YOUR GAME DEV IDENTITY/SIGNATURE

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Last night, just as I was going to sleep after a long night of gam mak, some thoughts came to my head. About what game was I making (A dark, challenging, gameplay focused, retro rogue-like rpg) and what game I wanted to make after I finished that (An atmospheric, artsy and personal, story-driven game) And that left me thinking... I'm basically doing two very different sides of a coin. And you know, that's okay! It could mean that I'm in an experimental phase, trying different stuff to see what is really "my thing". That the gameplay focused is something I would enjoy playing for fun, and the story focused is something personal that I just want to share with the world. There's absolutely no problem in trying both (Aside from needing a different set of skills for each game, but that's not important here)

But then I thought about what is my "game dev identity". What other people, my potential audience, would expect from me? To put an example, imagine... I don't know, SnowOwl? which is known for his horror games, suddenly released some colorful fantasy rpg game. There's no dark twist or anything, is just another rpg. How would his usual fans feel about it? Or someone who discovered him by that game and now discovers that the rest of his games are horror-themed? Another example could be when musicians switch from their usual style to something else, or when a youtuber known for a certain kind of content takes their channel in a different direction. In all cases, this can be actually well received and the people that care the most about you and your content will stick around. But it also has the obvious risk of alienating a lot of people, sometimes making you lose fans.

But of course, I shouldn't think too hard on this. After all, I'm still a "nobody", so there are no fans to scare away or anything. And this shouldn't stop me or anybody from doing the things they really want to do. I'm still gonna work on those two games no matter what. But still, I thought it was something interesting and I wanted to hear what you guys think about it. Have you found that "thing" that differentiates your games from anyone else? Have you ever gone outside of your comfort zone?
Well.. I can't really speak about game dev yet, but history does show and carry over. Especially for single-person projects, they show. Be that in pet-peeves or other thing. It's really fun to experiment though and see what comes out on top. (I mean, I played 2 games from JosephSeraph that were polar opposites, but I quite liked both.)

As per the example.. When I think of SnowOwl (Having really only dived deep into The Great Empty, which was far less focused on horror), I just remember those smooth smooth sounds, omg those sounds. They are to die for! (I did try Miserere but didn't like the gameplay).
Anyway, if I looked at any game he made, I'd think of tight sound design and some attention paid to atmosphere, even in a different genre. Oh the art is pretty too, but the sound is what really stood out to me. I'd love to play a super colorful RPG made by SnowOwl : D Gosh, good sound design adds so much. One of the reasons I love me my Etrian Odyssey is just the sound of footsteps in the forest.
It's more fun for me to think about other people's calling cards, to be honest.

I haven't played all of the games of everybody on this list but just based off of what I HAVE played:

Unity's is definitely cute relationships (with a focus on yuri-oriented stuff)

Kentona's games all have a nice retro feel to them with a pretty obvious appreciation for past rpgs. They even feel like they could be from that time period. If I found a cartridge of heroes realm on, like, a snes cartridge I wouldn't feel like it was out of place at all.

If you're playing a game from Liberty expect some killer mapping and sense of atmosphere. A good story with solid dialogue often comes along with this.

piano's games tend to have a darker atmosphere to them even if they are relatively lighthearted in tone. Usually, this comes from graphical and/or narrative choices. He uses a lot his own art which gives them a distinctive feeling.

frogge has mapping and humor down for sure. He really knows how to make sure you have fun once you've started up a game - even if it's just a holiday card in the form of a game.

Punkitt's games look cute - his art style is very distinctive even as it's been evolving!

If I'm playing a fomar game I usually expect it to be technically solid. He's often working with Indrah as well and together they have a nice lighthearted tone that comes across in a lot of their stuff (with a sense that things are maybe not quite what they seem as needed).

Ocean's games are beautiful and paradise blue, in particular, has a hella good battle system. It's one of my favorite rm games!

