SOME POINTLESS MEANDERING ABOUT GAMERS (AKA: MEET YOUR AUDIENCE)

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Okay, caveat.. For now I'm not talking about RPGMAKER users specifically; because that is a WHOLE 'NOTHER BAG O' BEES. So with that said, time for some aimless meandering.

I was thinking about just who "we" (taking the actual or hypothetical stance of "maker of games") make games for but more specifically who those people, or type of people, are exactly - As in: "What they're like"

Okay, backing up a little further...

My train of thought went like this:

author=My mind, a few minutes ago.
"When building games you should probably have 'the player' in mind and try to approach things from a 'player oriented perspective' rather than a 'game developer perspective', sure, that makes sense...

*self satisfaction at arriving at a logically sound and ethically pleasing design philosophy*

After all, I don't want to just make games whose target audience is "other people who make games"... I need to work more on leaning how to appeal to people who don't think about games as makers of them but as players.

(and this is something I would usually unthinkingly agree with because it just makes sense when read alone)

BUT...

WAIT A SECOND!

"The player" is, at least by semantic necessity alone, going to be a gamer.

Have you ever spoke to a gamer?!

You are a gamer, and so are all the professional game developers.
(actually tbqh I'm barely a gamer any more :/)

I mean.. Have you looked at a forum that discusses commercial games? It's pretty much exactly the same, every gamer and his dog is a part-time wannabe game developer at least outside of casual and 'social' gaming.

They talk about, criticize and praise stuff like graphics, music, level design, puzzle design, mechanics and gameplay... In fact that is the CORE of their focus - and they approach it from a "how it should have been done" position which is almost exactly the same as a developer, who would approach from a "how should I go about doing this?" position...

And... With both sides of the fence taking the same position on games, just where is there room for actual content in this equation and just who out there could be said to be viewing it as such, as in, from the positon of the hypothesized "player"? because it's certainly not "gamers"

...and with that it hit me like the giant block of obvious. I have been a fan of the notion: "players don't give a shit about game dev stuff (and in RPGMAKER-specific terms, this is still absolutely true unless you only want to impress other rpgmaker users, this is why I caveat'd that earlier on), so get that stuff out of your mind and focus on what ends up player-side" but when you look at the target audience for games, ie: "gamers" it turns out they erm.. do care about that stuff, probably more than they "should", whatever that means.

See most gamers are nerds and are really into "games" as a whole "thing" (rather than just "enjoying playing games") In the same way that our rpgmaker/game making hobby extends beyond "I use a program called rpgmaker as a hobby sometimes" - as evidenced by the fact this community exists and that people invest a lot of time and energy in their projects, make teams, collabs, forum-based activities, events, friends even.

Gamers are, obviously, very literate in the medium of games and as a result are nothing like the cow-eyed hypothetical cipher "the player" that all of this "intending things for" is intended for. Also, let's face it, if you're an indie developer (of any caliber) your audience is more likely to be nerd gamers than casual gamers (unless you're aiming for the mobile/social gaming market). IE: people who will pick everything apart in ways that sometimes even you may not have imagined. In other words, they are both highly articulate in the language of games (imo: usually positive) and also very conditioned by or involved in the culture of gaming (can be both positive and negative).

So.. Now to bring the RM thing in.

I totally agree with the notion "Nobody outside of the RM community gives a shit about x-thing-that-is-only-impressive-in-the-context-of-rpgmaker" but this is a microcosm of a larger thing because you could just as easily say "non-gamers don't give a shit how impressive/good your game's graphics/sound/music/storyline/characters/anything is" which is an obvious thing to say but it brings to light that making a game, if you audience is "gamers" (and logically speaking, why would you make a game for non-gamers?), is pandering to "gamer expectations".

