ON FIRST PROJECTS

Advice for newbies on why a simple first project is often the best choice.

On First Projects

This article is intended to show new RPG Makers why a simple first project is often the best choice. In this article, I'll try to explain the reasons why newbies should, at first, put their ambitions on hold, including:

  • - A simple project is not overwhelming
    - Simple projects allow the user to play around and learn.
    - Simple projects offer no distractions for inexperienced users.


As you all most of you know, I've been a part of the RPG Maker community for quite a while now. I haven't yet reached the elusive status of "legendary" but I've been around long enough that I begin to notice trends and failings in the community. In my many years in the community, I've seen and played uncountable projects. Some were great, some only mediocre. Some were horrible. Over time, I've noticed that game making trends change, so new projects eventually steal the thunder of old ones, and the community moves on. There's one thing, however, that has remained the same ever since I first opened up RPG Maker to make my very first Final Fantasy fangame.

How many times have you seen newbies announce their epic, 20+ hour long, feature ladden, script infested first projects that they cancel shortly after? Why are first projects almost always doomed to fail? It seems that people new to the art of RPG Making are far too ambitious for their own good. I've done it myself, many moons ago; I've decided that my first project's going to be an epic saga set to rival the cherished classics of the RPG genre. Eventually, I learned that trying to pull off an ambitious project with little or no experience under my belt has two possible outcomes: either I become overwhelmed with the sheer scale of the project, realise I don't have the skill to do it justice, and cancel it, or else I finish it and release a bug-ridden crapfest. The moral here is that new RPG Makers must learn to recognise their limitations, and work within them until they are experienced enough to tackle a project that is truly spectacular.

The key piece of advice that anyone new to game making should heed is that to make a truly revolutionary game requires patience, skill and experience, three things that people often lack at the start of their RPG Making careers. A first project should be a tool for refining these things. The ideal first project should be something simple that isn't too hard to make. It's important for new RPG Makers to learn the finer operations of the program such as switches, variables, making skills, and editing the database. Likewise, there are fundamental aspects of RPG design that must be learned, such as how to create a balanced difficulty level, how to create interesting battles and strategies and how to construct an interesting, well paced storyline and likable characters. This is a tremendous amount of things to learn, and this is why it's often better to start off with something simple rather than that epic saga (powered by 10,000 scripts and custom systems) that you've always dreamed of making. Furthermore, it's important for any game maker to learn how to present a game correctly, and how to read and respond to criticism, so that they can further their abilities. Taking on a simple project that has a steady rate of progress and is not too overwhelming allows newbies to have the very valuable experience of actually releasing a completed game to the community and receiving feedback.

You don't always have to make a game so tremendously revolutionary that it turns the community upside down. A large part of being a member of the RPG Maker community is learning skills and gathering experience. Even a very simple game with no fancy scripts or custom features can be a joy to play if it's made well and clearly shows effort. Likewise, even a game done badly gives its creator an important opportunity to learn how to improve and become a better game maker. Think of it this way, new users: would you rather release a short, simple game that's helped you learn the nuances of game making and release that epic saga later and really do it justice, or would you like to release it now and have it fall far short of your ambitions? Taking on a small, simple game as your first project is really the most logical choice a new RPG Maker can make.

Posts

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You forgot the part where newbies should actually play other people's games to see what can and can't be done in terms of scope.
Oh yes, I completely forgot about that. I was mainly trying to address the issue of newbies simply opening up the program and trying to make Final Fantasy XIV right off the bat with no experience. I'll edit the article and include a suggestion to try the games of others, too.
Hmmm... i didnt do this for my first projects. They were all 30mins-1.5hours long, and had defualt most. They were still final fantasy though. :D

Good article, btw.
Well, the point is that your first projects were simple. As you said, they weren't long and were mostly full of default stuff. You were still learning the program.
author=Dark Gaia
Well, the point is that your first projects were simple. As you said, they weren't long and were mostly full of default stuff. You were still learning the program.


