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Article - 'Fan Games' by Guest

An item about Game Design posted on Jan 14, 2004

Blurb

TDZ gives us his view on fan games and how to pull one off!

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True to Life Fan Games

Hey hey, the Drunken Zombie here again, and before I begin this article, I would like to take a moment to thank a couple of people.

First, thanks go out to Dragonsama for the idea for this article. Also, I’d like to thank Jesus. What for? Why should I need a reason? He’s JESUS!

Okay, now back to my article’s point. A lot of people are creating fan games/sequels to their favourite console RPGs. This is not bad; in fact, it can be quite a good premise for an excellent storyline. After all, the characters, story and setting have already proven to be a huge hit, right?

I must admit, you can take or leave my advice as you wish, as I have never successfully produced a fan game. Nor any game, that is. You see, RM2k development seems to have become unappealing, but I do enjoy helping other young’ens with their RPG creation journeys.

Anyway, you can listen to my tips below if you wish, but it’s obviously not mandatory. I do hope you find some sort of help from them, though.

Firstly, the characters will probably be the most recognizable feature in your fan game. And that is what they are for, right? Yes, exactly. So, you want to know each character you plan to include inside and out. You should be able to have enough information to broadcast an A&E Biography. Well, that’s a little extreme, but you still need lots of information. For instance, I have never beaten Final Fantasy VII. I should NOT be trying to create a game based upon Cloud ‘n’ Pals, then, should I?

Next, the world and locations in it are probably going to be based upon that of the original game. This is not a bad way to go about doing things, however, with the limitations of RM2k you may have a difficult time recreating memorable locations from the original game. If that happens, you may actually fail so badly that it ruins the entire experience for the player. As a solution to this, perhaps you could take your favourite characters and plop them into a new world that you created especially for your game?

Enemies are an important part of an RPG, as well they should. If you are going to go the way of using the original world of the console game, then hopefully you can get your hands on some of the monsters from that world. (Ripping and such.) However, in alternate worlds of your own creation, innovative and cool new monsters can be invented to your liking. Again, it all comes down to your choices.

Ah, plot. Plotting a fan game can be very easy or very hard; there generally is no in-between. While playing the original game, you may get immediate ideas for a ‘spin-off’ of your own. However, you may be stuck for ideas for weeks. There isn’t much information I can give you about writing a plot, but I wanted to cover it.
I just thought of an idea. Everyone recalls the Legion Saga series for RM2k, right? Well, it seems some people actually are creating fan games based on the series. I’m not bashing the idea, but it inspired me for another topic in this article.

Imagine you were writing a fan game of Chrono Trigger. Sure, you could base it around Crono saving the world again, but why not try a different direction? Since it is relatively easy to rip graphics from SNES, you could get original Chrono Trigger monsters and characters and whatnot. But plot-wise, why not make a side-story of, say, Frog? Have it end just before Chrono Trigger begins, giving your version of Frog’s back-story. Or do that for any character, for that matter. The possibilities are endless.

Now we move on to the topic of music. Though you may be immediately tempted to use music from the original game you’re making a fan game of, but I actually suggest against it. The reason: it’s been heard before! Many people have memorized the entire track of Chrono Trigger, and don’t want to hear it used again in your game. Even though you may want to show off your ‘mad skillz’ in the art of ripping music, I suggest getting/composing original music. However, if you like the original game's 'tuneskies' so much that you can't live without some tracks, go for it.

Now it’s time for my Final Thought, because I have no more ideas to help you with.

FINAL THOUGHT

Fan games can be an excellent and fun way of expanding your favourite game’s world and story. The limits are only those of the imagination. However, be wary of the pitfalls of fan game making that I’ve listed above. Also remember that even if the community doesn’t like your fan game, or say that it ‘ruins the series’ or whatever, it doesn’t matter, because you created it for yourself, not for everyone else.

This is the Drunken Zombie saying, ‘I hope I never become retromingent’ for some reason.