It’s the Little Inconsistencies that Kill

in Tips and Tricks

Hi there! So you’re ready to tackle making the game you’ve always wanted to play. You’ve gathered resources and scripts and you’ve made a demo.

You share it with some friends and they are, underwhelmed to say the least. They found it confusing and lacking polish. Its easy to get discouraged at this point, but lets go over an important detail that gets overlooked a lot in games: Consistency.

We as humans learn a lot of things through pattern recognition, and when the patterns aren’t consistent it can be very glaring.

Let’s go over a few things that can turn into flaws in a game:

Mixing different sprite or tile styles.

Two different graphical styles used in the same game, even on separate maps can make a game look incredibly amateur. Lets look at an RTP sprite next to a Mack style sprite.

"Just chillin' taking a stroll around the village... nothing to... WHERE DID THAT GIANT COME FROM."

You’ll notice that not only is it just too tall, even if you wanted to use it to represent a giant, you can’t because the colors are much more muted on the Mack style sprite and don’t match the surroundings.

Try and keep everything to the same style. This can be a bit difficult with some more obscure styles, so unless you can make the graphics yourself, or someone else will make them for you, its probably best to stick to RTP style for most stuff. There are a few styles that have enough stuff out there to use though if you look.

Teaching players how to find things.

So early in the game in one cabinet is an important item you need later on. Does the player KNOW to look in cabinets?

Consistency is a way to train your players to look in specific places for things. Players know that treasure chests almost always contain stuff, but cabinets and shelves it depends on the game. Have characters get things off any type of object you can get things from early, and continue to use it throughout the game. You might even want to have an NPC tell the player to grab something out of that type of object early on to teach them they can.

Be sure to NOT CONFUSE THE PLAYER. If you use a sparkle to indicate items on the ground, don’t use it for something else later.

Message format.

This is something you should think of before you start making your game. How will you format messages? For an example, lets look at the following messages.

See how each is formatted differently but say the same thing? (Notice that I also made a mistake in typing the first one, I left it in to point out that capitalization and punctuation mistakes should be fixed before sharing your project). When you start the game, pick ONE format and stick with it the whole game.

Also, be consistent on when you show face graphics. If you use face graphics for every character, a character showing up without one seems out of place. If you only use them for important characters, an unimportant character possessing a face in the message system will confuse the player.

These are just a few small examples of inconsistencies that can make your game look incredibly unpolished at best and confusing to your players at worst.

Have examples of other inconsistencies RMers should avoid? Have some questions on inconsistencies I have listed? Tell them to us in the comments section below.

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