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How to make an RPG all by yourself

September 1st, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
Eschalon Book II

Eschalon Book II from Basilisk Games

This post is a part of the How to make RPG’s series, which shows you the different ways on how to make Role Playing Video Games.

Creating an RPG all by yourself is a huge undertaking. To finish such a project, a lot needs to be done, and that’s probably an understatement. Let’s go over everything:

Program the entire game

You need to write your entire game from scratch. Of course you can use game engines, but the game itself needs to be programmed by you. And remember that programming the game doesn’t only include coding the game, but also coding the graphical user interface, resource management, loading and saving the game, etc.

Create all the art

When doing everything yourself, this also means you need to create customs art for your game: characters, environments, background art, … . Items like characters also need to be animated. And it doesn’t stop there, your game also needs music and sounds. And don’t forget the menu graphics!

Design the game

For game designers, this is the most fun part: make RPG Characters, think about the plot and narrative hook, write the dialogues etc. RPG’s really depend on this, so you need to put in some extra time to write everything down.

Is that all?

That should be it to create your game. But if you want others to play it, or even pay for it, you also need a website, marketing materials, contact game review sites, find beta testers, … .

Reality Check

Torchlight from Runic Games

Torchlight from Runic Games

Creating an RPG like this is a huge undertaking. Want to make it 3D, with multiplayer? Then forget that you will be able to pull this off all by yourself.

If you don’t know how to get started on creating an RPG, or if you don’t know which programming environment, game library or art tools to use, then forget it!
Creating an RPG by yourself should not be attempted if you are new to game development. But lucky for you there are other options. Don’t know how to program? No problem, you can still create your own RPG. I will explain this in the last installment of our How to make RPG’s series.

Conclusion

As you can see it takes a huge amount of work to create an entire RPG. But of course there are advantages by doing it this way.

Avernum 6 from Spiderweb Software

Avernum 6 from Spiderweb Software

Advantages:

  1. Total control over development environment and target platforms.
  2. Total control over asset tools.
  3. Total control over every detail in your game.

Disadvantages:

  1. You have to be a good (or even great) programmer, with prior game development experience.
  2. You have to be a good artist.
  3. You got to have lots of time available.

To finish your game, you will have to be extremely motivated. Here are some tips if you want to go down this route:

  1. Assemble a team so you don’t have to do it all by yourself.
  2. Use an existing graphical engine so you don’t have to write that.
  3. Use existing tools (for example a map editor).
  4. Use an easy programming environment (Flash, Python, …).
  5. Keep it small:
    1. Do it in 2D.
    2. Forget Multiplayer.

So, who is brave (or foolish) enough to go down this route?

The Alternative

I’m currently working on my own tool called RPG Playground, which makes is super easy to create online RPG’s. Why not give it a quick try? Go to http://rpgplayground.com.

If you enjoy making games like I do, then subscribe to this blog and/or follow me on twitter or facebook! Don't forget that we offer the best tool for making RPG's! And while we're at it, why not try out our super innovative indie game 'Mystic Mine' :).


  1. September 1st, 2010 at 23:59 | #1

    It’s obvious where you are going from here.

    But why should we do it in 2D ? ;)
    I know 3D evolves a lot more programming (I read in the 0AD article a few years ago), but it could also look much cooler – specially when you already have an engine that does it for you.

  2. September 2nd, 2010 at 04:36 | #2

    It’s easier to get good looking graphics in 2D than in 3D. I’ve included 3 sample RPG’s in my post, and only 1 of them is made in 3D: Torchlight. It’s also the only one that was made by a big team of experienced guys who already made RPG’s before. The other 2 2D RPG’s are made by a small team (but who also know what they are doing).

    The hardest part of making a game is finishing it. Don’t make it too hard on yourself, because taking the easy road will be difficult enough ;) .