I've been told that my games are funny and pretty good on the simple, but engaging story front!
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7616
I don't think a dev's brand should be restricted to a genre of games. Instead, I feel a dev's brand should be more broad and encompassing concepts, such as family-friendly vs adult content, a strong focus on storytelling, or a particular art style. Even then, though, a dev should be free to break away from one or more aspects of their brand to experiment with different concepts if they so choose.

Looking at the solo games I have on RMN, I have three RPG, a horror game, and a short "walking simulator." A common intent I had with all three of those games was a higher emphasis on characterization, and ways to reflect that in gameplay. Looking at a review of my horror game, I see:

author=NTC3
Psychostasis, though, was developed by Red_Nova, a developer far more known for his story-driven RPGs


So, minus the RPG part, I guess I've succeeded in my intent? Hm...


author=El_Waka
In all cases, this can be actually well received and the people that care the most about you and your content will stick around. But it also has the obvious risk of alienating a lot of people, sometimes making you lose fans.


If a fan is lost because you wanted to stretch your creative muscles and try something different for once, then they were never your fan in the first place. They were just a fan of your work that they enjoyed, not of you as a dev.

That kind of fan is not an inherently bad, mind you, but it's important to make the distinction between a fan of you as a dev and a fan of your work. If you're a known horror dev who made a colorful RPG once, don't take it as a slight if someone who doesn't like horror games only plays your colorful RPG and is not interested in your horror games.

I say all of this because, unless you have an incentive (financial or otherwise) to reach as broad an audience as you can, I wouldn't worry about alienating fans like that if you want to try something different. Yeah, not everyone will check it out, but that's okay.

You can try to mitigate this by making a variety of games before you become known , but then "variety" becomes part of your dev brand. Again, though, not a bad thing. It just reinforces the idea that a dev's brand shouldn't be bound to a genre of games.
author=Gourd_Clae
It's more fun for me to think about other people's calling cards, to be honest.

Think i'll do this, too.

zDS: Dark atmospheres, grim settings, strong emphasis on emotional turmoil.

Red_Nova: Bleak worlds that really push the sense of danger and hopelessness.

unity: Uni's game are always fun, whimsical, and never take themselves too seriously. They're just straight up fun and chipper to play through, regardless of how serious the subject matter is.

kentona: Few devs really nail that sense of nostalgia like kentona does. He understands what made RPGs great to everyone and why they were so celebrated, and not just from his personal nostalgia.

Visitorsdreams: Considering his animation background, Visitors' games are like playing through a fun cartoon. He brings a very unique, animated approach to games because of this.

This is also a good indicator of how few RM games i've played recently. sorry
Ive always wanted to do every genre that exists(to a certain extent) while Toolkitzone was still alive(the old home for the rpgtoolkit) I was known for making different games. I made a series of side scrolling shooters, A couple of platform games, a puzzle rpg, a lemmings style puzzle game, a fighting game and a few other random games that I cant really pin down to a specific genre(some but not all of those games are here now that tkz has died)
I don't feel that you should stick to a specific style of game. I think you should just make the games that you want to make that way there is more love involved and that always gives the best results.
author=Sgt M
Red_Nova: Bleak worlds that really push the sense of danger and hopelessness.

@red I was going to mention this but didn't think I had enough experience with your games to say. I've played Three Cheers for the Strawman and it is just *mwah*, very good! ^.^;

I definitely resonate with the idea of branching out and experimenting. If nothing else, it shows you what you are really good at.

At the same time, dialogue I write tends to give me bad vibes if it's not funny or highly interesting plot-wise. At the same time, I find myself rewriting things over and over when a simple "ok. lets kill the evil emperor" would be better than "ohoh mc let me squeeze my very specific speech quirk, a bit of my backstory, food preferences, witty humor and specific characteristic speech pattern all into this one message that it doesnt need to be in!" which is to say... I overthink my dialogue and just making everything funny and toning it down later is the only way I get anything done at all.

