SJWebster

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I recognise there have been a lot of replies already. Reading through them, I think there are a couple of things missing.

I've been using various forms of RPG Maker since a disc with RPG Maker 2003 made its way around my high school when I was about 13 (16 years ago?! Can that be right? I feel super old now!). This was when it was an illegal fan translation or nothing at all (I purchased the legal options on Steam the moment they became available).

I spent three years at art school obtaining a BA (Hons) Games Art & Design degree. This covered actual art, sure, but also project management, collaborating with programmers and leads, as well as contextual and business studies.

My day job now is as an Instructional Designer. Essentially, I make short training games on topics like GDPR for bankers. Lots of short six to twelve week projects in a development tool that's startlingly similar to RPG Maker. I've been doing that for around 4 or 5 years now.

Here's what I've learned:
- have a mission statement / problem statement. It provides a clear objective, it also means you can be strict in saying "Does this achieve our goal?" If the answer's no, it should probably be cut.

- do your research. What's your demographic? Define your audience. Talk to them, find out what their wants and needs are. Ask them about previous experiences, good and bad. Talk to the unconverted, find out what puts them off. Look at existing materials with a critical eye, try to deconstruct them, figure out why they made the creative decisions they did and whether you think they made the right calls.

- declare what a minimum viable product is. The classic comparison is to say we commonly build a car by making the wheels, then the chassis, then the doors. It's a waterfall approach. What it doesn't do is highlight potential issues or give you something you can actually use while development is on-going. Instead, try a sprint approach where the aim is make a mode of transportation, start with a skateboard, that becomes a kick along scooter, that becomes a motorcycle, that then becomes a car. It's about iterating in shorter cycles to learn and make changes as you go.

- prototype and fail faster. We start with a grey box solution. It's grey boxes galore, we just want something running as quickly as possible. Is it fun? Is it intuitive? Does it meet the mission statement? No? Well, at least you didn't waste ages on custom graphics and that for something that's not workable.

- scope your project. What's required and when? How long do you have? What's achievable in that time? What are the key deliverables and when are they due? Timetable it, schedule it, stick to it.

- testing and review. So there's a difference between user testing and usability testing. User testing is "What do you think?" You're engaging with the tester. Usability testing, you're looking at whether the thing works and whether it's intuitive by sitting back, not engaging, and simply observing the user. Did they find that button? Did they figure out that weakness? Are they using optimal strategies? Watch a Twitch streamer or YouTube let's player run the current build of your game, you'll learn so much! It can be excruciating because you'll think "It's right there! Isn't it obvious?" No. It's obvious to you, you made it.

In terms of RPG Maker MV specifically, I make a few choices that are a little more personal:
- use 16x16 or 24x24 sprites that are 3x or 2x Nearest Neighbour scaled to MV's 48x48 tile grid. If the game does well enough, I can always get extra hands on deck to redraw in lovely HD later but going for 48x48 out of the gate means I'll never get anything done.

- Yanfly's plug ins are my favourite thing ever but I have to be very selective. I know what my game aims to do and I pick and choose only the things that will help achieve that goal. (Galv's got some awesome stuff too!) Put it this way, if you grab one of everything at an all you can eat buffet, you'll just confuse your taste buds and make yourself hurl.

- be ready to ask for help. There's an awesome community of people here that are more than happy to help each other. Use it!

- accept you're not a Jack of All Trades. Chances are, you're going to need to buy that music pack, or commission that plug in, or hire a mapper. One person doing everything ends up okay at best. Three experts focusing on the element they're good at gives a much stronger whole. I guess I'm saying a game's only as good as its weakest element.

I hope that's somewhat helpful. If you've got any questions, feel free to ask. I do this kind of work for a living and I could talk to you for days about the process, theory, and application and still barely scratch the surface.
 

yopeople

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I think everyone covered what I wanted to say but no one really talked about marketing. That is the biggest thing you need to think about as a developer. The first thing that you need to think about is how to market your game before even making a game!
I made my first game. It was short, funny and creative, but I didn't market it until the release day of the game. I didn't get a lot of reviews or downloads and the game was free! I'll tell you this straight up now, make a twitter account, be active in forums and post game updates or progress updates as often as you can to get a fan base going. It doesn't matter it you don't have any content, but start with an idea and post it. People will look at it and say, cool and walk away, but if you keep posting and keep updating, they will notice and be interested in the game you're working with. Game development isn't just about making a game, it's also about sharing your game to the community as well. A game isn't a game unless it's designed for someone to play it.
 

gstv87

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if I could summarize it in one sentence, the "biggest rookie mistake" would be *failing to identify the core mechanic of a game*.
*getting started with aspects and functionality before having the core mechanics resolved*, that's the biggest mistake.
basically: *not being able to resolve/adapt/control how they want their games to function*

people start putting together aspects, effects and narratives without thinking about IF they'll be able to make those narratives work with what the engine offers.
more often than not, the answer is "yes, they CAN make it work"..... the problem is, they don't know it for sure, because they don't ask.

