I’m Making Pokémon (Fan) Games

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Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Pokémon Essentials, God’s gift to people who dream of making video games, such as myself.

Video games have always been a depressingly large part of my life, stemming to my video game origins as a diaper-wearing baby playing Donkey Kong Country while my father was out of the house. Seeing as it always does, my interest in video games spawns a desire to make my own, and once I learned how they were made many years ago, I realized just how substantially difficult it is to do so. The reason? Coding. Coding is such a rigid and overwhelming monster that likely takes years of self-learning to master. I kick myself every so often for not taking any classes on it at… any point during my required educational years. Coders also have lots of jobs available, too, but that’s besides the point.

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Lo and behold, while searching for some interesting fan games online (spoiler: most are mediocre), I stumbled upon a guy who made a Pokémon game using something called Essentials. Intrigued, I looked into it, and the more I researched, the more the hope and dreams of my youth grew within the dancing vigor of my mature soul. I can actually do this! All that coding and such, it’s all taken care of. I just need to tell it what to do through trial and error. I can learn! I can make games! That is, only Pokémon games, but hey, better than nothing.

So I spent the twenty-five bucks on RPG Maker XP and did all the intro work to get Essentials set up. I must say, starting that thing up for the first time, it was overwhelming. I had so many buttons and sprites and events at my disposal. I didn’t know where to start! And fuck was it rough when I actually got into it, too. Environments were messy and uneven, events repeated over and over because I wasn’t used to control switches at that point. For a better portion of my time, I just fucked around with the intro sequence and glitched it to hell. Even when it’s me doing it, it’s still amusing to me to see swear words in a Pokémon game.

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Though I didn’t go in totally blind. I ended up using a super helpful guide-series on Youtube by a guy named Thundaga, who currently has forty-five videos dedicated to specific events in Pokémon Essentials that I learned so much from. Even when I’m working on it now, if I come across a problem and don’t know how to fix it, his videos are my go-to, not the wiki on Essentials. I wasted spent numerous hours pouring through every video, sucking in as much info as I could to get a hang of it. If anyone else is interested in starting up Essentials, I’d recommend his videos; hell, I’d require them.

My experience so far has been really good! I’m currently in the process of making a simple test game for the sake of getting my feet wet for bigger games in the future. Things I’ve learned from all this consist of two things:

  1. Game-making is really, really, really, really, really, really time-consuming.
  2. Game-making is really, really, really, really, really, really fun.

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The first is pretty self-explanatory, but the process of inputting all the commands, all the events, testing to make sure they work, editing pre-existing sprites to create new ones, thinking of how to progress things, designing towns and environments, and everything else eats up hours like election campaigns eat up money. I can be editing various objects to display text upon action trigger for a small room and suddenly forty minutes have passed! It’s almost shocking to realize how much time flies by while doing this; really gives me a new appreciation for those who patiently wait for updates from constant creators.

And it’s just fun. I’ve had a blast experimenting with all sorts of things and looking back on completed maps while thinking, “I fuckin’ made this.” The sheer amount of creativity I can expend doing all this is nearly limitless, and with the already present passion for video games and the preserved desire for making them only adds to the time spent on it everyday. It’s seriously starting to affect my work, guys! I’m kind of addicted!

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Though I’m sure anyone reading this could figure this out without me saying so, the images provided in this post come directly from my test map. I wanted to show off the type of things I’m capable of creating while I’m just starting off, and also serving as a starting point for hopefully bigger and better things to come. If anyone would be interested—though this will be far into the future—I can also provide download links to future games if anyone wanted to try them out, or updates on “currently-making” games. For now, this post is dedicated to those who have found the ambition to do something they’ve always dreamed of. Keep searching.

Info on Pokémon Essentials.

3 thoughts on “I’m Making Pokémon (Fan) Games

  1. This was an inspiring post.

    You know, I feel like the real reason you need to understand coding to make games is that someone has to code it and that’s sort of the “hardest skill” you need to have to be able to understand what works and what doesn’t. But at the end of the day, the designers and the coders aren’t necessarily always the same people, and I feel like they may not usually be of similar skillsets. I wonder how many creative people are out there who don’t wanna get into games because coding is sort of a nightmare (it was for me, at least), but otherwise have a lot of great ideas for creating games.

    I mean you have people like Isao Takahata, who from my understanding just sort of fell into directorial work for anime from studying French Literature (or something like that). The vast majority of people who end up in that position are talented animators who were immersed in the “technical” aspect of their medium at some point, but people like Takahata suggest that kind of thing isn’t always necessary.

    Comparing coding and animating is sort of a tricky task though. On one hand they’re both incredibly difficult in their own ways, but they’re both highly technical skills.

    And of course you always have problems where directors and team manager’s don’t understand that a feature can’t be implemented a certain way or something like that, but I feel that’s more of an issue of management than experience in the technical aspect of the work. I think it IS possible to be the creative force behind something without necessarily engaging in its “production” at the most technical level.

    I guess at the end of the day it has to be coded in, but it’s stuff like this that sort of gives me hope that the untapped creativity of the code-avoidant majority of passionate gamers can get in there and make something great.

    I’d like to see some of the specific stuff you’ve made. I don’t think I have time to get into making this myself, but I’m curious about what you’re able to do and your future projects!

  2. You write for a living, and now code for hobby.
    I code for a living, and now write for hobby.

    No wonder we are polar opposites.

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