "good". If the style is nice. If the gameplay is fun, and the story is interesting.

Perfect case for me: Ni no Kuni: Such a BEAUTIFUL game. SUCH an intriguing storyline, but the gameplay is crap (to me). The battle system is a glitchy convoluted and HARD mess, and its plagued with annoying systems (it is a port of a port afterall).

The game has to have all 3, it doesn't have to be beautiful, doesn't have to be non-cliche, and doesn't have to use tons of plugins, but the sum of the parts should be "good", in my opinion.

I don't care if its RTP or custom made graphics. Custom made graphics that (I'm sorry) look like they were drawn in paint and the person obviously worked hard on them but just isn't good at art is way worse than RTP in my opinion. I'd rather play something where someone acknowledges their limits, strengths, and weaknesses.


@theweirdnerd:

IDK, is it any good?

Like in all seriousness THAT should REALLY be the first and foremost thing in your mindbrain when you're considering whether to charge money for your game.
 

kirbwarrior

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You can absolutely get away with selling a game with no new assets (I don't consider the generator 'new' assets for this), no plugins, and no new coding. Those aren't necessary for making a game that's good and you can still find a way to excite within those constraints.

However, for me personally, I find if this is your first game, it might be better to give it out freely. It's effectively advertisement for later games you sell because if it's good, people will want more and will now know if the quality is worth spending money on.

Mind, that's specifically if you had no budget put into the game. It does sound like you didn't hire an artist or coder or beta testers or editors. Not to say your time isn't worth anything, but if you do put money into it I completely understand wanting to sell it to make up for that.
 

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RTP assets are not a hold back if your game offers an awesome experience. Why not offer a limited demo here for free so that other people here can give feedback? That's what i plan to do with my game when i get it to a certain point.
 

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