The first thing that you need to think about is how to market your game before even making a game!
not all games are meant to be marketable.
but ALL GAMES, for sure, are meant to be completed and released (at least, if the developer is serious about it)
you can't sell a game you don't have.
 

Diego2112

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Can't really add anything to this, everyone has already said everything, but I'd reiterate, trying to run before you can crawl. Learn to manipulate the engine before you do anything else, and just make a few small games with the different mechanics you'd eventually like to have in a big project. Single dungeon, single town, small island overworld map. Figure out how to make that a bug free experience, then add to it over time.

Also, YouTube. YouTube is your best friend.
 

ashikai

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Take my advice with a grain of salt because I haven't actually finished making a game (besides pong, but that doesn't count).

I agree and disagree with the point about "saving your ideas for later" and "starting small". Here's the thing I've found: Work on the idea that motivates you the most, but definitely start small - scale the idea back into a side-story of the main game you want to make OR just do the first dungeon/level (like an hour) and release that for feedback.

You will learn so much during your first game, so staying motivated is extremely important. Shooting for the stars gives you something to aim for, but completing something is also crucial.

Spend the most time on the CORE of the game. The mechanics (not too many, just enough to keep things interesting and varied), the foundation (which plugins do you need, which are for fun) and the story direction (doesn't need to be complete, just needs to be more than an idea and like two characters).

Don't get hung up on flashy things. Art assets are easy to replace, audio too, and placeholders are fine while you get the game working and functional. A game should be fun even without super polished art or music. THAT SAID, some things about the assets are important to determine at the beginning. EX, are you doing parallax or tiles? What size grid? In my case, my game is isometric so I had to make sure that the foundations for that were in place even if I'm only using placeholder graphics since that screws with character movement, dungeon layout, and event positioning.

As with any narrative project be it comics, games, novels, film... being able to tell a story from start to finish is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of time, way more than anyone expects. I've never finished a game, but I've finished a book and a comic and honestly, nothing feels better than knowing you made something from start to finish.
 

JazzGotBlues

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tbh, if you fail to stay motivated when starting small to learn your stuff and get better at rpg maker then why try to become a great gamemaker at all? If you want to make a game for fun, enjoy your freetime sure.

looking to make a good game for a big audience, practice a lot. Safe yourself and this community the pain.
thanks a lot :)
 

Kage

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@Kage, I forget to mention. People who make a game here are split into two groups: hobbyists and professional game makers who make a game for a living. If you do not mind I ask you, so I can give you more clear advise, What do you want to be? Do not be sad if your progress and your learning curve are slow of comparison to others. The secret sources are either an individual started at a young age, talented, or have proper education classes. Many people take courses in animation, coding, or digital art. Of course, those individuals have an easier time gasp the concepts because they learned before.

Finally, you need to focus on RPG maker for now because if you focus on art or code, it would derail from you learning about switches, variable, and common events. You might think it is simply which the tutorial show you. But if you look further, you will see more buttons and more options which you need to know, so. you can do many with simply click a button.
@Kupotepo in all honesty I would like to make games for living, although it's a new venture for me. I also strongly believe making just one game it's not enough to support yourself. The master plan is to draw comic with some spin off stories and make rpg game that is a prequel to the main comic story. Yes, I know it's a lot to take on and it will probably take me a decade to complete it, especially when you have to balance work on comic and rpg game with full time job, family and life admin. Atm I have to balance all those things before I can work on game full time. I am open to any suggestions everyone, how can I do that :) ???
 

Kupotepo

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@Kage. I am not there yet, so I do not 100% sure how is going to work out. You need to invest in credentials om digital media, so you get the foundation of digital arts. Some people who are talented can learn all of those things by themselves, but the self-learning can be hard depends on personalities and learning styles.
Next, you are neither form a team or get a job in the big RPG game company because you need a stable income. More people, fewer risks. I think. In comic part, you have to get a job in a stable comic company, so you have experienced first, then you do a solo comic because you do not know how hard people until you can do it.

