A while ago, I made a short series about how not to make a Yume Nikki fangame. It wasn’t that good and not only did I write it in a condescending way, I basically set up readers to set their goals low from jump street, creating impossible conditions to satisfy. Instead of a full do-over of that, I’ll be talking with broad strokes, and mainly try to focus on that general area of games still (adventure games) but talking in a bit more of a food-for-thought way than a “do this or else your game will suck” way. Think of it as some thinks to think about as you make your game, whether it’s a straight Yume Nikki clone, or something else completely (detective sim?)
Think about the unique features of your development environment. Do you use RPG Maker? Be mindful of your resolution and work with it, not against it, to achieve the best results. RM2k/3 is great for SNES or MSX looks. Design the art in a way that works with the fidelity and colour gamut that the engine or maker is capable of. If you’re not a fan of the colour gamut limitations or the very low resolution, choose a different engine. Bear in mind the amount of control your environment gives you, too—scratch coders will always have the most control, but you can match them with clever tricks!
Think about the premise of your game. Is it to tell a story? To immerse the player in a unique and foreign environment? Think about how the environment is opened up to the player. Think about how to convey the story. Would the player feel as if they’ve gotten this storyline before? Are they getting enough information to process into thoughts about the game’s events? Add as much interest as you can. Having everything be examinable is not a bad thing for some people, and those who don’t like it can simply avoid it. It should be fun filling in details and giving your players insight into the character’s thought process, or the world, or some combination of those!
If you’re making a derivative work to any degree, think about how much of a service you do to yourself and players by making it your own. Miserere used Yume Nikki as a jumping-off point to send players on a strange adventure, familiar and yet completely foreign. You can succeed making your work closer to the original, but it becomes more difficult to be noticed for making such a creation as time goes on and you find yourself rushing to keep up with everyone else. Good clones do exist, such as Yume 2kki, Ultra Violet, and Someday. They all have many elements of the original work, but they also add some big new elements that identifies them and makes them stand out. Whatever your decision, don’t be afraid to break the mold—you could create a standout piece.
Start a blog or set up a social media presence, brand your work, and communicate with your future players. You can also use this opportunity to network with other developers, share tips, and learn from them. Don’t go too crazy and blog every single progress point—while it is exciting to finish a sprite, fans will be disappointed if a game never appears. Use your best judgment.
That’s all for now, in later posts I’ll be tackling more specific advice.
Part I | Part II