Writer, programmer, and artist with Project BC.



vacant sky's failure and the trends of selling rtp to stupid humans

@Ghost: Yes, that's exactly my point. I'm talking about professional artists. Why would you assume that someone who's making a commercial game doesn't want to hire professionals? I'm not saying there's no other way to get quality assets aside from hiring professionals, or even that you should hire professionals, I'm saying that it's a legitimate choice and that the people posting here shouldn't assume EoE and VSA aren't doing it.

It's fine to think that using RTP graphics as placeholders for your Kickstarter is distasteful. It's also fine to think that $20k is way more than you need to make a game, although I think it's reasonable to want to hire professionals if you can. However, that's just my opinion, and I'm not here to argue opinions. The point that I'm making is that given the costs that the EoE and VSA devs listed, there's no basis for calling them greedy and assuming they're pocketing the money because those things actually cost that much at professional rates. Feel free to criticize them for unnecessary expenditures if you think they're unnecessary, but don't say they're greedy unless you have reason to believe they're not spending the money on the games. I don't know if you personally are saying that, but other people are, and that's what my problem is. If you're not saying that, then I don't have a problem with you, so why are we arguing?

@Nightblade: If you thought I was framing my argument to say that the developer is just the "idea man," then we've miscommunicated, because that wasn't my point at all. I fully expect the lead developer of a project with a small team to do a lot of the work himself. I just don't expect him to do all of it, because not only is it too much work for one person (unless the project is small), it's really rare to find someone with professional-level skills in all areas of game development.

Also, I'm not saying your game is bad or that you're wrong for using rips. I didn't bring it up to insult you or anything. I was trying to point out that if you've made a game, you should know how much work it takes and how hard it is to come up with enough art assets if you're making them yourself. I don't normally like to bring up people's work in arguments that don't directly concern it, but I'm so incredibly baffled by your idea that you're not a "real indie" unless you make every last detail of your game yourself that I just don't know how to respond. Are you saying that games like Braid aren't real indie games?

vacant sky's failure and the trends of selling rtp to stupid humans

@Nightblade: An indie game is any game that isn't backed by a publisher. This includes everyone from individual hobbyists making games in their spare time to small to medium-sized studios. And professional indie developers don't make all of their own assets as a rule, because that takes a long time to do. I mean, yes, obviously anyone making games needs to be talented in at least one area of game development, but not in every single area.

Seriously, how do you not get how unrealistic your expectations are? If any indie game developer who doesn't make everything himself is a failure, why are your games full of rips?

Hourly rates: In the US, hourly rates for pixel artists vary from $15 per hour up to a cap around $50 per hour for the best artists on the most well-funded projects. This can be a lot of money for somebody in New Zealand, but sometimes not very much if you're in mainland Europe. However, a useful median that you'll see from large, respectable companies is about $30/hr for talented artists to work on high profile projects that look pretty hot on your portfolio.

There are plenty of other sources saying the same thing if you don't believe that one. So, sure, you can definitely pay less than $30/hour, but it's not like hiring someone for $20/hour instead is going to make all of your art not cost tens of thousands of dollars.

The thing is, when you contract a professional, you're not just paying for quality. You're also paying for timeliness and reliability. Some random person you just grabbed off of deviantART is a total crapshoot, especially if you're paying them peanuts. What if your artist disappears halfway through the project because they're working for you in their spare time and you're barely paying them anything? There's a reason the general industry practice isn't just grabbing people off of deviantART.

Also, how are you expecting a developer to get the assets he needs funding for before getting the funding?

As a side note, both VSA and EoE are moving to XNA and will therefore need fully original assets.


Even if you guys think RM games don't count as "real" commercial indie games, it doesn't mean that the EoE and VSA developers aren't planning to pony up the industry standard rates for the things they need. When they clearly outlined what they're using the money for, and those things cost about what they asked for, you have no basis for accusing them of pocketing the money. I'm not arguing that game development is expensive because I think you shouldn't try to cut costs wherever possible; I'm arguing that game development is expensive because people here are accusing the EoE and VSA devs of being money-grubbing bastards without taking into consideration how much things cost at industry standard rates. So sure, they might be able to make their games for less, but that doesn't mean that they're stealing the money.

I also haven't actually seen anyone offer a good defense for TFT blatantly lying about the EoE and VSA developers not saying what they're using the money for, which leads me to conclude that his post is malicious. The only counter-argument I've heard is that the VSA developer supposedly didn't respond to an inquiry in the RMN thread, but my understanding is that the thread was deleted soon after it was posted, so how could he have responded?

vacant sky's failure and the trends of selling rtp to stupid humans

There are a great deal of games out there that prove this claim wrong. Cave Story being one of them. It was a game made by one person in 3 years. I doubt his development budget was anything close to 20,000 dollars.
Most commercial games are made by teams. That's a just fact. Not only could Pixel spend as much time making Cave Story as he wanted because he's a hobbyist, him being so multitalented is extremely anomalous; it's unrealistic to expect every person who wants to make a game to be highly talented in all areas of game development, and it's unrealistic to have one person do everything for a big project anyway since making games is a massive amount of work. Also, it took him five years to make Cave Story, not three, which is way too long for an indie commercial project if you're trying to make a business out of it.

