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Making Fan GamesTopic%20Title
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Ya friendly, local neighborhood writer

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What are y'all's experiences with making fan games? I see that people have a wide variety of visions and different experiences. It seems like something I'd like to do as a committed hobby but I don't know where to start. I don't know how sprinting, coding or anything like that is done. All I have is a vision but no experience in the skills. Y'all's thoughts?
Re: Making Fan GamesTopic%20Title
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If you're looking for advice, I would recommend looking at some AAO threads. They contain some good advice not only about using the casemaker, but also about planning stories and such.

Honestly you should be worrying about making a good story for your fangame for now, since it's going to be hard to find someone to make sprites for you until you have something done (unless you have the skill to make sprites yourself) and the coding is really not that hard after you get used to whatever engine you will be using.
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Re: Making Fan GamesTopic%20Title
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professional megalomaniac

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If you've seen me around here before you might know that I have a lot to say about fangames! So here's a rundown of what I consider to be the most important lessons I learned from my many many failed attempts at making a fangame. These might not always apply to you because I'm admittedly a lazy bastard but hey if you're up to this, then more power to you.

1. Talk is cheap; focus on making. The TL;DR version of this lesson is here, so if you don't want to hear me ramble, then this post says pretty much the same thing.

This is one of the biggest pitfalls I see for beginning trial-makers-- Talking about the idea before it's made. You can find plenty of threads like this but I'll pull up mine because I did this plenty too: One of the first things I did when I got to the site was put up a hand drawn poster and a thread for "Ace Attorney Trilogy", a case series featuring Phoenix Wright, Apollo Justice, and Miles Edgeworth (funnily enough I had not played Apollo Justice at the time.) I hadn't even gotten a frame in or a story or anything but I decided "I'm gonna do this", and put it up. "Ace Attorney Trilogy" is now locked and forgotten. (Not super relevant, but this thread is a good example of what you need as far as game promotion goes.)

"Arthur Frost", "Dark Detectives", "The Final Bow"-- All games that I threw up threads for once I had the idea, made plenty of promos and art for; and not one of which got a single case out. I could talk all day about what I wanted to do, what this would be like, and how cool that final confrontation was gonna be-- But I had nothing in the editor and nothing but talk, and while I KNEW I was gonna make good on all those promises, in reality I never did. It's exciting to talk about an idea you have planned, to hype up people and to be hyped up yourself-- At least, that's sorta how I felt at the time. I was happy to have people showing interest in my case and whatever tidbits I put out; but after a while it became clear that I didn't have much more than that. I got an idea, made a thread, then jumped into the editor, when I should have had the idea, jumped straight into the editor, THEN made a thread. This is probably a small thing and much of what I'm saying here might seem obvious, but trust me this will save you a lot of time and discouragement-- Those unfinished threads really tend to pile up after a while and for me, they didn't do much for my morale.

2. Get comfy with your game-maker of choice.

To do your best work you need experience-- Despite not having ever once made a successful trial, I actually know my way around AAO's editor fairly well by now. I've been in and out of it enough, tried enough tricks and played enough trials to know how, mechanically, to produce a complete, functioning game. How to make Press-All CEs, how to set variables, how to import graphics, how to let users type in their own name, what timing I need for sprites-- All the important stuff. Knowing your way around whatever case maker you choose is important for doing your best work and the only way to really do this is, like anything, practice. Make trials for fun that you don't release, make small things just to test things out. Make trials consisting of only a CE and see how you can play with it and make it your own.

I remember in one of my earliest trials, a comedy titled "Turnabout Fail", I made a "double CE" of two characters-- You had to find the evidence in one person's testimony and present it at the other's and you could switch at the end of each run through. Nobody taught me how to do it; it was just a little thing I figured out on my own. Was it well-used? Was it fun? I don't know actually, and I never used it again, but it's an idea worth looking into, I think. You can learn a lot from just playing around, but if you get stuck, don't hesitate to check out tutorials! I don't know about other case-makers, but I know that at least AAO has an extensive Help section that you can look into should you need it, and several comprehensive tutorials, so you shouldn't ever need to ask "how do I do this" unless you get really stuck/confused.

