Zackleaynts

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Hello, everyone. Please guide me. Okay, straight to the point.


I've decided to go back to game making. Using RPG Maker. Even though this is at the moment a hobby and a past time taking a small portion of my free time, I hope to turn it into a life-long career someday. I have no helper at the moment. I mean, I have no one in my team except me. And I would like to start learning by doing everything on my own first because I think that's the best way to learn. However, I don't want to initiate aggro with no clear directions to go. I have Ace but I'm planning on trying MV's trial and buying it. I'll start with the default mats. But eventually, I'd like to make my own mats.


Teach me. How do I get good at writing. How do I learn and get good at drawing and making graphics. How do I learn and get good at coding for Ace and MV, and in general. How do I learn and get good at making music and sound effects. How do I learn and become a good game designer?


Please forgive and spare me if thread like this has been open as I didn't use the search function. I was...kinda in a hurry.. But is being hurry in learning alright? No, I think. Sorry. Please help.
 
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Kes

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You get good by practice, practice, practice.


I strongly urge you to follow through carefully Andar's compilation of info for new users.  Spending a bit of time with it now getting to grips with the fundamentals, will save you a huge amount of time in the future.  Although originally written for Ace, 98% of it is also applicable to MV.


There are a range of tutorials which are a gold mine of information.  However, let's be realistic.  If you can't already draw, it will take years of practice to be good.  What you can do, though, is learn how to edit.  You can do what's called frankenspriting to get your own characters.  You can learn to do highly selective recolours instead of just using colourize (get yourself GIMP, it's free and does everything that Photshop does).  The same goes for music.  If you're not already a musician then it will take years of practice.  And then you have to get hold of the hardware/software needed to make music for a game.


Or you could browse through the vast amount of free resources on this site to find what you want.  In your first game you are learning not just how to use the engine, but also all the skills needed to put together a coherent project.  Use readily available resources to help you with that, so that you have the opportunity to build up your skills.  Otherwise, it will take you so long to get up to competence that you will likely lose heart.


And you say that because you were in a hurry you didn't use the search function.  Search is your friend.  It will often take you far less time to use search to find the answer to a particular query (most initial questions have already been asked) than it will to formulate and post your query and wait for an answer. 
 

Fugama

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I like pixel art as a starting point for art because it's easy to learn but as you practice it you really learn how lines interact with one another, and as you research pixel art you pick up a lot of good basic techniques that involve lines, shading, and picking a good color palette (and it's super convenient for rpgmaker). As for writing, that's entirely subjective but remember that a good story is USUALLY driven by characters. A story about two friends who end up on opposite sides of a war due to their beliefs is a lot more emotionally gripping compared to "this meteor hit the world and monsters came out of it, go fight them"  Your characters will develop their own personalities as you write more, embrace that. Also, you should have a good idea of how your world works, you won't need to reflect every detail of it to your players, but make sure you know what your world does. If it's consistent to you, it'll be fine for the player. A lot of famous Authors just have a beginning and and end written down and just build their way there, but do whatever works for you.

On a technical side of things, if you end up liking MV (which most do) I'd wait till after you get that to learn coding. Ruby seems a lot clunkier to me compared to Javascript, and with MV you can utilize the codes Yanfly makes in his tips and tricks videos to start learning what you can do (with plenty of experimenting to see what you can't)
 

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Some writing tips:


1.If dialogue reads the exact same way for every one of your characters, you haven't given them any personality. People have a certain manner of speaking, and good writing can reflect their personality through their speech patterns and the things they say.


2.Not all characters have to grow positively. Growth doesn't have to mean a change for the best. 


3.Never use Anglo-Saxon English(Old English). Ever. You probably won't use it properly, and if your game doesn't take place in a setting where it would make sense to use it in the first place, you're really making a mistake.


4.Keep your use of proper nouns under control. You don't have to assign some fancy sounding name to everything, especially if it doesn't serve a story purpose. It's easier to read "John's Keep" instead of "The Ascending Stair of the Archon". Always ask yourself, "Does this serve a purpose?". If the answer is no, just use generic nouns or possessives like I did above.


5.Please, for the love of god, avoid the following cliches:


-Well armed teenagers being the only group of people capable of saving the world. 


-A prophecy of any kind designating a specific member of the party as "The Chosen One"


-Endangering the entire world in the first place. It's so passe and boring to do this, unless you've got a very interesting story behind it.