I mean, like I said, it would be a silly idea to approach game making from a "not making the game for gamers" position... (and it would be a great excuse to devolve into "it's not WRONG! it's just MY STYLE!" attitudes)

But would it really be that silly? ~(+_+ ~)

As was pointed out by the recent topic about gay characters in games, people are multidimensional and not flat characters or cardboard cutouts.. So when you go to play a game, do you really just want the game to be treating you as "a gamer" and to only appeal to that part of your personality? I mean, we're other things than just gamers, right? So howcome most game-design "best practices" focus a lot on appealing to gamers as just that and nothing else? I imagine that, with a few exceptions, trying this in the real industry would be financial suicide but in the amateur sphere we don't have that much to lose... so...

Howcome our standards of what makes an amateur game "good" consist of three things:
1) Emulation of professional (aka: made in large part to make money) games in as many ways as possible, as much as possible.
2) Half-hearted attempts to subvert conventions of professional games to be edgy whilst still holding on to them (Do the opposite for the sake of being different rather than for more relevant or "deeper" reasons).
3) Affirmation of personal biases about how we think games should be. (yeah, kinda hard to avoid that one!)

(this doesn't mean that I'm saying "if your game in any way emulates professional games that is a bad thing!" or *apply to the other two points* but rather that I'm asking why the standard of what are considered VALID design choices or, "GOOD GAM MAK YO" is based on these three things)

yeah. I said a bunch of stuff there that probably didn't make much sense.

Thoughts? :>
Perhaps a bit of a tangent, but on the "Meet your audience" part, my game design teacher showed us this video about a month or two ago and went "THIS IS WHO YOU'RE DESIGNING GAMES FOR"



Note how many of the worst N64 games of all time are "alright, I guess."
The guy is listening to Marilyn Mason. I mean, c'mon.
Everything except the last 2 paragraphs I found really hard to follow. Mostly because of long drawn out sentences and thoughts crammed into thoughts crammed into thoughts. Maybe organize it better? I still got the gist of it.

I don't use those standards when determining the quality of a game and I would question if even the majority of people do. The majority of vocal people on RM sites, perhaps. I wonder how many people examine a game a make a list of things that are similar to a commercial game and if there are enough of them they can call it a good game(exaggeration).

I think the things we see as good game design are just lessons learned from mistakes. Things like balanced gameplay, intuitive menus, navigation friendly maps, smart puzzles, are the natural evolution of game design. They are good because they are good, not because that's what the big wigs do. Natural selection of game design. That would be in the realm of technical choices. Genre, characterization, plot; which are deep seated characteristics of a game, are mostly opinion based. They factor into a persons overall opinion of the game and even though the game is technically sound, they will say it's bad because they were bored or the cliches were too overpowering. Maybe the pacing was bad. Things start to move away from strict "game design" and move into "art theory" and "writing". All of which matter to the overall opinion of the game. Big companies are more likely to have experts in each field and produce an overall better game(they can still fail horribly).

Since there are tons of commercial games that did things right, indie games get compared to them. I don't think it equates to "it's right because it's done in commercial games".

If someone makes a game that is different for the sake of being different, but makes bad design choices, it will be a bad game. It might get merit points for trying something different, but will still fall flat. I think the inherent nature of "something different" is at the core of our species(wtf am I saying? >.>)

I'm going to stop talking now. What a load of BS xD

author=Super_Llama
Perhaps a bit of a tangent, but on the "Meet your audience" part, my game design teacher showed us this video about a month or two ago and went "THIS IS WHO YOU'RE DESIGNING GAMES FOR"


Note how many of the worst N64 games of all time are "alright, I guess."


Hilarious.

109 likes, 4,495 dislikes

I think the parts where he goes "I don't really like..." are the issue. Why is he playing games he doesn't really like? I mean, as a gamer, I stick to a genre I like. I'm not gonna go looking into genres I know I won't like when choosing games I don't like. I'm not gonna buy games I won't play. Seriously? "I don't really like..." Then why the hell did you buy it or play it?!
>.<

Also: It's not such and such game. >.<; Um, yeah. Because it's a different game, perhaps?