The gaming industry is very risky and everything is an investment. That is why people have another day job. I hope your dream came true.
 

ashikai

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@Kupotepo in all honesty I would like to make games for living, although it's a new venture for me. I also strongly believe making just one game it's not enough to support yourself. The master plan is to draw comic with some spin off stories and make rpg game that is a prequel to the main comic story. Yes, I know it's a lot to take on and it will probably take me a decade to complete it, especially when you have to balance work on comic and rpg game with full time job, family and life admin. Atm I have to balance all those things before I can work on game full time. I am open to any suggestions everyone, how can I do that :) ???
As someone who has done EXACTLY THIS, I strongly recommend against it. Pick one, either the comic or the game, and throw everything into that. There's no way to do both and do both well while still maintaining a life outside of it. I've done it, I've watched other people do it and it never goes well. All that's left is a graveyard of unfinished products.
 

synchronicity

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I understand the comments from people saying not to focus on a big idea first, but I think that there's value to what Accendor was saying as well about the importance of focusing on a concept or idea that motivates you rather than putting it aside because you know you're just starting and you don't want to get overwhelmed. So maybe the best advice is really a bit of both - don't try to start your dream game right off the bat, but don't forget about it either. Make a list of things you need to learn for your dream game, and pick one of those at a time, and learn how to do it. Practice in a test project, or test game. If you get ideas for your dream game along the way, write them down, save them for when you're ready to begin actually working on it.

I'm still technically a beginner myself, but this is my second time deciding to play with RPG Maker, and the first time around the mistake that I made was just getting overwhelmed by trying to learn and do everything at once. There was SO much I wanted to do, and I think that's why a lot of the veterans here will tell you to start small, because when you realize just how much you have to learn, it can be... intimidating. So pick just one thing at a time, and start there. But if you've got your dream game in the back of your mind, you can kind of narrow down your focus to what it is you need to know for your game, and maybe pick up some ideas you hadn't thought of before along the way. That's a good way to kind of keep motivated, and remind yourself why you're interested in learning in the first place, without ruining the idea by jumping headfirst into your dream game before you're ready.

Also, another thing that I learned the first time around, is keeping your resources organized, make sure you can keep track of who needs to be credited for what. When I first played with RPG Maker, I just saved everything that looked like it might be useful, and I couldn't have possibly told you who made what. I am so, so lucky I didn't actually make a game back then, because finding who to credit would have been a nightmare.

The last bit of advice I can offer is more from a gaming perspective, and it may not be true for everyone, but I'd rather play a game with RTP graphics that has an awesome story to it than a game with all custom graphics and a mediocre or bland story. Plus, there are ways to remix the RTP graphics and make it your own. There are so many games that I've seen that clearly had a lot of love and attention put into the art, but if the story isn't interesting, I can look at screenshots for pretty art. You also want to think about what kind of game you might like to make - linear, or non-linear, or something in between?

So write down your ideas, play lots of RPG Maker games, and learn things you might want to use in your own game when you're ready to make it. You might find along the way that your idea completely changes, or another idea takes over, or that one of your test projects has somehow morphed into a game you want to release for feedback.

Since you mentioned wanting to start with a comic, I think that's a great way to kind of keep working on your story while learning how to use RPG Maker. I think ashikai's advice is probably wise to focus on the comic rather than the game so you don't burn yourself out, but that doesn't mean you can't still practice with RPG Maker in the meantime. It might help you realize too, if you really want to stick with the game making idea, or if your comic would be enough.
 

Elliott404

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As a new game dev, my biggest mistake I've done is focusing on visuals rather than on mechanics which resulted failures in the end. I've literally wasted 2 months on 2 maps with custom tiles right away before getting used to editors.

And currently, I am still writing about my project's story, and plots while experimenting on mechanics with and without plugins. I wish I have motivation to work on something else before my dream project, but that's kind of too late for me. So, I started using all default assets in the editors, experimenting on small parts of my project, create as many prototypes as I can (you NEED prototypes in order to get used to your mechanics, and back up your projects).
 

cthulhusquid

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Never releasing anything. I have two projects that have been worked on for at least a few years at this point, having gone through multiple iterations, and have never posted them on the forum. I feel that beginners get wrapped up in having to make their game "perfect" before being seen by others eyes, and never get feedback.
 
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My appreciation for the posters on this thread is beyond expressing at the moment and @Kage for asking it! I am a week in a half in and have learned more from this post than all my incessant trolling of threads. I feel I have wasted my time looking for all the shinies - characters, sprites, music, etc. - for my super-duper-fantabulous game. After reading this post I look forward to reading @Andar 's beginner forum post and finishing Yanfly's comics :)
 

Mordridakon

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I have to echo everyone saying "Start small with a training project."
Most people go in with giant expectations of a 60 hour RPG epic to rival the greatest SNES or GBA epics. Not going to happen on your first go-around, or sixth. They then get discouraged and quit. That's why most projects fail: they bite off more than they chew.
Start with a sub-10 hour game with fewer maps and a simple battle system.

