Realism vs Fun

in Design

One thing I’ve noticed in video games, as the systems they are on have become more and more powerful, there has been an urge to create more and more realistic games.

And realism can be good! In the right places, at the right doses, in the right game.

But, sometimes, it feels like games insert “realism” into games where it doesn’t fit.

Not the world of gritty realism (RPG Maker DS Resource Pack! On Sale until 9/6/2017!)

Not the world of gritty realism (RPG Maker DS Resource Pack! On Sale until 9/6/2017!)

Are you making a gritty simulationist game where getting from town to town alive is supposed to be a challenge? Then maybe all those hunger/cold/weather/camping mechanics are a good fit. They create the main challenge of the game.

Are you making a high adventure game with world-altering magic, dragons, etc. Maybe it isn’t the best fit. (I mean seriously we have spells that can nuke enemies the size of a skyscraper but no one found out how to cast a spell that can keep us warm?).

Realism shouldn’t be included in a game for realism, realism should be included in the game because it makes the mechanics of the game better, or adds to the feel of the game. Are your characters supposed to feel like they are scraping together whatever they can? Then a system of equipment degradation adds to that sense of improvised gear. But adding equipment degradation to a game where you are wielding legendary weapons… it feels very off. It just adds a nuisance layer to the mechanics that doesn’t need to be there.

This is much more where I would expect to run into simulationist mechanics. (Medieval: Diseased Town Resource Pack)

This is much more where I would expect to run into simulationist mechanics. (Medieval: Diseased Town Resource Pack)

What do you feel about realism in games? What is a situation where you could see implementing a simulationist mechanic? What is a situation where a simulationist mechanic felt out of place? Tell us in the comments below!


So, this week’s sale in the RPG Maker Web store is on the wonderful Twilight Shrine: Japanese Resource Pack.


This pack includes a lot of cool stuff music, sound effects, graphics, for a Japanese themed or inspired setting.

Which got me thinking about how we create fictional cultures in our games. Outside of those set in the real world, our games include tons of fictional nations, cultures, and people. So how do we write them?

In general, when people create cultures for their games, they use an existing culture as a template. For instance, we could use Japanese culture for the template, which helps because, well we have these wonderful packs to use for it!

And on sale too! Hint Hint.

And on sale too! Hint Hint.

This is always a good start, but you really should come at it from the right direction. Are you just stealing the culture or are you respecting the culture?

I’m not going to delve too much into this, but just in general, make sure that you are being respectful, if you take a culture, put it in your game, and then portray their culture as corrupt and nasty (based on their cultural beliefs), then you are probably going in the wrong direction. Better to use a generic standin culture for that, rather than basing it on a real life one.

But being respectful doesn’t mean that you have to make the culture identical. You can change details, this is a fictional culture!

Your pseudo-Japan doesn't have to look just like this.

Your pseudo-Japan doesn’t have to look just like this.

The best way to do this is to understand the culture you are borrowing. Why did they become the way they did? Take the Japanese obsession with fish dishes. Of course, they are obsessed with fish dishes, they are an island nation! A culture that grew somewhere away from the coast, with similar beliefs, would develop different food.

Or take the creation of the folded steel of the Japanese Katana. The reason for this is the quality of iron found in Japan was not as good as the ore found in Europe. Because of this, they had to develop a method that would turn that iron into a higher quality steel blade. A culture that has rich iron mines would probably never develop such a technique.

The key to adapting a culture to your game is to A. Understand and Respect the culture, and B. Make adjustments based on differences in how they developed.

How would these kinds of shrines be different if the forces they represent had real measurable effects on the world?

How would these kinds of shrines be different if the forces they represent had real measurable effects on the world?

Think about how real magic, or an invasion by another culture, or literal gods walking the planet, or even just a different topography of the land they live in, would change the culture as it grew.

That is the key to making powerful, evocative cultures in your games. Do you have any tips for creating cultures?


Side quests are an integral part of most RPGs nowadays. You don’t HAVE to have them, some games do not, especially older style RPGs, but if you are like me, you really want to add them in. So let’s look at a few ways to make sure that your side quests are the best they can be. I generally have a small checklist of questions for every side quest. I don’t have to answer yes to ALL of them, but I like to make sure at least most of them are covered. So let’s go through the checklist.

How does this enhance the story?

There are plenty of ways for side quests to enhance the story. I’ve given advice before on not overdoing your world lore too much in the main plot, you don’t want to overload a player who just wants enough to understand the plot! But side quests, this is where you can add a lot of background lore.

