I’m not what you’d call an expert developer. Hell, I’m hardly a developer as is. I only know basic coding for games, and I generally work with premade engines like RPG Maker and such so I only have to worry about the game itself. Even so, I find that developing a game, especially as a solo developer, has been a whole chore in itself.
For well over a year, I’ve been using RPG Maker MV to create a story-driven fantasy RPG called The Crystal’s Tale. This game is inspired by the plot of the first novel I have ever written and maintains the original concept while taking the many things I’ve learned over the past 17 years as an author into consideration. And in that past year, I have completed the Prologue chapter, and as of this article being written, I am still not done with Chapter One.
It’s not like what I’ve created is short, either. For only being the prologue and first chapter, the game has quite a bit of substance to it, lasting almost four hours long counting the duration of the optional dungeon. (Even then, the optional dungeon takes up about an hour or less depending on when you choose to go in.) But still, for how long I’ve been working on it, you would expect that I would be a little further along in the process. That’s what I assumed, at least. That’s a long time to be working on a game.
But of course, there are more factors in this process than have been accounted for. Life events and changes, work, other creative endeavors (I’m an author first and foremost, so the game comes secondary to my writing work), the list goes on. However, even if you take those out of the way, I still probably wouldn’t have been finished with the first chapter yet. Why is that? Because of the work that goes into making a game by yourself.
When you’re a solo developer, you are the whole dev team. You’re the writer, the programmer, the artist, the music composer, the director, the producer, and so much more, even when using an engine as simple and easy to use as RPG Maker. RPG Maker has some amazing artwork, music, and sound effects built into the engine, which are amazing as placeholders or if you just want to make a game with the default assets. I’m using the art in the engine for now since doing all my art for this game that will potentially last 30-80 hours would take much longer, and I want the base game finished before I do all of that.
However, there is something I am doing that impedes my progress, and that is composing every single track in the game.
I have a background in music. Nothing extensive; I took four months of music theory, eight years of choir, a couple years of musical theatre, and I’ve been experimenting in music composition since I was 14 years old. And as a fan of video game music, developing my own game and putting my own music in it sounds ideal. But with this, the problem lies with the fact that I want the soundtrack to have a unique song for almost every situation. I even want the main battle theme to change every time you start a new chapter. Doing this, though, results in me stopping the progress of my game for weeks, sometimes months, until I get the music I want written. That’s just how my work flow has been, since I’m not always in the mood to work on my music.
With that being said, it will likely take plenty of time for me to get this game finished, especially as a solo developer who is way too determined to make sure the soundtrack is as good as can be. However, I am excited to share it with you guys. I plan on releasing it completely for free to the public once it is finished, and I will provide updates here! If you are familiar with RPG Maker and have any suggestions or tips or anything, feel free to let me know!
Here are some samples of the game’s soundtrack so far!