by Volrath

There’s a school of thought that says characters are defined by what they do, not what they say. This may be true, but I find it only applies to characterization in a very broad way. It’s a good way to look at a character’s overall arc in a story, but not when it comes to the little details that make a character in an RPG (or any other game where story is a key part of the experience) really memorable. For that, you need dialogue.

I’ve heard from a lot of people that dialogue is one of the hardest parts of the whole game-making process to them. I’ve also heard a lot of players complain about forgettable dialogue in RM games. Why is this? Well, I think part of the issue is that a lot of gaming conventional wisdom inadvertently downplays the value of good dialogue. Have you ever heard someone say “I’m playing a game, not reading a book!” Obviously that’s a true statement, but you can easily take away a message that text, particularly dialogue, doesn’t need much effort since the gameplay is so much more important.

More problematic is the philosophy that “every piece of dialogue in the game should be conveying key information about playing the game to the player.” On the one hand, there’s some sense in that. We don’t want the characters endlessly babbling about minutia like some independent film. But on the other hand, have you seen what happens when this philosophy is strictly put into practice? Boring, stilted dialogue. When characters only communicate with instructions to the player, it sounds incredibly awkward because that’s not how people talk!

Dialogue is key to satisfying characterization. A game with a likeable cast will have them talk to each other in ways that offer insight into their personalities. In that sense, it does convey important information to the player, just not in regard to the actual gameplay. This takes careful thought and takes a while to learn. Practice makes perfect, but I have a few strategies to help you along in the meantime.

Fire magic is WAY better than ice magic! What are you talking about?!

Fire magic is WAY better than ice magic! What are you talking about?!

Characters should argue. Arguing is one of the most effective tools in characterization. You can tell a lot about someone by how they argue. Are they curious to hear other points of view? Do they feel the need to shut down differing opinions immediately? Do they resort to petty insults to distract from the fact that they are losing? Do they shut down immediately due to fear of conflict? This kind of stuff gives lots of insight.

Also, I’m not talking about silly arguments like a girl getting mad at a guy because she thinks he’s checking out her butt. I’m talking about meaty arguments about tough issues in the game’s world. Our world has plenty, after all. Why do you think we discourage threads about politics or religion on the forums? Because they get people very riled up and hostile. What are the issues that provoke these reactions within your game’s world? Having your characters argue is also good for world-building.

Being turned into a frog comes with strange speech-related side effects...

Being turned into a frog comes with strange speech-related side effects…

Characters should speak differently. There’s a couple of ways to do this. One is to give your characters different accents, which is usually fun. Another is to come up with certain speech mannerisms for each of them. Think about people you know in real life. If you’ve spent a lot of time with them, chances are you’ve noticed certain words or phrases they use a lot. Creating a sense of familiarity, like having your player think “there he goes with that phrase again, what a weirdo” or something to that effect, increases the involvement with the characters.

Think about the Star Wars prequels. One of the main complaints a lot of people had was that most of the characters all sounded like suits at a stockbroker’s meeting (except Jar Jar Binks – annoying as he was, he certainly had a memorable way of speaking). Contrast that with the original films, where you have the mixture of Luke Skywalker’s farmboy naiveté, Han Solo’s roguish wit, Princess Leia’s bossiness, C-3PO’s prissy mannerisms and two characters that communicated in growls and beeps. It was fun to watch them interact because they all spoke in distinctly different ways.

Edit. I’ve been encouraging you to put more thought into dialogue, but that doesn’t mean going too crazy. It’s good to develop a sense of when a scene should end. It took me a while to get good at this. I look back at some of my old stuff and while I think most of the dialogue is decent, a lot of conversations take their sweet time ending. For some reason, I felt that after the meaty stuff had been said, the conversation still had to wind down the way a lot do in real life. “Okay, I guess we’re done.” “See you at lunch.” “Right, see you.” This stuff doesn’t add anything and is just excess fat. Trim it.

So what do you think makes for good dialogue? Any other tips? What games have the best dialogue? Let us know!


While RPG Maker has RPG right there in the title, a lot of people use our software to make other styles of games. I’ve seen all kinds of games made in RPG, from turn based strategy to platformers to scrolling shooters. But the most popular type of game made with RPG Maker outside of RPGs is very clearly, adventure games.

