RPG Maker has a very bad history of making bad games. And it’s mostly because it’s such a low entry into game development. There’s no programming involved and all the art needed is given to you to make games quickly. That’s why I regret making my game in RPG Maker MV.
When was the last time a good game was released in RPG Maker? It was when Omori was released. Omori is appraised for it’s psychological horror and it was made in RPG Maker MV just like my game! Another game before Omori? To The Moon series. And that was released in 2011 all the way to 2021. There are other successes but none come close to holding a candle to those games.
There are thousands of games made in RPG Maker and their success isn’t as great since most developers using rpg maker don’t have a strong programming skill or they are using default art given to the developers when buying the engine.
The point I’m trying to make is, when making a game in RPG Maker, your game is destined to fail if you’re not a highly skilled developer with a good talented team behind your back. The history of this engine backs it up. Compare this to unity or Unreal, it’s no wonder that most developers that want to commercialize their game would go into that engine instead of RPG Maker.
Knowing all of the history of RPG Maker and it’s many unsuccessful games made in it wasn’t something I was thinking about when I started my game development career. I was mostly learning how games were made and was too excited to make my first game with the zero knowledge I had back then. If I were to go back in time and tell myself in the past, hey, make your game in Godot or in Unity or even in Unreal, I’d do it.
But I’m stuck with RPG Maker and I’ve been designing in this engine for 4 years. I really want to switch to Godot as Godot 4.0 is coming soon, but I have Harvest Island I have to finish first.
That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy designing in Harvest Island. I love my game and can’t wait for it to come out, even if it is designed in RPG Maker MV, but it comes with a huge drawback and this is why I regret making it in RPG Maker.
There are complex design I have to think about when designing a game mechanic. For example, if I wanted to make farming type game, I would have to think about if it’s even possible to do a farming type game in RPG Maker. Luckily I found my answer after weeks of testing, figuring out the engine’s capabilities, and thinking outside of the box in which programmers would never ever try to think about because it’s too cumbersome to do. But I did it and it was very cumbersome. That’s why my game is taking quite a long time to be release. And also because the quality of the game needs to be at a higher standard for it to sell.
Let me break down what that cumbersome of a job I had to do in order to get that farming mechanic implemented to the best of this engine could do. There are 4 problems I had to figure out when implementing a farming mechanic. 1) Animation. Without this, you wouldn’t even know if the crops are growing or ready to be picked. 2) Programming. How would I make the crops grow given that my game has a day/night cycle that can go on forever. 3) How to design the farming fields. This is important because I had to make a choice of giving the option of planting anywhere on your farm vs planting on a certain area. The reason I had to think about this was because of the game’s engine limits. I chose planting on certain areas because of the game engine’s limitations. 4) Designing a fun gameplay around the farming mechanic and if it can support the story of the game. Luckily I managed to solve all of these issues and implemented it in the game, but do you see how cumbersome of a thought process I had to do because of the game’s engine limitations? It’s not about, I think this is cool to put this farming feature into Harvest Island, it’s more about, can I do it? Even though it’s cool to have it in there, my problem becomes can I even put it in there.
In unity or in unreal or probably in godot, I could do this with just 100 lines of code. I’m not too sure if it’s just 100 lines of code could be more vs RPG Maker’s line of code of 1,000+. And these codes are jumping all over the place. It’s just faster to make it in another engine. This makes it a really big nightmare if I wanted to expand on it because editing or fixing a bug takes a long time to find. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack and making sure that needle becomes hay and put it back together and make sure that the cows can eat it. Very cumbersome and time consuming. A long time ago, I posted my game on reddit and the RPG Maker community wanted to know how I implemented a farming mechanic to my game because that has never been done before or at least I have not found a game that tries to do what I’m doing. I told the guy, I couldn’t explain it to him because of all the complex workarounds I had to do to have RPG Maker have farming mechanics. Those 4 topics I had talked about, finding a solution to those problems was a nightmare and long hours. If I made a progress of just one step, I had to make sure my back steps were good or else I would end up having bugs all over my game. To this day, I’m terrified of finding bugs in my game because that’s just one step closer of trashing my farming mechanics or redoing my entire farming mechanic. That is such a nightmare. But luckily it hasn’t come to that. Isn’t this just terrifying to work with? A game engine is so limited that it’s a make it or break it for a game mechanic to be in or out of a game based on just a bug! This is why I hate RPG Maker. It’s so limited and I regret it so much.
My farming mechanic in my game isn’t where you can step on the crops and the little crops move to the side like stardew valley, it’s really static and that’s the trade off I had to do when designing it in RPG Maker. You can still farm, grow your crops, water it, and harvest it, but the animation is limited. And I still blame it on the engine. They say a game is good not because of the game engine but it’s because of the person making it. Well, I hope I’m just as good to live up to that status quo. I’m just very thankful for the other farming simulators out there that has established what a farming genre is. Without that, my direction to designing what is barely acceptable in a farm game would be an adventure to explore and a lot of experiments in which I probably can’t afford as a indie solo game developer.
Even though I’m facing a lot of limitations and workarounds for my game, I think that’s just part of game development. But the amount I have to go through is not fun. I’ve designed my game to overcome a lot of the hurdles in what RPG Maker shouldn’t be capable of doing. It’s just a lot of ingenuity from my part in making the game fun. Because what makes a game fun is good music, believable fantasy, and some type of goal in that game. In this case for my game, farming to progress the story. Even though I didn’t design my game in the RPG fashion like how the engine was designed to be, I’ve decided to use the strongest part of the engine’s feature and that’s eventing which is pretty much coding for a non coder. And there are severe limitations to that as well. This eventing is design for basic to moderate game play, but I took it to the next level and have line and lines of complete eventing codes with exterior codes called plugins to help get what I want across in designing my game. I really hate RPG Maker. So Cumbersome!
I hope my game isn’t a game to your imagination when you play it on release. Throughout my entire development, I’ve always emphasize my game to be a story driven farming simulator. Even the demo I’ve frequently update tells what the game should be. The farming is to help support the game’s progression. You can still build, upgrade your farm, and raise your livestock but the main goal of Harvest island will be exploring rather than dating and raising a family. This is why I wanted to talk about why my game is in RPG Maker. It’s because of the severe limitations I had to overcome to design a farming game. This game may not be the traditional Harvest Moon dating type farm life game, but it’s unique enough to branch out from that farming game tradition and do something entirely different. This game engine’s limitation forced me to design Harvest Island into a non dating game and more of a story driven game. I’ve learned quite a bit from using RPG Maker as my game engine to design Harvest Island, but I think I will never design another game in it ever again. My friend says my potential is being wasted on this engine. I couldn’t agree more. Well, let’s see what happens when my game gets release. Let’s see if I even have the potential to make my next game.
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