  3. September 2nd, 2010 at 04:45 | #3

    I don’t know much about programming, a simple python (behind the basic “hello word” and print 1 + 1 is too much for me ;) ).
    And I bought Book1+2, they are very good games, even suburb if you consider that it’s mostly done by 1 man.
    So I don’t even think on doing a RPG game from scratch…but I’ve started a text game RPG about 2 years ago – now it’s on hold (as this game is unique and based on world and behind realm knowledge ;) ).

  4. September 2nd, 2010 at 23:34 | #4

    Ah yes, it is quite an undertaking… and yet I am one of those foolish enough to be doing it.
    All alone it would probably be almost impossible, but with a good partner or some outsourcing it should be fine (if you know what you’re doing).

    But in that regard… when is your little engine coming out? ;) *nudge*nudge*

  5. September 5th, 2010 at 01:36 | #5

    Vatina : I don’t know what engine are you using for your visual story games, but I know of a popular FOSS engine called Ren’Py : http://renpy.org/wiki/renpy/Home_Page

    Many visual novel games using this engine, it’s cross platform and it’s free.
    So the developer only has to make the graphics and story.

    I hope your upcoming games will support GNU/Linux.

  6. jasmine
    January 22nd, 2012 at 21:55 | #6

    Hi, this is my first time tryin to create a virtual world on my own. I have helped others create their RPGs but i decided i wanted to create my own and i have the patience and time to do it. If it’s not too much trouble i was wondering could some of you help me

  7. Kadj
    December 20th, 2012 at 12:08 | #7

    There’s a huge disparity in this article between “Koonsolo helps you create your own games!” in the website’s header and then the content, which essentially says “if you don’t know what programming environment to use, don’t even bother with making an RPG.”

    I found this article on Google, looking for tips on where to begin. Maybe a discussion of pros and cons on my choices. Instead I got the most discouraging and unhelpful “how-to” articles I have ever seen.

    Clearly Koonsolo wants nothing to do with helping people make games; they just want the hits to make them feel like they’re contributing.

  8. December 20th, 2012 at 23:59 | #8

    @Kadj

    Kadj, this article is the first part of a 3-part series (see http://www.koonsolo.com/news/how-to-make-rpgs/), and basically says that doing it all yourself is a huge undertaking. But the other 2 parts explain how to make to use frameworks and easy to use game creations tools.

    And of course, I’m currently working on my own solution to create your own RPG’s: RPG Playground. So I hope these other parts can be helpful for you.

  9. PikminRainbow
    April 1st, 2013 at 00:52 | #9

    Hi.i have a great idea for two games.this is my first time making a game,what do you recommend as a start?i am very determined but I have no means to hire a team

  10. May 3rd, 2013 at 03:40 | #10

    I think RPGs are definitely do-able as a solo project if you use opensource art or are willing to buy it (and probably the sound as well). If you use a tool like Unity then a 3d RPG seems within in the grasp of a solo-dev but once again you’re going to need to buy the art.

    If you don’t know how to code at all then it’s definitely going to be a struggle and you’re best using a tool like RPGMaker or the RPG Playground mentioned here. If you’re not sure if you know enough programming or not, I wrote an article that covers some of the systems you’d need to write: http://gamedev.tutsplus.com/articles/game-design-articles/how-to-build-a-jrpg-a-primer-for-game-developers/ If you can follow that then you should definitely able to program an RPG if you have the will.

  11. Yazu
    June 20th, 2013 at 06:32 | #11

    Well this article is the worst I ever read. I simply want to know how to make a RPG but this article supposed to help but instead discourages the reader. For some reason it didn’t even answer the question “How to make a RPG?” more like it only says things on what will happen if we make a RPG and by the way if you are the type of person who discourage people and advertising your own RPGmaker thing then stop making this article, this article is nonsense from the very beginning. Yes, I’m not very good in codes but that is the reason why I want to learn it, to become an expertise. I wonder on how did you learn codes or maybe you didn’t cause from what I see you only use programs that was created by other programmers to help the people who doesn’t know how to programmed.