-The main character starting out as a farmer's son.


-The main character having a sibling that is inevitably discovered to be responsible for the chaos you've been dealing with


-A baddie finding a magical artifact that was carelessly left lying around for anyone to pick up and become TEH UBER POWAHFUL DEMIGOD™


-A legendary sword being the only thing that can stop the bad guy. 


-People in black are always the bad guy


-Cities and towns you've never been to immediately recognizing you as the hero


-Your characters instantly recognizing someone who has yet to do anything bad as a bad guy


-Power-tripping, ball-busting female characters. This is not how you write female empowerment. 


-No "collect all the things to progress" style storyline. 


6.Even evil characters need a personality beyond "RAWR I AM EVIL I PUNT PUPPIES AND KILL PEOPLE BECAUSE I AM EVIL"


7.Do not open your game with an expository text crawl like an NES game from 1992. There are better ways to explain what the current situation with the world is other than a massive, unskippable infodump at the beginning of a game.
 
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HexMozart88

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Never use Anglo-Saxon English(Old English). Ever.

To clarify this, I'm pretty sure he just means no thee and thine. You can use a certain way of speaking, somewhat more old-fashioned, if you're making a medieval game. It's almost a balancing act where you have to find a comfortable balance between Old English and modern day slang. 

Even evil characters need a personality beyond "RAWR I AM EVIL I PUNT PUPPIES AND KILL PEOPLE BECAUSE I AM EVIL"

To elaborate on this as well, sociopaths are perfectly acceptable as enemies, but they need to have a reason for being a sociopath. A good one too. Like, you can't just say "When I was younger, my brother laughed at me for spilling my drink so now I will beat him to a bloody pulp and watch him twitch."


Also no ridiculous amounts of gore for no good reason. That is what really annoys me with a lot of horror anime/ horror games. There's just gore for the sake of adding gore, and it gets to a certain point where it's not even scary anymore, because it's so unrealistic, it's laughable. For example, half the deaths in Another should not have consisted of that much blood. Even my own game has decent amounts, but it's controlled to the point where it's sad rather than funny.


Also, try to avoid the dead parents cliche. Because, in games like mine, it makes sense (the souls of the parents are bound to the soul of the main character, so -- when the main character nearly dies, since the parents are already bloodied and very near to death anyway, they simply die), but it's become too cliche in action games/TV/movies where the main character has no parents, so try to avoid it as much as possible. Some other cliches to avoid:


- Main character is arrogant


- Trying to impress girls


- Absurdly powerful main enemies


- Unbearably idiotic characters


- Doing something really dumb that ruins everything


- Car accidents


- Dark, edgy characters that are dark and edgy for no reason


- Boring, useless enemies


- Glorifying war


- Heavily injured main character that still insists on taking five minutes to walk towards the enemy 


- Long, awkward pauses in dialogue


One last thing that I must stress heavily in order for you to not trigger everyone while making your game is when you have a character with some form of mental illness (unless you have that illness yourself), do research. You have to research the mental illnesses so you can portray them accurately. For example, you don't want a character with autism to be flapping their arms and acting like idiots. You will offend lots of people that way. It would also be a good idea to research any places you are basing your game off of, so you can map it correctly and use correct customs while there. No racial cliches. For me, it's a little harder of course, because I'm doing medieval times with vague hints of Japanese culture and customs (cherry blossoms, names, etc) so I searched both of those and put a little spin on it. 
 

PsychicToaster

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To clarify this, I'm pretty sure he just means no thee and thine. You can use a certain way of speaking, somewhat more old-fashioned, if you're making a medieval game. It's almost a balancing act where you have to find a comfortable balance between Old English and modern day slang. 

Indeed, I do. Old English words have no place in a game if the setting for it isn't there. Richard Garriott might have gotten away with it back in the 80s and 90s with Ultima, but Britannia was based on medieval England, so it worked out. 


I disagree with the dead parents thing, but only insofar as there needs to be a far more valid reason than "they were old" or "they were killed by some guy".  I like your idea on it. 
 
