Village Trader + thoughts on RPG Maker and future projects

Hello everyone! Today I want to share with you another small game project that I just published on itch.io: Village Trader! Village Trader is a short PC game with a 1-bit aesthetic, about trading items with the villagers of a small town. It’s controlled almost entirely by mouse and it’s very short and straightforward. Give it a try: you should be able to complete it in about 5-10 minutes!

Welcome to Village Trader!

Like the previous project I posted, this was also a class project for the Unity course I took last year. I’ve been having a look at all those projects and I believe that Village Trader and Magic Penguin vs Giant Chicken are the only ones that I wish to publish, mostly because they feel complete (for what they are) and don’t have any glaring bugs.

Village Trader is particularly interesting because I made it using the Fungus plugin for Unity, which is an open-source tool aimed at being able to develop games “with no code”. As they state on their homepage, they take inspiration from similar projects such as Twine and Ren’Py. Fungus makes use of its own “flowchart” system, which lets you place different events on a flowchart and do all kinds of crazy stuff. My only previous experience with similar engines was RPG Maker, and Fungus does feel similar in some ways, although under the hood it’s much more powerful, since it runs on Unity.

uwu < 3

Overall I feel like Fungus is very robust and does its job well, although personally I wouldn’t use it because of the huge overhead that Unity adds to it (bloated installation, lots of unused features, etc.) and would rather choose a standalone no-code engine such as Construct or RPG Maker. However, if you’re already familiar with Unity, Fungus can be a huge help, particularly for making dialogue systems and events.

As you can imagine, manually programming all item combinations with visual flowcharts was a challenge, but it was a fun one!

Coincidentally, it was recently announced that the next iteration of the RPG Maker series, RPG Maker Unite, will follow a similar path as Fungus and run on top of Unity (something that I have mixed feelings about, but let’s not get into that now)… Which brings me to the next topic that I wanted to tackle today: RPG Maker and my future gamedev projects.

As I have mentioned in previous entries, over the past few years I’ve mostly used Godot engine, and I worked for a long time on a project called Monster Embassy, which I finally cancelled last year without having released a single demo. However, thanks to the Unity course that I took a few months back, I have finally started to learn how to finish small projects and not get lost in “big ideas” all the time. Ambitious projects are fine, and I eventually wish to finish at least one, but in the meantime it’s important that I get to finish smaller stuff that other people can actually enjoy and provide feedback on.

With that goal in mind, during the past couple of months I have been learning more about Godot, thanks to the great courses by GDquest. However, even as I’ve been taking the courses, I’ve felt conflicted, because Godot 4 is just around the corner but it isn’t ready yet, and all available learning materials will take a while to get updated for the new version even after it releases, and half of the stuff I’m learning will be outdated, and also I don’t want to start any projects in Godot 3 because I really really need the new tileset/tilemap system in Godot 4.

Taking all of that into consideration, and also the fact that I have been using RPG Maker again as of late (since a friend of mine is working on a project with it and I’m making most of the graphics), I’ve realised that it could be very interesting to finish a couple of short games using this tool, as it’s excellent for narrative-based storylines with pixel-art or low-res graphics.

I feel that, if I use RPG Maker for a while, it will provide me with the opportunity to finish more short stuff, without having to worry too much about technical implementation, and it will buy me time so, when I get back to Godot, the new version will have already released and I’ll be able to get into it straight away.

So that’s my decision: for now I’ll leave Godot aside and focus on RPG Maker until I finish at least two or three small games with it and add them to my portfolio. Wish me luck! Making these games should be fun.

As for game concepts, I’ve thought that it could be interesting to rescue some plots that I came up with a few years back (for comics, novels, games, etc.), some of them when I was barely a child, and actually get to finish them this time. I think it could be cathartic. Also it’d be a shame to let all of those ideas and designs go to waste, and this is an excellent opportunity to bring them to reality.

For now I’ve narrowed down these possible plots to a handful, I’ve written them down in a list (from easier/shortest to finish to harder/longest to finish) and I’ve picked the first on the list (that is, the shortest) as my first project.

I’m still not used to working on “small” ideas that don’t require several years of development, but I feel like this is another step in the right direction. When I finish the first project on the list, I’ll publish it on itch.io and share it here.

Have a nice day, everyone, and thanks for reading!

Addendum: For those of you who may be wondering about my “Orosynthe” project, which was supposed to be the spiritual successor of Monster Embassy, I am still working on it from time to time. However, I’ve decided to shift my focus to smaller projects for now, so I can actually finish something in the meantime. I will come back to it fully when I have more experience finishing small stuff.

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