And I like adventure games. My first introduction to the genre was through the NES games Uninvited and Shadowgate, and its a genre I’ve kept an eye on since then.

The problem though, having played quite a few RPG Maker Adventure games, is that a lot of people seem to miss the goals of an adventure game. Adventure games have three major goals: Story, Exploration, and Thinking. So let’s talk about those goals:


The story in a Adventure game can be pretty complex, but to be honest, it actually doesn’t have to be. The aforementioned Uninvited and Shadowgate both have a very basic story

The entire story is pretty much: This guy is a bad guy, you are at his castle, find him and kill him.

The entire story is pretty much: This guy is a bad guy, you are at his castle, find him and kill him.

In the other direction, you can have complex narratives that don’t have to be bound by the same arbitrary combat pacing as most types of games.

The important part of the story in Adventure games is that it has to be enough to give context to the gameplay. This is true of all games, but in the case of Adventure games, story will drive the gameplay more than any other. Your first consideration should be what is the story. How does this story challenge the main character. How do these challenges translate into good adventure gameplay.

Some games can be designed gameplay first, but not Adventure games. Always start with story.

And the type of story that works best for Adventure games (though other kinds can work as well) is something that involves mystery and problem solving, and the reason for that is:


In an Adventure game, you want the player to be exploring. Now, while you are probably thinking of exploring as in locations, there are plenty of other ways to “explore” a gamespace.

A player, for instance, could be exploring the background of the story. Finding out information that will help him understand the motives of another character, or where he might find an object he is looking for. Exploration is about finding things. Finding tools, finding information.

Sometimes the exploration doesn’t even have to add directly to the adventure itself. Sometimes, you can instead give information just to flesh out the world, to help the player better immerse themselves in the landscape, as well as offering up a few red herrings to keep the players on their toes. And when its time to weed out those red herrings form the valuable information, and use those tools we’ve found, there needs to be:


This is where a lot of Adventure games go wrong. They automate too much. You have X in your inventory, OK, it is automatically used when you click on Y. You find a plank, it is put down to get across a crevice. You find a key, it fits a lock.

Resist the urge to make it this simple! Adventure games should be about thinking. Take the absolutely wonderful Sanitarium as an example.

Also, a bit of a creepy game.

Also, a bit of a creepy game.

All the items and information you learn doesn’t necessarily have any immediate or obvious use. Sometimes you have to combine items, sometimes you have to get a clue in conversation that leads you to asking someone else about something important. Sometimes you learn a whole bunch of clues from a whole bunch of characters that you have to add up to get the answer. And one of the most important things, is the game doesn’t let you just click on an object and you automatically use the right item.

Every time you use an item, you have to specifically select the item. This means you can’t just randomly click everywhere. You have to THINK your way through the situation using the items you have. If I use this Giant metal cross and attach it with jumper cables to that engine, and put gas in it using this hose, I can turn it on and electrocute this space plant. None of this “I use the plank on the crevice”.

Real. Thought. Please. Always. Try to make your player actually THINK to play your game if you are trying to make an Adventure game. Either through creative use of information and items, puzzles, or BOTH. Both is even better.

Does anyone else have any suggestions for adventure games made in RPG Maker? Or like to suggest some RPG Maker games that get it right? Join us in the comments section below!


Every time someone plays your game, a lot of their opinion is going to be formed within the first few minutes of play, and since we are drowning in media options, it may be the ONLY opinion they will develop of your game. Having played a ton of games in the last month during contest judging, I got a lot of chances to think about what gives me a very sour initial impression of a game, so I thought I’d share them with you.

1. Introduction Length

I know I’ve talked about introductions before, mostly to complain about scrolling text, but there are way worse sins in an intro than scrolling text, and the two biggest ones are in being TOO LONG, or TOO SHORT.

When the intro is too long, I start getting sleepy, just want to mash the buttons to make text go faster, and miss out on information because I feel like it is being fed to me by having it dumped on me like shovels full of manure. Get in there, tell the information you need, then start the game already!

