Lately, I’ve been replaying a lot of my favorite RPGs, and a single thing popped out at me over time.

Once you’ve played the game once, the mechanics are usually super simple at the beginning and super boring.

Hey look, I have one character, with one skill that isn’t attack. Maybe a heal. The first boss is just a cycle of attack, attack, attack, heal, attack, attack, attack, heal. Character customization isn’t completely unlocked yet. Maybe the ability to change classes isn’t unlocked until after the first few dungeons. Or you learn new skills from weapons, and you don’t have any new weapons to buy in the beginning.

Thank god, some party members

Thank the gamedev, some party members

Basically, the mechanics are on rails until you escape the “learning” period of the game, and then you finally get to that fun meat. Where you are making character customization decisions left and right. Do I master this class or that class? Do I use this rare ingredient to alchemize this weapon or that weapon? Which skills should I prioritize first?

Usually, at this point, customization is at its most fun. You are consistently learning new skills/powering up your heroes, and you are actively engaged in how it happens.

Then, you reach a new point. That point where you start maxing everything out. Maybe there is new stuff to learn, but it is all redundant or not as good as what you have. Or you’ve made all the decisions and all that is left is a linear “keep grinding” bit. This is usually also the point where you are probably powerful enough to beat the game already anyway.

"Where do you even GET a +500 Sword of Ultimate Annihilation. Screw this I quit."

“Where do you even GET a +500 Sword of Ultimate Annihilation. Screw this I quit.”

This curve is seemingly endemic to RPGs. And the reason it exists is actually perfectly reasonable. In the beginning, with a new player, you don’t want to overwhelm them, you want to teach the game more slowly. And near the end… well, it is hard to make a game that is endlessly customizable. And if you do, it sometimes makes your player feel like they just got started when the game ends.

So how do we fix this? To be honest, I don’t really know. It’s a hard nut to crack. Give too many options in the beginning, and new players don’t understand the context in which they are making those decisions. Perhaps you could drop them in with a bunch of decisions, but have “suggested” options?

With the ending, you can always make your game end before the customization does, but how do you fight that feeling of incompleteness? Perhaps with strong post game content?

It feels so common in RPGs that it feels almost unavoidable. What ideas do you have to fight this problem?

1 comment

header

Hello, gamedevs!

The last few weeks may have been light in number for RPG Maker DLC releases, but the two tile packs that came your way don’t lack one bit in quality!

Brought to you by artist Sherman3D, both packs this week are ready to brighten up the maps in your game!

Steampunk Town Tiles

steampunk-town-tiles-left

The first pack ready for your game is the Steampunk Town Tiles! These tiles are a perfect compliment to the previous Steampunk Tiles MV, mixing Victorian architecture with gears, pipes, and steam. If your game is steampunk or gaslamp fantasy, it needs this pack!

RPG Maker Web Store
Steam: Coming Soon

Wizard Castle Inner Tiles

wizard-castle-inner-tiles-left

Tomes, crystal balls, pointy hats, all things you would expect to find in a wizard’s castle, and all things you WILL find in the Wizard Castle Inner Tiles! Dress up your wizard’s castle or tower with all the arcane decorations and runes that really scream out “MAGIC!”

RPG Maker Web Store
Steam: Coming Soon

Whether you are putting the steam tech or the magic into your world, Sherman3D and the RPG Maker team have got you covered this time!

Keep making those worlds, keep filling them with wonder, and we’ll keep helping make that happen!

 

0 comments

Recently, we released Sherman3Ds Steampunk Town Tiles!

banner-steampunk-town-tiles

But that isn’t what this article is about, that is just the thing I’m tying this article to because it fits the topic and the higher-ups like it more when I also mention our products. (As an added bonus, it also makes adding images to the blog article a whole lot easier, but let’s just pretend I’m not lazy…)

Anyway, the thing that this tileset made me think of is, well, why Steampunk? It just suddenly took off all at once. And I’m not gonna lie, I like it a lot myself, too. It has a whole lot of style.

But I think another thing that drives us to Steampunk over the most traditional of RPG settings: Generic Fantasy, is that first word. Generic.

There are a million games out there that with a Generic Fantasy setting. But let’s be honest: We’re getting to that point with Steampunk, too.

Just look at all those pipes. That's where the steam goes!

Just look at all those pipes. That’s where the steam goes!

I’m not saying don’t use Steampunk (If you do, you know where to go for the tiles…), I’m saying that alone is not going to make your game memorable. You still need that little twist to make it something more. Anyone can do gaslamp fantasy, steampunk with an added side of magic, but what are you doing beyond that.