Another good way to enhance the story is to have side quests that focus on certain characters. Either more background or some character development for them. This is kind of the Bioware staple sidequests, if you ever want an idea of how to do it, look there.


This feeds players who are interested in the story, character interaction, and lore. Which in RPGs can be quite a bit!

How does it challenge the player?

You, of course, want your main quest to be challenging, but side quests are a unique place where you can add some enhanced challenge factor. Players don’t HAVE to do them to enjoy the main game, so giving the players who want them some extra challenges are good.

But also, you want to make sure that side quests are challenging, and not just fetch or delivery quests. These kind of quests are just routine time wasters. Sometimes it might still work if the other parts of the checklist are all checked off, but in general, I suggest against this kind of stuff.

Give the characters new things to do, new dungeons to explore, new puzzles to figure out, or just a new enemy to take down.

What advantage does the player get from doing it?

If there is one thing that I hate, it is pushing through a challenging, long side quest, and the reward isn’t even worth it.

ah yes, exactly what I need, a generic sword. :|

ah yes, exactly what I need, a generic sword. 😐

For the love of all that is good in the world, GIVE YOUR PLAYER SOMETHING NICE! My suggestion is usually some kind of unique equipment or skill. Preferably slightly more powerful than other things you can get at a similar time, but even if it ISN’T, unique stuff appeals to players collecting obsessions (you guys have that too right? It isn’t just me, right?)

But really, just give your player something mechanical for their trouble!

What other things do you keep in mind when making side quests? Join us in the comments below!



Do you want more RPG Maker assets at better prices? Then we have the thing for you! We’ve just started our RPG Maker Web Store WEEKLY DEALS. Every week on Wednesday we will be announcing a new deal for you to jump in on! For our first week, the Medieval Town Bundle is now 50% OFF!


The Medieval Town Bundle combines the Medieval: Town and Country and Medieval: Interiors packs, giving you everything you need to start making your game using PVGames distinctive style! 30 Tile Sheets! 120 premade Buildings! Animals, Character Templates and more!

Looking for the next step after picking up the Medieval Town Bundle? The black death, or some appropriate standin, is exactly what you need! Check out the brand new Medieval: Diseased Town, made to work with the Town bundle to show the desolation and death caused by disease!

From there you can expand to so many different Medieval Graphic Sets, pick the ones you need for your game, or just go ahead and buy them all! Every one is compatible with all the others. But remember, this sale won’t last much longer, you only have until Wednesday August 2nd to get the Medieval Town Bundle for 50% off!


So perusing our forums, I ran across an interesting thread. The thread was titled “Why bother making a video game?“.

A pretty dismissive title, but the question itself is really an interesting one. Why DO we make video games? Obviously, we all have different answers to this, and I want to, of course, hear your answers as well, but in this article, I’m going to give you mine.

But first, a little about me. My name is Nick Palmer, the social media and community guy for the English RPG Maker Community. I’ve been known in the community as Touchfuzzy for years, long before I was ever hired on by Degica, I was making games with RPG Maker.

This was the first RPG Maker I ever used. Seriously/

This was the first RPG Maker I ever used. Seriously.

I write. A lot. I mean, obviously, most of my job is writing (and yes, I know, I’m prone to incredibly long sentences (and parenthetical asides!)). But I love telling stories. When I was a kid, and well, even now, I want to be a novelist. I’ve played tabletop roleplaying games for many, many years (something like 28 years now?). I want to tell stories and for people to enjoy them. It is one of the primary things I like in life.

But on the other side, I also like math. And puzzles. And just taking things apart and learning how they work and putting them all back together. It is why I have an unhealthy obsession with board games for instance. I love playing within a system and figuring out how to make it tick.

And making games with RPG Maker? That combines those two things like peanut butter and chocolate. I get to play with systems, I get to learn eventing and manipulate things to get the engine to do what I want, and all the while, I get to use that manipulation to tell stories. Then people get to play within the system I make and see the story I told.


I did actually finish one game, it was pretty fun, though horribly unbalanced and some of the puzzles were really, really unnecessarily hard.

To be fair, I also rarely finish anything. I have a secret project in the works now, but will it ever see the light of day? Who can say (well, it is work related, so probably my bosses would be unkind if it didn’t)? But even if I never do, it is fun to see the stories come to life, to manipulate the pieces and tools to get it to produce something that is uniquely mine. Unfinished or not.

So, why do you make games? Tell us in the comments below, or join the forums and ask in the original post!