That said, interesting idea. Buuuut I make the kind of games I like to play and if I'm alone in enjoying them, well, then I'm alone in enjoying them - though it does disappoint a bit because you do want people to like what you like and be able to talk about said things but, yeah. Most of my games are made for myself.
author=link
Things like balanced gameplay, intuitive menus, navigation friendly maps, smart puzzles, are the natural evolution of game design. They are good because they are good, not because that's what the big wigs do.


Nah that's opinion based too. could you please define "intuitive" and "smart" if you think otherwise? I sometimes see quite a few trends here where people will copy a feature from a recent RPG, nothing wrong with that but I do think the commercial industry has a huge impact on how most people here think.
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
14360
so will you guys finally listen to me instead of flailing against me with a stick like you all have for the past few years

this is why I visit the GAF and the Escapist and read comments and whatnot because, like,

shit. You can't just go THIS WILL BE THE BEST RM2k3 ACTION GAME EVER and somehow expect it to be the next Secret of Mana. You can't scream I THINK THIS GAME IS FUN and then expect your self-serving game to have mass appeal (look at Journeyman).

Look at ~the whole picture~ please.

NB, I think a lot of the "standards" you outlined are based entirely on Ye Olde Fame Grab. Errybuddy wants to be popular++. So, Rudras, "dark" and "psuedo-political" "plot," and a few CuStOm SyStEmS = shit like Forever's End.

and then rmn just faps the fuck off to it lololololol *shootself*

same with Ascendence (learn to spell that word, dude, even though I actually like you nowadays), and Alter AILA: sideviewwhatever, and Legionwood, and Valkyrie Stories, and -

I'm going to go cry in a corner.
Keeping it short:

RM users tend to be a very particular subculture, so yeah, they have their own standards that usually don't match that of gamers.

RM PLAYERS are also a particular subculture. I know many ordinary GAMERS who just won't play RM games because they're 2D, retro, etc. So you can't just aim your RM game at people who usually play Mass Effect.

This has been discussed before, and it comes down to who you think will play your games. If it's a small project released within the walls of RMN (which is most cases), you should keep thinking as a RM developer.
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
14360
calunio
If it's a small project released within the walls of RMN (which is most cases), you should keep thinking as a RM developer.

I guess I personally just don't get why people would want to do this =x

Like if you are making "ME AND MY FRIENDS SAVE THE WORLD" then okay, I don't care; go about your business. But when you are trying to make Something Really Cool and your plan is to... release it within RMN

and that's it

then what are you even living for? Why do people not see interest outside of the incestuous cesspool? Do people want to just be a big fish in a tiny pond? I mean, yeah, I know YOU reach outside of the community calunio, but

I don't get rm* devs I guess
I guess everyone wants to reach outside RMN, but RMN people is a TERRIBLE sample of outside audience.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18257
Guess it depends what you mean by "release it outside RMN." RM games are small potatoes and even if you made a game that is objectively good by indie/commercial standards you're never going to be reaching more than an extremely niche market. RM games have an extremely low bar to being "well-known," even the most successful RM games are unheard of in larger circles. If you're expecting your RM game, no matter how good it is, to somehow hit it big I think you're probably better off playing the lottery.

I don't think it's impossible to make a game that can appeal to an audience. Look at say, Spelunky. it was made in GameMaker, and is, at its core, a pretty standard platformer. It is not a curiosity that became well known by being novel or different or by subverting expectations. But it was not made with rips or stolen music, and doesn't look like something a kid threw together in his basement. It has solid production values across the board and consistent rules you can learn and build upon to master your environment. But as well known and popular as Spelunky is, it is still appealing to a very small niche; the roguelike crowd. For as many videos as you see of it on Youtube, I seriously doubt Spelunky is a very widely played game. It's just a game that became popular and well-known within a certain demographic.

I suppose it's possible you could make an RPG that hits it big in the retro 2D RPG player demographic, but I think this community is still many years away from producing anything like that.
Soli I don't think anyone is being that ambitious!
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
You don't think anyone is trying to be as popular as Spelunky? I am :/ I hope we all are! Hell, ideally I would like my RM game to be as popular as something like Plants Vs. Zombies.