As much as I like Steampunk, even Generic Fantasy with a twist is better than Generic Steampunk.

How about a gaslamp fantasy that explores the horrors of British Imperialism and the Industrial Revolution, securing England’s foothold throughout the realm with powerful machines, or even replacing the workforce with undead slaves.

Or a steampunk world that explores the pressure cooker of a corrupt society with nowhere to run, a city huddled inside a massive magical barrier protecting it from the horrors beyond.

(First person who can name the above settings, not from video games, gets a no-prize!)

The Steampunk Town Tiles go perfectly with Sherman 3D's early Steampunk Tiles MV!

The Steampunk Town Tiles go perfectly with Sherman 3D’s early Steampunk Tiles MV!

Give your game something special. Don’t settle for just the basic trappings of a setting, come up with something to put a whole new twist on the old tales. Whether you start with Generic Fantasy, or Generic Steampunk or even Generic Scifi, don’t let it stay that way.

Don’t settle for just generic with your game.

3 comments

A lot of talk in video games lately is about difficulty. About making the game difficult because “modern games just hold your hands” and the developer wants to appeal to what he calls the “hardcore crowd”.

And I personally am not averse to difficult games. I love games that challenge me. But too often, I run into games that decide to challenge the player not by being difficult, but by just not explaining the rules.

It isn’t enough to hand the player all the tools, you also need to explain them as well. If you can do stun attacks, the player should know they can do stun attacks. If there are 8 stats in your game, your player should know what those 8 stats do.

To be fair, RPG Maker even gets this one wrong in one case.

To be fair, RPG Maker even gets this one wrong in one case.

If once a player knows how the mechanics of your game actually work, the game is easy, your game isn’t difficult, it is just opaque. Oh, now I know that stun attacks exist, I now realize that I can stunlock this boss entirely, making it trivial. That isn’t difficulty. That is just hiding a mechanic from the player.

And if I’m wandering around an area because I don’t have a clue where I’m supposed to go, that isn’t difficulty, it is just wasting time through again, opacity. But I’m sure you are thinking: But what about puzzles? That is a situation where your lack of knowledge is what is holding you back! AHA, YOU ARE WRONG!

Even in a puzzle, the rules should be easy to figure out, it is how to use those rules to achieve your objective that should be difficult. I shouldn’t be spending more time thinking about WHAT I need to do than HOW I need to do it. HOW is the difficulty, not the what. I should be asking myself “How can I arrange these conduits to supply power to that door?” not “What do I need to do to get out of this room?”

Honestly, this isn't even a workable puzzle, but I felt like I needed an image here.

Honestly, this isn’t even a workable puzzle, but I felt like I needed an image here.

If most of your game is about finding the challenges rather than engaging the challenges, that is again, not difficulty.

Do you have any pet peeves in regards to artificial difficulty? What are they? Tell us in the comments below.

0 comments

EM

Hello, Gamedevs!

Wanted to try out RPG Maker MV before making the jump? Interested in Visual Novel Maker, but didn’t want to buy it without trying it first?

Then this weekend we have the deal for you! Try out RPG Maker, along with the full suite of MV tools, or try out Visual Novel Maker for the whole weekend on Steam, free of charge.

But that isn’t all! If you decide you like either Engine, you can also pick them up on sale! 75% for RPG Maker MV, and 25% on Visual Novel Maker! This way, you can continue making the game that has been locked in your head waiting to get out.

Find out you like both engines?

header_586x192

We still have you covered with our new Maker Series bundle, featuring Visual Novel Maker, VNM Live 2D Support, RPG Maker MV, and all three RPG Maker MV Tools, at an even BIGGER discount!

Trying out Visual Novel Maker? Then please also fill out our Visual Novel Maker Survey!

Now, get to work on your games, we’re looking forward to seeing what you make!

0 comments

header

Hello, gamedevs!

These last two weeks have had some absolutely fantastic pack releases, characters, music, and a giant pack of tiles. So let’s jump right in and take a look!

Fantasy Heroine Character Pack 2

fantasy-heroine-character-pack-2-left

Following up on the excellent Fantasy Heroine Character Pack 1Fantasy Heroine Character Pack 2 is twice the number of characters, twice the number of Heroines. 16 new female characters for your fantasy RPGs with sprites, faces, busts, side view battlers, enemy battlers, this is the full package.