By: Lunarea

Magnificent Quest is a large music pack created by Joel Steudler, the genius composer behind many of the crowd-favorite music packs you’ll find in the RPG Maker store. This large pack includes 43 BGM songs and 20 ME shorts, perfectly suited for both short projects and long sagas.

Although Magnificent Quest can be used in both high and low fantasy, the inspiration for this pack is more modern JRPGs – which blend the classic orchestral melodies with modern rock undertones. As a result, Magnificent Quest is a unique album that will feel both inspired and memorable.

My favorite part of the pack is the sheer variety of melodies. Each theme has a unique melody, but fits a larger narrative well. This is especially important if you’re planning to create longer games – where you want to avoid having music feel repetitive and boring, while at the same time keep your music similar enough to not feel disjointed.


Magnificent Quest Music Pack contains the following:

  • 10 Battle Themes, including standard battles, special encounters and boss themes
  • 10 Dungeon themes, including music for areas such as catacombs, dwarven caves and the Underworld.
  • 10 Event themes, which can be used as character themes as well as backdrops for your game events – ranging from heroic to nostalgic.
  • 10 Town themes, including rural areas, palaces and cities.
  • Bonus: 3 additional themes (Battle, Dungeon and Event), and 20 ME themes (positive, negative, inn and rock)

Music can be a fantastic inspiration to create, and Magnificent Quest is no exception. While I was listening to the album, I had a ton of game ideas pop into my head – from interesting plot points and twists to world development. But since I can’t create an entire game just for this article (well, I could, but it would take forever!), I picked a single song to build something with – Town: Tranquil Refuge.

For this tranquil refuge, I jumped back into parallax mapping and created a cottage in the woods. I used RPG Maker MV RTP, as well as some choice wilderness pieces from SAKAN: Tileset Builder tool. I tried to emulate nature with an organic placement of the different pieces, but I still made sure everything lined up with the grid so the walking player didn’t feel off-center.


Although we always encourage you to use your own creative ideas, we wanted to share a few alternate ways Magnificent Quest can be used in:

  • If you’re exploring a futuristic setting, think about adding a “retro fantasy” mini-game your player can play in between their missions. Not only does your player get a break from the main action, but you can make use of all fantasy materials you’ve got in your library.
  • To keep things fresh and exciting, consider changing your battle theme as the player gets stronger. The beginning stages could be more light and airy, and progressively grow darker/more intense as time goes on.
  • Music can inspire characters – and this JRPG medley would be perfect for that true anime fan in your modern project. Perhaps you could even add a side-quest where the party has to collect all JRPG themes across the world to unlock the fan’s ultimate ability…

We hope you’ve enjoyed this in-depth look at Magnificent Quest. We’d love to hear your thoughts and impressions. Chime down below or join in the discussion on our Facebook page or our Community Forum.




Repeat after me: Tropes are not bad.

A lot of people attempt to avoid tropes, they think of them as cliches that weaken their story.

"Ha, no one has made a world that looks like mine!" "1. You weren't alive in the 80s were you? 2. Ow, I like my eyes, why"

“Ha, no one has made a world that looks like mine!”
“1. You weren’t alive in the 80s were you?
2. Ow, I like my eyes, why”

But it just isn’t true. Tropes exist because they work narratively. You can’t avoid them all and there are plenty of reasons to embrace them. Today, I’m going to look at one specific way to use them, as narrative shortcuts.

So what do I mean by narrative shortcuts? I mean that you can use a trope to get a player to understand a situation or character very quickly.

But I know what you are thinking: But every situation and character should be meticulously detailed and blah blah blah. Yeah, well, yes and no. Should your main characters be fleshed out? Sure, but you can’t flesh out every character in your story completely. Sometimes you just need to establish a minor villain for a short arc and you can just plop in “Corrupt Priest” done, and it works.

People know how a corrupt priest will act. People know the motivations of a corrupt priest. They don’t have to wonder how or why, they just know.

Well, you aren't wrong... but you are kind of a jerk.

Well, you aren’t wrong… but you are kind of a jerk.

And even for your main characters, starting with a trope helps people get going quickly. and then, when you reveal information about them that DOESN’T match the trope to flesh them out, it makes the contrast even more noticeable.

You don’t have time to go into backstories and personal details of every single character, situation, village. You should do as much as you can if that is where your passions lie in game creating, but too much exposition or too much character building can truly bring your game down.

The more minor the component, the fewer details we need to know about it. And tropes fill in all those voids that we don’t need to know about.

So how do you use tropes in your game? Do you find yourself using it to communicate information to the player quickly? What other ways do you use them? Tell us in the comments below.



