What are the most common traps newbie developers tend to fall for while making a project?

Davox

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I'm in the making of my first medium project, i usually try to do so much and make many mechanics that the ambition of making a big game makes me feel so tired, that i leave it eating dust for months before continuing.
This time i'm making things slower, i started writing my world's lore in a notebook, instead of doing it all as i keep going.
~Davox :kaopride:
 

Andar

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trying to learn an engine by working on their first real project.

No matter what, start with a tutorial project that you know will be scrapped in two or three months, and use that specifically to learn how to do things in the engine. The project doesn't have to make sense and you can completely skip background texts until you know how to handle the game mechanics and events and so on.

This will speed up later game development much more. And this way you'll know if something doesn't work without wasting time - trying to make a real game while learning will result in you trying special events only when the game development goes to that point, and if you learn too late that the planned mechanic doesn't work, all other work on the project is wasted as well.

But in a scrap project you can try out and learn everything without waiting until it is needed in a story.
 

Davox

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Stopping when you get stuck. (Cough cough, me.)

Large projects. Getting distracted by plugins i
Stopping when you get stuck. (Cough cough, me.)

Large projects. Getting distracted by plugins and other items.
It happens really often to me, i just feel tired and frustrated and I don't open the maker in weeks or months
 

Waterguy

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personally, going too ambitious - planning something too big/innovative, and getting new ideas as new plugins are found - not always using those plugins. I sometimes made plans for a plugin to use in my project just because a plugin I saw made me think "I can't use this, but what if I made something close but that this *this* instead...?"
 

mariopepper

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I guess it's a team work. When you work alone - it's much more easier to avoid getting into troubles but most of good games need a whole team of developers and ofcourse it's necessary to have high-quality team communiction during all project making. The best option in this team is using crm by a whole team. EspoCRM was our choice when we had to develop our unity project if someone is interested.
 
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rue669

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Definitely going too big for a project, which I sadly have fallen into. Luckily I am keeping my head above water. Helps that I have a completed game under my belt and several failed attempts.

But honestly, making sure you don't get lost in your own database. Having a plan and outline before you start making your game will save you time and headaches. Trying to organize yourself before you even open up and start a new project is pretty critical.

I personally don't think there's a way to "pants" your way through a game project. It requires deep planning.
 

NocaToca

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Well, I tend to have big plans and cool ideas (to me) that I want to implement and see in action, that I tend to rush the bits up to that part.

Though the most common is by far getting to ahead of yourself and thinking you can do much more than you can actually do without practicing. You should always make at least one test game to test out the engine and your own strengths and weaknesses.
 

jkweath

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Scope creep. If you're a single developer, it will make your life so much easier to keep your project -relatively- simple. Don't go trying to add in dozens of extra features that you'll have to spend months fleshing out and balancing.

Don't use plugins you don't need. Don't go downloading and implementing every Yanfly plugin into your project. If I ever see someone say or show that they're using more than 100 plugins for their project--especially if it's their first one--I assume they will never finish that project. I haven't been wrong yet so far.
 

PixeLockeT

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My personal bad habit is......putting too much emphasis on things that are my weakness. (In my case, that's writing.) It's always better to accentuate your strengths!
 

MushroomCake28

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Okay let me give you the main traps, many of which were already mentioned by others:
  • Project too big/ambitious: People usually never finish those kind of projects and end up giving up. That's A LOT of people.
  • Too many plugins: the game quality is dependent on the quality of the story and mechanics, not the quantity of mechanics. You need the minimal necessary mechanics to make your game unique and fun, and of course be coherent with your story and game genre in general.
  • Commissioning Assets: Not as many people fall in this trap, although I have seen quite a few. Your first project shouldn't be long and complicated, and you shouldn't commission assets. The bill can go up quite quickly, and most of the time you won't finish the project, or you'll heavily modify the project, rendering your commissioned assets useless. Commissioning assets is done after you have a detailed roadmap and you exactly what you need for your project.
  • Too many ideas/mechanics: This goes hand in hand with too many plugins. The quality of a game is dependent on the quality of the ideas and mechanics, not the quantity of them. Stick to one main good idea/mechanic for your first project and start with that.
  • Not having a planned roadmap: Game making is all about planning and designing. Without a good plan, the game's coherence and quality can be uneven throughout the game, and sometimes lacking.
  • Not having a schedule: This is more of an advice than a trap. A lot of beginners get demotivated and just abandon their projects. One way that can help prevent that is having a predefined schedule, with deadlines and objectives. This helps progress constantly on your project, while seeing concrete progression, which motivates you to keep going.
 