But then people take that advice way too far. And we end up with a game with an incredibly short, or even NO intro at all. I played several games where I was just dropped into a situation, no dialogue, no context. I not only didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing, I didn’t know why I was supposed to be doing it. I just had to wander around until I hopefully figured something out.

The Game That Gets It Right: Final Fantasy VII

4waysYou see a few quick cinematic scenes that set the mood, then BAM, Cloud is jumping off a train and the game is on. This is an intro.

2. Not Teaching Me To Play the Game

Look. Everyone hates tutorials when they know how to play, but don’t go too far the other way either. Tutorial levels exist for a reason. And with PC Games? It gets even more important. With a controller, I only have so many buttons to try out to experiment with how to do things.

But seriously, when I’m playing on the PC and you don’t even give me an option to look at the control assignments? You are failing at your job. A standard keyboard has 101 keys. Then I have a mouse and 2 more buttons on that. I don’t have the time to hit every one trying to figure out what works what. You have to TELL me somehow.

The Game That Gets It Right: Mega Man X

4ways2The intro stage to Mega Man X is probably one of the best Intro stages ever made. It teaches you to play, and it does it fast. Everyone should play the first stage of this game just to learn from it.

3. Spelling and Bad Grammar

Nothing, seriously, NOTHING turns me off to a game faster than it being obviously written by someone with a terrible grasp of the English language. (Obviously, if the game is meant to be in English. If not, I couldn’t tell you if it was bad anyway).


I know that in the RPG Maker scene, we come from all around the world. I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with people from all the permanently inhabited continents, and with English being a second language for a lot of people, their grasp is not perfect, and that is NOT their fault. Learning a second language is not the easiest thing.

BUT, that isn’t an excuse for releasing a game with bad spelling and grammar. If you can’t edit your game FIND SOMEONE WHO CAN. Search the forums, make friends. Find someone who can write English well.

The Game That Gets It Right: Pretty Much Every Modern Pro Game

Outside of the Classic days (Hi, Zero Wing). This just isn’t something that happens in modern pro gaming. And it shouldn’t happen in amateur game making either.

4. Where’s the Gameplay?

Every single time I sit down to play a game… I want to play a game. Now yes, there are other considerations. I love good stories. I love good art. I love good music. But I can experience all of those things in movies. The difference in playing a game is that its a GAME. I want gameplay.

And I don’t want to play through a lengthy portion of walking around and talking to people before I even get to it. Introduce your core gameplay early and regularly. Don’t save it for after you’ve established the setting, characters, backstory, motivation, etc. Get that gameplay out there so that the player can actually tell what kind of game they are playing!

The Game That Gets It Right: Resident Evil 2


Short cutscene and then BOOM, right into the fire. You start off dodging zombies before you even know what is going on, and after you get to the police station, the puzzles start up immediately.

So what turns you off in games? Ever been guilty of any of mine? Join us in the comments section below.



Tyler Warren is back with another set of whimsical battlers. Inspired by classic games such as Dragon Quest, these battlers are a great addition to any fantasy game. This time, we’re battling dragons! And slimes! And other things that are as weak or as powerful as you can make them.

Click here to read more.


Magnificent Quest is a truly magnificent music pack. Inspired by classic anime and jrpgs, this pack is filled with themes for every area of your game. Composed by Joel Steudler, each theme is of the highest quality. This pack also includes 3 bonus music themes and a whopping 20 MEs.

Click here for samples and more info.


The Emporium of Copper and Steel is a music pack inspired by the Steampunk era. Composed by Murray Atkinson, this incredible pack features themes for any Steampunk adventure, as well as a few hidden gems for the Wild West adventure. Pst! If you’re eagerly awaiting PVGames’ new Wild Steam pack, you will want to be owners of The Emporium of Copper and Steel – they’ll be a perfect fit!

Click here for music samples and more info.


by Artbane

At the time of writing this article, the 2014 Indie Game Maker contest is still underway. There is a $10K grand prize for the best game of any genre. Then prizes are broken down into 1st, 2nd and 3rd between two categories: RPG and Non-RPG. Before the contest I never thought of games broken down like that, but when you’re in a RPG Maker community most of the games you get are going to be RPGs. When I first started following RM that was all there was. But over the years, there’s been a rise in the amount of Non-RPG RPG Maker games coming out.

