RPG Maker and Me
Sometimes, dreams never die, no matter how long ago they started. Sometimes it’s something grandiose. Sometimes it’s much less.
Let’s take for example, me. Ever since I had my first major exposure to RPGs via Phantasy Star 4, I had found myself wanting to create my own JRPG. Even though I knew next to nothing about game design, programming, or plot, I still did. In fact, I doubt I could be blamed for knowing nothing about any of those. I was eight, I saw this awesome game with these wonderful characters, and I wanted to make something like it, because to me it was everything that was right with the world. But hey, I knew next to nothing about game design, and I had no way to even start on the matter, so I was kind of helpless on the matter when all is said and done, no matter how much I wanted to.
Fast-forward a few years. The hacked-and-distributed RM95 and RM2K were spreading around the internet, and while they had their problems, I was ecstatic, playing around with -so many things-. And even so far as being able to make…a terribly bad game demo. I didn’t understand these things! What were variables?! How did switches work?! I was simply not mature enough to understand how these things worked, and while I was absolutely enthusiastic, I still had no idea for how to go about making a RPG, for the most part. The RM2K user chats, however, gave me an amazingly sharp kick to the posterior when it comes to making plot; I learned how to ask “Why?” and became almost enlightened. It was eye-opening to me, and I was about to work out this seemingly-amazing plot! …except it was still kind of bad, but better than what I did before, and then RM2K seemingly ate my computer. My parents did not let me download RM2K, and so for a good while, I forgot about it.
The RPG Maker series largely remained a curiosity to me for years in the meantime, and my dream was forgotten. I had given up on the thought of hobbyist game development, knowing I couldn’t pull together the resources to do so. Then came the 30-day trial of RMVX. I was in college by now, and there were so many things I knew better–game design in particular, since I had experience in a community that picked apart RPGs from a design perspective. So I decided to challenge myself one day: Make a complete game with the 30-day RMVX trial. It was ambitious! I was driven to create something that…if not a great, was at least tolerable! It was amazing, to say the least–I had grown up, and RPG Maker had grown up along with me.
Turns out, it was still terrible. Comprehensible, unlike my childhood attempts, but terrible.
(No, really, it was -bad-)
But it wasn’t like before. I had something tangible. I was reminded of my dreams of game design, to make my own JRPG. And I was that much closer. Have I made anything perfect or AAA-quality? No. I haven’t even created something worthy of being on the front page of RMVX.net or the like, but I’ve been trying. I discovered third-party scripts to use, the value of planning out game design well before opening the maker, how to go about designing gameplay. Everything was good, really. And the release of Ace? Even better.
So what does RPG Maker mean to me, all in all? It’s a way to facilitate my dream of creating my own JRPG. A way to create stories that I want, a way for me to exercise my knowledge of the theory behind how JRPGs work. A way to create games that are -fun-. A facilitator, an assistant…and all in itself, to sum up a fellow user, “a game that creates games.” It might be the programmer in me, but the most satisfying thing in RPG Maker is not simply to have the product of work in front of you–but to have figured out that one solution to that problem. That one feature that makes your game work. That one workaround. Anyone who’s made games with it knows full well what I’m talking about, and the feeling is unlike any other. But ultimately, it’s a way to realize that ambition.
All in all, what would RPG Maker mean to you? Make Your Own Game and find out.