KazukiT

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Being overly ambitious, believing your 'My game will be a 100 hour epic that will get very popular". This is the first thought most game developers have until they start development. Even I finished my first game(albeit its being playtested) and a one game jam game I am aware of the flow of game development. Although I wouldn't say I mastered game making, I am more aware that games require alot of work and patience.
 

RachelTheSeeker

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I can second commissioning assets, sadly. I'm barely able to start using ones I've picked up now, with three completed games under my belt and a fourth a WIP, and I've still got many more that will probably never get used. Same goes with buying asset packs that aren't tailor-made for your goals, etc. My word, the money I've sunk into VX Ace and MV asset packs...! There's absolutely no shame in starting with RTP assets, and forcing yourself to work within those boundaries into something made your way is always good.

Scope is rough, and I'd hazard to guess that trying to make everything unique is also unnecessary too. Tropes exist in media for a reason. Playing with expectations or completely subverting them is good, but sometimes it's fun to freshen up old ideas you like. Especially if meshed with other unique bits that work with the older ideas. What matters most is making something a bit different in ways you think is cool, without overdoing it. There are bits of media that try to things 100% unique and unlike anything ever seen before, but fall flat because of it: one example might be The Room, IIRC.

I feel one should make do with either default assets at the start or, at most, bits and baubles of free assets from OpenGameArt or elsewhere. Even with my biggest game in the works, the bulk of my game world uses graphics, chiptunes and 8-bit SFX obtained for free. The most money I threw at the game so far was for 8-bit battlers, from someone I knew prior and even over time. Even with RTP and free assets, it's up to a creative mind to sit down and find ways to make them work within one's imagination, and that can help make good games all throughout one's dev career.

After all, as I paraphrase from my main man Sammy Clements? There are no new ideas, but bits and pieces that each mind form into all sorts of combinations that seem unique.
 
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bgillisp

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Here's mine:

-Making too big a game at first. Do the tutorials. Learn what the engine will do. Else you will be like me and nuke your project 8 months into it and start it over...for the 5th time (or was it 6?). If you go for a big project for your first, expect to probably use that first year nuking it and starting over a LOT as you learn how to do things.

-Ordering art/music too soon. When I was new here someone posted they had spent $10,000 on art for a game, then changed the direction of the project and was no longer able to use any of that art. And yes, it was $10,000 US dollars, that is not a typo. All on art they had no more use for.

-Expecting game 1 released by you to be a big success. Sad reality is many projects don't break even in the end. I read an interview with one of the studios from the 80s/90s and they said for every 10 games they made, 1 was a huge success, 2 others broke even or were a moderate success, and 7 flopped and didn't even make back what they spent to make them. So my suggestion is go in with realistic expectations. And don't hock all you own to make the game, as odds are high you will not earn that much back. Just...be smart with how you spend money if you are going to, and make sure all bills are paid and food is on the table first.
 

KazukiT

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I can second commissioning assets, sadly. I'm barely able to start using ones I've picked up now, with four completed games under my belt, and I've still got many more that will probably never get used. Same goes with buying asset packs that aren't tailor-made for your goals, etc. My word, the money I've sunk into VX Ace and MV asset packs...! There's absolutely no shame in starting with RTP assets, and forcing yourself to work within those boundaries into something made your way is always good.

Scope is rough, and I'd hazard to guess that trying to make everything unique is also unnecessary too. Tropes exist in media for a reason. Playing with expectations or completely subverting them is good, but sometimes it's fun to freshen up old ideas you like. Especially if meshed with other unique bits that work with the older ideas. What matters most is making something a bit different in ways you think is cool, without overdoing it. There are bits of media that try to things 100% unique and unlike anything ever seen before, but fall flat because of it: one example might be The Room, IIRC.

I feel one should make do with either default assets at the start or, at most, bits and baubles of free assets from OpenGameArt or elsewhere. Even with my biggest game in the works, the bulk of my game world uses graphics, chiptunes and 8-bit SFX obtained for free. The most money I threw at the game so far was for 8-bit battlers, from someone I knew prior and even over time. Even with RTP and free assets, it's up to a creative mind to sit down and find ways to make them work within one's imagination, and that can help make good games all throughout one's dev career.