It's kinda gotta get done in my one specific way and I'm not super interested in branching out in this one aspect tbh! It helps to know this is just how I get things done and helps mark a game as my own!
wish I could release a game in the first place.




jokes apart, I've only played few games from this site. mainly the observer and dhux scar, and we can say Erilex has quite a dark game dev identity (both of these games, along with the cancelled one and the one he showed a screen of some time ago, all have in common a peculiar obscurity and a black sense of humor). also have played two games from indrah/fomar and can say as well their games are very lighthearted plus gameplay-based a lot. technical stuff, as someone above mentioned.

have played other games though, but none from the devs mentioned above. that said, i actually don't know people from here as i'm mainly a lurker.
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
13715
i used to only care about numbers

and now i only care about narratives and dialogue

shit
Wow, I didn't expect so many responses, thank you everyone!

Yeah... I guess I was just overthinking things, being stuck in a box for all your life sounds like hell, no matter the media. Seems like everyone agrees that, while we can create games of all genres, themes or tones possible, our personal style will find a way to shine through, and that's what matters the most. Leaving your little mark in everything you do.
AtiyaTheSeeker
In all fairness, bird shrapnel isn't as deadly as wood shrapnel
4834
In the back of my mind I've had a core MO for my games, especially once I took things seriously after Forsaken Isle. Trying to combine both of the big things that make RPG video games fun for me in moderation, I rely on two aspects of gameplay: character-driven stories and quick but deadly combat. Both sides of my gam mak coin are derived from personal gripes with RPG video games, a balancing act that I try to uphold without going too far into one aspect. A yin and yang of my game-making process.

One thing I've lost interest in for stories is the save-the-world aspects of some tales, especially in fantasy. Taking aspects from sword-and-sorcery fantasy, I like the idea of adventures being part of a world, but the consequences not extending farther than a specific settlement. Dana the Apocalypse Fox cannot save the Great Forest of WNY; she can only rescue herself and her friends, and hunt that which lurks in the darkness. She's no superhero, only a survivor. Likewise Raziya is no epic fantasy adventurer, but likes to help people nevertheless in a Renaissance-era time of relative peace. People will have their problems, but characters drive a story more than a setting will. This also extends to the fact that, while each of my games thus far take place in worlds I've invented lore for in the background, the player only learns bits and pieces of the lore through character interactions. I rarely use info dumps outside of brief tutorials (usually handled in setting context for Painted Knight, or as a fourth-wall-breaking narration from the MC of Maned Lioness). And even with dire straits, I always love a feel-good ending.

That said, it just doesn't feel like a RPG video game without a bit of statistical crunch. For this reason I can't stand most rules-lite tabletop games, and this gameplay need is important to my own games. Tiered equipment and spells that become obsolete are both annoying for me, but I don't think I could make a visual novel. So I do the next best thing: make battles matter. I've gotten into finite on-screen encounters with my two event games this year (The Painted Knight and A Maned Lioness). While there are optional fights in both, the lack of respawning battles and thus finite resources could force a player to make a choice. Do they risk losing precious money or consumables to make money or find useful equipment? My two event games also use low stats, and aside from a poorly-balanced Defend command in AML each fight forces the player to think before they act. MP is a commodity in both games, and a couple good shots in even a wandering encounter can drop characters easily.

For my current idea I'm working towards, I might go against my usual grain due to the core concept. Inspired to finally make that dungeon crawl I'm finding that story might not be as player-character-driven, equipment might be more commonplace and I'm tempted to include random encounters. Nevertheless I feel I should stick to my two core concepts, even if it means I have to challenge myself to apply those concepts to an old-school-CRPG-inspired project.

tl;dr -- My dev signature is to have games where resources and fights matter, usually with a happy ending and conveying the world through the characters that live there.
The greatest advantage of hobby game dev is that you can make the game you want. You don't have to build a commercial product to please the largest audience and make your game profitable. Feel free to experiment!