RPG Maker Web Store
Steam

Heroine Character Pack 1

heroine-character-pack-1-left

Or maybe your heroines are from a different place and time. The Heroine Character Pack 1 features 8 new female characters for a school setting. With walking sprites, sideview battlers, enemy battlers, facesets and busts with emotion variants, all in two different outfits for each character.

RPG Maker Web Store
Steam: Coming Soon

Member+ Collection: Vexed

member-plus-collection-vexed-left

Our old Member Plus subscription created a lot of excellent materials that are now unavailable, such as some of the amazing work of Vexed, creator of the POP! series. This giant collection has tons of addons for POP!, RMDS, and Ace RTP style games. So much that you just need to follow the link to read it all.

RPG Maker Web Store
Steam: Coming Soon

Emotional 2: Voices of Angels

emotional-2-voices-of-angels-right

The sound of the orchestral and voiced music from Emotional II: Voices of Angels is sure to bring out the desired feelings of the scenes of your game. Formatted to fade out or to loop, these fifteen tracks will fill your players with a sense of wonder, hope, nostalgia, despair, and more.

RPG Maker Web Store
Steam (RPG Maker MV)
Steam (RPG Maker VX Ace)

Have you found the new heroine for your game? Found just the thing you needed to spice up the maps you are making using the POP! style? Or just found some amazing new music to bring out the feelings of your game?

We hope you’ve found another way to enhance your game, and hope to continue to bring you the resources you need to make your game your way.

0 comments

We just released the Heroine Character Pack 1, and that got my line on the same thinking it did a while back, which led to the previous article on writing female characters.

A whole pack of school girls ready to star in your game!

A whole pack of school girls ready to star in your game!

But this time, I want to broaden even further and talk about writing diverse characters, such as various minorities, either racial, sexual preference, gender, or even just different social classes. Not about how to write them. To be honest, the same advice from the writing female characters thread can be carried over to writing any character. All characters are people. Think about how the society and culture would treat them because of who and what they are, then think about how they would react to that, and you have a character.

And I’m not here to demand every person to focus on representation in their games. First and foremost to me, RPG Maker has always been about people making the games they want to make. I’m a huge fan of diversity in characters myself, and when working on games, attempt to include it, but I’m never going to suggest that this is a burden everyone has to take on (though I do applaud the ones that do).

I'll admit I even sneak in an image on the blog sometimes, how many of you noticed this one here on article from last year.

I’ll admit I even sneak in an image on the blog sometimes, how many of you noticed this one here on an article from last year.

What I do want to talk about though, is the absolute truth: When you write, you will mess up. The truth is, if you mess up a white male character, or a generically anime male character, people may make fun of your writing, but no one cares that much. There are already so many of those out there, messing one up doesn’t really affect anyone. We have 8 billion more that are written pretty well.

When you mess up a character with less representation, you may face some backlash. It isn’t fun. It will never be fun. For that matter, sometimes you don’t even mess up the writing, and someone will STILL be mad at you over something you did, because it doesn’t match their personal experience with that issue. Or sometimes you’ll write the character perfectly and somebody who doesn’t like people of that minority are going to jump on you for “ruining video games with SJW nonsense.” For that matter, I might get heat just for writing this article.

More promo shots of our new Heroine Character Pack, cause honestly I can't think of a relevant image here. #honesty

More promo shots of our new Heroine Character Pack, cause I can’t think of a relevant image here, but it seems like a good break point for an image. #honesty

And this can make it scary to write anything outside our own experiences, or to write anything remotely controversial. I know I’ve shied away at times. But I’m here to say if it was something you wanted to do, stick with it. Talk to people. Get their perspectives. See what it is they see is a problem. Work to fix things. Or sometimes, there is nothing to fix. But don’t let the fear of backlash stop you from making the game you want to make. Every time we put a game out there, it is scary. In the current cultural climate, people are heated on all sides, and by writing certain characters you can get that heat, again, from all sides.

But do it anyway. Make the game you want to make. Make the stands you want to make. We believe in you.

4 comments

rmbdaybanner2fin

Hello, Gamedevs!

It’s time again for our biweekly release update, but first, we want to encourage you to do some releasing of your own! The RPG Maker Birthday: Release Something Event is still ongoing! And you have roughly two weeks to get something out there. A demo, a game, a boss fight, maybe even just a trailer or cutscene. Just get something out there.

We know finishing things is difficult, ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ so take our energy ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ!

So now, on to our new releases!


