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.


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Thanks for this article!
Right now, I have a big epic rpg plan but I guess I have to put it in the attic for five years or so.
That's why I am now trying to make short games or will dividing the epic rpg into
small bite sized episodes work better? Will it make it manageable?
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
Uhm, so how can I create a game?

Good question! Here's a few tutorials to help you out

Beginner's Guide to RPG Maker VX Ace
RPG Maker VX Ace Beginner Tutorial Video Series (over 2 hours long!)

Those are beginner tutorials on how to make a game in RPG Maker VX Ace.

Generally, you have to download the engine first. The RPG Maker VX Ace engine can be downloaded here. There are other options, such as RPG Maker 2003, RPG Maker XP, etc.

There are also non RPG Makers, such as Game Maker, which is for 2D games but not necessarily RPGs but may be less user friendly. I would recommend starting up with RPG Maker VX Ace.

Edit: The only thing you must be aware of, is that with VX Ace you must buy to use beyond the trial period, otherwise you can use a more limited VX Ace Lite version which contains only a fraction of the purchased product's full functionality.

Edit #2: I also see that you had admired Dreaming Mary and wondered how to make such a game. Dreaming Mary was made using VX Ace Lite, but could have more easily been created in the purchased version of VX Ace, but the creator was just trying that engine out. If you would like to create such games, don't hesitate to pick up the editor today and fiddle around with the in-built RTP, and with practice you'll get better and better.
Good article.
I has expirienced many things mentioned in this article
where I had great ambitions to make my dream game but later I begin to abandon it.
I decided to make another simple project and more simple projects till I be able to return to that game and remake it professionally.

I realy get benefit from this article.
To be honest, I think everyone tries to make that epic game right from the outset. I know I did... and I failed horribly. That game was absolute garbage.
thank you for you all. I am new here, just bought Ace about a month ago.
I had one of the old ones about 8 years ago, 2k I think.
I was exactly that guy who went in to create an epic 1st game, failed, gave up creating games... Now, my 1st game on Ace is called Test Lab 1 :)

Good thing I read this BEFORE I tried to make a game. Note to self: Wait 5-10 years before attempting epic and meaningful 50+ hour RPG saga. :)
My name's Toby. Yeh... Yeah.. YEAH!!!!
..You must be referring to me!! AHHH!!

Time to abandon and start a 10th uncompleted game.
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.
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
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.
You're magical to me.
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.
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!
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.
Legionwood wasn't my first project. There were a few games that came before it, now thankfully wiped from existence.
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
Enlighten me as to why we should create a small first project, when your first project was both ambitious and successful?
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.
Sorry, I don't have a Steam account, so I can't. Feel free to copy and paste it there if you want though :)
You should go post this on Steam's RPG Maker VX Ace Forums.
(If it isn't already.)
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