Horror, adventure, interactive fiction, even shooters! With the addition of the RGSS, almost any genre is possible. Amazingly enough, a lot of the top Non-RPG games were developed before the RM code was even editable! It really demonstrates the versatility of the engine. Many of these games are not very technically advanced. They utilize the map editor and some of the event functions but little else. What usually sets them apart is their excellent narrative and aesthetics. But still…

Why are these developers using RPG Maker?

This probably warrants a deeper analysis than I can give. But if I had to guess, it would be that RPG Maker is a very popular and accessible engine compared to say Unity or even Game Maker. It requires little to no programming experience and most games can be coded entirely through event functions without ever having to break up the script editor. This allows designers, artists, writers and musicians the chance to make a compelling game experience without a huge barrier of entry. The RGSS allows savvy programmers even more freedom to make the game they want.

It didn’t take long for developers to realize that RPG Maker could be used to make more than just RPGs. While the database is setup for RPG style gameplay, it is not necessary to create RM games. You can focus most of development in the map editor. Maps can be crafted using custom tilesets or even parallaxes and pictures created in image editing software like Photoshop or Gimp. Dialogue and cutscenes can be coded via events which give you most of the functionality you need to create a compelling narrative experience.

I’ll discuss why RPG Maker is such a great tool for crafting these types of games in a future post. For now, let’s move on to some actual examples of Non-RPG RPG Maker games!


Horror is the most popular Non-RPG RPG Maker genre. It’s also the most common search related to RPG Maker games. It might be surprising to an observer who hasn’t played these games. One would think it would difficult to create an effective horror game experience in a 2D game engine. But some of these titles illicit more horror than even their high-budget counterparts.

We start with…

Yume Nikki

Yume Nikki

Yume Nikki is a surreal psychological horror adventure game developed by Kikiyama in RM2K3. It was released in 2004 and is one of the most downloaded if not THE most downloaded RPG Maker game of all time.

Players explore the dreams of the character Madotsuki and encounter surreal and disturbing scenes. It’s a real weird and imaginative experience and one of the most influential in the community. It even has its own manga series!

I couldn’t find an official game page but here is a direct download link!



Ib is a horror game created by Kouri with RM2K. This game follows the nine-year old Ib on a visit with her parents to a local art museum. Things soon takes a twisted turn as the lights go out and the pieces of art come to life. The game focuses on exploration and puzzle-solving and has multiple endings.

There is a massive fanbase around this game; especially revolving around one of the protagonists named Garry. Just google image search Ib and see for yourself!

Ib Game Page

Dreaming Mary

Dreaming Mary

A more recent horror game is Dreaming Mary. It was developed by accha in RPG Maker VX Ace Lite which has very limited features. The developer says the game was inspired by Ib and Yume Nikki but is not exactly a horror game. It also has multiple paths that the player can take and it’s possible to circumvent almost all of the horror elements. There is some unsettling subtext for those who are more sensitive.

Dreaming Mary Game Page

Those are just three examples. There are many more amazing horror games out there. Some others I’ve played and enjoyed are The Witch’s House, God of the Crawling Eye, and Rust and Blood.


Horror RM games are very popular not just within the community but on YouTube as well. Unlike their RPG counterparts, they’re shorter and more entertaining to watch. The entertainment value might have something to do though with the player often being a total wuss. Pewdiepie and Markiplier are two of the biggest YouTubers and much of their success is due to their very vocal reactions during horror playthroughs; including RM horror games. Last I checked, Pewds was playing Corpse Party which is a horror series originally created in RPG Maker.


Most of the RM horror games I listed above are very subtle in their creep factor. They play up the dark atmosphere and ambience. Much of the horror comes from the unknown or the uncanny.

In some of these titles there is also a sense of hopelessness or inevitably. Once the mystery is known, the games tend to be less effective. But some titles are so surreal and abstract you are never quite sure of what you’re seeing. And that can be very unsettling.

I’d suggest playing the games listed above and making your own conclusions about why these horror games are so popular.