If you need 20,000 dollars to hire some random shmucks to perform most every aspect of game making for you; you're in the wrong field.
See my original post.

The less people involved in the creation of a game, the better off it is; budgetary or otherwise.
Uh, what? Game studios exist for a reason.

This might be relevant if the subject were commercial games. Maybe, I don't know though.
All three games are commercial.

I totally agree. It shouldn't take 20k to make a decent RPG using RPG Maker.
See my original post.

If you do go the route of collecting a large sum of money via Kickstarter, you should really use the money the correct way and make your supporters donations really count for something other than fattening your wallet. Some of the examples mentioned in the blog are guilty of this very thing.
See my original post.

vacant sky's failure and the trends of selling rtp to stupid humans

They can pitch the idea to some pixel artist who is starting out and they can do it, maybe for a lower budget. Or they can try making the graphics themselves, by trying it or keeping a simple style like... every other indie game developer who sells a game at least does. Or by knowing your constraints and not making a gigantic RPG if you don't have the means to. It looks bad on people using RPG Maker if people are associating it with people selling RTP games because of whatever excuse they want.

It's great if you can recruit a talented artist who will work for profit share, but if it happens, you got really lucky. It's completely unrealistic to expect someone to do tens of thousands of dollars of work essentially for free. And getting a bad artist to do it, or doing it yourself, is shooting yourself in the foot. Graphics are the first thing that potential customers judge you on, so if you actually want to sell copies, your game needs to be attractive. Unless you somehow manage to become a viral sensation, but don't count on that. Besides, art made by someone who isn't visually creative, which is the case for most non-artists, isn't going to bring any more soul to the project than premade graphics anyway. So why would any commercial developer spend a huge amount of time and/or money on something that will actively hurt his sales? Sure, you need custom graphics if your game isn't fantasy, but if the RTP is in the right general ballpark for what you want anyway, it can be edited to fit your vision. And the EoE and VSA guys have obviously edited it significantly.

I spent years shitting on the RTP and learning pixel art so I could make my own graphics, and then I actually tried to do it. I can tell you from first-hand experience how unrealistic making professional-quality graphics for a long game is when you're doing all the other development too. Good art is not easy to get, and even bad art is a ton of work. I don't really care if TFT hates the RTP and thinks commercial games shouldn't use it out of artistic purity or whatever. I think that's silly, but he's entitled to his opinion. I do have a problem with this idea that using the RTP is lazy and means you're a greedy money-grubber and that you don't care about the quality of your game and just want to scam people out of their money. It seems to me that people are using the RTP as justification for lobbing ad hominem attacks at the EoE and VSA developers when there are totally valid reasons for their decision, and that's what I have a problem with.

Kickstarter doesn't show a "editted at x time" thing when someone edits it, but this did actually happen, just not something you can screen anymore.

Regardless of whether this happened the way TFT said it did, I don't see how editing funding into the Kickstarter is refusing to answer the question. Even if he didn't mention it originally, he still put it in when asked. How is that dishonest?

vacant sky's failure and the trends of selling rtp to stupid humans

Whether a game is terrible or not is certainly opinion, but certain things are not opinion.

1. I despise the RTP, but the thing is that replacing it for a long game is incredibly expensive and/or time-consuming. It's not laziness to use it; it's being realistic. Are you saying that if you can't afford the many tens of thousands of dollars it costs to get an entire RPG's worth of custom art, you just shouldn't make commercial games? Besides, how are all the popular RMN games that use rips any better? I mean yeah, they're not commercial projects, but the quality of a game has nothing to do with whether the creator is charging money for it.

The problem I have here is that you're representing it as laziness when it's not an issue of laziness, it's an issue of money. I have no problem with you thinking that it's wrong to sell games that use RTP, but it's not fair to suggest the developers can just magically get graphics from somewhere but are choosing not to.

2. Since you don't have a counter-argument, I guess I'll take that as agreement? I'm not saying the games are "worth" large amounts of money, because that's certainly subjective. I'm saying that the numbers they asked for are reasonable for the expenditures they listed. You can certainly consider the games not worth funding, but that doesn't mean they don't actually need the money for the things they said they needed it for. It's also not greed if they're investing the money directly into the game rather than pocketing it.