  12. jack
    July 15th, 2013 at 11:34 | #12

    @jasmine
    i will help anyone who needs help

  13. superman (brandie schmitz)
    October 22nd, 2013 at 10:14 | #13

    i would like to be part of a rpg like have the ability to help make a fun rpg game for others so email me at brandieschmitz@yahoo.com thats also my facebook email so add me and send a message thanks bye

  14. KittyTastrophe
    November 30th, 2013 at 02:29 | #14

    And if I’m stubborn enough to believe that I can make a F2P 3D MMORPG alone with no budget, but with plenty of time, which is nearly as complex as SOA (minus virtual reality)?

    It might take me many years, but I think with an intense amount of time put into it, I can have it accomplished within a decade, on my own, with next to no programming knowledge prior to this idea. Time to start studying.

  15. relan
    January 21st, 2014 at 00:02 | #15

    Excuse me, first I’m sorry about my lenghty rambling, but I beg you to read this please..
    I have read your post about creating RPG all by yourself, and this is exactly my dream, I want to make RPG game all by myself, I was inspired by a fan made game called Blizzard of Faith and Revenge it’s Touhou doujin RPG game not official and it was very great 2D RPG with scenario gameplay and etc, If you don’t mind you can check it on youtube http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=let%27s%20play%20blizzard%20of%20faith%20and%20revenge&sm=3
    Yeah I know this game is worked by a team consist of 5 people with their own ability like writer, programmer, artist, the leader, but I have a very high motivation here.

    I have the scenario all in my mind, even I have composed many music that fit for my RPG game, like sad theme, boss battle, dungeon BGM etc, and for the arts I still practicing and I have a friend that great in art wich I know he will gladly help me out, BUT… The problem is, I totally blind about programming, i don’t know what is C++, phyton, script editor, I’m totally blind…
    Can you help this boy reach his dream ? I need to know where should I start, I talk about creating my original game, not like using RPG maker, game maker or any software like that… They already giving us a few character potrait and sprites so we can choose one, but what I want is my original sprites and portrait, my own animated skill and etc..
    For that I know that was not easy and obviously not a year work, I know maybe 5 years to complete and I must mastering photoshop, flash, etc, but I don’t care, I have musical abilities I can play piano, classic guitar, electric guitarI(I’m not bragging I swear God) and very great motivation, I have my great friend drawing and he is number one anime artist in my university, we just need to know how to start from, If I must learn then what program should I learn ? C++,phyton or what ? I googled everywhere and what I found is the tutorial making RPG game with RPG maker and etc it’s not what I want, I will gladly take 1 or 2 years to mastering anything which is needed to make RPG like Blizzard of Faith and Revenge even I’ll give all of my time for I can catch my dream, 2D first maybe 10 years later I will try 3D.. Now I’m 20 years old and I don’t want my younger time become a useless boy that sit in front of laptop a whole day and do nothing..

    The conclusion is what should I do/learn first ? I don’t care if it’s hard or take a long time, your reply is a step for me towards my dream, and I guarantee you If someday I finish my game I will give you credit and even I will speak loud your name in my pidato for you the one that guide me through my dream and give the the first stepping stone..

    Thank you very much

    Best Regards

    Relan Lumina

  16. January 21st, 2014 at 00:10 | #16

    @relan
    If you want to program your own games, the best way to go from here is use Unity 3D. The programming language used is C#. You can create whatever you want with it, and it’s currently the best way to create your own games.

  17. relan
    January 23rd, 2014 at 08:50 | #17

    @Koen Witters
    Thank you very very much I’ll study C# right away from now on when I have already fluent I’ll be back..
    thank you for the great reply, I appreciate it so much..

  1. September 2nd, 2010 at 00:59 | #1
  2. November 28th, 2010 at 04:57 | #2

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