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Tomas Elliot presents: So you want to make a Pokemon fangame


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Ok so, as the amount of people who post in this section with new ideas for fangames increases by the day, I think it's about time for me to give them some much needed advice: I am not suggesting that this topic is pinned just because I am an attention-seeking son of a gun, you see. Well mainly for that, but also because I strongly believe people should read this before posting a "hey help me make my Pokemon fangame" topic. Because you see, the fact is that I am probably the most qualified person on this planet to give this kind of advice: oh sure, Ame is the one who knows how things are done, but I, with my years and years and years and years of failed attempts, of projects that started only to go nowhere and fail miserably, of entire new forums created and then left there to die, am the one who knows how things are NOT done. And I think that, for a person who dreams of one day creating a fangame, it would be important to know what are the mistakes that can potentially kill their awesome idea, as to avoid to commit them. And being a guy who has committed all of those mistakes in his life, I take it upon myself to make a topic detailing them.

In other words: in a brilliant topic posted elsewhere Hilda told you what you should do. Here I will tell you what you should NOT do. Here goes:

1) DO NOT EXPECT OTHERS TO BE AT YOUR SERVICE

Too many times, both here and on pokemoncommunity, I have seen people making topics in which they said "Hey I have this awesome idea for a fangame, I need spriters, mappers, coders". That is a very common, and very poisonous, mistake, which can kill your idea before it even gets started. You cannot expect others to take your already completed idea and just build it for you as you demand, you cannot expect others to put their unpaid efforts into something that is not theirs. You cannot plan out your game, and then look for a team to build it for you: planning is something you need to do WITH the team. And more importantly, you cannot make it so that your contribution to your own project is something separated from the contributions of the other team members: you cannot just throw the idea on the table, then sit back and watch your team members as they build it for you, you gotta do your part, be it writing the dialogues, mapping, spriting, coding, or whatever the heck you are good at. If you aren't good at anything that is useful when making a Pokemon game, you might want to rethink your plans.

2) DO NOT EXPECT A PROJECT TO MAGICALLY FALL INTO PLACE

If, as I said in the point above, planning is something you gotta do with the team, it follows logically that you should create, if not a complete team, at least an embryo of a team, a core to build on, before making your topic. Like, before making your topic, you should be sure that at least one crucial aspect of the game is covered, either because you can do it yourself or because you have a reliable team mate who can do it. This leads me to the second point: you cannot, and in fact you must not, expect your project to magically fall into place. You cannot say "Oh well I know I got that part covered, so let's just make a topic and see what happens". Everything that is under your control, everything that you know is covered for by either you or a reliable team mate that you contacted upon first creating the project, must be carefully discussed and planned out BEFORE making your topic, so that you have something you can offer to potential contributors, so that you can provide accurate replies to their questions. Too many times I have seen people interested in helping with the coding posting in topics to ask "what kind of features do you want to implement?" only for the topic starter to provide vague, inaccurate answers.

Just to make an example: Pokemon Se7en was born when I contacted Zim, and together we started coming up with ideas for Fakemon. This happened in late february, with Hukuna eventually joining us to help plan the plot along the way. The public topic in which we started looking for help, eventually recreuiting technical staff (spriters, coders ec) was started in late MAY. That's THREE MONTHS of planning, of defining elements, of deciding the setting, of coming up with features we wanted to be in the game: when Nova, Calvius, Azery, Dark and Elly joined us, we were able to immediately tell them exactly what we needed them to do, and the project soon got started.

If you cannot be precise in telling your contributors exactly what you want them to do, you cannot expect your project to fall into place. It's simple as that.

3) DO NOT OVERSTEP YOUR LIMITS

This is something I have to beat Nova over the head with every day. There are important features, and there are extra features. The style of the sprites and tilesets, the Pokemon available to be caught and the amount of gyms are important features. Field effects and online function are extra features. Important features should be planned before you even make your topic, as detaled in the points above. Extra features should only be planned out AFTER your team is complete and, more importantly, AFTER you have a full grasp of what each member of the team can do. Basically, FIRST you gather a team, THEN you have them explain to you exactly what they are capable of, AND THEN you decide which extra features you will, well, feature. There's no point in deciding "Oh lol field effects are so cool I am going to have those" if none of your coders can actually make them without messing up the PBS. There is no point in wanting an online feature if nobody in your team can host a server. In other words, you should only have what is strictly necessary when you start: extras should be added later, and should depend entirely on the abilities of your coders. If you are aware that something is just too much for you, just don't include it. A well-done Pokemon with a few extras is better than a game with lots of extras that is a complete mess, with lots of bugs and fatal errors.

