Ever wanted to make your own game? Well now you can with one amazing Humble Bundle deal and a competition to celebrate National Game Development Month this June.
If you don’t automatically throw your money at the latest Humble Bundle to pop up, then you’re either a monster or you’ve partaken of so many Bundles that you probably own the entire Steam library of indie games by now. For those unfamiliar, the good folks over at www.HumbleBundle.com feature regular indie game collections to buy at whatever price you deem worthy, with money going to various charities. What started out as an experiment by 2D Boy, developer of World of Goo, to let gamers judge the monetary value of their game and pay whatever they want for the privilege of owning it soon inspired the fantastic Humble Bundle and others like it. Regular bundles appear each week with new and exciting indie games, and being the saint you are, you’d be happy to pay more than a few pounds to get great games and help a good cause, right?
Right now, the current weekly Humble Bundle is a special one. As well as some unique indie games such as the emotionally fulfilling To The Moon, the bundle includes two full versions of Enterbrain’s RPG making software, RPG Maker VX Ace and XP, as well resource packs to help you make your own game, and even character sprite creation software if you’re willing to pay a bit more. This is well over a hundred pounds of software, folks.
What’s so special about RPG Maker? It is a game development tool like many others and gives you everything you’ll ever need to make your own 16-bit RPG classic. RPG Maker in its various forms has been helping game design wannabes make their own Zelda’s and Final Fantasy’s for years now. If you’ve ever wanted to make your own RPG, then RPG Maker comes with its own music files, art assets and a flexible scripting system which means you don’t even need to know how to program. If it sounds somewhat amateurish to you, then I point you towards classics such as To The Moon, which was created with RPG Maker, and the more recent Sometimes Always Monsters, a modern life simulator which has been getting some preeeeetty nice press lately. Fancy a slice of that pie?
Do You Wanna Build a Snowman/Spaceship/Game/RPG?
Since June is National Game Development, which is like the gaming equivalent of National Novel Writing Month, you have the perfect excuse to stop dreaming and bring your ideas to life. The folks over at RPG Maker.net are holding a Indie Game Maker Contest to celebrate, so don’t just sit their drooling, this is your month to make that game! And maybe win things! Or just make games for the heck of it.
I’m going to be taking part and will be documenting my progress, successes and failures each week in my attempt to make a crappy game. So here is some advice to get you started:
Can’t Program? Pick Some Software!
If you go for the Humble Bundle (you have less than TWO HOURS left so HURRY) and pick up RPG Maker, you can make whatever RPG you like. RPG Maker can also be used to create interactive stories like To The Moon, so think outside of the box. You don’t need random battles everywhere.
If interactive stories and visual novel RPG’s like the excellent Long Live the Queen sound more like your thing, then try Ren’Py, a free open source software to make a choose-your-own-adventure.
If you actually know a bit of programming or want to make something more serious and three dimensional, then the CryEngine, Unity and Unreal Development Kit are all free for non-commercial use and have been the source of many professionally released games.
And you’re really serious about creating games, you could buy Game Maker and hundreds more game creator engines to make all kinds of games.
Forget the Story
Unless you’re making an interactive story, of course! When most people have a game idea, they’re usually talking about the story. “My game is about a space marine that time travels to the dinosaurs and has to learn to live with the murder of his parents!” is not a game idea. Before you start designing your masterpiece, you need to think of the gameplay, of the game mechanics. If you’re making an RPG, then break it down. What is the main quest? What quests, tasks or missions will the player have to complete to get from the start to the end? What side quests and mini-games will you have, if any? Take that and break it down further into a gameplay loop with these goals:
- Long Term Goal: What’s the overall goal of the game, from start to finish?
- Medium Term Goal: What sections or chapters are in the game to progress to the end? What quest must I do in area 1 to unlock and get to area 2?And so on.
- Short Term Goal: What smaller goals do you have? What do I need to do to complete this part of the quest to complete the chapter and then the whole game?
For example, in Ocarina of Time, your long term goal is to rescue Zelda and defeat Ganondorf. At the start of the game, your medium term goal is to meet with the Great Deku Tree. And your short term goals are to find a sword and shield to get to the Great Deku Tree. And also smash pots.
If you want to have multiple game endings, outcomes or branching story plots, then it’ll be useful to create some flow chart and diagrams.
Create your own small design document listing your ideas, the features your game will have, the story, the characters, and any ideas you have for quests and plot points; you’ll need to organise them into a meaningful order once you start developing the game. If you intend to create a small game in a month, then take a few days getting all your ideas down and choosing one. Make sure you’re happy with the gameplay ideas and plot you’ve got and don’t go changing it halfway through. Even if you come up with The Best Game Idea Ever TM halfway through making your game, don’t scrap your game or start again, just put your new idea to one side and come back to it later. Distractions won’t help you make a game, nor will constant revisions. Just ask Duke Nukem. Buuut if you don’t care about making a end game, just experiment and have fun.
Keep It Simple
Don’t design a modern Final Fantasy. Don’t design a GTA. You may want to have all these awesome branching paths in your story, or a thousand endings, but for making a small game, you first game probably, you’ll be biting off more than you can chew. If you’re new to RPG Makers or game makers, play with the software and see what your limits are, be realistic. Design something which is simple and linear. Zelda is simple and linear. No one complains about that.
Get Some Help
Work together with your buddies. If you have a group of friends with an artist and a musician, then even better! But it’s also good to have some pals you can use to bounce off ideas and whinge at when your project doesn’t go quite as well. Plus, you’ll need victims to help test your game at the end.
Or not. Actually creating a game is hard work, but rewarding! If you’re taking part in National Game Development Month then keep your game small, simple and enjoy the process of learning what it takes to make a game. Share your ideas with us and maybe we can help each other to make something that may one day appear in the next Humble Bundle. A game designer must be optimistic about these things!