I'm probably an unusual dev among RMN devs because I like to code game directly from a programming language (C) and build new engine for each of my projects. MinST is a turn based strategy game on hexagonal grid. Pong10H is an homage to the classic Pong, coded in 10 hours. Red Balloon of Happiness is a light horror exploration game. Wizard apprentice Lya is a top-donw shooter with terrain alterations.
I think the replies showed pretty much what I wanted to say:

Style is never a deliberate choice*, it is the amalgamation of everything you've consumed, experienced and lived, as well as how you think, the things you like, the choices you make, your psychological profile...

*Of course, you can deliberately shape the style of a game. But what I mean by that is that your style as an author will always seep through no matter the game's style / genre / engine etc. in ways that we authors often do not perceive. I think that's beautiful and I love it. I have been noticing some patterns on my own work which I want to give more attention to and play around with.

This is often talked about in illustration: Young artists often aspire to find a "style", something to be recognized with and something that's their trademark; while that's very important in a lot of ways, at the end of the day that amounts to enjoying stuff, living, being a human being and letting that ooze through your work. The more different things you consume (and the more you live) the more you'll have to pick from and choose, and from this amalgam the choices you, not deliberately, make, will shape the deepest backbone of your style :^))

edit: also @kylaila thanks for mentioning me i always forget i have things that are somewhat playable in this site im glad you liked The Two Things ilu xoxo
kentona
I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
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author=Sgt M
kentona: Few devs really nail that sense of nostalgia like kentona does. He understands what made RPGs great to everyone and why they were so celebrated, and not just from his personal nostalgia.

The trick is to have not played any new games since 1997
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5177
Dumb bullshit :V





For a serious answer, character-based narrative and design, exploration, and a desire to surprise and/or confuse my audience.
OldPat
OrudoPatto, kisama!
4727
author=Craze
i used to only care about numbers

and now i only care about narratives and dialogue

shit


^Basically this
This is a REALLY awesome topic, full of delicious replies.

My most apparent "signature" is probably "Complex, crafty combat systems".

Even my simplest project, made for a silly event, has a pretty involved combat system about looking for weaknesses, and so on. I just enjoy crafting combat systems where every skill is useful, and every battle feels a bit like a puzzle.

And I've been told by people that most of my work is good at expressing either multiple perspectives, or by expressing an unusual perspective. Which, I guess is accurate, given how the game I wrote for professionally has had people arguing vehemently about which faction are "the bad guys" and never coming to a unified answer (The answer is no one is the bad guy. Each faction has good actors and bad actors).

author=JosephSeraph
Style is never a deliberate choice*, it is the amalgamation of everything you've consumed, experienced and lived, as well as how you think, the things you like, the choices you make, your psychological profile...

This. You will naturally "Write what you know". So, knowing more allows you a greater well of things to draw from.

I probably have my best friend's tabletop GM style and his RPGmaking style and Etrian Odyssey to thank for my love of good combat systems.

My bestie loves making things incredibly borderline unfair levels of hard, but always leaves you the tools to overcome the situation, which I adopted a slightly more merciful approach to, and the Etrian Odyssey series has always had a fantastic assortment of skills to use that allow you to pick apart most enemy encounters.

As for perspectives...I haven't the foggiest idea why I'm good at them. I guess I just like looking at things from different angles, as well as feeling like there's always some degree of nuance to most people and conflicts. Asking myself "Am I wrong/the bad guy here" whenever I have doubts might help a little too, who knows.

I'd comment on other people's dev signatures here, but the only one whose games I follow regularly are Fomar and Indra, mostly for their Arum games. Probably because they have a similar signature to mine. Clever combat systems, well developed characters, and often a neat twisty perspective on something.
Okay so smoked a bowl right before engaging with this post, fair warning.

So, this is essentially a thread about branding. If I didn't need to turn creativity into cash with a fast-turnaround Here's how I perceive some people's branding, but you need to understand, all of this is skewed by over a decade of inside baseball You can't unknow how the sausage is made. I think the sausage is games in this analogy? fuck I'm high.

