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Article - 'CS: To make, or not to make?' by slackerboy

An item about Game Design posted on Aug 8, 2003

Blurb

discusses the recent debate over making custom systems

Body

The purpose of this article is to sum up and state my position on the recent controversy over custom systems (CSs), mainly over custom battle systems (CBSs) and custom menu systems (CMSs).

Early on in the community, before people even thought CBSs and CMSs were possible, the DBS satisfied almost everyone. People eventually became sick of the same, old, boring, Dragon Warrior battle system. That’s when QHeretic from GGZ began to work on the first CBS in his game, Kindred Saga, which, in my opinion, had the greatest impact of all rm2k games/demos to date. It sparked a new era of rm2k games. People will now often strive to make a CBS and/or CMS, and may even be criticized for not doing so.

Not until more recently, though, did some people start actually thinking about the downside of these changes in the community. The CS frenzy had gone a bit too far to them. Many say that the default battle system (DBS) is better than most CBSs out there. At first, upon hearing this, I thought they were crazy. Who’d actually prefer the boring old DBS? However, I soon realized the truth in what they said. Based on the quality of most of the CBSs and CMSs out there, the DBS may actually be the preferred.

Another argument imposed by some was that people would make CBSs exactly like the DBS, just with a different camera perspective, which seems to defeat the purpose. The point of a custom battle system was to be able to customize it, right? This means to add some unique twist to make it more original and fun. Most CBSs are simply the DBS with a different viewpoint and a truckload of bugs.

The same is happening with CMSs. At first, a CMS was simply the choice of going to the main default menu, some special menu (often a skill menu), and some others. Recently though, more people have been creating full CMSs that completely replace the DMS. While this makes the menu much more unique and professional, what’s the point if it only has the same options as the DMS? A full CMS lets you include all those extra menus you couldn’t include in the DMS, like some unique skill menu, or a configuration/options menu, but there are few rm2k CMSs that have achieved this.

Making CSs is also quite a challenge. It’s not only time consuming, but requires more than decent coding skills to make even the simplest CS, not to mention complex systems like full CMSs.

So, with everything seeming to say NOT to even ATTEMPT making a CS, why would anyone want to? Well, I for one think it is actually fun to face the challenge, and quite satisfying to see the results. Not only is it fun, but in the end, if it’s good, you could earn more recognition in the community and have a sense of pride in your accomplishment. Sadly though, people’s CSs are often criticized for almost anything imaginable and the creator’s efforts go unrecognized.

So, should you make a CBS/CMS? It’s really up to you. If you want to, go ahead and give it a shot, but be prepare, because they’re quite difficult. However, don’t feel like not having a CS would make your game suck. The Legion Saga series, for example, used the DBS and is one of the most recognized games in the community. Not only did Legion Saga use the DBS, but it spiced it up by adding custom animations, showing that the DBS isn’t all that bad when it’s capabilities are optimized. But whichever you choose to use, a CBS or the DBS, make it work and make it fun to play.