And notice that "abilities" here does not mean JUST what your coders CAN do, it also includes what your coders ARE WILLING to do. Again, coders put their UNPAID efforts into making your game: they take away precious time from their studies, from their job, from their families to do so. Therefore, it should be evident that you can only push them that far: if a feature is technically possible, but requires your coders to put more time into the project that they can afford given their current IRL situation, then it is better to leave that feature out.

4) DO NOT EXPECT VAGUENESS TO ATTRACT INTEREST

This has more to do with the "marketing" aspect of your game: with 16064 views, Pokemon Se7en's topic is the one that attracted the most attention in the Fangame Exposé section. Do you know why? It's because we have something concrete to offer: there is a very specific trait that defines our game and, as long as we are willing to reveal more details concerning that defining trait, people will come back for more. If your game doesn't have a defining trait, you are better off not posting a topic untill it does: you cannot expect a generic plot with a "I would like to feature this and that" to be enough to attract people's interest. And no, having all the 700+ Pokemon catchable and all the starters selectable is NOT a defining trait, nor is having 18 gyms: both Reborn and Rejuv already are famous all over the internet for these aspects, so there is nothing fresh or defining about them. Sure, you CAN have these aspects in yout game too, but you cannot expect people to flock to your game JUST for them, you need to offer something else too. And this does not apply only to potential customers, it also applies to potential contributors: upon joining said, Azery explicitly said that he had been persuaded by the sheer amount of work we had put in the project before even making the topic. But how could he know how much work we had put into it? Easy: we had a lot of details to provide in the OP of our topic. If your topic has an OP with lots of details, including some juicy defining traits that will keep people coming back, you will be succesful, if your OP essentially amounts to "I want to make a game with this generic plot, I need mappers spriters coders"... Well, not so much. You need to give something to people if you want people to give something to you.

5) DO NOT USE GLITCH'S MUSIC

This is a personal rant: Glitchxcity is the coolest girl in the universe, her music is great, but seriously, each and every fangame in this world uses her creations. There are dozens of composers out there, try something else for a change <.<

Well, this is all. I surely hope, from the bottom of my heart, that this will help you in your endeavors, or at least that it will make you realize that you are not ready just yet: I have made all of these mistakes in the past, so here's hoping that, by putting my personal experience at your service, I will be able to prevent you from making the same mistakes.

I think the last one could be changed a bit to "Don't ONLY use Glitch's music" cuz sometimes her tracks are wayyy too fitting for a certain location/situation lol :P

Aside from that, I personally have been at fault for a few of these when I first tried to make a game myself so these are some pretty concrete facts.

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I wanna make a fan game where the poke-gods fight each other(Lord Goodra, Helix, Arceus, Giratina, etc) and this trainer must hurry up and train to calm the fighting because he is the new coordinate that was destined to become the hero of the land and stop the fighting between these mighty beasts

(I'm just kidding this is a stupid idea)

Edited by ArmoredGuardian
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I think the last one could be changed a bit to "Don't ONLY use Glitch's music" cuz sometimes her tracks are wayyy too fitting for a certain location/situation lol :P

Aside from that, I personally have been at fault for a few of these when I first tried to make a game myself so these are some pretty concrete facts.

Don't quote the entire OP if your post amounts to two lines, it makes it hard to read <.<

And you are actually right, fixing.

I wanna make a fan game where the poke-gods fight each other(Lord Goodra, Helix, Arceus, Giratina, etc) and this trainer must hurry up and train to calm the fighting because he is the new coordinate that was destined to become the hero of the land and stop the fighting between these mighty beasts

(I'm just kidding this is a stupid idea)

I can't even

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About number 5.

