It all started with Daniel showing me something on the internet.
That’s not entirely uncommon for us to do while we sit around the table prior to roleplaying. One of us will bring up something on the internet, Daniel will use one of his eighteen tablets to bring it up for us to view, and we enjoy the spectacle before joking about how Daniel is just one step closer to being a cyborg. Games ensue, pizza consumed, and we usually forget about the internet meme or clip or whatever the next day.
But on that day those many months ago, Daniel showed me a program called RPG Maker. It was a tool bundle that allowed for you to make RPG games in the same avenue of Final Fantasy. At the time, it wasn’t cheap (Thanks, RPG Maker… for dropping your price the day after I bought it), but it allowed for a trial period. I downloaded it. I turned it on.
And I got confused as hell.
Okay, to be honest, RPG Maker is a fine tool bundle. However, I’m as tech savvy as my grandmother. If not for Angela, I’d still be hoarding AOL disks and calling up my brother whenever I needed more internets. So RPG Maker was confusing. I squinted at the screen for many hours as I played around with it. I learned about tile mapping. I finally grasped the idea of triggers and events. And after a measly three days of intense, soul consuming work… I was able to create a conversation between two characters.
ANGELABOT: Billy, you are so awesome.
BILLYBOT: I am. This is why I am the Big Barsher.
And then I made ANGELABOT spin around using Event Mapping. I cackled in delight, woke Angela up from her slumber and ignored her complaints that it was four in the morning. I dragged her to the computer, pointed at the screen, and then started the ‘game’ up again.
ANGELABOT stood in front of BILLYBOT, delivered her awesome line, and then danced as BILLYBOT spoke. The scene ended, the pixelated characters stood still as they waited for my next command, and then I looked towards Angela with the smug satisfaction of knowing this was totally worth waking her up early before a day of work.
Needless to say, the couch got comfy the following weeks.
But I was hooked! I soon began thinking of all the things I’d seen in games that I wanted to learn to do!
The first motivation came from Zelda: A Link to the Past. I wanted to make it so the map was dark save for a small circle of light around my character whenever they held a lamp! I looked throughout my tool bundle, found no button marked ‘LANTERNTIME’, and after the hours of crying naked in the shower, decided to try my luck by searching Google.
And boy, did I find something interesting. You see, RPG Maker allows for you to make simple games with relative ease. However, it also allows you to sort of rewrite the program with something known as scripting. This allowed for you to alter the capability of the software! I found hundreds of sites with scripts I could use! Needless to say, I found one that gave me my lighting effect. And by the end of week two, I had ANGELABOT with an orb of light around her while she danced in the dark room.
Now I was cooking with fire. But let’s not get into how IÂ destroyed the kitchen by leaving my ramen too long on the stove because I was hooked on scripting. I worked my way through these sites, finding more scripts to implement into my game. I added fog with scripts! I remade how battling worked with scripts! I became a scripting machine.
By the end of week four, I stood proudly at my creation. It was a game that involved ANGELABOT walking around in a dark room, occasionally fighting cats, until she found BILLYBOT… who she would then compliment.
As you can imagine, I was thinking of sending EA the game in hopes they’d pick it up (I did, but they said they couldn’t pick it up because the game didn’t have a constant internet connection). I was proud, dammit! I beamed with pride! I finally decided to bathe in Angela’s delight. And by the end of my shower, I walked out, dropped my towel to the ground, stood proud and naked, and told Angela I was going to add something to my game. A story.
The first thing she told me was that her mother had dropped by. After I waved to my mother-in-law, Angela then said she thought it was a grand idea and that I should start right after I wrapped the towel back around my waist.
I marched to the computer and sat down, body cleaned of filth and spirit filled with hope, inspiration, and a fair amount of scotch. I looked at RPG Maker, squinted, and then spoke:
“This is why you’re da Big Barsha.”
And then I stared at the screen for several hours as I tried to figure out what story I wanted to tell.
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