I mean, I would like to be, eventually, once I have a game worth bringing out of the community. I'm not trying to promote my old games to that level of popularity, as they don't deserve it, but I'm definitely trying to make that game now. Admittedly I'm absolutely using ripped graphics and music and sound effects, under the slightly ridiculous premise that after the game is done, if the game is good enough, I can theoretically go back and replace those.

author=NewBlack
I mean.. Have you looked at a forum that discusses commercial games? It's pretty much exactly the same, every gamer and his dog is a part-time wannabe game developer at least outside of casual and 'social' gaming.

I really don't think the average gamer gets on forums and discusses commercial games! I think the average gamer just plays them. I think the people who discuss games are much more of hardcore gamers and wannabe game designers than the people who just play them, in the same way that there are people who discuss movies in forums, and people who just watch them in the theater or on DVD and then maybe talk to their friends for 20 seconds about them.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18257
author=calunio
Soli I don't think anyone is being that ambitious!


I think a lot of people are. Craze is. Who doesn't at least entertain playful notions of their game becoming the next big thing?

RM isn't a great way to go about it, but I don't think there's any real formula to success. The most important thing is to make a quality product. Darken has been railing against following in commercial games' footsteps for a while, but I think that isn't quite hitting the mark. Commercial games nowadays are all about fancy visuals and things to cover-up the fact that their game probably isn't as fun as they want you to think it is. What you need to look for is getting back to that fundamental that made games fun in the first place.

Cave Story is pretty much the most simple game imaginable. It's a game about jumping and shooting! JUMP AND SHOOT. It should have been called Jump 'n Shoot Story. Cave Story has a strong narrative and fun characters, but you're free to completely ignore them (but if they resonated with you, you're free to look for ways to change the outcome of the story). Nothing is crammed down your throat. Add in its visual style, flair, and charm, and it's easy to see why Cave Story became popular. But nothing here is avant-garde cutting edge new wave of gaming. It just took something familiar and made it fun again.

With an RPG, I'm not sure what primal "element" you'd be tapping into. Maybe the aspect of having your hero get stronger over time, watching your numbers get bigger. There's the exploration elements, where there are secrets to be found and riddles to be solved. But the solution isn't to reinvent the wheel. It's to take that wheel and make the player realize "Holy crap why did I never realize wheels were so much fun?"
Happy
Devil's in the details
5367
I didn't read the OP at all, but talking about success of RM games, Reives' "To the Moon" was just reviewed in latest issue of Finland's top gaming magazine and scored highest among the games that were reviewed in that issue. (SWTOR and FF XIII-2 were included, for example.)

I felt really bizarre when I found that out.

Oh yeah and apparently the game scored so high, because of "it's amazing story," even though other aspects were greatly lacking.


ps. Craze: I'm not sure really if the goal of those people who made those games you listed as examples was to be popular. Personally, I was just making a game I considered fun. If the community hypes the game, etc, I don't think it's fair to blame the authors for "whoring" for popularity.

Though, if the dev is excited and goes all over the place with the advertising and hyping, and fails to deliver or meet your expectations, sure, it's not a very good thing. But what I'm saying is that some people just make games for fun and for themselves, not to be some sort of internet super stars.
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
14360
Happy
But what I'm saying is that some people just make games for fun and for themselves, not to be some sort of internet super stars.

and I have said time and time again that I do not give a fuck about those people; my examples were of projects that I saw portrayed by the community as The Best Ever when they were, in my opinion, lacking. That being your stance on the game, it makes more sense as to why I didn't love it (not giving a fuck, etc.) but it sure didn't seem that way at the time.