I think it will be better say try to find soundtracks that isn't common around in fanmade games.

I agree with GlitchxCity through since it's overrated and many use it enough.

Also trying and find the music genre(s) that fits for each route and city.

I can't truly explain what i mean since my english is kind of broken through..

I can try and giving examples, but i think people wouldn't understand what i mean..

Example is that Gen three or Hoenn region music was known for trumpets.

i really don't know how to say it, but maybe understand what i mean..

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  • Support Squad

*Points meekly*

At least a third of se7ens views has to be recurring views from select individuals. Totally not Tomas or Zim refreshing the page

That can mean several things, take it as you will.

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I recommend listening to other Poke mixers, though Glitch's music style is great and very unique as well.

There are lots of others that are hugely underrated like Lala19357 AKA "The Zephyr" Not that Zephy we all know.

There's nothing wrong with using Glitch's music though as the others have said,

Just open up your comfort zone and don't be afraid to look for more options.

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*Points meekly*

At least a third of se7ens views has to be recurring views from select individuals. Totally not Tomas or Zim refreshing the page

That can mean several things, take it as you will.

Nitpicker <.<

With two thirds of the current views, that topic would STILL be the most viewed in the section, so there. Also, with that example I was trying to get a point across, and the point in question did account for the same individuals returning over and over again. As a matter of fact, the fact that people keep returning to a topic is exactly what that point was all about: what I was trying to say is that people need to come up with ways to encourage viewers to come back to their topic. Heck look at this very forum: Reborn grew so big and so succesful because people kept coming back to it in the early stages, and that happened because Ame was able to offer something that at the time was new (and now isn't merely because of her and the many who tried to emulate her). So yeah, to keep people coming back to their topic, those who start a fangame project should also try and offer something that is new, that was my point.

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Video games are a story telling medium, like films and novels, with a few exceptions. Pokemon is not one of the exceptions. A big thing I've seen in a few fan games is that the creators seemed to have forgotten about the importance of the story. They get so caught up in spriting, mapping, and coding, probably because that's what comes to mind when making a video game. But then they forget about putting effort into a compelling plot and strong characterization.

Like sure, this game looks nice and has some cool looking stuff in it, but I'm not persuaded to play it. Why? Because it has a bland, cookie-cutter Pokemon plot and unoriginal, two dimensional characters.

Something game makers need to keep in mind is that they are telling a story with their games. Having good quality sprites and maps are essential, don't get me wrong. But they are supporting material used to enhance the story being told, not the driving reason for someone to play the game.

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Video games are a story telling medium, like films and novels, with a few exceptions. Pokemon is not one of the exceptions. A big thing I've seen in a few fan games is that the creators seemed to have forgotten about the importance of the story. They get so caught up in spriting, mapping, and coding, probably because that's what comes to mind when making a video game. But then they forget about putting effort into a compelling plot and strong characterization.

Like sure, this game looks nice and has some cool looking stuff in it, but I'm not persuaded to play it. Why? Because it has a bland, cookie-cutter Pokemon plot and unoriginal, two dimensional characters.

Something game makers need to keep in mind is that they are telling a story with their games. Having good quality sprites and maps are essential, don't get me wrong. But they are supporting material used to enhance the story being told, not the driving reason for someone to play the game.

This is a very true point, but how do I fit it in the "do not" format of the OP? Maybe I could say "do not overlook the plot"?

Anyway I gotta leave for now, if you come up with more a more detailed suggestion regarding this point post it here, and I will add it to the OP when I get back. Thanks for the contribution :)

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  • Support Squad

Video games can be a story telling medium, like films and novels,

FIFY

Another pitfall you've fallen into is the sole belief there (This may not be true, I'm going off of your wording) that Video games are ~only~ a story telling medium.