3. Do you have a link? I'm not saying you're wrong, but I prefer to see for myself. Also, that doesn't address the issue of the EoE funding, which he discussed in the trailer. Since you screencapped the trailer, I don't see how you could have missed it.

vacant sky's failure and the trends of selling rtp to stupid humans

maybe you should take another look because his reasoning is clearly stated, even though the shortcomings addressed in the article should be evident to anyone through casual observation.

Complaining about the badness of something serves no purpose unless you actually identify why it's bad, and TFT's criticisms of EoE and VSA are very vague. However, TFT is entitled to complain about whatever he wants in whatever manner he wants--as long as the things he says are true, which is what I'm taking issue with.

i don't know why you're talking about rpgmaker specifically. i don't think tft cares about who is or isn't using rpg maker.

The entire post was about RPG Maker games and is full of criticisms specific to RPG Maker, for example use of the RTP. However, this is irrelevant. Whether TFT is specifically criticizing RM games or not has nothing to do with my point.

he didn't even take the time and effort to do anything with the battle set up, yeah, he used the default "everything". why exactly is he being rewarded for this?

this is a wholly valid statement.


Sure, I agree with that. I was never defending the Unemployment Quest guy. However, EoE and VSA are clearly not just using the default RM material straight out of the box, and it's misleading to imply they are.

I have no opinion about these games, and I couldn't care less what TFT thinks. He's entitled to his opinion. My point, which you're not responding to, is that in order for criticism to be valid, it must be true. TFT's post is full of criticisms that aren't true.

Specifically, these claims are false:
1. Using RTP graphics, even heavily customized ones, means you're lazy and that you've put no effort into your game. In fact, replacing them with commercial-quality graphics is completely unrealistic for any development team with a small budget, and graphics are only part of the huge amount of work that goes into developing a game.
2. Asking for $20,000 to fund the development of a game is ridiculous. Actually, $20,000 is a very small budget for a commercial game.
3. The VSA and EoE developers failed to say what they were using the funding for. EoE has their funding breakdown in the trailer, and VSA has theirs on their main Kickstarter page.

Please refer to my original post for more detail.

vacant sky's failure and the trends of selling rtp to stupid humans

I have no problems with you ranting about games that are bad. You're just as entitled to your opinion as anyone else. However, I do have a problem with you criticizing people for things that flat-out aren't true. If you think these games are legitimately bad and not worthy of being commercial projects, that's totally fine, but in that case you should be attacking the games and not doing things like implying the developers (UQ guy aside) are pocketing the money when they very clearly said where it was going. An uninformed opinion isn't worth having, especially when you're misleading other people about it.

Also, weird things that don't exist? Like what? If you disagree with anything I said, I'd like to discuss it.

vacant sky's failure and the trends of selling rtp to stupid humans

tft making this blog post saying, 'hey, this is some bullshit. what is going on here' is the only modern form of cultural filter we have. it is a society reacting against a grievous lack of virtue in the artworks it is producing, and through this process cultural consensus is achieved, so that the form can be developed upon in the future.
Really? You're saying that this blog post is some kind of cultural critique that's intended to improve RM games? There's a huge difference between saying "this is bad and this is how it's bad; let's do better in the future" and setting out to tear someone down out of malice. And I don't know what to call this except malice, because this blog post just calls the games bad and makes vague, sarcastic comments about them without actually offering any useful or interesting insight. "Don't use the RTP" isn't useful; there's no realistic alternative for a long RPG with a small budget (see my previous post). Moreover, TFT relies on assertions that are blatantly not true, namely suggesting the Kickstarters didn't say what they were going to do with the money, to paint the developers as greedy--an attack that has nothing to do with the quality of the games, mind you. I have a hard time thinking it could be a mistake since it's so hard to miss the funding breakdowns if you actually look at the Kickstarters (which, by the way, TFT didn't link to).

This post isn't about the games. It's about insulting the developers, and it's sending the message that if you dare ask for money for an RPG Maker game, your fellow RM users will vilify you. Seriously, how is this improving the art form? This kind of deceptive, mean-spirited bullshit is poisoning the community, not improving it.

vacant sky's failure and the trends of selling rtp to stupid humans

Graphics aren't even remotely the only expensive part of making a game. I specifically outlined where they're using the money and indicated how expensive these things are (seriously, read my post again). Yes, using the RTP is a shortcut. But it doesn't mean making the game is free, it means it costs less. So $10,000 or $20,000 instead of upwards of $50,000 or $60,000 just for assets, never mind money to live on.

I don't see where you're getting that VSA and EoE aren't putting in effort or making their own resources. They both have a lot of custom art assets, just not 100% original ones. They're also both going to have fully original soundtracks. And both say they're porting to custom engines after the Kickstarter, which is a huge amount of work. Even before that, the VSA prototype clearly had an original battle system. These things take time and cost money.

