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Article - 'What makes a successful RPG?' by AutumnDragon

An item about Game Design posted on Jul 8, 2004


Tips for making your game more successful. Read this if you're making or about to make a game.


What makes a successful RPG?

I'm sure many of you have wondered, what makes a successful RPG?
You can look at the Final Fantasy series and find that they're either
amazing or crap. You can play many games and hate them all and find
that you like game other people hate.

Well, in the world of RPG Maker. A successful RPG can be very difficult to
make. Besides, why trust my opinion? I have yet to make a successful RPG.
But from the amount of RM2k(3) games, I've played. I have a general picture
of what makes an RPG great.

Let's look at some example games. A popular RM2k was Legion Saga II. Why?
Because of the storyline, the characters and effort put into the game.
But then you are thinking,
The maps didn't seem that detailed, music was not that original, characters
weren't custom made etc.
To make a successful game, you don't need to have everything at it's peak
of flawless design.

If you use Final Fantasy midis in your game, most RPG players will spot this
straight away. Don't worry though, if your gameplay can make up the originality,
then everything will fit in smoothly. Think of it as a pair of scales, the more
FF music you use, the more inventive gameplay you're going to have to do to keep
everything balanced.

Now let's look at Romancing Walker. The game was well designed, maps were plenty and
detailed and the storyline had the traditional 'kill the demon when it returns'.
Most typical RPGs(made with RM2k) usually have the demon wakes from 1000 years storyline.
What made this RPG successful is how the characters developed and it's unique systems
such as the attraction system of the victory points.

So what can you do to make your game successful?
Try to focus on the storyline, characters and some originality.
By this I mean that you could create a game with CBS (Custom Battle System), and CMS
(Custom Menu System), original chipsets and character sets and even your own music.
But if your characters have no personality and the storyline doesn't actually go
any where, then obviously people are only going to download your game for the

Don't rush your characters personalities, that's why it's called character DEVELOPMENT.
Obviously, the character will have the motivation, feelings, memories and their actions
will be based on their life so far, but most RPGs change them in some way, or they
learn things they'd never thought was true and do thinks that they thought that would
never happen to them. It lets them experience new opportunities and that way, this can
get the player interested and get your character developing. Another way to enchance
a characters personality or feelings is using romance. I'm not great at writing romance,
but there are plenty of articles that will help you develop this.
If there is romance in the game, it usually gets me hooked! But hey, I like romances.
But when writing a romance, don't rush it or you'll ruin it depending on the circumstances.

The storyline has to be original! You can get plenty of inspiration from games, books, films,
music, and your creative imagination to come up with something new.
Or you could base your story on say, a fairy tale or an event in history. As long as it's
unique and no one elese has done the idea, or done a very good job of the idea, you've got
yourself a storyline. Try to stick to it!

As for originality, use plenty of different resources. Make up some of your own, e.g battle
animations for your characters. Make mini-games or a unique system
e.g one of mine was being able to get drunk, causing battles to become more difficult.
You need plenty of things for the player to do to keep them interested.

These are mainly just tips and my own experience of making RPGs, I hope this has helped you
in some way.

-Autumn Dragon