After all, as I paraphrase from my main man Sammy Clements? There are no new ideas, but bits and pieces that each mind form into all sorts of combinations that seem unique.
I can agree with working within boundaries, sometimes they can spark ideas and like the old saying, "Limitations breed Creativity." I also like the quote you have on the bottom. I feel that rings true because I am taking elements from video games I like and meshing them together in my third game.
 

Oddball

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For me, it was getting too caught up in experimenting with the engine, as well as focusing too much on cutsences. I'm not saying don't put any effort into cutscenes. Do put effort in. I mean, i kept tweaking the cutscene, even after i had a decent one and ended up scrapping the project, cause that was eating up 90% of the time i spent developing >.<
 

Tai_MT

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Some of the posts already covered this, but I'd like to contribute anyway :D

Plugin Overload
Too many newbies see "Oh, I can add in plugins to do many of my favorite RPG things!" and just add as many as possible, as "rule of cool" rather than according to what they need. Even more hilarious that I see on these forums is people requesting plugins for very simple things that can be done in about 5 minutes of eventing.

My advice: Add zero plugins to your project until you are familiar with how the Engine itself works, and can answer newbie questions you see on these forums. Until you can begin contributing like this (proving you know how the engine works), you should avoid messing with plugins altogether.

Art Assets
Too many newbies decide early on "I must replace everything for graphics in the engine and get custom everything!". There are a myriad of unfinished works as a result of this silly mindset. Unless you can make the RTP look good (default graphics), you probably shouldn't worry about customizing any graphics.

My advice: You can always swap out your graphics at the end. In fact, you should be swapping them out at the end of your project. The reason for this is two-fold. The first reason is that you'll save a lot of money. The second is that your game is already done and you just need to put the new graphics in to fit what you already have. You won't waste money on a project you never finish and you will have a much better idea of what exactly you need in terms of your graphics once the product is finished and playable (with a higher chance that all your graphics actually mesh well by the end).

Massive Project
A lot of people see what the engine is capable of and think "I can finally create that epic game I've always wanted to make!". This is a bad idea.

My advice: Save your "epic game" for down the road. Use the first few games you make as a "learning experience". The first thing you'll need to learn is a "work ethic" for your project. Being passionate about a project and being dedicated to that project are two different things. Passion eventually runs out and leaves you not wanting to finish... or wanting to start a new project... or somewhere in the land of "writer's block". You should work on your project every single day. Even if all you create is a single item to be used in the game, you work on it every day. I also suggest you make a simple 2 hour game as your first project. Make several 2 hour games as your first project.

Do not do what I did and plan this huge game sliced into "episodes" and then try to maintain progress on doing it. While I am making significant progress this year, my game is like 5 years in the making so far, and I don't even have a demo yet. Don't do what I did. Most people don't have the patience, stubbornness, or tenacity that I do. Most people would've given up on my project somewhere after year 1 of working on it with no demo.

Save yourself, create small 2 hour projects to start with.

Writing
Most game developers are not writers. They can't write characters, they can't write stories, they can't even make an interesting side-quest. There are a lot of story-focused games made by people who obviously have no experience or even talent in writing. It's usually a bad idea to make a story-focused game if you can't write.

My advice: I'm not saying a person shouldn't make a story focused game while they have no experience writing. What I'm saying is that person should be studying a lot of writing. That person should be reading books with the intent to study how the language is used. That person should be studying stage plays (because they are the closest thing you'll find to video game writing) and character development. That person should be studying tropes. If you want to create a story-driven game and have no experience or talent with writing, then that's what you should study.

If you absolutely don't have the mind for writing (and a good portion of people will not... creative arts are VERY difficult to learn... while I'm a writer, nobody will ever be able to teach me how to paint or sprite or anything in a visual medium, it's my own limitation), then don't create a story-driven game. Or, hire the role out. It's okay to create a mechanics driven game. There's many great examples of such. "Portal" isn't often praised for its story, it's praised more often for it's gameplay as well as it's "dark humor". But, it's a fun game even if you mute the TV. Writing accentuates that game, but it isn't the main reason people play it.

