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Article - 'A Few Helpful Tips' by Angroth

An item about Game Design posted on Jan 14, 2004

Blurb

A few general tips for your rm2k/3 games.

Body

Here is 8 general tips for you rm2k/3ers. Hopefully it should remind you or help you realise some things you should and shouldn't do.

Wave Shrinker
There is a pretty good way to decrease how much memory your sounds take up in any of your games (on any game maker). The wave files are still reasonably big but especially the bigger files are quite drastically shrunk in size. To do this when you go on save as click on 'change' where it says format. The format should say some writing and then 8 Bit, Mono. What you want to do is go into the change section and set the format to the next one down, it should be the same but say 8 Bit, Stereo. If you use this as your format the sound will remain the same but its size will decrease.

With this in mind there are many new possibilities. It will allow a more realistic usage of proper songs and make all the 'using mp3s in rm2k' tuts much more useful. There is also room to do voice overs. Especially if your rpg isn't very reliant on dialogue. I saw an rpg that was 40mb in size once, if people are willing to make and download a game like that then I'm sure your voice over game will have no trouble on the net.

Files Missing
One thing I find extremely irritating and should be avoided is when you’re playing a game and it suddenly closes down and says that the game cannot open the file ‘blah blah’. Now this is not to say that you are actually using the file ‘blah blah’ in the game but, the file was in the game and has been deleted (obviously, to save memory etc) and the game won’t run because it thinks it needs the file for some unknown reason. I had this with one of my games long ago. Don’t ask me why it happens, it just does. Here’s how to fix it:

1. Add the files to your game as you make it instead of adding excess resources and deleting the ones you don’t want. This will prevent the problem even occuring in the first place!
2. Play your game all the way through (before you send it off for download). This way you will actually find if the files you have deleted were required in the game.

If you do have files missing that don’t need to be in the game, you don’t even need that exact file. Simply have a file of the same name and same file type (eg, .GIF) and the game will continue to run fine. I found with some of my recent downloads that I had to do this myself to continue playing the game and it became very tedious, so the moral of the story is, you do it so us players don’t have to!

Borders of Doom!!
Another thing that needs to become extinct is when characters walk around with a big backround (usually green or red) behind them. This is really easy to fix but seems to be done everynow and again. Just open up the raw material editor and import the file you're using again and click on the background. It should then start flashing a grey colour which means the background is no longer visible in the game. And that's all there is to it.

Story & Introduction
Not meaning to be mean but I’m going to have to pick at least one example here; Silver Claw. Sometimes you get games that have no introduction and you are merely thrown into the game without any clue to what is going on and what the game is about. Let alone this factor, Silver Claw didn’t even have any story. A game really does need to have a decent introduction that explains what’s going on and something about the story. The story is undoubtably the most important thing about an rpg, without a story where would you be? Would your characters be doing!? So here is some questions to ask yourself, if you cannot say yes about your game, then then you should make sure it can!
1. Does your game have a story?
2. Does your game have an introduction that makes it clear what is going on?
3. Is the story & introduction interesting enough to warrant the player to continue playing the game?

Spelling & Punctuation
Surely this can’t be too difficult for you folks. Spelling mistakes can vary from small ones to many big ones. On occasion they are done on purpose but you can almost definitely tell when it isn’t. Pathetic ones like ‘Pheonix’ instead of ‘Phoenix’ may only be minor but when you know they’re wrong and there are numerous ones like this, then it can get very irritating. I forget its name now, but there was a game about an elf boy who had some special power. Its name is significant really however I just wanted to say that, that game had some serious spelling mistakes and worded things badly, aren’t many elfs called elves? And elven is only used in terms such as ‘he had elven features’? This game said the boy was an elven etc. Anyway, that’s drifting off the topic slightly, spelling & punctuation errors should can easily be avoided, here is some advice for finding them:
1. Read what you are writing, makes sure it makes sense, has correct punctuation and has no obvious spelling mistakes.
2. Get someone else to check your writing. An extra mind can help in many ways!
3. If you’re writing any words you are not sure about, get a dictionary or something to help you.
4. Don’t use words that you don’t understand!

Game Theme
If there is one thing I really don't like (I'm not sure if others feel the same) it's where there is a certain type of game theme which I think rends all form of seriousness and is not funny in the least. It is the kind of game where everyone knows they are in a rpg but the protagonist doesn’t. They say all sorts of rubbish like ‘wave at the screen’ and stuff. I played one game which based itself on this factor. I do believe that its not funny and spoils what the game(s) could have been. One piece of advice here:
1. Make your game serious or actually funny, not just crap!

To RTP or not to RTP, the is the question
RTP dependancy scanning. The number of people who use RTP 1.32 is very large. Nonetheless despite being a good source of graphics and resources there are still many people who don't have the extra RTP 1.32 and by not including the files you are ruling out many people who might download your game. Also people who might only have rm2k3 on their system and download rm2k games are buggered because rm2k has a different RTP. This means that unless the files are included then quite a few people won't be playing your game.

Finishing Note
Don't forget the age old glitch caused by forgetting to turn off an auto-start event. If there's one silly thing which people sometimes do it's do that and not test their game for it.