RPG Maker: A Look Back

From 1999 until 2009, I enjoyed tinkering with Enterbrain’s RPG Maker products, seeing what I could do and if anyone online thought that anything I made was fun. I could probably still use them even now, but neither the flame or passion are there anymore. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m 24 or that I used the tool kits for so many years that I’ve exhausted myself, but I just find it hard to want to use them anymore.

Despite the fact that I do not actively use RPG Maker products anymore, I still think highly of them and have many fond memories from using the products and talking to others who also did on communities such as Gaming World, a website that used to be the best place to go for articles, games, resources, and tutorials.

I think back to why I first used RPG Maker 95 in 1999, and I’ve concluded that it’s because I wanted to fulfill one basic desire that we all have, the will to create something. As a teenage boy, I had dreams that many other teenage boys had. I, like many others, always wanted to make my own video game. Almost all of us lacked the means to make a game in any efficient manner, so when the RPG Makers were popularized on the internet, I became aware that my dreams could finally be realized.

Like many who started, I decided that the best way to start was by making an RPG with “Final Fantasy” in the title. Fangames were always a large part of the RPG Maker scene, and I was usually smack dab in the center. I still remember my very first game in RPG Maker 95, one that only my brother play tested. It was called Final Fantasy… something. The title escapes me, but I clearly remember the main character being similar to Celes from Final Fantasy IV, and for some bizarre reason the first character to join her was a court jester on a wooden bridge. Why was he there? I don’t know. Did he have a reason for joining? Not really. I was only thirteen or fourteen at the time, so none of that mattered. I was just having fun, after all.

I went on to make quite a few RPGs over time. My first game on RPG Maker 2000, the successor to RPG Maker 95, was called Lost Chapters and in 2001 won the prestigious award of “worst RPG Maker game” at the time. It was truly an awful game, lacking any kind of intro sequence at all. The storyline was hardly coherent, and I tried to fit in an epic adventure into a game that could be beaten in two or three hours. Still just a young teenager, I didn’t know what I was really doing. A female dancer, hungry dragon, and sex changing sorcerer were the primary party members aside from the main character, a demon named Exdeath. Yes, Exdeath. Clearly I was infatuated with Final Fantasy V at the time.

Several Lost Chapters sequels and Breath of Fire/Final Fantasy fangames filled the remaining seven or eight years of my RPG Maker days. I remember always looking forward to publishing my games on Gaming World’s forums to see how they would be received. For the most part, the early ones were met with utter hate while my last few, which are all still incomplete and on my hard drive, were actually met with small amounts of praise. Of course I still had people saying that my latest Final Fantasy game was dull or boring, or that my original game Reminisce wasn’t that fun, but there were people who actually enjoyed playing them and told me that they looked forward to future versions. Just knowing that I entertained even a small crowd of people with games that I attempted to make in an RPG Maker was a cool feeling. It’s not something I’m proud of and I never bring it up, but it does make me feel good. It’s the same as if I wrote a short story or cooked a really good meal and people enjoyed them. It’s the same feeling of fulfillment, and working away on various RPGs that I used to make certainly got me through some very, very dreary days when I used to live back where I grew up.

Overall, I look back on everything and I think that I was just pursuing silly teenaged dreams, but I’m definitely thankful for everything RPG Maker did for me. Because of it, I learned how to take criticism from the public better (ie. receiving comments about aspects of my games that people did not like), and it also taught me better organizational skills. Though I don’t think I’ll ever really work on anything in RPG Maker again, except maybe to kill an hour or two on slow days, I’m grateful for my time with the makers. I still do have a desire to make games (platformers specifically, and I have a really awesome idea in my head that’s NEVER been done) and I would love to try and make something again, but the best days, the RPG Maker days, are behind me now. And you know what? They were damn good days.

Return to May 2010 Articles


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