TL;DR: Have fun with it, enjoy what you're doing.

3. Don't let graphics hold you back.

Back when I was first starting case-making, custom graphics were barely a thought in my head. The first trial I (nearly) completed, Turnabout Theater, was basically an original case using entirely pre-existing sprites (which I "cleverly" explained as being the characters themselves ACTING as the characters in the play). Then when I got into doing more "original" stuff, I realized that I'd need my own sprites. So I churned out some truly horrible creations which I unfortunately have been unable to purge from the internet, and then started to realize:

"boy. making an entire game's worth of sprites is taking a loooong time."

Back when I had youth and free time on my side, I actually managed to power through this-- I completed a decent amount of sprites (even if none of them were good) and could kinda get started, but I never managed to push through and finish the whole thing. Then I started needing backgrounds, evidence, special close-up illustrations-- It was all too much. And I'm a guy who DOES art.

Most young case makers, I'm willing to bet, don't do art and instead need other people to make the graphics they want. This is another pitfall for new beginners-- Needing too many graphics. As cesar26100 above me pointed out, it's hard to find someone to do sprite work for you if you're an unproven, random person with only a thread full of promises to show for yourself. Someone like DWaM might be able to say "hey, Dave/Lind/Hessel/SuperAJ, think you could do a sprite for my project? Yes, Athena bleeding from the mouth, drowning the courtroom in blood, please." but not most beginners.

So you have two choices: Ignore the graphics, or learn to make them yourself. Honestly I'm an advocate of both; I think a lot of people who THINK they can't draw/sprite don't realize that art is a learnable skill that takes time and practice. I think it'd be worthwhile to go that route, but if you're not feeling it, then surely you can use MS Paint, draw a circle that reads "Placeholder", and then throw that into the editor for the time being. And hey, getting custom sprites is easier than ever, with AAO's very handy "Random Characters for You to Use" thread. Work around your limits, and focus on what's really important.

At the end of the day, Phoenix isn't clicking on a flowerpot that holds evidence-- You're clicking a pre-selected spot on a screen determined by code, and the rest is finery. Don't have any custom sprites for your defense attorney? Throw up Phoenix Wright, and say that he's acting.

4. Watch Extra Credits.

I don't have much to say here but seriously. If you want to make games, and even if you don't, watch them, they're great.

My personal favorite is this one.

5. Bug Checkers/Beta Testers are Your Friends!

Once you have a playable version of your case up, then it's time to put it to the test before revealing it. This is where you might make a thread, requesting beta-ers, or maybe just shoot someone a PM, though they might not have time. A fresh set of eyes going through your case is exactly what you need to see where things are broken, where you made a typo you forgot about, or to tell you that that key evidence crucial to moving on REALLY needs a more obvious graphic (this one comes from experience). You'll want at least a few people for this, so you know if everyone writes "I presented the evidence and it still failed", then you have a real problem. There's not much else to this, but it will save you a lot of time and make an overall better and more polished product.

6. Don't Write A Series

This is yet another major pitfall I see beginners walk into, and it's probably the biggest one-- the idea that your games should be just like the AA series, when part of the joy of fancases is that it is completely unrestricted by the limits of the game series. For this one, I'm gonna go into two of my failed series: Arthur Frost: Ace Attorney, and Dark Detectives.

Arthur Frost was an uninspired, dull and mostly uninteresting AA fan-series with the only main interesting point being that Arthur was a prosecutor, not a defense attorney, and he had magic eye powers when he moved his stupid hair fringe. I don't really remember where the character came from but he didn't have much to him (his main trait being that he was "inexperienced"), and the story was just "he takes cases and solves the crimes". I hadn't even thought out how the prosecutor mechanics would work! It's not really a wonder that it fell apart. Five cases were promised, and I'd decided on the final boss and rival characters. It's closed and forgotten.

