My First Videogame: Rainbow Bears’ Playtime

Download from my Dropbox: it’s 200MB so if you’re on a very slow connection you may want to let it download while you read.

A while back, through the wallet-walloping magic of one of those snazzy Steam sales, I got myself a fancy digital copy of RPG Maker VX Ace. And when I say “a while back,” I mean I’m trying to work out whether it was more or less than a year ago. My first attempts at using it did not fare well and I sort of gave up for a while.

But significantly less than a year ago, I heard about a talk at my university on the subject of writing for videogames. And I figured, well, that’s not entirely new to me, but wouldn’t it be great to go into that talk with more experience than “additional story input” and a handful of Twine stories? So I ditched the sprawling fantasy RPGs, I gave up on the fiddly ALICE contamination mechanics, and I started putting together something simple. Not with the aim of making the best game I possibly could, but purely to construct something, start-to-finish, in a manageable space of time.

And that's exactly what I should have done to begin with.

And that’s exactly what I should have done to begin with.

Rainbow Bears’ Playtime is not a masterwork of videogame design, but it’s by far the most playable thing I’ve come up with so far. As White Bear, a recent arrival in the Rainbow Bears’ Playground, you have to complete quests to solve the other bears’ problems and make new friends.

Orange BearThis system of quests—sometimes interrelated, but not sequential—was a huge part of what made this manageable. It wasn’t even about organising the thing (though it was a relief to know that changing one variable would usually not wreck every single quest). It was about being able to tackle the game in chunks, letting me test individual bits in isolation and see real progress being made.

Green Bear's House

That said, I’m still very much learning the ropes and so any advice would be great. To play the game, download the installer, then run it. It’ll extract everything you need into a folder called “Rainbow Bears.” Inside that folder, double-click the file with the icon of a red dragon’s head. It’s named “Game.”

Folder

Just ignore the three other “Game” files that RPG maker puts in there.

If for whatever reason you don’t see the dragon icon, that “Game” file is the only .exe in that particular folder. The much more likely looking “Game” file with the bear is what I wanted to be an icon, but for some reason isn’t. If anybody happens to know how to do that properly, I would be extremely grateful.

Once you’re in the game itself, controls are very straightforward. The arrow keys move you around, holding shift moves you around faster, and Enter/Space interact with people and objects. Note that by holding space and moving you can drag or push objects: this is essential for a couple of quests. It was also one of the trickier features to implement, so be sure to give it a go!

Anyway, there it is: my first game. It may be short, but having finished this one I’m confident I’ll be able to manage something more ambitious in future.

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