You’re setting up your game. You’ve got an outline of your story written. You’ve got some ideas for your mechanics. And you’ve made a couple of maps.
Now, you’re looking at plugins.
Everyone, of course, loves plugins. They let you do things outside the normal confines of the editor. They can do a lot to make your game unique. But at the same time, one thing I’ve always noticed is that a lot of users seem to overstuff their games with plugins.
Doing this can cause a lot of problems. Plugins with incompatibilities. Feature bloat. And more. So each time you add a plugin, I’d suggest asking yourself these questions:
1. What does this add to my game?
The first thing I always ask myself, is: Does this add to my game? You would think this would be an obvious question, but sometimes it isn’t. It’s easy to get excited by seeing a bunch of cool plugins and forget to actually check if they fit into the design of your game.
Check back at your outline. Check your gameplay mechanic ideas. Does the plugin actually help you with any of those things? Could the things added by it enhance those things?
Does it add to the aesthetics of your game? Does the improved aesthetics match up with your vision of the game?
If you find yourself answering any of these questions with a yes, then you probably have a plugin you want to use, but let’s look at the other questions, too.
2. Can I do this without a Plugin?
Sometimes, things plugins do, can be done just through eventing. If it can, you might want to consider just doing it that way.
Eventing is a key skill for using RPG Maker, and learning to make complex events will make you a better RMer (it will also be a skill that can carry over into actual programming, and using other engines, as the logic behind events is basically the same as basic programming).
You should definitely flex those eventing muscles as often as you can. That said, just because it can be evented, doesn’t mean it SHOULD be evented in your game. that leads to question 3:
3. Is this going to save me time?
Even with things that can be evented, plugins are generally going to be able to save you time in doing them, as they can create shortcuts. But, as mentioned before, just stuffing your game full of plugins from different authors risks some issues with incompatibilities, especially ones that edit the same things.
Generally, if something can be done in the editor, and it is for a one-off reason, maybe only used in one dungeon, or just one skill even, I think it is better to do it in the editor. The amount of time saved isn’t that much, and you can keep your plugin load down. There are situations though where I’d still take the plugin. For instance, if it is part of a suite that you are already using, and you aren’t using anything outside of the suite, for instance, you probably won’t have incompatibilities (like using another Yanfly plugin when you are already using only Yanfly plugins), but generally, one offs things are better handled through the editor if possible.
If it is something you will be doing over and over, that saved time is definitely worth it. The time saved really adds up!
Hopefully this will help you decide when to use plugins! What questions do you ask yourself when you are adding plugins? Tell us in the comment section below!