How to Make a Game Like Undertale? the Breakdown

What is the Undertale Game?

Sure many of you don’t need more introduction, but there’s a first time for everything. 😉

So, Undertale is a role-playing game developed by Toby Fox for Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux. The game was released in September 2015 and re-released in December 2016 for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita platforms as part of Sony’s promotion of indie games.

Toby Fox

The game’s development began in April 2013 when creator Toby Fox announced on Twitter that he was making an RPG under an assumed name which has since been revealed to be Undertale. After a successful Kickstarter campaign in September 2013, the first demo version of Undertale was released on October 15th, 2014.

The game revolves around the protagonist’s search for their father, who he must kill to break the crushing oppression of the kingdom. The game contains no text and is entirely voiced by non-linear storytelling with an original soundtrack composed by Toby Fox.

how to make a game like undertale
source: eurogamer.net

The gameplay features a large cast of antagonists who stand between the main character and his goal of reaching his father in a post-apocalyptic underground world, accompanied by many puzzles. Toby Fox employs multiple endings to help drive the player’s decisions, such as killing or sparing specific characters.

The game features simple turn-based combat by letting players time their attacks for more damage by pressing a button at just the right time while also incorporating bullet hell elements in some boss fights; these require dodging the protagonist’s attacks in a rhythm-based style.

How Toby Fox Created Undertale?

The original author was using Game Maker Studio. He said in the interview or on his Twitter account. It was a long journey to make it work. But there are a few other things that need to have more attention:

how to make a game like undertale
source: eurogamer.net
  • He got a lot of help with funding

Toby Fox, the sole designer, and publisher of Undertale, funded his game through Kickstarter. The Kickstarter cash allowed him to spend all of his time dealing with Undertale continuously. It also offered him a reward to want Undertale to be as good as possible so that the flood of money wouldn’t simply stop cold-turkey after the video game’s release. And it made him feel like he had to finish the game, or else he would have robbed those bad backers of their cash.

  • Sole controller of the game

Toby was in charge of composing the soundtrack, setting the game, and composing the story, and the impact was that whatever matched everything else perfectly. Toby didn’t have to stress over the music sounding more mournful than the visuals looked or anything like that since it was just Toby and nobody else. He also had a great deal of time to deal with his own, which I believe is what made Undertale as stunning as it is.

  • It has a great storyline

Undertale is an RPG with a foreseeable morality system where only the last option modifications anything other than discussion. What makes Undertale shine is the story that it tells, with the gameplay only existing as a means by which to inform it. There are lots of puzzles, half of which are just there for humor’s sake; the three-fight alternatives are recurring timing-based attacks, the gameplay is not that great, but the storyline is excellent.

It was not long before the game was spiraled out and sprouted a loyal fanbase, so loyal that it becomes an internet cult and to the point reported to demand some YouTubers to play Undertale and giving good reviews.

Toby also made most of the game elements, except for the sprites and Japanese translation. Let that sink in first. Sure, Kickstarter donation is one of the factors and also translates to the responsibility to create more than just a half-decent game.

He created the entire game in 32 months!

How Can You Create Games Like Undertale with GameMaker?

Gamemaker makes the game creation easy with the drag and drop interface without the need for coding experience. Moreover, in their version 2, they have implemented cool features such as Nintendo Switch export features, which means that you will export multiple formats besides webGL. This is leaving you to focus on game storyline design and arts.

Sprites are the heart of 2D games.

To create animated graphics in 2D games, we’re using sprites. A sprite is a two-dimensional image to overlay into another texture. Typically, the sprite will represent a character, monster, item, or other moving objects in a game.

how to make a game like undertale

You can take examples of sprites from OpenGameArt.

Storylines keep the game interesting.

Even with simple graphics, the storylines can draw people into 2D games because of their engagement story and character development. Ask yourself why the character would want to continue until the end? What inspired 2D game characters like Mario to keep on running and stomping? This kind of in-game inner motivation separates mediocre games from great one.

how to make a game like undertale
source: fox.com

Design this before anything else, the character, how it would end, the bosses, how the story develops, game dialog, and so forth. GameMaker has the feature to put them together into one storyline or branched.

Music for your game

One of the best and easiest ways to create game music for your game is by using a game music software like FL Studio. To make a music track for our project, we need to import our own sound effects into the sound module. This first step is very crucial because it will save you precious time in the process. You can find dozens of sound files created by Toby and produced specifically for the Undertale soundtrack at SoundCloud. The important thing about this stage is that you should browse through all available samples and select only relevant to your project.

Other game assets

Backgrounds, objects, and other characters: You can experiment with free assets available on the Internet, like CraftPix or Itch.io, before enhancing them yourself.

What are Any Other Alternatives for GameMaker?

If you are serious about game development, another alternative to GameMaker is Unity. Unity has a bigger community than GameMaker, and their internals are superior (C# vs. GML?). Because the community is thriving, naturally, Unity has bigger assets to play with, but also it can be overkill. Depend on your project, especially for 2D games. It’s safe to say GameMaker can do what Unity can do.

how to make a game like undertale
source: Pinterest

If you’re serious about the coding aspect of the game, Unity would be more “proper” for you with its C#. Many users are reporting GML for not being a real OOP language. However, if you’re like Toby, seeing and designing from bird’s eye level, GameMaker is more suitable for you.

Another worthy contender for GameMaker is the Godot engine. Godot developers open source their engine and make it and more flexible with the programming language. You can choose between C++, C#, or GDScript. Godot is relatively new. Had Undertale was developed in 2020, I suspect Toby might use Godot because more and more users report the ease of use and productivity in Godot.

How Much Money Can You Make From Creating Games Like Undertale?

Solo game developers like Zeng Xiancheng (Bright Memory) are estimated to rake revenue from the game around ~$4.9 million, while Dong Nguyen (Flappy Bird) is claimed to make between $1,200,000 to $1,400,000.

Undertale itself has been reported to generate an estimated revenue of around ~$27 million to this day. This is earnest money for those whose serious about pursuing their career as independent game developers.

Here are to add to the list:

Conclusion

That’s the technical details folks to create 2D games. To make a really successful game like Undertale is a whole different story. You will need determination and a lot of inspiration from the greats. Toby himself stated he was inspired by Brandish, Mario & Luigi and music from Earthbound. They’re pretty much can fare well and can compete with much bigger budget AAA games.

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