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Article - 'Of RPGs and Men...' by Terin

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Aug 9, 2003

Blurb

A collection of general thoughts on RPG creation and general game development... Perhaps some ideas to make your game decent as well?

Body

I find that a lot of people create projects, yet never finish them. People find something that works, yet abandon their creations. Games with custom systems usually attract attention, but even those get dropped. Why?

Not everyone is cut out to make a game. In fact, the people who typically make wonders, such as a great custom menu and/or battle system, usually drop the games. Why? I'll get to that further along. Another thing I find is that people criticize RPGMaker 2000/2003. Aside from being illegal, they say it's for beginners. I beg to differ.

People who work on RPGMaker 2000/2003 and other simple point and click tools that already have an engine developed are concerned about storyline. Well, they should at least. RPGMaker is great if you want to work solely on story. As a programmer, I could write an RPG with the best battle system, however I wanted it, a great custom menu, infinite 3D capabilities, and so forth, but do I? No.

Everyone seems to write games with poor grammar and storyline -- that shows us all that they shouldn't be working on an RPG. Even Kindred Saga, which showed most people that a sideveiw battle system could be made, was pretty bad for storyline. Why? It's a rip off of Final Fantasy 7. Note, the graphics were all well-placed, the character development was fairly good, (and cliche) and the custom systems were superb. Don't get me wrong, it was fun to play and QHeretic is a great coder.

One thing I'd like to point out is that the grammar and dialog were well developed in KS. When I play games for RM2K/3, the dialog usually has the entire 'chat lingo' that people use to speak over Instant Messages and Forums. Would a king really tell the sacred here, "u need 2 save me f00l!!! s4v3 teh werld?" I highly doubt it. Unless he was a really "1337" king in some weird cyber-online game, I would never want to see such.

People don't work on the actual storyline or dialog. Remember, when making a game, storyline is just as important as graphics. If the words are misspelled, cut off, all at the same speed, it's horrible. Everyone speaks in a different tone, so I would never expect to see someone who is a quiet depressed person to be talking at the normal speed. I'd expect to see something a little more reserved, short, and slow.

I think if the community spent more time actually outlining their game, they might get somewhere. I, myself, am guilty of never finishing a game. I've done 3 sideview battle systems (Final Fantasy), 1 isometric battle system (Breath of Fire), and somewhere between 3-5 action battle systems (Zelda). Unless you're really lucky, chances are you haven't seen them. I even have a Chrono Trigger battle system somewhere. Of course, all of these aren't entirely completed -- usually about 75%, and then I quit. They're tedious.

So, here comes the part where everyone will criticize me. I'm using RPGMaker 2003. Why? Because I don't have the time to develop the engine, and I'd rather focus on a storyline and dialog than write the entire battle system and engine in Sphere. Sphere is great--if you have the time to waste on writing the engines.

In the long run, we've had several successful games. What makes them good? A good storyline, good graphics, good dialog. Anyone can come up with a storyline, but making it pleasing to read and something worth going on through is something completely different. If the dialog is unbarably bad, you'll probably stop playing it. The community likes games that have good character development and good dialog.

So here's the point of this little rant: If you're using RPGMaker or other click and point tools, work on dialog and storyline so you can produce a good game. Write down your ideas, and do each segment or 'chapter' after you write it down. In the end, you should have something that looks like a book and a game. Keep this in mind: all games that are professionally made follow a storyline.

How does one compose the storyline? Well, that's up to you. When people usually make the storyline up, they have to format it nicely so everyone else can read it. Just like at any class at school, you're making notes. As long as you can read them, they're good enough.

By doing this, you should be able to actually produce a game. Even if you use RTP, or standard graphics that are overused, you can make them into a game. Nobody has yet to call RTP characters by the names they were used in a storyline. I had a few people come up to me and talk about the tanned guy with the red headband, vest, and green pants, "Terin," what I called him in my game. They told me, "I don't think of him as Albert or whatever he is called, I think of him as Terin." That's the response you're seeking from players. You want characters and dialog to make things memorable.

Do you look at Cloud from Final Fantasy 7 and say, "Oh, its the guy with the sword?" or do you say, "Look, it's the guy with the sad past, who lost his girlfriend, had demented problems based on some things he claimed, couldn't get into the special value of soldiers, and eventually conquered his own problems and saved the world?" If you answered the first one, analyze/play the game more. The second answer should be what you think. The first shows that you merely care for the graphics and so forth. When you really begin to enjoy a character and the world which these characters make up, you are accomplishing your goal.