Also, the thing about RM is that if you don't use the built-in battle system, it doesn't do that much more work for you than any other engine. RM is a useful engine because the map editor is great (at least in XP) and event commands are useful for cutscenes and whatnot. Unless you're using everything straight out of the box (as the UQ guy is doing, but the others don't seem to be), it doesn't actually make the game for you, it just makes making the game easier. That's the point of an engine. It's not like professionals don't also use engines to shorten development time.

vacant sky's failure and the trends of selling rtp to stupid humans

You're certainly entitled to think these games aren't worth your money, but I really don't understand the outrage over the price tag and use of the RTP. Ten or twenty grand is certainly a substantial amount of money (never mind that after taxes and Kickstarter's cut, it's actually a lot less than that), but do any of you realize how much making a commercial game actually costs?

Let me put this in perspective. Check out this really basic color-matching iPhone game:

You know how much this game cost to make? $32,000. That covers paying contractors, business expenses, and the developer paying himself a small salary over the six-month development period. (source) In case you think that's some freakish anomaly, according to this site, an average iPhone game costs $10,000 to $125,000 to make depending on complexity.

A big part of that price tag is art, because good art is expensive, and RPGs in particular are very asset-intensive. For a commercial game, you need commercial-quality graphics. For those of you decrying the use of the RTP, where exactly are you suggesting the replacement graphics come from? If an artist charges you $30/hour and takes three days to make a tileset, that's $18,000 for half as many tilesets as come with the XP RTP. There went your entire $20,000 Kickstarter, never mind sprites. And battle graphics. And character portraits. And animations. And GUI. These games would need to be asking for a lot more than $20k if they wanted to replace the RTP with graphics of similar quality. Oh, and don't forget you need audio too.

Or are you expecting commercial RM developers to make all of their graphics themselves? Because that's months and months of work and will probably result in an inferior product (unless the developer happens to be a talented artist). The thing is, the vast majority of non-RM users would prefer to play a game with RTP than a more expensive and/or significantly delayed game with worse graphics. Since you paid for the license to use the graphics when you bought the engine, how is it unethical? Is it wrong for advertisers to pay bands for the rights to use their songs in commercials? Or use stock photos that they pay a license fee for? It's the same thing.

Also, this blog post is somewhat misleading. Although there are plenty of legitimate criticisms, I take issue with some of the things TFT said. Specifically:

someone actually asked what the money would be used for and the reply was deadspace.

The VSA KS has this in the main body:


We currently have a playable prototype up and running for the PC. We intend to use the money from the Kickstarter to expand this prototype into a full game using XNA and Monogame to target all major platforms.

Artistically, we want to replace the placeholder graphics and create battle animations, storyline/cutscene illustrations throughout the game, and emotive portraits for all of the characters in the game. To help with the soundtrack, the money will also be spent on audio equipment (8-channel MBox with Pro Tools).

Sounds like they only used the RTP for promotional materials until they got funded. Although that said, porting the game to all major platforms is going to be hideously expensive on its own. Not only do you need to buy all the software and developer licenses, you also need cheap test devices to make sure your game runs correctly on each platform.

> only justification given for the money is better "quality"

The guy specifically says in the trailer that he's commissioning a soundtrack, art, and animations and also paying legal fees. That seems reasonable to me, since according to this, you can expect to pay $100/minute for music as an indie.

Also, since they exceeded their goal by so much, the Kickstarter now says that they're porting to a custom engine. Presumably this will also necessitate non-RTP graphics since the RTP license doesn't apply to non-RM engines.

i am jealous that people can produce no effort and no work,

You seem to be equating using RTP with not putting any work in, but the core aspects of the game--writing, design, and programming--are what determine whether it's good or not. Graphics can help the experience, but ultimately they're just dressing. Making a game, even a bad game using unoriginal graphics, takes a lot of time and effort. Unemployment Quest seems to only put in the bare minimum, but EoE and VSA certainly show signs of care and effort.

i do have a problem with people who think they should be getting 40k for doing so.

No, the guy thought he should get $10k to commission a soundtrack with. People paid more than that, and now he's investing that money into the game, as you can see on their KS.

there are many games here that i would easily pay 5 bucks to experience. but those games also put to time and the effort to be different and unique, even with the resource restriction, and you can tell the difference in quality.

Really? Like what? Are any of them long, finished, and use fully original content?

Although it seems like the Unemployment Quest guy is just pocketing the extra money, EoE and VSA specifically outlined legitimate development costs and asked for reasonable figures to meet their needs. It's totally disingenuous to imply that they were asking for huge stacks of money just because they want to roll around in piles of it. I'd be surprised if they could afford to pay themselves even a tiny salary based on the needs they listed and how much they asked for. Unless you get really lucky, it's not like indie game development is a free ride on the gravy train. It's clear to me at least that EoE and VSA are being made from passion, not greed, regardless of whether they're good or not. And even if you think they're terrible, it doesn't mean people are wrong for supporting them.