Wednesday, June 5, 2019

How to Publish an RPG Maker Game on Steam

Test Your Deployment

Deploy your game for any of the platforms you want to release your game for. Go to File > Deployment and select the appropriate PC platform. You can click Exclude unused files, but you might need to copy some files into your deployment folder later if it mistakenly excludes any files that you need.



Once it’s finished Deploying, test the deployed version by clicking on the Index file in the www folder. Chrome will not load the Index file, so use another browser. It’s important to test the deployment version. Do not assume that just because your game ran well in the editor that it will run the same once it’s deployed.

When testing at this point, you could experience two common problems:

If you have missing files, replace them in the correct folder.

If you don’t see an error message about missing files, but your game still doesn’t run correctly, turn off your plugins one by one to see which one is causing the problem. You may have multiple plugins that do not work once the game is deployed.


Register as a Publisher

When you want to upload a game to Steam, the first step is to register as a publisher. Go to https://partner.steamgames.com/ and click Join Steamworks.

Once you’ve signed all the user agreements, you can create an app (game, software, video, etc.) But you’ll have to pay a $100 fee first. This fee ensures that game developers aren’t spamming Steam with crappy games. You’ll have to pay this fee for each new app you create. If your game makes $10,000, they’ll reimburse the fee.


  

Getting Started

You’ll see a page like this with a checklist of everything you need to do to launch your game. My list is complete here, but your list will appear in the right-hand sidebar.



You can start by either editing your Store page or editing the Steamworks Settings.


Setting Up Your Store Page

Creating Your Store page is a little less complicated, so let’s start there.

When you click Edit Store Page, there are a number of tabs with info to fill out.


You can come back to any tab before or after you publish your game, so don’t worry if you’re not sure of the some of the information right away.

On the Basic Info tab, you fill in your game’s name, publisher info, minimum requirements for your game (you can use the default RPG Maker parameters if you don’t know the specifics for your game), and your copyright info.

The Description tab is where you’ll tell readers what your game is about. You’ll need a short version (200-300 characters) and a long version. If your game has received any reviews, you can post them here.

Skip the Ratings tab unless your game has been rated by an official games authority. Unlike publishing on the Google Play Store, you can’t self-declare your rating on Steam.

If you’re releasing your game for Early Access, you can use this tab to let potential players know the state of your game and what they can expect in the future. Note that Steam may deny you Early Access status if you fail to present your game as still in development. In other words, if it’s playable as a complete game, they probably won’t grant you Early Access status. Instead, they’ll suggest that you simply release updates as you continue to add story or features to your game.

Graphical Assets is where you upload your cover art and screenshots. You’ll need to size these in various dimensions to fit the requirements. You can also add PDF game guides or links to online tutorials.

Trailers. Every new game on Steam needs to have a video trailer. So, yeah, now you’re a video game producer and a movie (well, commercial) producer!

You’ll probably need to come back to the Special Settings because this is where you’ll link your Demo, DLC, or streaming settings (yes, now, you can show videos of you or others making or playing your game right on your Steam storefront!)

Once you’re finished for the moment, go to the Publish tab and click Publish to public. Don’t worry; your game page won’t be visible to anyone but you until it launches.

Whenever you want to check how things are looking, you can go back to the main dashboard and click View Store Page for a preview or click on the preview button in the upper right corner.


Edit Steamworks Settings

Now, comes the hard part (at least, it was for me) because this all gets rather technical.

First, go back to your dashboard and click Edit Steamworks Settings. Like the Store page setup, you’ll see a number of tabs. Again, you can come back to any one of them as often as you need to.


Under Application, you’ll set your app as a game and mark which operating systems you’re releasing for (Windows, Mac, and/or Linux.)

The Steampipe tab has two categories: Builds and Depots.

Depots are what are delivered to a customer. Think of them as the Zip folders. (Do not zip your files. Steam will do that.) You need separate depots for each language and DLC. You also need a separate depot for Demos. You can set up a separate depot for each operating system.



A Build contains one or more depots. It is created using the Steamworks SDK tool to upload to Steam. A build can be a modification of previous builds.  


Uploading a Build

To upload a build, first, download the Steamworks SDK. There are a lot of parts of this package you won’t need for an RPG Maker game, but it comes as one package.

Open the SDK > Tools > Content Builder > Content folder and paste the game files into it. These are the files that you deployed from RPG Maker. Make sure to keep a separate a folder for each platform.

