Friday, July 4, 2014

"First" postmortem

It is time for my Postmortem of the game that was recently released on Blazing Games. This game is called First as it is my first attempt at creating a game using RPG Maker VX Ace.

What Went Right

It is usually, if not always, wise to have a plan B. When the RPG Maker game competition was announced I knew I was going to attempt to create a game for it. A game that had a chance of winning would require a large time commitment so my plan if I was unable to finish was to forgo the contest and release my first RPG Maker game for July’s game. My first RPG Maker game was created months ago so it was ineligible for the contest. As the Blazing Games release for this month is my first RPG Maker project it is clear I never had enough time to finish the planned game. This was not a result of the game being over-ambitious but was a result of not having anywhere near the amount of spare time as expected. One thing you should always remember when scheduling projects is that unforeseen events (and for that matter, problems) will happen. In this case, the real game was roughed out but needed a lot of polishing before it could be considered a contender. With only a week before the competition deadline a decision on whether to reduce the amount of polish or go with my first RPG Maker project was in order. Had I known my Canada Day plans were going to be rained out, the choice would have been different.

The First game consisted of the player's home, the island map, and the Kobold cave. I quickly came up with a story, added the town and the related buildings, and modified the cave to fit the story. It is still a very simple game but still an entertaining fifteen minutes.

Mixed Blessings

RPG Maker VX Ace is actually a fairly nice tool. There is too much to discuss here so will discuss the tool next week. Using an existing engine saves you a lot of work at the cost of flexibility. While the scripting engine is very flexible and powerful, it is still a huge  amount of work to create a game that is vastly different from the base game that the engine was designed for. This has the unfortunate result that many RPG Maker games feel the same. This problem is true of other game engines, such as Unity and Unreal, as well. If you want your game to stand out, a lot of effort is required even if you are using an existing engine.

What Went Wrong

The biggest issue with the game is the size of the zip file. The reason for this huge file is simply that RPG Maker includes all the files in the resource manager even if they are not being used. This means that in order to get a smaller distribution file you need to manually remove the files that aren't needed. As I had expected RPG Maker to do this for me, no time was allocated for this task. Making this task trickier is the fact that I have very little idea as to which files are needed. Once you have worked with RPG Maker for a while this will probably be less of an issue. Of course, it is also possible that there is a way to get RPG Maker to do this work for you but I simply didn’t figure out how to.

Next week I will go over my thoughts on the RPG Maker VX Ace tool.

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