I'm really going to date myself here because like most of these people are retired or semi-retired. This information is like way out of date probably.

The Kentona brand to me says two things: a)retro and b)vast. Huge comforting nostalgia sandbox classic 16 Bit RPG Gameplay + Expanded Freedom Of Choice.
fucking brickroad: asshole. extremely good at designing Legend of Zelda style dungeons. kinetic cypher is a masterclass. prick.
Craze: only cares about numbers.
BlindMind: perfect beautiful screenshots of which it looks like a game has finally at long last been created as an accidental byproduct of ;)
I kid I kid!
that guy who made ara fellBadluck: gorgeous mapping invoking sky vistas of genuine beauty
Anaryu: technical genius groundbreaking genre bender animu leanings pretty people pretty things bullet hell shooter/rpg dating sim hybrids or whatever
unity: full-throated sapphic lust I mean character driven dramedies in mostly conventional form, except when they aren't. cute art, cute characters, cute everything.
Liberty: I can't make a statement on her game design because she's made way too many games but her personal brand is "don't take no shit from nobody"

I am ashamed how unfamiliar I am with the collective oeuvre of the people posting here. I don't think I've played more than a couple hours of Hero's Realm even but I don't doubt it's a classic.

I Natter On About My "Brand"
I haven't established my brand correctly, and I don't know who's played which or any of or how much of my games. One of the idk is it five games I've released in one form or another is totally unrepresentative of my brand, and it also happens to be my least played game by far. By FAR. Like, my other completed game on RMN came out two months earlier and has more than 10x the downloads. So I guess I should be glad that one is slightly more representative of my brand, simply in that it's darker.

Here's how I want my brand to be perceived. UNCOMPROMISING PUNK ROCK is half of the brand I want to establish, just super anti-authoritarian rage and what I've seen referred to as "fuck my parents" anarchism LET'S FIX SOCIETY BY BLOWING SHIT UP. The other half of my brand is DARK AND MORALLY COMPLICATED. Which has been my default mode of drama since before artists like George R.R. Martn THE default mode of drama.

Now, crucially, the third half of my brand is PLAYING WITH PERSPECTIVE AND SYMPATHIES. Wait a second.

Did I mention I'm bad at this?


Road To Paradise has the second and third halves but not the first.

Live Free Or Die has all three aspects of my brand. If I were whispering at the shoulder of an imaginary

My current project definitely has the second and third halves. It remains to be seen how much it has the first half.

it also has a fourth...half...? (wow did I say i suck at this)a witch is unchecked sapphic lust muahahaha. rampant lesbianism in a time of burning witches. shit, that should be the short description on my game page when I making one.
Great reading on the subject: http://www.electrondance.com/the-author-as-content/

Your post made me wonder to what extent my games share similarities just because I'm exploiting my strengths as a designer, or because I'm trying to live up to the expectations of people who have played and enjoyed my games. But honestly, seriously, even though I do have some sort of fanbase, I don't really care about such expectations. I make games that I like making and I think people will like playing. I've had plenty of ideas for games that are very different from anything I've made. The reason I don't do them is because I don't have the skills to. I'd love to do a vampire-themed tactical rpg, for instance. But I can't. Would love to do some quirky tower defense game. But I can't. What I can do is retro-looking narrative-focused game with contentious themes.

So you're right in your initial considerations. You should just work on any kind of game you feel like, and eventually you'll find out that some come out better than others. Some will have better feedback than others. And the collection of these experiences and feedbacks will define your identity and determine your future design choices, giving you a clearer identity.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5177
author=calunio
So you're right in your initial considerations. You should just work on any kind of game you feel like, and eventually you'll find out that some come out better than others. Some will have better feedback than others. And the collection of these experiences and feedbacks will define your identity and determine your future design choices, giving you a clearer identity.


I wish this would fit on a tagline.
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