Then, Open the SDK > Tools > Content Builder > Scripts folder. Edit both the app_build_ file and the depot_build_ file with the appropriate App and Depot IDs and Content path. Your app_build_ file will end with the app ID, and the Depot ID file will end with the Depot ID.



Remember that you need as many Depots as you have platforms or DLCs, but they all need to be included in the Build. If you’re uploading a build for multiple platforms, change each depot_build_ file, by updating the LocalPath "*" to the name of your platform-specific folder within your Content folder (example: "\windows_content\*" This will make each Depot specific to the operating system so that customers don't download files they don't need.

Then, go back up one level to the Content Builder folder and edit the Run_Build program to call the appropriate scripts. Run the program.


Next, go back to the Steamworks Settings and set your new build as the default.


The Default Branch of a Build is what is delivered to customers. You must set the appropriate Branch to Live. Also, when making an update, set the new Build to Live. Steam will then automatically download the updated game to customers.


Finishing Your Steamworks Settings

The Installation tab has 5 categories, but the only two that you need to fill in are General and Client Images.

General is where you’ll specify your Launch Options. Launch Options are tied to the Base Game (Game AppID). Create a Launch Option for each operating system, specifying the Game.exe (Windows), Game.app (Mac folder), or Game (Linux) file to load when starting the game.

Create a separate launch option for each operating system when adding DLC. This tells the game to launch the DLC version instead. Below, you can see the launch option if the owner has the base game on Windows, followed by the option if they have the DLC.



Under Client Images, you’ll need to upload an ICO file. Use http://icoconvert.com/ to create an ICO file type if your graphics program isn’t able to do so.

You don’t need to fill out any of the other tabs except for the Publish tab. Click on it. Then, click on the Prepare for Publishing button. It will have you type in a phrase to confirm your changes.


Demos

DLCs and Demos need their own App ID, but they will be linked to the main App ID.

Demos are just like building the main app. They need their own App ID, Depots, and uploaded builds. From the main app Steamworks Admin page, click on All Associated, then Add Demo. The new app must be set to Demo, and the main app ID set in the General Application Settings. 



If you plan on offering your game on multiple platforms, do not share Depots between your main game and your Demo app. Also, make your installation folder different for your Demo and your main game. 

In Store Admin, go to Special Settings, and add Demo in Associated Demos. Save and Publish.

Unfortunately, you can't play demos if you already own the full game. This goes for developer accounts as well.

Share the full app on the Demo Depot page.


DLCs

Go to Steaworks Admin, All Associated, Add DLC. This will give you a new App ID for the DLC.



Then, go to Steampipe, Depots, and Add Associated DLC depot. Save and Publish.

Use the Steamworks SDK to upload the new Depot. Use the DLC app ID as the new Depot ID. They will be the same number. Ensure the build file includes all applicable Depots for your game.


Packages

To make your game available to the public, you need to include the updated Depots in the appropriate Packages.

From the main app Steamworks Admin page, click on All Associated, then Store Packages. Add the main app and the Depots for all platforms of the base game, not the DLC.



There’s also an option further down on the All Associated page for Promotional or Special-Use Packages. This is where you would add your Depots for testing on your own account or giving access to other users on your team.


Bundles

A Bundle is a combination of Packages sold at a group discount. Two types of bundles are available.

Complete the Set. The current price of all items the customer does not own will be discounted at a percentage you choose.

Purchase Together. All that can be included in this bundle is a base game and one DLC. This bundle can be purchased as a gift.

I used Purchase Together for my base game and additional Hero Points DLC. If you make more than one title or have more than one DLC, you can include them in Complete the Set bundles. 

You can also encourage customers to buy Purchase Together bundles for friends.

From the main app Steamworks Admin page, click on All Associated, then find the Store Bundles section and click Add Bundle. You’ll add the Packages that you want to include (normally the base game Package and the DLCs). You'll also need to create new capsule images for the bundle. Then, Publish the Bundle on the Publish tab and set it Live in the Bundle area.



Community Follow-Up

Once your game is published, you’ll want to check into the Community Hub regularly to see what people are saying about your game and to answer any questions. You can also Post Announcements about your updates, sales, or giveaways.



Financial Info

And speaking of giveaways, you can request Steam Keys to give away or sell in person or via your website. You can also keep track of your sales and Steam Key activations and see how many people have put your game on their Wishlist on the Financial tab.


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I created this tutorial after publishing my first game on Steam. If you need help, leave a comment or see the Services page.





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