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August 3, 2011 / jwaxo

RPG Maker 2000 (Camping)

You’ve gotta have blue hair.

I went on my first camping trip when I was two weeks old. As legend goes, my parents bundled me in a blanket, placed me into a cardboard box, piled into the off-white minivan with a maroon interior that graced our garage for many years and drove to Montana to meet my dad’s family (who met us from North Dakota). There I was dubbed “little sausage” by my grandpa, because I apparently looked like one.

I have no idea idea about the cardboard box. I’m pretty sure we owned cribs. Maybe they weren’t convenient for camping, I don’t know.

In any case, that was not the last time I would go camping. Oh, no. Far from it. I like to tell people that I went camping once a month until I graduated from high school; this is an exaggeration. The once-a-month thing only started when I joined Boy Scouts in the sixth grade. Of course, we went camping enough in the summer to make up for it. Camping trips to visit family, camping trips to see canyons, camping trips just for the fun of it. One summer I came home from the last day of school to see the car being loaded up with coolers, ready for us to go off into the forest. On the first day of summer vacation!

I never really saw the fun of it. My parents liked to tease me, joking that I would bring the family computer camping with us if I could. By the time we upgraded to a fifth-wheel from a pop-up trailer and got actual electrical outlets I realized that this dream was unrealistic; they would never allow it.

I dreamt, though.

What is the appeal of camping? This is only somewhat hypothetical, as I have had a few pleasurable camping experiences. Normally these happen when I go off exploring on my own or with a friend, hiking sticks in hand. Then we wouldn’t be hiking, we would be exploring the wilderness, looking out for velociraptors and wild Pokémon and such. Then the trails wouldn’t be boring paths to trudge along but hidden roads to adventurous discoveries, possibly populated with wild travelers and mysterious salesmen that would offer you medallions for an unusual price–an arm or your singing voice or such.

These times were few and far between, of course. The rest of camping would be doing dishes the hard way. Playing cards and dominoes with our mom was always guaranteed, as she loves games of that nature and camping was the best excuse for it.

Boy Scouts, as I said, only upped my camping rate and made me even more miserable. At first it was because I was on the low end of the totem pole and camping meant being bossed around by older Scouts, teasing, even more horrible weather, ancient tents, even worse cooking, and this pressing urge to fulfill “requirements” and “act Scoutly”. Then I grew up and eventually reached the top of the totem pole and found out that it didn’t make things easier or more fun in any way. Now you were just bored with all of the things you’d been doing for years and were responsible for a group of little, annoying kids.

Annoying kids who couldn’t get a tent together to save their life.

Relief always came from stupid imaginary games I would play. These stupid games only became easier to play when I discovered RPG Maker.

I distinctly remember seeing an ad for it in my brother’s Playstation magazine one year way, waaaaaaaay back, but I brushed it off as it was just for Playstation. Then in middle school a kid who I hardly knew entrusted me with, yet again, a floppy disc with software contraband on it. Ah, yes: this was RPG Maker 2000.

The 2000 made it cool.

I didn’t really know what an RPG was except that it was almost kind of like Pokémon: you had a bunch of characters who all got experience points the more bad guys they killed. I had played Final Fantasy briefly by this point, on the emulator on the middle school computers, but it glitchy enough that I stopped after about five minutes. But RPG Maker 2000 changed how I viewed RPGs entirely.

No longer were they this stupid genre where there was a battle going on that you didn’t directly have control over. Instead they became a nuanced, detailed art, carefully crafted with exciting story, dialogue, and encounters to make an engaging experience. And I was firmly backstage, realizing just how difficult it was to create a balanced RPG.

This was also fundamentally different from my other game creation experiences: instead of having to craft the game engine and everything by hand, it was all there: the tile system, the experience system, the battle system. I could even use pre-made graphics if I wished. All I had to do was decide how it all worked together. And so I would spend hours creating an interesting world that was fun to explore, mazes and interlocking paths and tiny villages that captured my imagination (and hopefully any players).

Suddenly my camping trips were all seen in a new light. Instead of a boring hike I could look around the world and take mental notes on what was interesting, what created a cool effect, what made a place exciting and fun. I would make sketches of the sight of a campsite just coming into view from behind a tree, or a worn bridge over a waterfall. I realized that all experiences are valuable, no matter how boring they may seem at first: it can come in use in the weirdest of places.

Then we would go home and I would promptly forget everything I had seen in my first shower. Camping was so lame.

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5 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. zpte / Aug 6 2011 3:58 PM

    Dreaming about a grand, wacky ideas are so difficult to implement in RPG Maker. The engine and your skills limit your ideas becoming reality.

    • jwaxo / Aug 6 2011 4:19 PM

      Ha! I see you mostly review RPG Maker games. I would consider you an expert on what you can and cannot do in it, then.

      • zpte / Aug 7 2011 7:57 AM

        Not at all, reviewing RPG Maker games does not make me an experienced at RPG making at all, in fact, I haven’t been coding in that for ages now (although I do know the intermediary stuff). I was just talking from experience. :P

  2. zpte / Aug 7 2011 7:58 AM

    -an*

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