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Going commercial?

Something I occasionally wonder about is whether Forgotten Gates (or some form of it) could ever become an actual commercial game. Mainly I think about this because for the amount of time I've wound up pouring into it, there had better be some sort of practical profit from it. X) Or, more seriously, looking at the work yet to be done, is it really in my best interest to continue such a massive project? c.ca As far as advancing my so-far-almost-entirely-non-professional career as a game developer goes, it might be wiser to concentrate on making lots of smaller games as quickly as possible, not to mention using engines that are more generally accepted in the game dev industry than RPG Maker. If Forgotten Gates were a potential professional game though, or even just a prototype/proof of concept for such, I'd have a little more excuse to keep working on it.

So if FG was to become a commercial game, what would need to be different? First and foremost, obviously, it couldn't be explicitly a Zelda game (unless by some miracle I was hired by Nintendo and given permission to make a silly spin-off from one of their biggest franchises). It could, however, be a parody easily enough. It's already a story-within-a-story about roleplayers acting out a campaign within the Zelda universe framework, so it wouldn't be hard to fudge the details such that nothing expressly Zelda-specific is ever mentioned. I could even have fun with the roleplayers occasionally shushing each other to avoid copyright infringement. A game like that, which is clearly an affectionate parody but dances around any legal issues, might enjoy reasonable success for an indie game, and who knows, maybe it would even be welcomed on Nintendo's own eShop.

For that matter, the concept of a parody game has potential that goes beyond just Zelda. If FG took off in this form, I could make an entire series of parody games, spoofing other games, anime, movies, book series, anything really. The unifying thread of the game series would be the roleplayers, who transform their characters according to the setting of each game, but maintain familiar personalities and some degree of out-of-character story throughout the series.

Speaking of the characters, I would need to drop any characters that were created by the other players of Triforce MUCK, unfortunately. The main point of FG originally was to make a game involving characters from the MUCK, but if I were being professional about it, I couldn't risk using other's intellectual property. Even if they were okay with it and I trusted them not to sue me later on, there are weird things about copyright law which might eventually force me to lay exclusive claim to the characters in the game. I'd have to replace the characters belonging to others with some of my own invention, although I could also use parodies of canon characters. Reducing the size of parties and the total number of characters is also an option, although that would have ramifications for game balance and the even distribution of elemental types.

A commercial game would have to have higher production values than FG currently has, which would mean it's beyond my capabilities to create alone. I'd need at least one artist, one composer, and probably a sound effect creator to craft assets for the game. The graphics would have to be significantly different, as currently I make most of them by taking actual sprites from old Zelda games and touching them up; some of the tileset graphics are even completely unaltered. I'd want a competent artist to create new graphics that remind one of Zelda creatures and such, but have an original style.

Finally, if I were going commercial with FG, I'd want to make it in a different engine, and that's the real point of concern. Even if the official English translation of RPG Maker 2003 were to get a DynRPG patch by the time I was ready to seriously create a commercial version of FG, I'd prefer an engine that has greater capabilities and portabilities, ideally something that can even release on consoles. So the question is, even if I consider the current FG to be a mere prototype, would it be better to bite the bullet and reimplement the game in a different engine?

The answer I'm going with for now is, no; insofar as I do work with other engines, I'm better off making simpler games rather than trying to replicate all the critical stuff for an RPG which RPG Maker handles for me. I'm not going to abandon FG either, although I expect progress on it will slow down even further with my new job. X) Still, it's nice to imagine that someday, just maybe, something bigger will come of this.