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Article - 'Overcoming RPGmaker`s Block' by Truce

An item about Game Design posted on Jan 14, 2004


An article concerning inspiration and what to do in times of woe!


It's easy to find something to read on how to overcome writer's block. They have advice all over the internet about it. Overcoming RPG Maker's block is a little different though because there are SO many different things that could be "blocked". Maybe you can't get a battle animation quite right or you just can't figure out what kind of map you want to do. Maybe it's even so bad that you just can't think of how to start your story or how to make your custom menu system.

Most of us just settle for "good enough" instead of doing our best; doing our games the way we first pictured them or making them to their full potential.

One of the reasons people give up, I think, is because of RPG Maker's block! So here are a few things you can do to help you overcome it, instead of settling for something not as good or even giving up all together.

1. One thing you can do is use other people's material. Don't copy it exactly; that's stealing. Use it for inspiration. I was at a dead end in my game until I played "Until My Finest Hour" by Bloodrose. This excellent game gave me ideas on how to do the things I wanted to do and it gave me a fresh way to be creative. Download lots of games and keep your eyes open. If you see an idea you like, go with it. Watch T.V. and movies... Read a book. Don't shy away from "clich├ęs" just because they've been done so often. Maybe you can put a new spin on them. Using someone else's idea as a template isn't a crime. And there is no dishonor in being inspired, be it by a sunset or just someone else's good idea.

2. Try looking at your idea from a different point of view. I can't see how you could use this for anything but the story and its literary components. Try thinking of it from the Villian's point of view or just some random villager. What would they know? How would they react to the things that are happening?

3. Work on something else. Just forget about what you're currently trying to do and make a different aspect of your game. You could always add a few more items or add some battle animations. Have you reworded your "vocabulary" yet in the database? Sometimes, the harder you try and think of an idea, the more difficult it is to come up with one. All the great artists say their ideas just come to them. They will to you also, you just have to listen for them.

4. Look at EVERYTHING. When you're looking for an idea, watch the skies. Get wet. Giggle with children. Be 5 again for a few minutes. Listen to music and listen for an idea. Remember your dreams. Any of these things can give you an idea. And that's all you need. An idea.

As Theodore Roosevelt once said, "It is common human sense to pick a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all else, try SOMETHING."