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   GAME DESIGNING  

Andrew - December 7 '02- 12:00 Central Standard Time

As usual, another busy Saturday column. Expect an extra big column Sunday.

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An actual letter from someone within the industry. Will wonders never cease.


You said you wanted letters about my evil plans to take over the gaming industry? Well, I can't really tell you about those, you know, trade secrets and all that. But I can tell you how I joined Team XKalibur (the Mythri development team).
Close to 4 years ago now, I joined Team XKalibur. At the time they were still putting a team together. I saw a posting in the RPGamer message boards from Tomm and took a chance and emailed him asking if he needed help. There was no budget. We did everything without pay. Four years of hard work later, here we are.
I suppose what I have to say is, you CAN get into the industry by making your own game in your spare time. It's just not easy. Finding a publisher took four years when most games are done in half that, and those years weren't smooth sailing. Getting in by creating a game from scratch is a ton of work--with only the promise of rewards in the future--that you have to stick with no matter what, and that's exactly what we had to do. The worst thing you can do is give up.
--LrdDimwit

Andrew:
Great letter, Dim. Whatever your dream, the worse thing you can do is go at vaguely, or stop when things get hard. This column is seeing a lot of people who want to be game designers but donít know how to go about it. With a lot of work, and a little luck, anyone can enter the gaming industry. All you need to do is keep working towards your goal.
Iím impressed that Mythri is finally making it to Game Boy, and I want to say thanks to you guys. Without you, I never would of gotten the guest host spot that led to my eventual position as Weekend Q&Aer.
When Mythri comes out, you can expect me to be the first in line to get my copy. Fantastic job guys.

 
Interesting point about Dragon Warrior 7.


Andrew,
I see this thrown around all the time, and it's really just a misconception that the later Dragon Quest games require leveling; Probably one based on the first two games. I myself played through DW VII far overleveled because I was required to, but a friend of mine has played through it without mastering anything more than a basic class. He was only halfway through an intermediate when he beat the Demon Lord. The later games in the series, really starting in the last chapter of IV andcontinuing through V, V, and VII, has always presented status spells as an effective and desirable alternative to power-leveling. I think people over here are just accustomed to them being useless, and never thing to cast Sap, Defense, Upper, Sleep, Stopspell, Bikill/Twinhits, Deadly Poison, or any of the myriad of "freeze everything for a turn" spells the series offers.
--Sean, who is chiming in on the subject as a point of information, and isn't going anywhere near busting v. rushing

Andrew:
Good points. However, Iím in the camp that you should be able to make your characters strong enough that it isnít necessary to incapacitate the boss every round with a host of status spells. I suppose thatís part of the reason I hated Golden Sun so much. Having to spend half of every boss battle ensuring that I couldnít be hit becomes horribly boring in a matter of minutes. Besides, DW7 offered players every chance to mass level gain, and I sure took advantage of it, much to my enjoyment.

 
Ambiious youg m@n!


Hey, im one of those retarded first time submitter,
long time listener deals!

Im a junior in highschool and do plan to go to carnegie mellon in pittsburgh to someday earn a masters in computer science(even though i know u only need a bachelors to get a decent job in the indusrty after college if u can find one) to work in the video game industry. Since this previous summer ive been learning c/c++, a lil bit of perl and java(even tho its web page oriented) then i was searching one day online and i found a very useful site, this site answered all my questions and i hope this gets selected to go up tomorrow so it can help others out too. Go to www.igda.org a really informative site for getting your foot in the door to this particularly fussy industry.
As far as my plans, once i get out of college, hopefully work my way up the ladder as a programmer(as exactly what programmer, i dunno yet), hopefully land a job at square soft one day(well enix sqaure now) and work with sakaguchi himself. after that, have enough expierience to make my own company
well i hope this at least helps sopmeone cuz i know it helped me:)
peace out,
God of Moogles

Andrew:
Before you try to make video games, I suggest you learn how to proofread what you write, little Moogle.
Sounds like youíve got your future well underway, and www.igda.com is a nice site to look around and see if game design could be a career for you. Good luck with it, and Iíll hope to see your name under programmer someday at Square.

 
RPG Maker 2, Red Herring?