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LaFlibuste

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Yeah, don't aim to be perfect in every field. Almost each of those fields you named could be a career in its own merit, don't expect you can master multiple just like that. Aim for ambitious but realistic goals and set up multiple milestones so as to not discourage yourself. Your mileage may vary, depending on your background/affinities/starting skillset, but roughly I'd rate the following tasks from "easiest" to "hardest":

  1. Eventing in RPG Maker. This is pretty much entry level and was made to be easily accessible. Sure, there are subtleties, you could event like a butcher or like a surgeon, but it's pretty much a basic skill and there's no going around it if you are going to develop games with RM.
  2. This one depends on you, I could see it in the first spot and some people would put it much lower, but mapping. You likely already played quite a few games and looked at maps, you most certainly have more or less of a feeling of how things should be to make sense.
  3. Writing up your story. Once again, there's leeway to be an awesome writer or a pretty sucky one, but writing something half-decent is not so hard considering you've been listening/reading narratives since you were a toddler and likely pretty much have a sense of how a story is built.
  4. Editing sprites/any pixel art. Really it's not THAT hard to just do perfectly decent recolors. Frankenspriting might be a tad trickier but it's entirely feasible. There are plenty of tools and resources around that anybody with half an artistic sense could get around to creating somewhat decent placeholders (at worst).
  5. Game design. Also a tricky one to grade, but there's no going around it. And since I'm going to assume you've played a few games, you likely have a basic feel for the thing.
  6. Writing dialogs. It's trickier than the broad story but you already know language, so you've got the basic tools to get by.
  7. Learning scripting languages (Ruby for VXA, Javascript for MV). This is possibly the most daunting task so far, but with enough dedication it can be done. Basically, it's learning a new language, which is feasible. You could learn spanish or greek or whatever if you applied yourself to it, so why not ruby or JS? Scripting languages include more logic than human languages, though, but it's not so complicated that you can't manage it if you've ever done a bit of math in your life. There are plenty of resources online to teach you the syntax and logic for free, tons of works of reference, etc. Start out by learning the syntax, then look at others' scripts and analyze them, then modify them, and some not-so-far-away day you could be creating (simpler) scripts from scratch. It's a lot of work but it's feasible even for amateurs and it's highly gratifying.
  8. Doing digital art. By which I mean, portraits and such. We're delving more and more in the seriously tricky here. Digital art will require a bit of extra material (graphic tablet & pen) (you can be decently equipped under 100$ so it's not THAT bad). You being able to pull this off and the amount of practice required will depend on your background. You at least have some basic skills: you likely drew a bit in your life already, regardless of the quality, you already know how to hold a pen, you have already looked at faces, bodies, objects, whatever, so you might have somewhat of an instinct on what goes where. (These "basic skills" things might sound dumb but you'll see how far you might be starting off with music).
  9. This is a personal opinion but I'm going to place doing pixel art from scratch here. You might grow into with with enough edits and it depends on your starting skill set, but as a somewhat decent drawer myself (or so I like to think  ;) ) I find it harder to go into pixel art because the approach is vastly different and I feel a bit powerless.
  10. Music. Seriously do not attempt this if you have no prior musical background and/or have interest in making music for its own sake. You know how with drawing I said you at least knew how to hold a pen and look at an object? Well with music you might not know how to listen to a sound to determine what it is, you might not really know how it's structured or the inherent logic. There's a vast body of musical theory you might need to really create meaningful compositions. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it'll likely take a few years and impair your progression in all other aspects. It requires a pretty big investment on your part. Just sayin'.

So basically there's not much going around skills 1-6 (with a possible exception for 4?) and luckily you are well equipped to tackle them. With a bit of effort and dedication you can likely become decent in them. 7 is also achievable but 8-10 are where you'll have to work really hard if you want to achieve anything. It might just not be worth you time and effort. But that's for you to decide :)


Before wrapping this up, I'd like to add to what KSJP said above: becoming better in anything requires practice, practice, practice. But practicing is not just doing things over and over blindly. You won't get better with bad practice, unfortunately. Here are a few things you want to do to make your practice more meaningful/efficient:

