Update: This devlog is now released as an Auditory Devlog, so you auditory learners can listen instead, too!
So I’ve been crunching numbers. I’ve run estimations at printing shops here in Japan and the US. For 200 copies of a 200-page, full color paperback, I was looking at roughly $4,500 JUST to print them. And that’s not including shipping, regardless of on-demand, or me, handling shipping myself.
Which got me thinking. From a financial standpoint, if I’m going to be spending thousands of dollars to print a book, why not use that money to, say, buy art (sprites, maps, backgrounds, assets, tilesets, GUI), audio (sound effects and a full soundtrack), and RPG Maker MV Plugins, and make a game instead?
Let it be known! JRPG Japanese: A Language Learning Adventure! will NOT be released as a textbook, but as an ACTUAL RPG!!
This is a HUGE announcement, and a HUGE change in the way I plan. As of today, I’m a solo writer with one illustrator and one map-maker. This is my own project, and I can decide where to put my money at the end of the day. While I thought about the perks of game development vs writing a book, many of the ideas I had before actually started falling into place better!
To name a few, I have an entire excel dedicated to different activities or pop-quiz-like ideas I was going to include in the book. Now, I’m thinking (and have began to consult a programmer) on how I can make them ACTUAL mini-games, battles, or puzzles for you heroes to solve.
Perks of game (vs book):
- Because there’s no limit to the amount of copies available if it’s digital download, it’d be accessible to more people.
- If I think of a better way to teach something, it’s only an update away. No need to print new versions to keep my Japanese lessons accurate and up-to-date.
- I can add new dialogue scenarios via game updates as I think of them. If there’s a bit of extra dialogue or vocab I might’ve wanted to teach post-launch, I can add it in.
- If I decide to localize my game into another language (wholly dependent on budget), it would be a MUCH easier process than having to reprint an entirely new book.
- Potentially, I could have voice overs so you can HEAR the Japanese while you read it. (Note: This is NOT within my budget right now, and I’m not making any promises with voice acting.)
- I can connect better to my heroes this way, by teaching them GAMING JAPANESE while they play a GAME IN JAPANESE (and English, of course – never fear)!
Downsides of game (vs book)
- I had many writing assignments planned in book format that I’ve had to do away with.
- If I’m green-lighted and make it to the store, Steam takes 30% of all my sales. Not to mention any other promotions they do or returns they handle would be income out of my control. If I self-published a book of my own, and handled all sales and shipping on my own, I would get 100% of my sales. (I’ve heard that itchi.io allows me 100% of sales, but I haven’t done a ton of research on product distribution yet.)
- Not having something physical to study from. This may be a personal preference, but I did always enjoy a good book to work out of.
What JRPG JAPANESE WON’T be:
- It won’t be a printed book.
- It won’t include character creation.
- It won’t have multiple endings.
- It won’t have voice acting. (At least, it isn’t planned or budgeted for at the moment!)
- It won’t have a traditional RPG battle system.
What JRPG JAPANESE WILL be:
- It will be an RPG made from RPG Maker MV.
- It will be an educational game that teaches Japanese language.
- It will contain original graphics and music made by artists around the web.
- It will have one, complete story with a full cast of characters.
- It will contain dialogues in both English and Japanese. The Japanese will use kanji with furigana, katakana, and hiragana for Japanese language learners of all levels.
As I get further along into my RPG Maker MV skills, I’m starting to notice RPG Maker’s potential of what I CAN do and what may be difficult to accomplish. I’ve come into the RM community with lots of ideas, but since I’m still very new to it, your patience and support is greatly appreciated, heroes!
It’s been a long-time pipedream of mine to write an oldschool RPG start to finish. This is a legit dream come true. …If not MEGA intimidating, learning from zero game programming knowledge or RM knowledge, for that matter.
My future Devlog posts may be very brief. They might contain new plugins I’ve figured out in RPG Maker. They might contain new story or character developments for JRPG Japanese. They might contain new education Japanese tidbits during research. Either way, I will be sure to keep you all posted with the progress of JRPG Japanese!
In the meantime, take care, heroes!