RPG Maker once brought simple game creation to the masses. Back then, from my perspective, it was the first and only one of its kind. I recently discovered other, similar ideas (some dating back before my first experiences with RPG Maker), but my first love was RPG Maker 95 (which, to my squealing delight, I was able to find cached online and I downloaded it!).
I bring this up because I have recently been feeling a desire to make some games with and for my son as a way to educate, engage and entertain him.
It all started when I was playing (and rather enjoying) a very simple game on my cell phone. Unfortunately, the game required no longer than fifteen minutes to complete, but it called to mind hundreds of ideas for similar, longer games that I could create on the computer and would be simple enough for a child to play.
I know some limited Visual Basic, so when I see something like a simple point-and-click cell phone game I often think to myself, “I could do that.” I am wrong sometimes, but if I can’t do it I find a way to do it or I find someone else who can.
The sad thing is, if I had set out a month ago when I had the idea, and just started making the game, it’d be done by now. Unfortunately, this is not possible with me, as I outlined in a previous post. In fact, I specifically brought this idea up in that post when I mentioned that I had an idea for a game that has since evolved into an idea for a game creator and editor.
Uncharacteristically, I was able to restrain my ambitious tendencies and keep the game type specific. My game/game maker was to be for a simple scene based game where the user can click on and interact with items in a static environment, changing scenes with simple navigation buttons. In my technical write-ups I was often tempted to add in functionality for scrolling or 3D, but I kept things as simple as I could within my already exploding idea.
Today I was working out a few of the technical aspects of my idea when it occurred to me that the project had grown larger than my plate. I was either going to need to enlist outside help, or find someone else who has already done what I wanted to do.
So, I came up with a plan. I was going to outsource the programming. I found a site online that offers programmers for hire. Unfortunately, I have no money or budget for this project, so I set that idea aside and decided to look for communities of programmers that do programming work for free (yes, they actually do exsist, but they are difficult to enlist). In order to pitch my idea I needed to write up a very detailed description of what I wanted to accomplish.
I planned on creating a main page with Google Sites, then drafting up more specific, technical documents in Google Docs with schematic drawings and images. I would advertise it by linking to the project homepage with a quick plug at several developer community sites and forums. In thinking of what I could write for the project’s introduction, I had an idea.
That’s when I remembered RPG Maker. In a sense, RPG Maker was a lot like my idea. Rather than just make an RPG, the creator of RPG Maker made a program to assist anyone and everyone who wanted to make an RPG. I wanted to do the same thing for a much more lame type of game. The boring, static, simple games. So, just for the heck of it, I decided to research RPG Maker in preparation for writing this entry, and that led to something else, and one thing kept leading to another thing…
What I’ve discovered is that the game maker programs are out there, they’ve just been hiding (there is even one called “Game Maker“). I found dozens of free tools that offer all of the functionality I had planned for my big project (I think) plus a whole lot more. Obviously, I downloaded a bunch of them. Now I just have to install and evaluate each of them to find one that I can use for my purposes.
I’ll be sure to let you know which one I like the best and I’ll share whatever I create with you (many of them will be targeted at or designed by children, but there might be a little something for you too!). If I were a little better organized I would have been saving links to the sites I found while doing all that research so I could list them here. In fact, if I were less lazy I could just go to my browsing history and pull it all back up.
Just because I’m nice, here are two that I found that look promising. The first is called Game Maker by YoYo Games and the second is called Adventure Game Studio. I’m pretty sure I downloaded at least one more, but I really can’t remember which one(s). Oh, and I downloaded RPG Maker 95 too, of course!
Stay tuned for updates on this exciting new adventure!