How to Convince Strangers to Write Scripts for You

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How to Convince Strangers to Write Scripts for You


Apologia

Scripters, by and large, approach requests wanting to write a script for you. If your request fails to generate a response, you have not just failed to persuade a scripter to accept your request, you have actually persuaded him or her to reject it. The purpose of this tutorial is to teach you how to avoid common pitfalls and write a script request that is more attractive to the average scripter.

Note: this tutorial should only be consulted after you have already searched exhaustively (see: Script Searching Tutorial)


Don't Guidelines Already Exist?

Yes. In the early days of RMXP, when scripting was still a new phenomenon in the RM-o-sphere, it quickly became apparent that there was a massive ravine between what information requesters provide to scripters and what information scripters require in order to fulfill a request. Nowadays, every major forum has tried to address this problem:

However, and despite the use of heavy terms like rules, guidelines, and templates, I still commonly see requests that are stupider than a penguin trying to square dance, and one hundred times less adorable, like:

Quote from: Tragically common request
Hey, I'm really busy right now and don't have time to do this with events, but I was thinking it would be really cool to have a Preternatural Asphyxiation spell like in the Eternal Crystal Tales Of The Magic Fantasy Dragon series. THANKS!

The prescriptive approach simply does not appear to be working, so I propose a principled approach to script requests: the purpose of this tutorial is to hopefully give some insight into how to think about your script requests through the eyes of the scripters you are hunting.


Why does a scripter take requests?

This is important because knowing why a scripter might want to take your request should give you clues as to what to include in a request, as you will see in later sections of this tutorial.

To answer this question, it really requires some consideration of what a scripter's motivation is in taking requests. Since every scripter has different motivations, this is sort of impossible. Still, I think there are some general motivations that are true on some level for all scripters, and these are:
  • Altruism - Scripters are doing work for free; ultimately their goal is to make other people happy.

  • Inspiration - Scripters aren't always the most creative bunch. There are a lot of cool ideas out there that haven't become scripts only because no scripter has thought of it, and so looking through requests is a great source of inspiration when wanting to write a new script.

  • Facilitating Better RPG Maker Use - Scripters want to see their scripts used effectively in cool games.

  • Fun - Scripters enjoy scripting; it's hard work, but it's very rewarding to see your creations come to life.

Of course, these motives overlap; it's usually a combination of all four, and as I said those are only general motivations. Individual scripters may have other motivations. And if you're offering to pay, then that usually trumps these other more noble impetuses, but this tutorial is designed for people who are not offering money, so we can disregard that for now. Keep this list in mind as you read the rest of the tutorial.


Why might a scripter take my request?

Obviously, if the list above were the only factors in deciding if a request is to be fulfilled, then all requests would have an equal chance of being fulfilled and no tutorials or guidelines are necessary. This is not the case. The requests that are most likely to be filled are ones that are designed to appeal to all of those motivations. As such, I will go over each and give specific tips on how to speak to that motivation.

Altruism
  • Be respectful. Don't be rude, don't type in all caps, and don't get upset if nobody is responding. You are asking a stranger to do a favour for you, and any of those attitudes will convince the scripter that you aren't worth helping. When someone does respond, show gratitude.

  • Use the proper board. Scripters looking for a request will look in the Script Request Boards, and likely nowhere else. If you want your request to be seen, post it in the correct board. Links to the script request boards of the major forums is included in a spoiler at the end of this tutorial.

  • Pick a descriptive title. Your title is what any prospective scripter will see first, so you should use it as an opportunity for a good first impression. "READ ME" makes you look like a brat and "Script Request" makes you look like an idiot. Your title should first be tagged with the maker ([VXA], [VX], or [XP], though this step is unnecessary if it is in a board exlusively devoted to one maker). Next you should be concise and descriptive. Instead of "System where items turned into other items," you could say "Crafting" or "Alchemy" or "Item Synthesis" or what have you. You should also avoid the word "Simple" - if you are asking for a script, the chances are good you have no idea whether it is simple or not.

  • Link to other scripts you are using. Scripters want to make sure that you can use the script they write for you. By letting them know what other scripts you are using and where to find them, they can take efforts to ensure compatibility.

Inspiration
  • Describe your idea in detail. Don't leave anything to the imagination of the scripter. No one expects you to know exactly how the code should be written, but you ought to know how the player should experience the script. The scripter always has the ability and knowledge to enhance your idea and add in new options, but you should always let him or her know the minimal requirements of the script in detail.

  • Use visual aids. Mockups of graphical elements or videos showing the system in action in some other game are extremely helpful when a scripter is thinking about how to execute your idea.

Facilitating Better RPG Maker Use
  • Advertise your game. If you can show that you are a competent game maker, then a scripter will be more likely to take your request because they know that their work will be used effectively. As such, a brief reference to the game you intend to use the script in can help, even if all you do is link to the game's topic.

  • Generalize your idea. While you should always clearly delineate the minimum capabilities of the script that you require, it can be a good idea to think of ways that the mechanics of your script could be expanded to serve a wider audience. Scripters want their scripts to be used, and so they will likely be more inclined to make a script that could appeal to 100 people than a very focussed script which could only ever help you. That said, be clear that it is only an option and not a required feature.

  • Use attractive formatting. By making your topic attractive, you signal to the scripter that your request matters to you, which means that his or her work will serve an important and meaningful purpose in your game.

Fun
  • Don't give your scripter homework. Scripters have not played every game in existence, and you do your request an immense disservice whenever you write the words "like Random Game X." For every scripter who has not played Random Game X, that language is the equivalent of: "I am way too busy to tell you what I want. Go search Youtube aimlessly for videos of Random Game X until you stumble across what I'm talking about." You should only ever compare your request to a game to supplement a full description of the system you are requesting, or if you link to a short video that adequately demonstrates what you mean.

  • Describe why your script is cool. Don't just describe what you want the script to do - say why you want it and how the system will make your game more fun, more scary, more challenging, what have you. You want to excite the scripter; he or she should read your request and want to see your system in action.


Why do some of those tips look familiar?

Caught that did you? It's because they mostly correspond to all the rules, guidelines, and templates you have spent so much of your RM life ignoring. My hope is that by tying each tip to the motives that scripters bring to viewing requests, you will begin to realize that those rules are not just red tape to give moderators something to do, but are actually steel jaw-traps that paralyze a scripter long enough for you to convince them your request is worth fulfilling. In fact, following the specific rules set by the forum in which you make your request is also a gesture of respect which signals that you care about your request, so it is also a helpful thing to do.

Now, you may think to yourself - time is precious, so why should I be spending all this time searching for and writing a script request? To that I simply remind you that it may take hours for someone to write a script; why should a stranger be willing to spend more time working on your game than you are willing to spend describing what you need? Frankly, they shouldn't and they won't unless you're very lucky. It is understandable that you might think scripters have all the time in the world when they write rambling and directionless tutorials teaching random strangers how to ask questions, but the truth is they don't; they are just sometimes overtaken by a skewed sense of priorities.

Anyway, I hope this helps. Happy hunting!


Addendum: Please do not be offended that I say nasty things about you in the second person. It is simply a writing style and is not any sort of comment on you personally. I am sure you would never do the nasty sorts of things that I accuse you of doing.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2013, 07:11:52 PM by modern algebra »