Crimson Towers BattlePack


crimson-tower-battlepack-right

The first of two battlepacks from veteran RPG Maker artists, the Crimson Towers Battlepack by Michael Rookard is everything you need to spice up a spooky horror fantasy castle. Werewolves, vampires, bats, gargoyles. This pack features 8 enemies, and 3 battlebacks, all in the gorgeous painted style compatible with all the rest of Rookard’s work.

RPG Maker Web Store
Steam (RPG Maker MV)
Steam (RPG Maker VX Ace)


Haunted School Tiles


haunted-school-tiles-right
Two things that are common in a lot of game stories nowadays: Horror, and high school. Well the Haunted School Tiles makes sure to cover both. Designed and formatted by Sherman3D for RPG Maker MV, the Haunted School tiles contain all the creepy necessary to build a nice, victorian school, and then turn it into a nightmare!

RPG Maker Web Store
Steam


 Tyler Warren RPG Battlers: Monster Evolution


tyler-warren-rpg-battlers-6th-50-right

RPG Maker battler artist Tyler Warren is at it again. This time, with Monster Evolution, it isn’t just about the monster. It’s about a monster that grows! Whether you find this the perfect opportunity to make your own monster battler game, or you just want your characters to finish a fight only to then face the big mama monster, this pack is for you!

RPG Maker Web Store
Steam: COMING SOON

We hope these new releases can help you complete your project, or perhaps inspire a new one! And we hope that you try to release something for our event, we’d love to see what you make. As always, we hope you make good progress on your games and have a lot of fun doing it!

0 comments

rmbdaybanner2fin

So you’ve had your eye on the Release Something event for RPG Maker’s Birthday, but you haven’t even gotten started! You don’t even have an idea!

Not to worry, we have 2 weeks left and I’ve come with a little bit of advice.

Just make something weird.

We talk a lot about what makes good game design. And when I say we, I mean, both myself, and designers all over the world. You can just jump over to our forums and find an incredible amount of opinions on what makes a good game.

So much to say about game design.

So much to say about game design.

And I’m not saying they are wrong. I’ve talked before about how unique doesn’t mean good, and how doing something that has been done before, in a very polished way, can make an amazing game.

But sometimes you get that idea in your head, and it sticks. And despite being seen in the general consensus as bad game design… you want to go for it.

My opinion? Do it. Take that thing, and design the best game you can around it. Make something weird. Who knows, maybe some weird people will like it. Not every game has to be liked by everyone and making a cult hit can be a rewarding experience. Just don’t be disappointed if the majority hate it.

Are you likely to make a cult hit? Yeah, probably not. In the end, the game you made might be terrible. I did a lot of work on a game that was built around the idea of permadeath for your allies in an RPG. It was an interesting idea, but no matter what I did, it played very badly. There were a lot of issues where you could get ground down, and it made it hard to recover.

It was also a modern day horror game, set before Pop Horror was out. I'm sure this DLC would have made my life easier!

It was also a modern day horror game, and this before Pop Horror was out. I’m sure this DLC would have made my life easier!

But, in trying to make that game, I learned. And sometimes learning is the best thing you can get from working on a game. Maybe my next one will be better. (Or maybe I’ll even finish one!)

Experiment, try something new. You may not succeed in making a good game, but never be afraid of failure. You can always learn from it, and hey, you could even end up making something quirky and different that no one else has ever done!

0 comments

rmbdaybanner2finHappy Birthday, RPG Maker!

28 years ago today, ASCII released the RPG Construction Tool: Dante for the MSX2. The release of this tool started the series that spanned the last three decades, across PC and nearly a dozen different consoles.

So it’s time to celebrate! And we have so much to celebrate with!

First up, we have free stuff. Who doesn’t love free stuff? Our forum moderators and resource staff worked hard to create a special pack for RPG Maker’s birthday, Be sure to click the image below to unwrap your free resources!

zzlwz5l9

More free resources will be added for the duration of the celebration, so be sure to check back regularly!

Happy Birthday Event!

And finally, in coordination with one of our favorite fansites, RMN (RPGMaker.net), we have a month long event! This event is super simple.

You just have to finish something. Yeah. I know. I didn’t say EASY, I said SIMPLE.

How did you know my weakness: Trying to finish things.

How did you know my weakness: Trying to finish things.

Find that old project or that project from last week. Finish it! Finish a trailer! Finish some maps! For the love of RPG Maker, finish SOMETHING.

You can find the full rules and prizes here.

Don’t have anything in mind to finish? Then why not try something Japan-themed, the DLC bundle will give you a lot to work with!

Happy Birthday to RPG Maker! Let’s have fun. Let’s be productive. Let’s release something!

1 comment