Do you ever beat yourself up because you think you're not working hard enough? Or feel you're not reaching the quality level you desire? You're not alone and you're not doing yourself any favors! Don't feel guilty, instead take action!
I'm sure you've heard the apocryphal tale of the lemmings. A lemming is a small, furry rodent. When the lemming population grows too big some lemmings scurry to a sheer cliff edge and jump into the chill, empty air. The individual lemmings die so that the population as a whole survives. Developers are not so fortunate. They jump into super ambitious projects and after a period of self-hatred they eventually give-up and feel like a failure. A self-destructive act like the lemming but unlike the lemming it serves no greater good. Once the initial enthusiasm wears off they have a half written engine and broken heart.
Breaking the Path to Failure
Each time you start a project but fail to complete it, and feel like a failure because of that, you're training yourself to fail. No one wants to feel like they've failed.There has to be a better way!
First step: stop trying to compete with teams of hundreds at Square-Enix and then becoming upset when you don't quite manage it. Instead:
Let yourself win by choosing an easy project.
Did you feel a bit a of shame just reading this sentence? "Easy isn't for me, I work hard and don't take shortcuts." But easy isn't cheating. Easy isn't bad. Easy feels good. Easy is good. Easy let's you know what you can do.
The Path to Success
Enough preamble what can you do to let yourself win? Make a one-room RPG.
That's right a single room. Don't overthink it. Just make a single room, make some kind of puzzle or interaction. Just one. Iterate until it's interesting and release.
Did you enjoy that? Then maybe consider extending it. Didn't enjoy it? Try another single room, come from a novel angle.
A Path To Success without the How to Make an RPG book
Haven't read or don't own the How to Make an RPG book? In this case a single room RPG isn't a couple of hours work! You need something simpler. I suggest Twine. Even if you've read the book I suggest trying Twine!
Twine is a very simple interactive story creation tool. The stories are all text based and you can provide the user with a limited amount of interactivity.
Bioware one of the larger western-style RPG makers requires designers and writers to submit Twine stories as part of application process.
How to apply to an Assistant Writer position at BioWare? - Write an outline and one dialogue for a short plot - Under 5000 words set within an existing BioWare franchise - Include a choice or complication to demonstrate player agency - Define any emotional beats - Include voice directions - It should be either composed using with Twine or a linked word document.
Pretty neat right? You can use Twine as a very high level prototyping tool to sketch out progression of a story or interaction.
To have something you can do in a few hours I think around 500 words would be better, voice direction doesn't matter at all but you should allow the player make a meaningful choice in the narrative.
Bioware also had an earlier competition along a similar theme but using their Neverwinter Nights engine.
- Create one 4x4 area - No more than 4 characters - 3500 words to create - A 10 minute Bioware-styled side quest - Account for multiple conversation branches and endings.
Ideas to Try Out
- Consider player expectations then play with them.
- Get the player to feel a bond with one of your NPCs.
- Consider the emotional state of the player can you make them feel apprehensive, betrayed or scared?
- A room that evokes curiosity
- A room that makes the player ask questions but doesn't provide all the answers
Share what you make
Share what you make! Favor tools that make sharing easy.
Sharing helps you get feedback, cultivates interest and helps build an audience for your future releases.
Let Yourself Win.
Make an interactive experience that's almost insultingly easy for you to achieve. Iterate on easy experiences until you find a process you enjoy or an idea that sparks your imagination. Follow your flow and see where it leads you!
Do this today! Can't think of any ideas? Try the Thirty Stories a Month Challenge first.
If you create something neat share it with me @HowToMakeAnRPG.