  • Set goals ahead of time. Always know what you aim to work on before starting on a piece.
  • After finishing something, always reflect on whether or not your goal was achieved, why that is, how you could achieve it better or more efficiently, than work towards that in your next piece.
  • Always have reference. And study it. If drawing, look at real people face or whatever as a reference and try to reproduce it. If composing, have snippets of songs you like, deconstruct it and reproduce it. Same with code or writing. It will not necessarily produce interesting or worthy works of art in itself but it will allow you to absorb new skills.
  • Study others' work. Listen to their songs/look at their art/read their code/read their writings. And analyze it afterwards: did you like it or not? Why? Was there something interesting? Different? What worked well and what didn't? Why is that? Etc. Any element you thought was interesting, worked well or whatever, actively try to integrate it in your next piece! This will broaden your horizons, it's like filling your toolbox with new tools!
  • Read/listen to masters. Consult tutorials, read essays, articles or studies. Actively try to implement their approaches/methods in your next practice sessions. As with before, think on what you liked/disliked about it, determine why that is and work towards integrating this.
  • And of course take breaks :)  It is said that the brain learns most when it is resting: it is at that time that it is actually recording what it just did/learned. Your brain is programmed that it will skip over large amounts of learning if you work for large stretches of time. For exemple, studying for 1 hour, you will mostly retain the first 20 minutes and the last 10. This means half of that study time is pretty much lost! And the proportion of "lost time" only grows larger as the work session grows longer. The ideal length is around 45 minutes, you'd "lose" only maybe 5-10 minutes in the middle. As such, while working towards my music degree, I would organize my practice this way: practice something 20 minutes, take a short 5 minutes break (go drink water, work on a bit of homework, whatever) practice for 20 more minutes, than take a longer 15 minutes break to absorb and reset. So that's an hour long and your brain will record most of what you actually worked on (those two 20 minutes practice stretches). Then start over 6-8 times a day (Okay that's a pretty intense regimen but I was in university and yada yada yada, you get the idea) (this is proven by research, by the way, it's legit). I recognize in some cases you might want to work longer, like when you're aiming more towards production or actually finishing something rather than just integrating new skills and pure learning, but that's for you to manage ;)  
 
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Zackleaynts

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@PsychicToaster, @HexMozart88. Thanks for the tips. Writing a character, or characters, with mental illness is new to me but I'm considering it. I'll try to avoid those cliches, or at least do them better. Aha


@LaFlibuste Thank youu! I'll heed your advice. I'll take one step at a time. 
 

LaFlibuste

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Hey I'll add another point. It might sound obvious at first but it bears insisting: always have fun


Sure, finishing is a skill and sometimes you just need to kick your own arse and power through, but never lose sight of having fun.


During your practice, this especially means working on things you enjoy from time to time. While reflecting on your most recent work, sure you will spot flaws and aspects you can improve, but also take time to reflect on what you did well and on your progress, congratulate yourself, feel proud. Artistic endeavour can be very unrewarding at times so make sure there's at least this tiny speck of satisfaction, if nothing else. Who cares if you have the potential to become the bestest game creator ever if you burn yourself up, make yourself sick of it and give up midway. This is especially true if you aim for this to be a hobby. We've all got day jobs, we've al got to pay the bills (that or you're still going to school living at your parents' or whatever, it counts too), so we don't need a second unpaid evening/weekend shift on top of this. Make sure it's enjoyable and gratifying :)  The milestones thing I mentioned earlier and the taking breaks part can also go a long way towards this.


So hey, good luck becoming an awesome game dev ;)

PS: On a side note, read this reverse-design page, especially the bits about FF6 & Chrono Trigger, it's very, very enlightening and seriously awesome.
 

Zackleaynts

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@LaFlibuste Okay, thanks pal, will do! :)  And I had fun already reading help from you all on this thread. I'm easily demotivated. I also sometimes quit. But not long after I'll come back to it. But I think I need to get more serious with it. I'll have fun!
 

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Play other's games and recognize the aspects you like and don't like, the more games you not just play, but analyse, the better you will be at designing one.


For the implementation part, research how to do it or just go trial and error.


This is just general advice, for the specific parts like mapping/writing/graphics etc, there are lots of tutorials out there that can guide you.
 

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Please forgive and spare me if thread like this has been open as I didn't use the search function. I was...kinda in a hurry.. But is being hurry in learning alright? No, I think. Sorry. Please help.



I've not read this whole topic, so I might be repeating. But, I will say my biggest piece of advice - don't be in such a hurry.


Learning so much takes time and you will only frustrate yourself and likely wind up quitting if you have unrealistic goals. Start small. And by all means, search. Search every little thing. If you can't find what you need with the forum search, use google. Just preface what you want with the engine title. "RPG Maker VX Ace goblin sprite" or whatever you're trying to find, be it resources or help questions.
 

Zackleaynts

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@Frozen_PhoenixOkay. Success leaves clues. Think I should also study the established commercial RM games. Thanks!


@mlogan You're right. I'm so in a hurry in learning, I should slow down and take one step at a time. Thanks for the tips!
 

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