Especially with the whole BOWING OUT/RM* GHANDI or whatever thing, that was pretty ridic

EDIT: If the devs of all those project come in here and say "I WAS MAKING FOR MYSEELLLFFFF" I'm going to shoot all of them down with a makerscore gun of disbelief and contraception
kentona
Your mom is a hero
20844
I was making it for myself!
author=Craze
so will you guys finally listen to me instead of flailing against me with a stick like you all have for the past few years

I don't think so. You seem to keep hating on games for the same shallow reasons. But we like you anyway, though. ;D

author=Darken
Nah that's opinion based too. could you please define "intuitive" and "smart" if you think otherwise? I sometimes see quite a few trends here where people will copy a feature from a recent RPG, nothing wrong with that but I do think the commercial industry has a huge impact on how most people here think.

Sure, everything is subject to opinions in greater or lesser ways. But when people truly tries to rationalize 'game design' a consensus is often reached. The exact definition of things and their execution may vary, but the objective is often the same. All in all I really don't see where are you coming from with this argument about commercial games having a deep impact on this community. I mean, trends are trend, alright. It's natural for people to be attracted by them. But if a trend survives the test of time, is because it works...
This whole thing is actually starting to worry me. First, like Soli said, even though Spelunky is an example of indie game that hit success, it's still fairly unknown among most gamers. I can ask all my friends who are regular gamers if they know Spelunky, I'm pretty sure none of them will say yes.

Soli was talking about another level of popularity. "But as well known and popular as Spelunky is, it is still appealing to a very small niche;". Indeed. Of course it's possible for a game made within RMN walls to reach that level of popularity. It's also possible that a lost bullet hit my head when I'm staring at the window. But I wouldn't count that to happen. And honestly, I barely see any real effort in reaching that sort of goals here. Great popular games are great and popular because they're based on fresh and elegant concepts. Something like VVVVVV. It's just a stupid platformer where you can switch gravity, but everybody seems to like it. Most games made here look more like RPG remakes of something. It's unlikely they'll ever fascinate a wider audience than a bunch of RMN members.

I mean, sometimes I think RMN is like a bubble. We (and I include myself) are pretty clueless as to what goes on outside. I could list (and I'd need some research) a bunch of indie games that are at least as popular as Spelunky, and I bet most people wouldn't have heard of them. I also bet none of them are RPGs. Maybe we THINK we're making games for a wide audience because that audience is all we know. But the world is much, much, much, much bigger than that.
author=Darken
author=link
Things like balanced gameplay, intuitive menus, navigation friendly maps, smart puzzles, are the natural evolution of game design. They are good because they are good, not because that's what the big wigs do.
Nah that's opinion based too. could you please define "intuitive" and "smart" if you think otherwise? I sometimes see quite a few trends here where people will copy a feature from a recent RPG, nothing wrong with that but I do think the commercial industry has a huge impact on how most people here think.


Well if a game is balanced, that seems pretty clear to me as good game design.

Intuitive, as in, the important information is readily available and easy to read. Accessing the menu is easy. This could probably lead to some opinion in aesthetics, but in terms of functionality there are some pretty clear guidelines of what is good design. Not that there is only 1 right design, just certain choices are good and others bad. If I have to constantly go digging in 10 sub-menus for the most important information with no shortcuts, that is unintuitive and not user friendly and bad design.

Smart puzzles...well this probably has the most opinion in it and is based on the audience and genre, but I would say puzzles that are not overly obscure. Puzzles that properly teach you the skills needed to solve it, like you just learned how to push blocks so the next few puzzles involve pushing blocks and it starts off simple and expands on the idea. Not dropping you into a puzzle where you have to do a bunch of stuff the game didn't teach you yet. I dunno, that one is hard to explain beyond that.

Maps, that don't have tons of rewardless dead ends, maps that have a logical flow.. um, and stuff.

I would say the commercial game found a good design aspect and people want to copy it because it's good. Not simply because it was in a commercial game. That's pretty much my point. I don't like "arguing" or "debating" anymore, but since you asked I elaborated on something that I was a little vague about.

This topic seems to have gone off in a different direction anyways :o Might as well let it go that way.
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