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Article - 'Originality counts!' by Achilles

An item about Game Design posted on Aug 8, 2003

Blurb

An article concerning originality in games, with tips on how to avoid those clich├ęd moments!

Body

How to be unique while avoiding cliches...

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First off, therere some things that need to be clarified. 1: If you think youre going to go out and create your dream RPG on your first try, think again. 2: If your plan is to code a better CBS than Rusty or QHeretic or to sit down and write a Tactical BS in a few minutes, youd better come up with a Plan B. 3: The pros (of which I am NOT one) didnt come out of nowhere - they have plenty of experience to back themselves up, and while learning from others is a valid way of doing things, "learning by doing" is a better technique. I.E., PRACTICE! Youll only get better by making mistakes. Hell, even QHeretic was a newbie once (I think...)!

With that out of the way, lets get started. There are a few rules you should follow while trying to make a unique RPG:

1: Storyboarding helps tremendously! When it comes to plot, the better ideas have been carefully thought-out and planned, so that everything comes in sequence, and the author knows what he/she is doing before they do it.

2: This is a BIG one... If you dont know how to create custom sprites, write bootiful music, or code an awesome CBS or CMS, dont go into a corner and cry (although it might not hurt). First, ask around. There are plenty of people out there (myself included) wholl be happy to help you find some great MIDIs or fancy sprites for your RPG. And even using the DBS is nothing to be ashamed of, hell, even I use the DBS! I dont know enough to code a purdy CBS, but I make do with the numerous tutorials out there that deal with enhancing the DBS. If youre still at a loss, try http://www.google.com and search for "RM2K sprites" or "Rpgmaker 2000 music" or something along those lines. And if youre reading this, then you should be on a site where theres plenty o stuff thats ripe for the pickin.

3: Custom sprites, music, battle/menu systems, and EXP/skill systems, while not absolutely necessary, help A LOT. Using your own creations add to the flavor of your RPG, and if what youre using has never been seen before, score one for you. I mean, come on - How many RTP edits are out there, a couple thousand? And then try and count the # of custom sprites... the amount doesnt even come close.

4: Play other peoples RPG, finished and otherwise. Youll get a feel for what works, and what doesnt.

5: Avoid making the player annoyed, bored, or uncomfortable. Chances are, if your game is fun and unique, then none of that will happen.

6: Another big one... Dont be a lamer! I dont know how many times Ive seen people asking "If you make the custom sprites, the music, the CBS and the CMS, Ill write the dialogue." THAT WONT HAPPEN. EVER. If you want to make an RPG, youre gonna have to do most of the hard stuff yourself. Sure, therell be people willing to help debug or playtest, but theyre not just going to GIVE you a CBS.

7: Use side quests! While Chocobo Racing isnt exactly innovative, it can be made into a challenging and engrossing sport. For example, try giving your racers/chocobos/horses/lesser-dieties some stats to raise by racing them over and over. And if they get good enough, make prizes that are worth the effort. Also keep in mind that theres a great article at GamingW about side uests; I highly recommend reading it. If it makes the player go, "Wow, why didnt I think of that" then youre good to go.

8: If it worked for someone else, that doesnt automatically mean itll work for you. Copying/duplicating/modeling your RPG/sidequest/CS after someone elses may instead turn you into the blunt end of the criticizm stick. Stick with your gut.

9: If it sounds innovative, it probably isnt. I realize this sounds harsh, but most things have already been done at one point or another. Try forums; people will often tell you whats a good idea and what isnt. No "take their items, gold/currency/euros/greenbacks, and stick them in seperate jail cells with 1 HP each and enemies everywhere." First off, thats WAY too cliched, and second, its way too frustrating to try and get out of such a situation.

10: Have fun! (Jeez, and here Im jabbering on about how NOT to be cliched...) In the long run, nobodys gonna remember who Joe Schmo was and what RPG he made. But thats still no reason to stop progress on your game. Theres a huge chance that people are gonna play your game and say it sux big patooties. Even so, you didnt make it for THEM, you made it for yoyr OWN enjoyment, right? YOU are the only one whose opinion matters.

I guess that ends my Originality article. Oh, and dont copy this or take credit for it. The only site that has permission to use this is http://www.gamingw.com and if I find you posting it, there will be punishments. PAINFUL ones. Like, um... stuff. Stuff that hurts. A lot. You get the picture... Just tell me if you like this, and Ill consider writing more. Im not too into tutorials, cause Im a newbie at heart. I loathe lamers, but I have a soft spot for the genuinely stupid ;)