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Room for Improvement

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Author: Stick
Posted on 08/02/2004
A brief lesson in basic English.


As RPG Makers -- and, more recently, game developers -- we're constantly looking for ways to improve our technique. What a lot of us don't realize, though, is the potential for vast improvement -- to professional standards, even -- lies very close to home.

Most of the video game making community attends high school. If you look in the right direction, that just may be the place where you'll get the training that'll give your game the edge it needs.

Here's some tips on how to extract game-making knowledge from everyday boring school life.

English Class

Spelling errors, incorrect punctuation, bad grammar -- all of these can be remedied in high school. If you submit book reviews, term papers, or write ups of any sort, ask your teacher to give it heavy criticism in red ink. By doing this, you'll identify your literary weak points and be able to improve upon them. The ability to convey a clear, precise, and correctly punctuated message is not common amongst hobbyist game makers. Having that ability will give you an edge over the seemingly retarded competition and will make the dialogue in your game of professional quality.

The literary side of English class also is a must. You have to learn the elements of foreshadowing, irony, character establishment, etc. These are essential to making a colorful and vibrant story line of published quality.

Read fiction books. Learn how these authors establish plot, create moods, and sculpt their characters.

History Class

One of the greatest RPGs of all times was based upon European history: Final Fantasy Tactics. Within this game, we see the struggles of church vs. state; a common fight in historic Europe. History's twists, turns, and diabolical schemes can provide you with the creative insight to make a believable fantasy world of your own.

Examine how empires operate. Memorize war terms and dialogue. Study famous battles and learn the key to their winners' victories and losers' defeats. Research the economic struggles the feudal world faced as a whole during times of peace and war.

On of the best historic studies is the fascinating science of castle building. Just learning why they were built, how they were built, and what functions they performed can give you the ability to create a realistic environment. Your castle town can be a few buildings with a brick wall around it, sure. With some research and know-how, though, you'll be equipped to make it a bustling fortress of economic, political, and military activity.

Geography can be a boring subject, but it has its usefulness. Learning how geographical positions affect war, commerce, and basic ways of life can further polish your fantasy world's integrity. If your history/geography teacher is good, they'll also teach you how the weather comes into play throughout history and how it has completely turned the tides of major events. One of the most interesting elements of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II was the weather. The geographical climate presented new obstacles and challenges for our hero's to face, and it can do the same in your game.

Algebra, Geometry, and Math

If you plan on doing any custom coding, you're going to need the basics of these subjects memorized. Pay attention to the formulas -- especially algebraic ones. Complex variable systems consisting of multiple algorithms are enough to boggle your mind if you haven't had any math training.

On another note, if you're having trouble with math in your custom system or coding, have your math teacher look it over with you. You'd be surprised how eager they are to help when it comes to mathematics applied to real-world situations you actually are interested in.


School can prepare you for lots of stuff out in the fabled "real world." At least that's what they tell you while you're in it for 12 years. But, as you can see, it also can give you valuable insight that your game otherwise would be crap without. Read, learn, ask questions. You'll get pretty far that way.