Learning RPG Maker: Starting Small

in Advice

So you’ve gotten RPG Maker MV, gotten over the initial “What am I even doing?” and are ready to start building a game.

You’ve written out your 20 page story outline and you have an honestly unhealthy amount of junk food and energy drinks at the ready to get you through the dev time.

Red Bull, it gives you wings. calm down Icarus.

Red Bull, it gives you wings. calm down Icarus.

But maybe, just maybe, you are biting off a bit more than you can chew.

Sometimes, less and more. And all of the time, less is more likely to even get done.

“But, Nick, I have this epic story in this epic world, with these epic characters!”

Yeah, I know, man. I do, too. I have an entire notebook devoted to one story. But you know what that notebook is doing? Sitting there. I pull it out and write more in it occasionally, but its not something I’ll probably every finish. And unless I had like, 2 years of time, no worries, no bills, groceries to buy, etc., to do it, I don’t even think it would be feasible to try (All you millionaires out there, if you wish to front the money, I’d be willing to make the effort).

And if its your first game? Even more reason not to go with your magnum opus first. You are going to learn a LOT in your first game. And if it is a long sprawling epic, by the time you get to the end, you are going to groan out how much you need to redo in the beginning when you were just learning to waddle.

So what should you do instead?

Identify the One Thing that is the center of your design.

What is it, that ONE thing that you are most excited about with the story you want to tell? It can be a part of the story theme, a character, the world?

Then build a small game around that one thing.

Feature the World. Or the character. Build the whole game around that one thing, and have it be maybe a couple of hours. Get experience FINISHING something.

For example, the sprawling epic in my notebook, the key center of it, is the idea of sentient swords that are magical focuses, in a world where magic without one is very very limited. It leads to a culture of magical knight type people. I could make a small game that focuses specifically on that culture. Pick a time period in the storyline, make a small, more minor character, and write a shorter story that introduces everyone to the world. This could make a great small game.

Now, the important thing:

Avoid Story Creep

Its so easy, so, so easy to start with something small, and then you think of a new idea that enhances it. And then another new idea that enhances it. And another new idea. And another. And eventually, you are back to having an epic again.

You have to avoid doing this. Now, one idea, two, isn’t a problem. Implement the ones that are the best and try to ignore the ones that don’t enhance your game, or enhance it only very little. You can’t do everything.

skyrim-over-encumbered

Its a similar idea, but you can’t just equip +50 encumbrance boots in real life.

Do you have experience with starting small and finishing a game? Do you have experience with starting large and… well never finishing? Some other experience with your first game? Tell us in the comments below!

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  • Bagudo

    Awesome post. This is probably the greatest enemy of any RM dev out there.

  • Grumpy The Unicorn

    dude. totally. how come I can finish oodles of fanfic but I can’t seem to finish one damn game? guhhhh. being a virgo moon has its disadvantages.