Friday, December 21, 2012

2013 Is The Year of The RPG

A week or so ago, RPG Maker VX Ace debuted on Steam. I had spent a lot of time in my youth messing around with RPG Maker 95, 98 and XP. I remembered those days fondly for a moment, and then passed it by. I simply didn't have $70 to spend on it. Steam's Winter Sale started yesterday, and the program was 20% off. Even at this much more reasonable price, I couldn't afford it. That's when my roommate gifted me a copy of it over Steam.

I've been thinking about what I could do with this that would be meaningful and also forward my own development efforts. If you check the date of the previous post before this, you might be under the impression that I haven't been doing any game development lately. This is partly true. November is eaten by National Novel Writing Month every year, and after that 30 day thing, I was just too burnt out from all the rush. I have spent some time working on games though, just not enough to warrant any sort of blog post. There was some fiddling with the platforming engine, some XNA experiments, a lot of article reading, and finally I decided to make a simple JRPG in Unity which got as far as me working out the stat systems and displaying a map before November hit. I've got lots of ideas, but the startup cost for trying them out is always too much because I'm working in XNA or Unity where I have to either start from scratch or spend time understanding other people's frameworks before I can try out the thing I wanted to play with. This is no longer an issue.

With the aquisition of RPG Maker VX Ace, a tool I'm familiar with, I can create basic JRPGs very quickly. The biggest new feature to this version of the program is the scripting editor and it looks very flexible and easy to understand. So I'm going to jump in head first and start doing things: I've decided that 2013 will be the year of the RPG for me. My new years resolution is to make one JRPG prototype per month and I'll release it here on my blog at the start of each new month.

My plan is to focus on one core idea each month, and build the rest of the game around that idea. So for example, I want to dive into the scripting system, so maybe I'll do random dungeon generation for January. Everything else will be incidental, so I'll be skipping over steps I'd take in a more polished game like creating custom art assets. Or really any sort of resource. I'm a programmer and aspiring game designer, not an artist. It simply isn't feasable for me to do the art for my prototypes and RPG Maker accommodates that.

Early on in the month, I'll post what my theme is for the month and what my progress is like. I'll try to post about challenges and the process of getting an idea working and fun. Ideally, this will result in me gaining some experience as a game maker and some cool things will come out of it. I hope you'll be here with me whether I have soaring success, or miserable failure.