Dark Detectives was a slightly inspired, slightly less uninteresting series that wasn't set in the AA universe but played like AAI. It starred an ECCENTRIC detective and his assistant and they went around solving crimes. There was also a man with a shark head involved. 5 cases promised. One nearly got made. Many characters were announced and even sprited. I even rebooted and retooled it, even bringing in Arthur Frost into the story, before scrapping it for good. Poor Arthur got double-scrapped.

So why did I never finish either of these games? Because I could hardly work my way through one case, let alone 5. A single case is a lot of work for one person, if you want to do it well. And considering that each case gets longer than the last, and likely more complex as well, you start to realize that your fangame isn't the same as an official budgeted project with a staff and creative team all working to complete it. Making fangames is a labor of love; you're not getting paid, you're putting in your own free time, there's no career in it, and you're not even playing to that wide of an audience. You aren't gonna be able to do an escalating five-case game with a dramatic story on your own free time; it's not realistic. But a lot of beginning trial makers set themselves up with this task, and usually only get one or two cases out max. I didn't even get one. And so the pile of abandoned threads grows.

(There IS currently a 5-game series on AAO, made by one person, not of particularly good quality but an amazing experience nonetheless)

But why do so many beginners swear fealty to the AA formula? The game-makers have to because they set a precedent and everyone expects them to. But some of the best AAO cases are completely their own thing, a single mystery that's been polished and produced to the vision of their creator. Stories told with the AA cast that the actual AA crew would never be allowed to write. And just look at the current AAO comp, "Everything Else Online", where the express purpose is to go nuts and produce things with the AA editor that have nothing to do with AA. I'm greatly looking forward to seeing what comes out of that one, and I think it's a great direction for the fangame community to go. Now, if you really WANT to do a series, and are gonna enjoy every single case along the way, then go for it! But most beginners just naturally try to do one, and that usually leads to nothing but trouble.

Ultimately, my point here is twofold:
A. It's better to focus on a single polished case than a whole bunch that might eventually be good.
B. Be free to break and ignore the AA formula.

I think these two points are what lead to some of the best fangames and the coolest stuff that fans produce, and if you were only gonna take one thing from this post I would say that those two lines should be it.

I've had a lot of fun fangaming even if I never did get anything done. I might come back to it someday but I really did want to get all of this off my chest. I really hope it helped and I hope that other fangamers don't fall into the same pits that I did. Pretty much every misstep I've written up there I have personally experienced. This might make fangaming come across as kinda intense, but that's because it kinda is! It's more work than most beginners expect, so I want to let people know early that you should be doing this because you enjoy it. Otherwise it just becomes a bad time.

Anyways thanks for giving me this chance to blab, and I hope you got something remotely useful from this. Good luck with your endeavors!
Re: Making Fan GamesTopic%20Title
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Dracarys!

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Shadowsleuth wrote:
You aren't gonna be able to do an escalating five-case game with a dramatic story on your own free time; it's not realistic.


Oh, it's possible, it's just that it will take years of commitment (yes, years), assuming that each case is fairly sizable.

But yeah, you're definitely right that trying to plan a full series is a huge roadblock to many aspiring casewriters. I'd be a hypocrite if I said you need to start small, but I can confirm that you need a ton of dedication to even plan the outline for a 5 case series, let alone make it.
Re: Making Fan GamesTopic%20Title
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Ya friendly, local neighborhood writer

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I see in your signature you have a tutorial for PyWright. Will it help me with the coding of a game (hypothetically speaking; I'd need an idea and a story already written down)?
Re: Making Fan GamesTopic%20Title
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Dracarys!

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Location: In a courtroom, for some reason

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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:00 pm

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Fennekin210 wrote:
I see in your signature you have a tutorial for PyWright. Will it help me with the coding of a game (hypothetically speaking; I'd need an idea and a story already written down)?


That's the goal. Gp ahead and read it if you're curious.
Re: Making Fan GamesTopic%20Title
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Jacklack3 : A funny guy!

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If you have microsoft office you can download my powerpoint case maker/template!
OBJECTION!
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