AD,
"There are quite a few free RPG creation engines out there, including the one I use, OHR . . ."
If you've got an RPG made, why don't you go ahead show it to us? I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say I'd love to take a look at something you've spent years creating.
Speaking of RPG creation though, what do you think the chances are of Agetec's RPG Maker 2 being somewhat successful? The first title was a bit promising, but as I pointed out in my HREF="http://www.rpgamer.com/games/rpgm/rpgm/reviews/rpgmrdrev1.html">review of it, the title wasn't user-friendly by any stretch of the imagination and lacked key things like passable graphics, adequate sound, less time-consuming Item/Creature/Character creation, and keyboard support. RPG Maker 2 seems to correct these mistakes, but I wonder if it will gain any more acceptance in the gaming community than the RPGs made with free computer software like OHR, RPGM2K, and so on. By acceptance, I mean recognition, review, publicity, or anything really. Even people such as yourself, that recommend OHR to others, curiously neglect to point them in a direction of a good OHR game. Are there any? The links you've provided point towards a dense subculture that is not too friendly to the uninitiated. Where would you recommend the novice to begin? What are some games to play through that demonstrate the true power of the system (OHR/Verge/RPGM2K/ect.)? Or were you merely giving a smart-ass reply to a sincere letter about a subject you know nothing about?
I've digressed a bit, but I suppose my main question is whether you think RPG Maker 2 is a good idea and if you plan on buying it this February. I know I will buy it, just as I did with the first title, in the hopes that it will be embraced at least in small part by the general role-playing community. The success (or lack thereof) of the first title however, leaves me with some doubts.
-Red Raven, who plans on making you the final boss

Andrew:

1. I found OHR while waiting for RPG Maker to come out. I soon realized that the idea of creating RPGs on an engine with all the flaws you just listed would be impossible, not for many of the reasons you said, but because how hard it would be for others to enjoy the games I created. When it comes to game creation, an active community and the ability to get your game out there are key.
As for graphics, you can have your blocky 3d any day of the week, Iíd rather stick with my crisp 2d, thankyouverymuch.
2. There are plenty of great OHR games, so of course, the main web site to them has been down for weeks.
Anyway, give Wandering Hamster a try, with is found on the main OHR site,
www.hamsterrepublic.com,
Time Flies, PK-Fortis-
http://www.zantetsuken.com/TF-Demo.zip
AR, by Dr. Greg-
http://www.stellarx.org/redmurdock/ARDEMO.zip
Iíll link to some more games if Operation- OHR ever gets up again, but frankly I doubt it will, considering the host was DryIce. As for not knowing anything about game design, Iíll admit that most of my games on OHR never seem to turn out how I plan, but this is mainly devoted to a serious lack of free time. School, girlfriend, reporting job for campus paper, this column, it all adds up to a serious lack of free time that could be devoted to making my dream game. Or any game, for that matter.
3. So, no. I have no intention of purchasing an RPG Maker that takes up valuable time for something that no one can experience but me and few die hard friends.
However, if they ported over the Game Boy Advance version...
Nothing sounds better then creating an RPG during my lecture classes...

 
Battles that I have never fought!

Hiya Andrew:
Yesterday, someone asked about the paths in the Tactics Ogre games. While itís probably possible to determine them from a faq, it would actually be a bit hard to find without running into bad spoilers. Here goes:
In TO (for PS), there are three distinct endings. These endings are not influenced by the path taken, but instead by one specific part and the "reputation" of Denim at the end of the game. The latter is influenced by some choices, and which characters die. There are two major moments which determine the path. In all cases there are four chapters, but, while there is only one chapter 1 and chapter 4, there are 2 different chapter 2's and 3 different chapter 3's. Clearly, there is a lot to see in this game.
In TO:tKoL (for GBA), there are 5 endings. Denote them as A+, A, B, C, and D. A+ can be obtained through a special mean which most people wonít find by themselves and most people wouldnít care about. So, endings A and C are possible by choosing "choice one" at a critical plot point. Endings B and D are the result of the other choice. Whether you get A or C (or B or D) depends on what happens in the last fight. The A+ ending can only be obtained on the A path. Generally, the A/A+ and B endings are the good endings. The path influences the ending but ultimately, the battles fought on each of the paths arenít that different.
Questions:
1. Have you played either of the Tactics Ogre games? If you did, what did you like/dislike about them?
2. Hypothetically speaking, letís say that Game Arts makes a 3rd Lunar game. Would you rather it be localized by Working Designs or any other company? (aside from Game Arts, assuming they wouldnít be doing it)
3. Do you think there will ever be another 2D RPG made for a next generation console?
Over and out.
-Mike "Rahlious" White

Andrew:
Thanks for the ending information on the Ogre Battle series. Iím sure youíve helped hundreds of readers with those simple paragraphs. Huzzah to you!
1. Actually, I havenít. I didnít care much for the original game, and the high price tag for the Game Boy Advance version has kept me away.
2. Working Designs. As much as I dislike Wheaties jokes in my games, they do top notch work, and their package designs are amazing. Iíd just hope they include more singing in the next Lunar game.

