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Series Master! Part 9 – Eden Legacy with Sbester

  • sbester
  • 02/07/2013 07:00 PM
Welcome to the ninth issue of Series Master!

Hopefully this article isn’t seen as a shameless plug for my own series of games, but rather as a sort of guide to creating a series using my own personal experiences. Anyways, for this special edition, I’m going to delve into my Eden Legacy series and attempt to share insights into how I went about making a full trilogy of games, and what I learned from the experience. Rather than an interview this time, I’ve arranged my thoughts in a similar way to how the previous issues played out.

The origins of EL can be traced back to an old FF1 hack I was working on a few years ago. It was to be in black and white, and the story was to be just as minimalistic as FF1 was. In short, I got bored and gave up. From there, I had the idea to redo the whole thing as an RM project, and I went about gathering resources and pondering the leveling system. It was pretty much always my plan to make it the first part of a whole series of games, each one visiting a different era of JRPGs. I believe that the level system, combined with the energy conservation system, were the reasons I was able to keep going strong with the series throughout the next two games.

Image from Eden Legacy 1.

The first game had a very minimalistic approach to everything, especially in the graphics department, while the 2nd and 3rd entries focused on the early and later stages of the NES era. And of course, I wanted to have the systems and customization options evolve from game to game, which included additional party members and improved skill choices.

If I could say anything about this, it’s that if you are indeed intending to make a sequel to one of your games, it needs to FEEL like a sequel. It needs to have more of all the things that made the first one stand out, both to you and your players. It needs to LOOK like a sequel, meaning you need to pay special attention to graphical refinement and map design. And finally, it needs to advance the story. Even if the story is not related to the earlier game (like the FF games), the story needs to be a deeper experience. If you can’t surpass the first game in some way, shape, or form, you’ve already failed in your experiment.

Images from Eden Legacy II.

Well, self-imposed time constraints were the biggest problem for me. Each game was made in a 4 month time period, which is a hard feet to manage if you’re making a 7-15 hour long experience each time (which I did anyway). Luckily for me, I was doing my Masters degree at the time, which gave me ample opportunity to work on these over the year. If I wasn’t writing essays or sleeping through a boring lecture, I was working on the EL trilogy.

I set these time constraints because I need deadlines, like really badly. It’s how I get my shit done. To me, these were no different than a school project, I had a goal, and I needed to use my time as wisely as possible. I also needed to find ways to reinvent the games each time, which wasn’t all that difficult because I believe I had all the necessary components already in place after the first game.

Images from Eden Legacy DELUXE Edition.

Was the series a success? Well, it’s hard to say. I knew before releasing the first game that I was targeting a very small group of players with such minimalistic games, and as expected, it’s only garnered a few loyal followers over time. There was also the fact that the detractors were far more vocal at the time of the first game’s release… that kinda hurt my pride, and I’m still at a loss as to how hard some people were on the game. Basically, there were a lot of people who were disappointed because the first game didn’t meet their expectations of how it “could” or “should” have been, and I guess a lot of people looked at the world map and decided it was going to be the next Hero’s Realm, which is not at all what I was aiming for.

However, there were a few passionate fans along the way as well. I got some more than flattering reviews, met some helpful commentators, and received some very rewarding emails from players over at RRR. I tend to measure my successes by the following few points:
- I gained a small following of shy but loyal fans.
- I met a friend (amerk) who is now heavily involved in all my games. He is my main game tester now, is nearing the end of his own Eden Legacy novelization, and is also a creator for EL4 (and will be with all future EL games as well).
- I love these games, and have learned a whole lot about game making as a result of them.
- I was able to prove I could finish the games I started, which is not something I take lightly.

Screens from Eden Legacy III.

Yes, I have some very important advice that I would like to share with all aspiring game creators. And yes, these are all things I learned while working on the EL trilogy. In no particular order:
- Set deadlines for yourself and STICK TO THEM.
- Have AT LEAST one unique element of your game that stands out from all others. Expand on it for the sequel(s).
- Don’t take criticism too hard, and try to prove the naysayers wrong in the end.
- Don’t make any promises you can’t keep.
- Start small, expand from there. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

EL4 is still slowly moving along. Amerk and I are both busy with other things, but it will see the light of day and I never intend on abandoning it. In fact, it is still my hope that the series will go on for as long as RM games are being featured around the net. I’m also fixing up EL2 and EL3 for the updated trilogy editions, so fans can look forward to those as well… someday.

Images from the upcoming Eden Legacy IV.

Final Thoughts
If you can’t push yourself to finish the game you started, it wasn’t worth doing in the first place. If you do finish it, then it probably was. I’m proud of these games, for all that they are, and all their faults as well. If you can’t learn to do that with your own game, you won’t be able to see anything through to the end, and that’ll play the biggest part in determining whether or not you are committed enough to create a series out of it.


I hope this helps someone out there!


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Guardian of the Description Thread
As a development blog? I don't really see this as a shameless plug. That's just me, though.
Figured it wasn't worth the risk of the backlash lol. It is quite different from the other articles though, so I thought I might as well treat it differently if I could.
Nice article. Unfortunatley, I'm only about 1/2 done with the novel. I haven't touched it in a year, since I've had so many setbacks, and I wanted to focus on my game.

Now I must hide my head in shame.

Seriously, though, I haven't given up on the novelization, and now that my own game is all but done, it might be time to pull that up and start writing again.
Only 1/2 done, eh? Dang, that's gonna be huge when it's finished! I've got 19 chapters here in my docs folder already, for those who need an idea just how big this is gonna be!
i've always wanted to play these games. can't remember why i never did...
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