Oh, and if you hire the role of writer out... it's useful to give the person writing all the information you have on your game right from the start, as well as give them the freedom to write well for you. It isn't useful to continually meddle with the writing process. It's useful to provide feedback at scheduled times before allowing your writer to move forward, but not useful to continually meddle. Let your writer... write :D

Backwards Quests
Too many newbie devs create quests backwards. They think "I want to give the player this item" and then try to think of a quest to deliver it to them. They work backwards. This is how you create fetch quests. This is how you create monster kill quests. This is how you create escort missions. This is not how you create good quests. Design the quest first, because it's a story you want to tell within your world, and then decide what piece of equipment is worth the effort put in by the player at the end.

My advice: It's okay to design bad quests. It's somewhat frustrating as a player to continually have fetch quests, kill quests, escort quests, and all the usual boring tropes. If possible, avoid creating quests backwards in order to limit the amount of the "usual" quest types that aren't all that fun. If you can't create a lot of stories for your sidequests, that's okay too. The measure of quality isn't how many sidequests you have. The measure of quality is how good everything in the game you have is. I've played amazing games with almost no side-quests. I've played terrible games with hundreds of side-quests. If you can't make a good side-quest, then just don't bother with it.

Organization
Too many newbies run into the issue of "now I need to rearrange everything!". It's a problem. An easily avoided problem. It is difficult to rearrange states, skills, weapons, armor, items, characters, etcetera in the database once they are created. Especially as you add more and more, and have more and more things calling the Database for those things.

My advice: You need a Game Design Document. Before you ever do anything within the engine, you need this document. You need spreadsheets, word documents, and whatever else to plan your game before you ever begin work on it. Plan your story with these documents. Plan all your states. All your skills. Plan every piece of equipment with these documents before ever creating it. Once you've done this, you can get it all organized in the Database and never need to rearrange anything ever again. This will also keep you from wanting to "restart" that same project in order to organize it better later. Organize and plan your game first, then work with the engine. Don't work with the engine and try to plan everything as you go. That isn't how this works.
---
That's all I got for now. There's a lot more, but I think those are the most important ones I see most frequently on these forums.
 

HeyItsKidd

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It seems like a lot of the problems we're mentioning seem to fall under one major umbrella:

Not knowing what you want to make.

Okay, that sounds like nonsense, but hear me out for a sec. Oftentimes, people start with RPGM because we love RPGs - but when we say "I love RPGs!" or even "I love JRPGs!", it's like saying "I love action films!"; it's insanely broad.

Here are twelve "JRPGs" off the top of my head: Suikoden II, Final Fantasy XV , Pokemon Silver, Legend of Dragoon, Undertale, Lisa The Painful, Xenosaga II, Breath of Fire 3, Makai Toushi SaGa, Persona 3, Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, Baten Kaitos.

They're all games that've been described as JRPGs, but their actual mechanics and systems are wildly different.


A lot of us, when we first learn about RPGM, we think "I wanna make a JRPG!" without noticing that the image in our mind is an idealized amalgam of every JRPG we've ever made. This, I'd theorize, is one of the reasons that a lot of beginner projects are conceptualized as something like:

"It's a Steampunk JPRG about racism, with a Job System like Final Fantasy V. It's also going to have around forty characters, like Chrono Cross, but each character will have a romantic sideplot, like in Persona! Oh, and there'll be a collectible card game sidequest, weapon crafting, a system where you can catch and battle wild monsters, as well as farming, fishing, and NPCs with their own daily schedules! One last thing - my game's going to have an in-depth moral choice system, with nine different endings!"

That's not a game - it's six different games clumsily smooshed together. It's huge, complex, and above all else, the details just aren't there.



A visual metaphor for your dream JRPG.

To build off what everyone else is saying, any mechanic, concept, or idea that you want to roll into a game, you want to get it concrete. This'll also help you keep things small, because it'll mean you're focusing on one mechanic at a time.

Pick one gimmick/system, and map out its design in detail. If you want a "Social Links"-esque system, you need to hammer down exactly how it works before you start brainstorming your fishing minigame. How will you raise a character's affinity? Are there ways to decrease it? Will progression be split into "levels" the way Persona's is? What affect does this system have on battles? etc etc etc.

Getting in-depth and actually hammering down the details of how any given system will work should slow you down enough to not go overboard.
 

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