 
A kick to the NADS.


read a few messages about this subject already but I need to add a few bits.
I just finished NAD, a specialized school in Montreal that teaches the basics of 3D animation and game-making. Now comes the part when you need to get that first job and start working on that RPG idea you had in mind for the past years of schooling life or make it yourself at home, preferably with a few computer-friends.
The question I'm aiming at is this:
How does one manage to get rights on a system? They cost a lot, ex: the Quake engine has about 6 numbers before the dot and I'm being nice, or is there an alternative in the wide world of gaming that allows new people to try their hand in the matter?
P.S.: About that girls in gaming thing. I worked with 4 girls in NAD and they kicked ass. I say whoever has the drive and interest in the games, go for it!

Andrew:
1. I have no idea. Anyone care to answer this? If I was going to make a professional game, I would prefer to create it using an engine created for my game.

 
Puzzle game creators are polite.


Hey Andrew,
The only problem with OHR is it doesn't have support for a higher resolution or more colors (to my knowledge) What I'd really reccomend for people who'd like to see what game development is all about is to learn a industry-standard programming language, C++ for example. From there you can take it even farther, getting a handle on DirectX or the OpenGL library (which I reccomend). I've only programmed a few games to date but the experience was really an eye-opener to the world of game creation. And to be honest, to all the people out there who have that best-rpg-concept-or-storyline-ever and think they're going to get anywhere with it, I've got news for you. You start at the bottom. And game companies will *never* buy RPG concepts from some schmuck. I'm sorry to disappoint you all but that's the way it is. Your best bet is to have something to back up your rpg or storyline, like programming skills.
-dave
While I'm here I might as well throw in this link for one of my game demos:
http://www.evolvedsoftware.com

Andrew:
Look Dave. I donít have time, will, or any conviction to learn a programming language simply to make basic, pretty games. Maybe itís because Iím just an old-schooler, but I happen to love OHRís graphic capabilities.
Youíre right about companies never accepting concepts as is. If you want to impress a company, youíre going to need to write out the full blown story or actually create the game yourself.
On the bright side, your game is darn pretty cool. Nice job. PEOPLE, DOWNLOAD DAVEíS VEGGIE GAME OF PUZZLEMENT!



Quickies

It's important to know that Digipen has a very low success-rate; very (and I do mean very) few graduates ever go on to work in the game industry. Also, I'd recommend against going to work for a Japanese developer because game development is uber expensive in Japan. Because of this, console game developers have sprung up all over the place in the USA (so much so that we're now the world leaders in game developing/publishing). Most American developers also work in smaller teams, meaning you have more say in what kind of game you're going to create (obviously the publishers still have the final word, as they're the financial gods of your future).

Well thank you, Mr. Forgot-To-Add-His-Name. This sounds pretty strange, considering that Digipen is one of the only places in the USA to get such a degree in game design. Could you perhaps, I donít know, maybe BACK UP YOUR STORY WITH SOME FACTS? How about a link to an article about this? Maybe testimony from a former student? I find it hard to believe people go to Digipen, graduate, and than do nothing with their degrees.
Really readers, if youíre going to send in such arrogant letters, Iím going to need to see some proof that it isnít your own stupid opinions. You can send your opinions in anytime, as long as you donít go throwing around information about the gaming industry you heard from a friend of a friendís brotherís long-lost auntís half-brother in law.


Greetings Andrew,
In response to the guy wondering about Ura Zelda and not being translated crap, Ura Zelda is from what I know basicly OoT messed around albit, so I doubt they wouldn't have it translated since its the same bloody game, only modified. Besides, its not like zelda's are very text-heavy games.
And I can't think of a question, as usual. Bah.
-SDHawk, master of the obvious.

Thanks for that bit of info, master of the univer...obvious. Well there you have it, The ďnewĒ Zelda isnít new at all! Itís just a cheesy promo driven to help increase game sales! Those dastards at Nintendo, how could they use us like this?!
Now...to pre-order my copy.


How likely is it that the Zelda bonus disc will be making it to Europe?
- Gandalf the Pink Rabbit

I donít know, but I might, for a price. How much money you got on you, rabbit?


Hello, this may be one of the dumbest questions you will get but what does RPG stand for?
Kyle

Considering that this is a website devoted to RPGs then, yes, this could be one of dumbest questions Iíve ever received.
RPG stands for Role Playing Game, popular examples include the Final Fantasy series and the Diablo series. If you havenít played an RPG, I suggest you do, because theyíre a blast.


Hi, Andy. I was just wondering if you think there is going to be a second Kingdom Hearts. Oh, one more thing, WAS I EVER DANCING WITH AN ANDROID NAMED LUPEI?!
Thanks, Dom

If there isnít going to be a second Kingdom Hearts, then you were doing no such thing with an android. If you were in fact getting your phat beats down with Lupei, then yes. Yes, little Dom. THERE WILL BE A WHITE CHRISTMAS FOR ALL!

The Final Grumble:

Iíve been getting better and better letters lately, and itís getting hard to find enough people to publicly humiliate for the column. Somehow this doesnít seem like a bad thing.

Andrew "Studing" Duff

Finals next week? Yay!

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