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SoulHow to make a more successful fangame

August 27, 2008

Skill Level: N/A

What do you think is the most frequently made fangame?  Mario?  Sonic?  Megaman?  Nope, you’re wrong.  The most frequently made fangames, are bad ones.  And sadly, these poorly-made fangames’ reputations tend to rub off onto other fangames and shoot their chances as well.

I really don’t care about original vs. fangame; all I care about is whether a game is good, and I’m sure most of you will agree with me if you truly think about it.  Seriously, who out there has played, for example, Hard Hat 3 by Damaged, and disliked it because it was unoriginal?  The real deal breaker is (should be) the game’s quality.  If you find yourself disliking a fangame only because it’s unoriginal, you should think be thinking a little harder.

And with that said, I will now write something more like what you were expecting in a SoulHow article: how to get your fangame more successful.  This doesn’t mean matching the original game to the T, but making different levels and bosses.  Actually, it involves a number of things.

Either use all ripped graphics, or all custom graphics. Never mix styles. If you are one of those rare talented artists out there who can draw in the exact style of the original game, then go ahead and do that. But if not, mixed graphic styles (think…32 bit megaman sprites used with Microsoft Clipart *shudders*) can really kill the game. The point of fangames is to allow the player to think they are playing another installment by the original company. This doesn’t mean the game should be exactly similar, but the graphics need to not scream “I’M A TEENAGER AND I MADE THIS IN GAME MAKER!”

Game Physics
This is really, really, REALLY important. You don’t want a perfect clone but if you’re using the same characters, their base physics MUST BE THE SAME (or as close as possible). I don’t want to be playing a sonic fangame and have hive accelerate to full speed in half a second. The real Sonic takes about 5-8 seconds to fully accelerate.

If you can’t get the physics to match, or if you just don’t want to, consider introducing a new, made up or previously unplayable character into the fangame and use him as the main character. Damaged did this with Hard Hat (see above) and TechnoSuperguy also did an excellent job with this in his Sonic fangame, Techno the Hedgehog.

One exception to this rule, is if you’re attempting to give the character a new ability or action to serve for originality.  Everything else should stay the same, though.

Hay guyz chek out mai noo levelzz!!
This is one of the annoying things about fangames.  A fangame can be good, a perfect match, etc. etc., but if it’s too good a match, things will get boring real quick.  If someone wanted to play a perfect clone of megaman 2, they would have played the real megaman 2.  If someone wanted to play a game that’s like Megaman 2, but wanted something different that will still be intriguing (as most would), they would play Hard Hat: The Rebellion.

So that brings me to this next point: Make something different about your game.  Let megaman shoot upwards, or give him some sort of shield, etc.  Or maybe Sonic dies somehow and you have to play as Metal Sonic.  Just mix it up a bit, and remember, if someone wants to play a literal clone of <insert game name here>, they would literally play <insert game name here>.

Take the road less traveled
I think many would agree with me when I say I’ve played tons of Sonic fangames, pokemon fangames, etc.  Unless you really have something brilliant and new to bring to the table, branch out a bit, and make fangames based off of little-known games of the past.  It’s like instant originality, though your using someone else’s idea.  Think about it a bit, it’ll make sense.

Try games like “Crystal Caves”, “Whacky Wheels”, “Chrono Trigger”, “SoulBlazer”, etc.  But make sure the game has a particular identifiable quality to it, otherwise you’re better off making a game with original characters because people won’t notice the fangame-ness anyways.  It’ll just be a game you say comes from some game you played in the past.

Being thick skinned
You must always be thick skinned when posting a fangame.  The first few replies are usually “OMG AWESOMEZ”, are then you start getting a few more useful replies.  After that though, you’ll find a hoard of people with their “WTF FANGAME” comments, their pitchforks of originality, and their torches of…wizardry.  Sorry, haven’t said it in a while.

These people are to be ignored.  Completely.  As in, don’t even respond to them unless they have something else useful to say.  Aside from the fact that they’re obviously jealous and/or not thinking right, comments like this serve no purpose except (if you take the bait) to put you down and make them “look good” for defending originality.  What are you going to do, say, “Okay, I’ll take down all my hard work because this guy says fangames are shameful/stupid/retarded/whatever.”?  Hard work is hard work.  Fun is fun.  And to anyone who disagrees, I respectfully say, get over it.

Bottom Lines
Here’s a recap of everything we went over.

  • Make sure the graphics match, one way or another.
  • Aside from new weapons and abilities given for fangame originality, game physics must be the same for original characters.
  • Don’t just make new levels for a pre-existing game; add something new or people will just play the pre-existing game.
  • Look for fangames very rarely made over Sonic and Pokemon.
  • Be thick-skinned against fangame-haters.  There are a lot of them out there (though hopefully, not as much as people-who-love-games-no-matter-what-as-long-as-they’re-fun-people), and they WILL post in your thread if it gets popular enough.
Good luck with your fangames.  I expect to see some higher quality games in the near future.

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