While I do love RM horror games, there are a few tropes that keep popping up in them that I wish developers would rely less upon.

Ao Oni

Ao Oni

Monster Chases are a popular mechanic in many of these titles. I used to make these back when I first started using RM2K. All the developer has to do is set an event on follow path and player touch, and then when the event touches the player, trigger a game over. Since these are very easy to design they tend to be overused and can be very frustrating. Ao Oni, The Crooked Man and even the commercial version of Corpse Party rely heavily upon these.

Hidden in the Shadows

Hidden in the Shadows

Overuse of spotlight filters is another common problem. I do like these when used well like in SnowOwl’s Rust and Blood and It Moves. Lower visibility means you’re not seeing everything on-screen which taps into that primal fear of something dangerous lurking in the shadows. When used poorly though it becomes fatiguing to figure out where you are going.

Mad Father


Jump scares. Cheap but effective; at least when used in moderation. Typically how these work is the developer takes a disturbing image and then adds it as a picture to overlay the map. I have seen them used in clever ways like in It Moves with one disturbing image that continually gets less transparent and obscures your vision slightly. But really these should be used sparingly.


As I mentioned, there are A LOT of RM horror games out there. If you need more ideas for horror games you can check out the following video

Top 10 Free RPG Maker Horror Games

In the next article I’ll cover more genres of Non-RPG RPG Maker games.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you guys. What do you think of horror RPG Maker games? What are some of your favorites? (If they’re not listed here make sure to leave a download link for other readers to check out!).



We are proud to present an amazing new resource pack that will completely blow you away. Pixel Myth: Germania was created by one of our very own forum moderators, Sharm, and it contains amazing new tiles and objects in a charming pixel style.

Just look at these tiles!:


If you’re using software other than RPG Maker, we’ve got some good news! You can pick up a copy of Pixel Myth: Germania for non-RM use, too.

jsm-party-themes-productWhat good are heroes if they don’t have their own amazing epic theme? Jonnie comes to the rescue with a brand new music pack that it a must-have and very affordable.

Click here for some great samples.


The adventure continues in Kairi Sawler’s 3rd installment: Adventurer’s journey 3. The variety of themes grows as the adventurer is exploring new areas – and maybe coming to terms with some feelings. Another must-have for all kinds of incredible projects.

Click here for samples and to download a few free tracks!

1 comment

We’ve all seen it. Load up a game made by a friend, random stranger on the internet, company, whoever, and instead of starting to play, you are greated with this:

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night by Konami

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night by Konami

The dreaded info dump. Now your eyes glaze over and you are force fed names and places and events that you will probably forget in about 5 minutes because they lack any context in the game world. You haven’t seen these place, these people, to understand any relationship with them.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good games that start with an info dump scroll text: Xenogears, Final Fantasy VI, the above example of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and many more. But they sure weren’t made better by having this done.

But now that we’ve cut our info dump, how will we get all that information to the player? Organically through the game, and here are five ways you can do that:

#1: Remnants

If you were to ever wander around any part of the world, you’ll run across pieces of history. Castles in Europe, Cold War Era nuke shelters, the Sphinx! Need to talk about some important battle to make the current story make sense? Why not just have your party have to travel through the remnants of a town that was destroyed in the battle. This gives the characters plenty of time to talk about what had happened there in the past, without it just feeling like an info dump for info dumps sake.

Final Fantasy VII by Squaresoft

Final Fantasy VII by Squaresoft

Take the Northern Crater in Final Fantasy VII. It is a physical part of the world that illustrates the landing of JENOVA on the planet. It is a place that exists in the world that has the history tied to it, allowing discussion of that history to come up much more organically, even when most of the discussion happened before you got there, it’s existence as a destination fueled that discussion.

#2: Memorials

Phantasy Star IV by Sega

Phantasy Star IV by Sega

Memorials share a lot in common with remnants, but instead of being left over from the past, people built them specifically to remember the past. A statue to a hero in a location they did something amazing, or where they were born, gives you plenty of opportunity to talk about them without breaking the flow of the game.