Think of it this way:
My training project, Quest to Score, is 5 hours long with 150 hours worth of design and play testing. That's about 30 hours per hour, which I bet is not extremely out of whack with what it really takes. And this is a game with zero dungeon puzzles, few complex cut scenes and "off the store shelf" everything.

Want brain teasers? Add more time designing and play testing. Want cut scenes so long they rival Hideo Kojima? Add more time designing and testing for bugs. Want your own custom battle systems and menus? Grab a Snickers Bar because you're not going anywhere for awhile.
RPGMAKER is a tool to create a game, not a game in itself. Its work, not play, but if you stick with it, you will be rewarded with a vision come to life.
 

bgillisp

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Want cut scenes so long they rival Hideo Kojima?

I got a laugh at this one as I remember spending an entire day writing a cutscene that took 12 minutes in game...and in the end it was not even used. So definitely have to keep that in mind if you decide to write long cutscenes early on that there is a chance that by the time you are done that cutscene isn't even used.

In fact, in the final version of the game, I have one 2 minute cutscene that took 6 hours to make just due to all the move routes all going on at once. Yiyiyiyi.
 

Mr. Detective

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I wouldn't say that it's a must for you to put your dream game on hold. You can learn as you use the engine. Think of it as a job, if you can. You learn and remember new things the more you do them. If that works for you, then go on ahead, start with your dream game right away and improve as you go along. Not recommended by most, but not impossible. :confused:

I just hope that if you do choose to start a project just to learn the engine, you would still have enough creative drive and desire to continue another project after you are done. Making a game isn't simple and it consumes time that can be used otherwise. And since your first game isn't something you dreamed of, it might be easy to half-ass things here and there, and the product turns out abysmal in the end. People will then knock you for it and you lose the will to continue. :rolleyes:

Want cut scenes so long they rival Hideo Kojima?

I got a laugh at this one as I remember spending an entire day writing a cutscene that took 12 minutes in game...and in the end it was not even used. So definitely have to keep that in mind if you decide to write long cutscenes early on that there is a chance that by the time you are done that cutscene isn't even used.

In fact, in the final version of the game, I have one 2 minute cutscene that took 6 hours to make just due to all the move routes all going on at once. Yiyiyiyi.

I just played The Order 1886 last month, and this game's cutscenes would give Kojima a run for his money. /s
Man, I am making a game that is mostly story + some QTEs, and sheesh, it seems to drag on forever. MV has some weird bugs that weren't in Ace, making it more difficult to test as well. The feeling is dreadful. XD
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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I'd say:

- Not focusing on the core idea. Without one, your game will have no direction. Once you have the core idea, work on the first prototype.

- Putting heaps of scripts/plugins without knowing if they really need it. This is also a side effect of the first item.

- Focusing on super advanced stuff without learning the basics, I've seen a lot of questions here over the years that could have been solved by the OP themselves if they actually spent time first with knowing the engine.

- Being impatient, wanting to have results quickly. This is probably also why all the above happens.
 

bgillisp

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@Mr Detective: That is true, though I would advise still having a throwaway project just to try things in before putting them in the main game. I did that when I started just so if I messed something up really badly it only broke that project and not the main.

The other thing I think that you will need to keep in mind is to have fun with things. You're going to make errors. Many errors. So you have to learn to laugh them off. For example, I had a spell in my game called the Power of Darkness that due to a typo was Power of Darnkess for the longest time. I joked I should have changed the description to: Gives the user the power of that Darn Kess! Or, take this mapping error, which I decided to just poke fun at instead (in spoiler):

Crystal.png

Incidentally I also can't spell multi too it seems. Fixed now in game.

I've seen many games do this actually. I played a game once where you stayed at a Hotela and here is the comment it makes if you examine the sign about it:

Incinerations-Hotela.png
 
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Elliott404

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- Putting heaps of scripts/plugins without knowing if they really need it. This is also a side effect of the first item.
https://tenor.com/u18h.gif

It look me like 100s of plugins in my prototypes to finally settle with the ones I really need. Now my latest prototypes have even lesser plugins.

I agree with everyone about starting on small project(s), but don't forget about your main project. Create prototypes, learn a basic mechanics before you decide that you need plugins on specific features. Also, learn about your abilities, you could enjoy making visuals more than coding, or vice versa.
 

Eurgh

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The biggest mistake newbies make it building a game around plug-ins/scripts as opposed to using them to supplement the mechanics you already wanted in the game.

Many a time does a simple RPG suddenly have a day/night and weather system along with a casino with minigames and a lighting system along with a grade system after a battle. It's fine if that's what your project really entails, but you end up making more work for yourself, and don't get me started on when a script/plug-in just breaks random things in your game and you're spending the next hour or 2 removing and testing 1 by 1 until you find out what is causing it.
 

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