This was Doc’s reaction in “Back to the Future” when he saw his time machine working. This format is reminiscent of something similar… But we’re not going to talk about Martin McFly’s journey into the past in Zemeckis’s film, but about a journey into the past in the field of RPG Horror (a current that we’ll summarise, for convenience, HOR-RPG) by retracing their history that began, about a little less than ten years ago.
Why don’t we extend this talk to titles created on RPG Maker in general?
From the very first titles released, the RPG Maker Horror genre has very different from other games made with the same tool for types of textures, characters, styles, and general personality of the title so much that, seeing the tool, at times we did not believe that those atmospheres that we saw in those games had been developed with a tool made mainly for fantasy video games.
But let’s look back for a moment some periods of this tool, which has been around since 1997 in Japan.
For the analysis of more or less all periods we recommend first of all an article of the site pcgamer.com and if the reader is interested, Ele also had the opportunity to analyze the history of RPG Maker better.
Here, we “fly” directly to the period from 2007 until 2016.
In 2007 RPG Maker VX was released with Degica as publisher, which better shaping the community by giving forums, putting the entire series on Steam and other beautiful operations… But he also created RTPs. Degica’s intentions were purely dictated by necessity:in the early periods of RPG Maker up to VX they plundered resources from other games and adapted to the tool, but these “Run Time Packages” (default resources integrated in the program) created a real scourge in the VX period and also VX Ace, with out-of-control developers who put on the Steam Greenlight,also paid, games all the same with the same types of all the same.
For this reason RPG Maker began to have a visible bad reputation.
But, in our opinion, a current has always partly saved the program (especially at this critical stage) even before this wave of titles.
Since Yume Nikki back in 2004, the Japanese horror RPG has always had an extra edge and was almost always acclaimed by the general public,stimulating interest in the tool.
We ourselves, until we went into the community, we didn’t even know about RPG Maker’s bad reputation, and we just thought “wow, this program created X.”
In short, for us the current HOR-RPG was also important in the history of the program because it was able to create an imprint in the general gaming landscape using RPG Maker.
Well, all this will also help us in writing and comparing with normal reviews…
- In the Back To The Future format will be present the games, analyzed differently from normal reviews, which have had a great influence in the current RPG Horror,helping to define an image-type. To give a quick example, beyond the now classic Ib, among the games of Uri the one that had the most influence in the current and therefore in the general public was “The Crooked Man”, not “Paranoiac” or “The Boogie Man”. This means that this title could appear in the address book, the others could not.
So how will we analyze these titles? How do we prioritize them like this?
– Sometimes it may include research and analysis of the history of the game since its creation to distribution, but in most cases it will be analyzed (often due to data deficiencies) the impact that it has had on the public – large public – and in what context it was launched . We talk about “big audiences” when we mean all those kinds of viewers or players who have nothing to do with the RPG Maker community, who often don’t even know what this tool is. The audience then becomes for us a measure of the impact of the work in the “external world”, analyze what types of fandom are born from the titles that have become an icon of the current, then become in some cases real media phenomenon, and in the next point we will try to understand also the reason.
– Or as you might define, the identification of a line of recognition
Thermometer of professionalism
a) Packaging – Distribution of the title. Was there a search for the target? From what you can guess it?
b) Author-work relationship – Is it possible to profile the author? Is it a single person or a team? How can you define your relationship with the work, is there an emotional connection or a complete detachment?
c) Work defects – What kind are they? Can they be considered serious or not?
Ouch. Yes, yes, I see some of you twisting your nose on the third point. Yes, how do we judge the professionalism of others?
A self-goal on our part, a hypocritical move, since becoming active content producers we would make accusations that we could backfire perhaps more than the reviews.
Let us give you a good explanation: with “professionalism” we DO NOT intend to talk about the production capacity of the authors.
First of all, for a long time the current of HOR-RPG was nothing more than a small part of the larger production of indie games, often found randomly on the web (citing a post by a dedicated Facebook group: “The pleasure of descover”). With these types of games normally the exceptional cases that manage to actually achieve a wide impact at the media level are few (we mention the case “Undertale” or already mentioned in a review, “Doki Doki Literature Club”). Normally you play these titles for relaxation, you do not bother to develop meters of judgment because expectations are relatively low.
Yet nowadays we are seeing changes, and we are not only referring to the latest reboots (those could be reviewed but not covered in the heading) or the games that are becoming paid.
The possibilities that have opened up to some (such as the “Pocket Mirror” team that made their fortune from that game and now seems to be distributing a title on Playstation), or teams that produce titles with a certain assignment in order to sell them at a certain price and develop merchandising and high degree of distribution with other media and consoles (see case of Angels of Death) we seem the case to start to take stock of the situation: both titles come proudly introduced in the current “RPG Horror”, in which years ago Ib (but perhaps before Yume Nikki and Ao Oni) saw the introduction of the media boom and then with Fummy (author of The Witch’s House) and Sen (author of Misao and Mad Father) were thrown the characteristics that defined the genre.
We are talking about interesting possibilities born from the “simple production of RPG Maker titles”, considered among the easiest video game production tools to use.
You must know, dear reader, that the very first review we made was about a game developed on RPG Maker (it wasn’t the current horror) that you intended to bring to the shelves – as far as you could guess –. So the big question we’re going to look for answers to is this:
Is the RPG Maker universe really relegated to the phenomenon of authorship? Or could you invest in a new market?
From “Les cahiers du cinéma” to “Les quatre-cent coupes”
This might answer the question more generally: Why do you criticize and review other games?
In the history of cinema where the new criteria put by the French critics have contributed to the birth of a new way of looking at cinema: as art. Often the same critics have become film authors, this in a context in which cinema was seen as a mere industry, in which, according to some historians, it was not aimed at achieving a high level of expression.
Well, we are obviously not in a similar context, we know that we are talking about totally different realities. However, we want to find a similarity to the situation we are talking about: precisely because this current like others has worn for a long time the costume of amateurism – although we believe that it is the one that, of titles produced with this tool, has been closer to the general public–, now that costume is crumbling to make room for a market identity.
If a market is to be created in which to invest, what we hope is that we, as spectators and players, will all be ready to receive it.
– For our first review we payed homage to our sources of inspiration, among these we cannot fail to mention, given the different critical spirit that we try to implement, Flame88tongue, which develops excellent critical speeches on animated films.