In Phantasy Star IV, for instance, you can find a statue of Alis Landsdale, the hero of Phantasy Star I. This gives the game an opportunity to tell you about past events naturally.

#3: Character Reactions

History, especially recent history, has impact on characters. If two countries have been at war off and on for the last 100 years, how do you think a character from one country would react to a character from another? Take Knights of the Old Republic 2 for example. Think about the very different reactions that Atton Rand and Bao Durr have to Jedi.

Knights of the Old Republic II by LucasArts

Knights of the Old Republic II by LucasArts

Both of their reactions inform the player about the events that took place during the player character’s exile. Bao Dur has respect for you because of his personal experience, while Atton is distrustful of Jedi because of what he ended up doing during the Jedi Civil War. Their reactions to things in the galaxy helped tell the story of the history that is effecting the current events.

 #4: Books

You have to be a bit more careful with books. Books, just like opening scrolling text, ARE infodumps. But you can use them in a lot different way than opening scrolling text. For one, books can be scattered throughout the game, meaning it doesn’t happen all at once. Second, books are generally OPTIONAL encounters.

Because of that, books are best to deliver supplemental information to the player. Don’t use them to tell information necessary to understand the plot, use them instead to fill in details about the backstory of the world that help shape the world, but don’t have a direct impact on the story. Ever read all the books in the video game Fable? Some of them are just silly, other ones impart stories about various characters in the game, such as Twinblade or the main character’s mother. Tons of extra knowledge about how the world works is buried in there. Its a great place to put all that worldbuilding you did that isn’t part of the main story.

Infodumps are tempting. But nine times out of nine, there are way better ways to deliver the backstory of your game. Providing context around the backstory while including it organically in the game will not only be more natural, it will help the player remember it better.

Have any questions? Or maybe you have your own ideas on how to organically share information with the player! Join the conversation in the comments section below.


humble-pc-games_b2article_artworkSo, we wrapped up our RPG Maker Humble Bundle last week, and really, I know we’ve mentioned it before, but there is no way I can avoid mentioning it again. We are floored by the reception we’ve had. We’ve set the record for a Weekly humble bundle. Over 1.5 million dollars, and a good bit of that going to charity. We are grateful for not only the support, but the opportunity to help out these charities.

Did you miss out on our Humble Bundle? Have no fear! You can still get a great deal on RPG Maker VX Ace, XP, the Game Maker Hub, Several games, and 14 DLCs for only $24.99 through the Humble Bundle Store!

headerAnd with all those new toys you picked up in the bundle, don’t forget to check out our huge month long game making contest! There are still almost three weeks left in the competition, its not too late to join in. With a chance to win up to $10,000 dollars in cash, plus publicity, I wish I could participate! I suppose I’ll just have to deal with getting to judge all the great games you guys send in.


And now, we have a few prizes to give away! First the Always Sometimes Monsters Giveaway. Due to the low number of entries, rather than pick our favorite, I’ll just say: YOU ALL WIN! If you posted a story in our comments, go ahead PM our Facebook page, or if you don’t have a Facebook account, email us at with the topic of “ASM Giveaway” and I’ll get you your prize.

We also had a Game Character Hub Make Yourself Challenge, which has three winners! Brett Hourston, Simon De La Cruz, and Daniel Strife, PM our Facebook page to collect your prize. And speaking of the Game Character Hub!

Have any questions about our contest? Want to talk about the awesome deal of our Humble Bundle? Join us in the comments section below.



If there is one thing that drives how much I will hype a game to my friends, its how much I’m thinking about it outside of playing it.

Nine times out of ten, when I’m around other people, I’m not at the same time playing games. So your game has to last in my head for longer than while I’m playing it. Sometimes when I hit that game that hits just the right spots in my brain, I get obsessed, and I will eat, sleep, and breathe that game for the next few months.

When you want word of mouth advertising. I’m the kind of mindset you want to target. So what kind of things trigger my obsessions? There are four things I can think of off my head, and I’ll provide an example game that does each.

Planning your Party

Look, in some games, planning your party takes about five minutes. There isn’t much to choose from, just which three characters out of seven do you want to take with you. Not a lot of thought there.