In my first 3-5 projects, all of them had defualt enemies. And items. Only the actors were cusomized. It really helped me learn the program, without bothering with database stuff.
Exactly what I'm trying to say. When I started Legionwood, I'd had RPG Maker VX for only two days. This accounts for why the first few builds were crap.
You shold do "quintuple posting and beyond" and "necro bumping 101" while you're at it Gaia.
Sorry, had to get that out of my system.

You do raise some good points though, I've fallen victim to over ambition myself.
Impatience is another issue, its not just a matter of sticking to your project. Its the inability to plan ahead, wanting to see everything you think of materialise straight away. The "make up as you go" method usually ends up making a horrible mess.

Good start, try to expand on this a bit though. Im sure you could add a lot more.
I made my first game, 'Phoenix', without any idea at all about switches... I might go back and fix it, but I also may go back and just redo the whole thing. I may also post it as part of a 'What Not To Do' series, or something, if it ever pops up. I'm even willing to volunteer the game for that very purpose. What's helped me develop is playing Starless Umbra and, in particular, Hero's Realm.
I would love to play a really short game with just one cool new idea or character that really flourishes. It's great for the gaming public so they don't waste 10 hours waiting for a game to get interesting and it's useful for the developer to get a sense of what people think about it and build interest before making their epic masterpiece.

There's also some sense that if a game doesn't have everything (custom graphics, original soundtrack, 40 hours of gameplay) it'll get passed up. If something advertised itself as a 1-hour trial experiment with RTP, I'd download it just to give feedback.
Thx, for the advice. I think I'm going to use a simple RPG Maker engine, because I don't know ANYTHING about scripting, and I heard that for some you need to do a script for side battle for some engines like RPG Maker VX. At the start I knew that my game wouldn't be awesome, because I'm practical, but I do want to have the whole game experience interesting. I personally would have a hard time making a simple game! You definitely have a good grip on how to make a great game.
Ven01273
tfw your waifu isn't real
1271
You should go post this on Steam's RPG Maker VX Ace Forums.
(If it isn't already.)
Sorry, I don't have a Steam account, so I can't. Feel free to copy and paste it there if you want though :)
Ven01273
tfw your waifu isn't real
1271
author=Dark Gaia
Sorry, I don't have a Steam account, so I can't. Feel free to copy and paste it there if you want though :)


Thanks! I'll leave a link back to this page too.
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
8817
Enlighten me as to why we should create a small first project, when your first project was both ambitious and successful?
Legionwood wasn't my first project. There were a few games that came before it, now thankfully wiped from existence.
author=CashmereCat
Enlighten me as to why we should create a small first project, when your first project was both ambitious and successful?


That doesn't really contradict anything even if Legionwood was his first project.
Addit
Thumbs up to no pants
5966
I wonder what the percentage of people on here whose very first project they ever worked on was actually the first one they completed would be (probably less than 2%, lol)?

Anyways, a damn fine read. I wish back then when I was a newbie that I had the opportunity to read and understand this first before venturing in. But when you’re young, you’re young. You basically don’t listen to any logic or reasoning - you just wanna make a 100 hour epic RPG, god damn it!
unity
You're magical to me.
8643
I actually completed my first project (though it still wasn't very good). It was my second project that became a never-ending mess that I abandoned after having 50+ hours of playtime.
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
8817
author=Darken
author=CashmereCat
Enlighten me as to why we should create a small first project, when your first project was both ambitious and successful?
That doesn't really contradict anything even if Legionwood was his first project.


I wasn't saying that it was contradicting anything. It's merely that if Dark Gaia's first project was a big success, and it was his first project, then why should we be warned against it if it worked for him?

But I understand that it probably wasn't his first project.
My first project was called Project 1 and I simply made a mess of a game(full of non-sense) that lasted 5 minutes but had 3 endings.
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