RPG Notes

Notes on Creating an RPG (or any game)

These are things that I have found that have helped me stay sane while designing Shaman. Since Shaman is still in development this tutorial is a work in progress, I’ll add more notes as I come up with them.


  • Play a lot of games. Keep a mental list of what you like and dislike in games.
  • Plan. You don’t have to plan every last detail but know what you want to accomplish in your game.
  • Research. Game design sites aren’t the only place to look. Try sites about tabletop RPGs, fiction writing, and art in the genre your game is in (like fantasy or sci-fi).


  • Keep you interface consistent. You message window, menus, etc. should have the same look.
  • Use appropriate graphics. If your graphics don’t go with your game’s theme it won’t work. See my tutorial on choosing game graphics.


  • Storyline drives the game. This is especially true in RPGs if your plot is boring and cliched it won’t be fun to play.
  • Storyboard or write a script for important parts of the game. This mainly applies to cut scenes since the player decides most other things.
  • Give you characters personality. A flat character isn’t fun to play.
  • Naming. Stay away from character names like Locke and Zidane that have been used before in famous RPGs. Either make up names, give them fairly normal names (Sarah, Joe, etc.) or use historical/ethnic names. This site has many names from different historical periods and cultures. You can also find some random name generators online as well.
  • Mythology. Stick to one. If it’s a viking setting stick to the norse gods don’t throw one in from greek mythology, or better yet make up your own.
  • Make a world map. You don’t have to have it in your game but you should have one for reference purposes while making your boards and planning your story.
  • Develop backgrounds for your characters. You don’t need there lifestory but basics, age, gender, appearance, occupatiuon, are they human?, motivation for joining the party, are the married or single, any children?, rough childhood or spoiled nobility, any info that would add to the gameplay. You want players to like and identify with your characters.


  • Not all players are of the same level. Don’t make a game that only the best players can win. You’ll drive away most players in frustration.
  • Play test. You need to have other people play your game to test it. this could be friends, family, people online in a closed beta, etc. They will be more objective and find the flaws in your design.
  • Spice up your NPCs. Make some be funny, shy, worried. Don’t make them always say the same thing. There is a wonderful article on NPCs at GameDev.
  • Consistency. If one menu is cursor based there shouldn’t be another one that is mouse based and vice versa. Keep this in mind for everything in your game.

I'm a sculptor and jewelry designer from Maine, I sell my work at Noadi.etsy.com. I work primarily in polymer clay and mixed media. My work is inspired by science, nature, and my beloved cephalopods.

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