But then there are games on the other side. The epitome of this type of game is a series that everyone knows: Pokémon.

pokemonPokemon gives you 100s of different “characters” to use in your party, and each one can have slightly different stats based on personality, how you train it, and just for being individual. And then you can teach them different moves… there is just so much going on in how you build a team in Pokemon.

When I’m playing a Pokemon game, I almost spend more time with online pokedexes than I do with the game. Planning out what I should catch, what types I should try to cover, what personalities I should have on each one. In all likelihood, the Pokemon team you field will be different from every other team that has been used before. It’s like shuffling a deck of cards, there are just so many different combinations.

A Deep Game World

In some games, the world is pretty much what you expect. Fantasy world, old wizards, pious clerics, savage orcs, and graceful elves.

Then there is the other type. The game where everything was made up for that world and you can’t even fit all the explanations into the game itself easily. Or there are tons of parts that you may not see, or tiny details that aren’t necessarily obvious until you think about it later.

Nier is one of those games.

nierNier is a world created by an event that is talked about only so briefly in the end. Combined with some New Game+ dialogue and some loading screens you can piece together a lot of what happened, but there is just so much to tell, because the world itself has so much history outside of the game.

I can spend time looking up fan conversations about what really was happening, or find the translated Grimoire Nier Japanese only guide book that talks about the full history. There is an entire history to talk about, to dissect, to discuss with your friends.

Reflecting on Strategy

Sometimes in games, you lose. You can’t quite finish out the boss or you just can’t beat the climactic rush of enemies near the end of the game.

When that happens in this type of game, your brain immediately fires in trying to think of what you could have done differently. It wasn’t that your reflexes just weren’t good enough, it was that your strategy wasn’t that great, and you can improve it.

The game I always think of that has this aspect, is Persona 4.

p4-charactersEvery time I lost, my brain would think “If I had just switched to this Persona at that point” or “If I had been a little more aggressive here” or ” Had I not taken this risk here”.

Even after I turned the game off, I would still be thinking about what I could have done better, what mistakes I had made. Some of those thoughts could have been wrong, and sometimes I come back and prove myself right, but the most important thing is that I’m constantly thinking about the game, which is what you want me to be doing.

Morally Ambiguous Characters

This one might be a bit more personal to me, though I’ve seen it a lot with others as well. It’s also a bit more specific. With the last one, I think about if I made the right choice strategically. With this one, I’m left to wonder if the characters made the right choice morally.

One of my favorite characters from any game embodies this question. Delita Heiral of Final Fantasy Tactics.

final-fantasy-tactics-delita-ramzaI’ve spent hours and hours on message boards discussing whether Delita was a selfish man, driven by revenge, or a righteous man who utilizes questionable means to achieve what he desires. He spends the majority of the game lying, manipulating, and killing, but the purpose of all of that is to create a better kingdom. Or so he says. Does he really mean it? Or is that just one more lie to get people to follow him in his crusade to destroy the system that killed his sister?

We may never know. I know what I think, but my opinion on it is no more valid than the next, though I’ll still defend it to the end.


You want your game in peoples heads. Even when they aren’t playing it. THAT is what forms word of mouth advertising. And there are tricks to keeping things in peoples heads. The above work for me, do they work for you? What in a game makes it stick in your head long after you put down the controller? Join the conversation in the comments section below!

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header_292x136Hi guys! Our friends over at Vagabond Dog released their commercial RPG Maker game Always Sometimes Monsters on Steam today!

Always Sometimes Monsters is a game about being at the bottom, and what you would do to pick yourself back up. What decisions would you make? Are there lines you wouldn’t cross? And right now even if it’s hard to pick yourself back up, you can easily pick Always Sometimes Monsters up for 10% off, with an extra 10% off if you own RPG Maker VX Ace through Steam!

Want a chance to win a free copy? Have a tumblr or blog? Write a story about when you went a bit too far to get something you wanted or needed, and link it in the comments section below. End your story with a link back to this post and the sentence “We are Always Sometimes Monsters.” Remember to keep it PG, and don’t admit to any crimes!

Our favorite three stories will receive a Steam key! Good luck and make sure to check out Always Sometimes Monsters on Steam!