Video games are an interesting and versatile medium in the capabilities to be ANYTHING, not solely a medium for telling stories OR a form of competition or even a mindless time-waster. Cookie Clicker is a video game too, has NO story whatsoever. You have to consider every application of the medium and then decide what you want to do with it. Granted this isn't the most relevant thing to say when considering pokemon fan games but this is a general guideline to keep in mind when creating any kind of media. What can you do with it? Does the medium lend itself to certain scenes or settings? Their's a reason Anime has more vibrantly colourful action scenes and worlds than Live action shows and why similarly Live action has a focus on gritty realism. Novels are great for creating worlds and allowing insight into characters minds but this strength is lost when translating to movies a lot of the time. Different strengths and weaknesses affecting the same story.

TL;DR consider the mediums strengths and weaknesses alongside your production goals.

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This point, even true, falls under the category of the detailed OP in the original presentation. A game is what its maker wants it to be. Pokemon games focus mainly on the exploration of the new region, and the canon ones use the new species as their main attraction point. That was until the audience created new expectations like a more concrete plot with >1dimensional characters and perhaps a difficulty that would strain my 10-yo brother. Adding Hilda's mention of an open-world to explore makes a concrete and solid pokemon game.

However... as obvious the previous mention seemed, the depth one can elaborate on it can amuze people. Zeta/Omicron were successful even without a good enough plot, because their main selling point was the increased difficulty and making the spriting better than the one most players were used to. Reborn is famous because it didn't stop there and included a plot that's still intriguing even if you've already played it once. At the same time, a game is popular thanks to the replay value it gets. That of course needs not come at the expense of not being able to get all pokemon or being restricted in your choices.

That said, I'd like to mention a fault some people make, because they rush things and try to fit in everything together. That's making the plot either too simple or overcomplicated, in order to include the story of the main character, the villains and giving them backstories and a proper incentive, having the gym leaders and other characters affect somehow the plot, and at the same time provide enough lore for the area to make it interesting. The result? People tend to forget certain aspects of the game, or try to mash them in together, leading in a thing that doesn't make sense. Players hate linear gaming as much as they hate having to endure a mindf*ck. That's why, even if you're trying to make the plot alongside with the people that help you create the game in general, you need to have already thought those out, planned your characters beforehand and making sure that all this is actually believable. World-creating is a difficult task, but without it there is no way your game will be as appealing as the aforementioned. Therfore I partially disagree with the statement that you have to plan everything with others as you move forward into completing certain parts of the game, because that includes the danger of the game core getting derailed, and it will show to the audience. That of course has limitations on its own, and it aims to offend no-one, but as the creation belongs solely to one's or a few people's minds before a single line of code is written, it can and it will go off track if everything is put up to debate.

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Yeah, I was thinking along the lines of 'don't forget' or 'don't overlook' the plot. This is a more detailed version:

Video games can be a story-telling medium, like films and novels, with some exceptions. Pokemon is not one of the exceptions. It's so easy to get caught up in spriting, mapping, and coding, probably because that's what comes to mind when making a video game. But with all the cool game play ideas, putting effort into a compelling plot and strong characterization is often forgotten.

You could come up with two hundred original fakemon, and throw in twenty new and intricate field effects for good measure; this might get the player through a couple episodes. But you can't bury a boring, cookie-cutter Pokemon plot and bland, uninspired characters under a mound of 'features'. After the dazzling glamour of your shiny new things has worn off, people will realize your game has nothing else to offer and walk away. What keeps even the most casual players (those who are frustrated by every gym) coming back to Reborn is because they can't leave the amazing story incomplete; let alone abandon the characters they've grown so fond of. Without it's plot, Reborn is just an infuriatingly hard Pokemon game with a lot of field effects.

The number one thing you are doing with a Pokemon game is telling a story. Good quality sprites and maps are essential features to have, don't get me wrong. But fakemon and even Reborn's infamous field effects are also just features. These things are supporting material used to enhance the story, not the driving reason for someone to play the game.

EDIT:

@Dobby

Oh, I completely understand that there is more to video games than just stories, and I agree with what you're saying. A lot of the best games have no plot; but they do have some gimmick, some interesting quirk that makes them good. But if you give a person a Pokemon game with the same old, "get the badges, beat the bad guys" formula, they're gonna get bored pretty quickly if you don't spice it up with some twist or unique feature (I was actually bored by the last couple of the official games for that reason, but YMMV). The reason I added that comment is because anyone looking at this page for advice isn't making just anything that qualifies as a video game, they're making a Pokemon game.