Time is running out on the Steam Sale, less than 24 hours to go!

Over on our blog, we’ve been highlighting some of the amazing artists who make RPG Maker DLC packs, such as Murray Atkinson, Celianna, PVGames, and Karugamo.

To close out the sale, let’s look at two more amazing artists.

First Seed Material barely needs introduction, being one of the most famous Japanese RPG Maker resource creators outside of Japan since the wild west days of the early RPG Maker online communities.

And now First Seed Material is making packs for RPG Maker MV!


The Towns and Beginnings Tiles are perfect for getting started on your game, covering interiors and exteriors for towns, villages, and cities.


And just released, Woods and Caves Tiles takes the next step, giving you plenty of materials to make woodland mazes and natural caverns!

Together, you can could create a full game from just this pieces, but the future is wide open for more packs by FSM, so be sure to be on the lookout!

Out of all the resource creators we have worked for for RPG Maker DLC, none has been a bigger name than Hiroki Kikuta, composer of Secret of Mana, Koudelka, Soul Calibur 5 and many more!


The serene side of the duo of packs from Hiroki Kikuta, The Calm features the perfect sounds for villages, serene forests, and other bits of small wonder.


On the other side, we have The Fury. Marches, battle themes and more, this pack drives forward to hard hitting adventure!

Together, this cohesive set of packs can make an entire game of quiet moments and rolling adventure. So pick up both in the Hiroki Kikuta Bundle.

The Steam Summer Sale is an excellent time for us all to pick up the packs we need to finish up our games. And it is also the perfect time to show appreciation to the artists who make them. So thank you to all the artists, those who make packs for us, those who make resources for free online, all the artists who make RPG Maker what it is today!



This time, we are going to check out the hard working and definitely industrious Murray Atkinson.

I’m not going to cover anywhere near all his packs. Cause he has so many, no seriously. So just click through the last sentence to check out any of the ones I didn’t highlight below.

I’m just going to focus on a few of his latest packs, but be sure to check out all those older ones too!


Spanish Guitar Strings is one of my favorite music packs we have. The perfect sounds for a midwestern style game, with fast strings and splendid tunes.


Like strings but want something a little more ominous? Check out Epic Strings, with harp, cello, violin, and more. These orchestral pieces will fit into most fantasy games.


One of Murray Atkinson’s newest packs, in the Heaven and Earth Music Pack he teams up with Otori Ayaka, a Niko player from Japan, to give us some wonderful Eastern set themes.


And finally, we have the Medieval Warfare Music Pack. This pack would be great to pair up with the PVGames Medieval sets, clashing swords and catapults raining stones down on their enemies.

Murray Atkinson has done so many packs, at least one will be perfect for your game. So check them all out, see what fits your game! And always remember to support and appreciate all the artists who help you create the games you dream of.



It is time for another Artist Spotlight! This time, we’re going to feature Celianna, who has done tons of VX Ace tiles.

Celianna is a long time member of the RPG Maker community, and someone I’ve worked with personally over on the RPG Maker Web official forums, where she is one of our most active moderators. She also is working on her own game, which you should also check out, called Tailor Tales!

But let’s take a look at her work for RPG Maker! All of these packs are VX Ace, formatted to 32×32 pixel tiles, so perfect for those who are still using an older maker, or are using a plugin in MV to use smaller tiles.


First we have Celianna’s Futuristic Tiles, which includes tiles for a variety of modern and sci-fi locals, spaceships, cities, research facilities and more!


Ever wanted to create a Harvest Moon style game? The Rural Farm Tiles are perfect for this, with a bright exciting art style and all the tiles you need to make farms and rural towns.


After that, Celianna worked on two packs designed to match the RTP style of VX Ace, and add Fantastic Buildings! The first, for fantasy, Fantastic Buildings: Medieval


… and the second for something a bit more contemporary: Fantastic Buildings: Modern.


Her other series, the Ancient Dungeons series, features absolutely gorgeous digitally painted tiles. The Base Pack features pieces for towns, villages, castles, caves, crypts, ports and even chapels…


…while the Ancient Dungeons Jungle pack gives you the feel of a thick jungle, complete with Mayan style temples and beautiful waterfalls.

Celianna has plenty of packs, ideal for use in a variety of games, whether you want to enhance the RTP, hit the future, work the farm, or just go with a totally new Fantasy style, she has made something you can use.

So pick up one of Celianna’s excellent packs and be sure to join us Monday when we do our last artist spotlight for the sale!