The Start of a New Journey
I have started a new game development project. Well, I say new — it’s not. What I mean by ‘new’ is that this project has evolved from its original form. At first I’d thought to make it a simple RPG with very standard tropes and all the gubbins that you’d expect from a 16-bit JRPG-style game; however, that’s become something of a beast now.
The original idea was nothing out of the ordinary, really. Create a cross between a Sci-Fi and a High Fantasy RPG — something mixing steampunky/cyberpunky themes and art styles with a fantastical world of monsters, demons, and such like. Mixing tech, magic, and RPG norms into something a bit different.
I liked this idea, and it’s still there in the back of my mind, but something else has cropped up. Something a little closer to home and a little more powerful in its message; poignant, you might say.
While I don’t want to go into too much detail about this yet, I will say that it’s a story about a boy (or girl, maybe a choice can be made there?) going through the motions of life and seemingly getting kicked down at every turn. I don’t want to tell a bleak story, but there will be very real themes thrown in. Some fun and a bit of comic relief too, hopefully, but mostly it’ll be about discovery. A discovery of fantastic worlds that I had as a child.
The process I’m currently in is still that of writing the narrative and tying down the details of the world I want to set this in, but this is currently creating and fueling so many ideas that I can’t help but run with it.
It all started with a fun, and a lighthearted elevator pitch (see image below)that I threw out to a few friends.
It was a simple pitch, nothing too detailed — which is the point — and unexpectedly it resonated really well. There was interest in the concept, some interest to hear the story behind it, and a couple of friends continued to run with the idea and spitball some more. This was the moment that it clicked for me: the game resonated with people like me, because it was about people like me! Simple things…
So now I’m fired up and really wanting to get this to a state that’s playable so I can put the concept into more people’s hands and get some real feedback from them. It’s exciting!
As excited as I am — enough to write my first post here on Medium — I have no illusions that this will be an easy task or a short journey. I’m not looking to churn out something forgettable and then let it fade into the mist. I want to create something that, at its core, is really meaningful in some way. I’m not satisfied with a half-assed attempt. I will tackle this with all that I have at my disposal.
Right now the to do list is massive:
- Write the lore, narrative, character profiles
- Write mock dialogue and scene-setters (for drafting and editorial checks by friends)
- Create the base game mechanics / engine functionality
- Create art and assets to be used in the game
- Hand-code everything that RPG Maker doesn’t already have… :/
Yes, I’m using RPG Maker! Why? While it’s not a perfect engine, it’s got at least a third of what I need it to do already built in as the baseline. That’s more the GameMaker: Studio or Unity already, which means I can get more done. There’s functionality that’s currently missing that I would want to have but these are also missing from the other engines available out there. There’s no engine that can do what I want to do without work being done to it but RPGM at least has the basis for that already.
I’m going to be doing a lot to the engine, though, so likely it won’t even feel like RPGM by the time the final product is ready to be play-tested. In between writing the overarching narrative and creating concept art for the ‘main’ characters, I will be writing plugins (or finding plugins from other RPGM developers) to use with the final product. Distribution is not a consideration right now, but the easiest one has got to be Steam right? Who knows.
It’s worth noting that I’m not precious about the RPGM engine, either. Should the project progress to a stage where RPGM is no longer fit for purpose I will review the work that’s been done and what is actually needed. The journey will turn up a lot of paths and forks in the road. Despite the fact that I like to have contingency plans at my disposal, I will be crossing each bridge and taking each winding and forking path as it comes.
It’s early days yet.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Today is step one.