Edited by Anvilicious
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Ok I added a point discussing the plot aspect to the OP. It consists of two parts: the first part is a copy-paste of Anvilicious' post, while the second is a thought of my own. Again, thanks to Anvilicious for his contribution, and thank to all of you for the attention this guide is grtting! I genuinely hope it will help the many people out there who dream of one day creating a fangame...

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Ok I added a point discussing the plot aspect to the OP. It consists of two parts: the first part is a copy-paste of Anvilicious' post, while the second is a thought of my own. Again, thanks to Anvilicious for his contribution, and thank to all of you for the attention this guide is grtting! I genuinely hope it will help the many people out there who dream of one day creating a fangame...

I'm flattered you found my two cents worth adding to the OP. I really like what you added to it, as well!

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I recommend listening to other Poke mixers, though Glitch's music style is great and very unique as well.

There are lots of others that are hugely underrated like Lala19357 AKA "The Zephyr" Not that Zephy we all know.

Her Colosseum/XD mixes are fantastic. It's too bad barely anybody touches those soundtracks way ahead of their time Pokemon wise.

But there is something I'd like to add from the plot aspect as well. Don't try to over complicate the plot. I mean having a more complex and convoluted plot can be more intriguing, but it can also lead to disaster leaving players lost on what's going on. When in doubt, always simplify it. I know you said nobody likes a simple cookie cutter plot, but even that can be enjoyable if it is well done and very well written. I know I'm going to get a lot of hate of flames for this, but Pokemon isn't the best genre for spectacular plots so going overboard will likely only hurt more than help. I'm not saying it's impossible though.

But yeah, I think I'll emphasize on the important stuff a bit more when it comes to the overall story section of making a game (since that is my strongsuit):

Setting: One very bad assumption here is that new region = better setting. While a new region may give the creator a thought that this is completely fresh and new, it's not. When creating a new region, it takes a lot of thought from the climate to the how the land form the people around them. Let's say you have this region called Ymora where breeding is so big that even wild Pokemon have Egg moves. This attracted a lot of strong trainers who are very competetive meaning battles take place there more compared to other regions (and People are snobbier as well). The vast climates also allow it to be a miniature bio-dome much like Hoenn. After you get a big picture, that's when you start breaking stuff down into different sections (as well as work on plot).

Characters: Often this and Plot go hand and hand with one pushing the other forward. Strong characters is a definite must for just about anything. Another bad assumption is that only the characters with unique sprites and are important to the plot matter. This is very, very untrue. Remember all those random guys standing around who all share one sprite? Yep, they matter too. I mean you don't have to do anything too special to them, but don't be afraid to spice it up and make them a little bit more than info givers and methods of experience. Reborn does a pretty good job which is better than trying to give examples.

Plot: I said it before and I'll say it again. Keep it simple. I mean it's almost a staple to have a crime syndicate, but there's so much you can do outside of "ermagawd evil team wants to use [insert legendary here] to create new/better world." Team Rocket and Team Cipher are some of the better main game villain groups and neither of them used legendaries when they first appeared. I'm not saying you can't use legendaries in the plot, but don't make it the main plot. It's a cliche for every Pokemon game ever created outside of a small few.

I guess there's one other thing I'd like to cover and it's just the battles/bosses. The difficulty is going to vary depending on what you're doing. Games like Reborn and Rejuvenation are going to be difficult because it fits them, but games like se7en are going to be a bit easier due to a focus of a fresh experience. There is such a thing as too easy (glares at gen VI) and being too hard. The mod I helped with called Reborn Hardcore is an example of when a game dances on the too hard line (it's challenging but right before the point of being unfair). Sticking generally close to the middle ground is where you're going to attract the most people, but if you're going to make it challenging, reward people for skill and strategy but don't force them to use insanely strong mons or cheap strategies.

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  • 1 month later...

Bumping this because I see more ideas being launched... And yeah, I think those guys should get a chance to read this if they haven't already.

Tomas finally got the pin he has been dreaming for!

This guide is actually pretty good.

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