Somewhat aside, I definitely prefer donations to the author over making a title fully commercial (just like with mods). Having money in the equation always changes things which is kinda sad to see, especially when one comes (like me) from the old days of freeware, large friendly communities etc.
I agree, tough in the end there are few really worthy RPGmaker projects deserving of money and those usually have their author either silent, Japanese or setting a Patreon for unfinished projects taking years of lazy updates...
I believe the best achievement as a game maker must be to have a finished (playable, hopefully balanced) game. Then to have it played, then to have it appreciated. To make some money of one's passion past this point might be the best scenario all things considered, plus the price for the best 2d rpgmaker games normally don't go over 10-15's which is cool.
Hehe, you likely don't know the German community. It used to be really large in the RPG Maker 2000/2003/XP days and the most prominent game (Vampires Dawn which I mentioned earlier) got more games in the series, commercial novels eventually (and even a movie was announced but never came to fruition) and is currently running a crowdfunding campaign for VD3 which sits at ~50000€ (not much of a fan of the visual in this case though and it will apparently be released on Steam for money too, rather than be freeware).
Pretty much. Creating a game in the engine can serve as a good entry point into game development in general. Without the commercialization these days, they were usually passion projects, created to test your skills, tell a story etc. Back in the day, a friend and I created a video (basically just scripted events only) in the game engine which showed (humorously) a day in the life of one of our friends. It was really funny. That's pretty much how it went in general. Even the more ambitious projects never expected to get any monetary return and what they got via donations was just something on the side. If you put a barrier in front of your game and commercialize it, it better be good, polished etc etc. This is only very rarely the case, so a donation-only or pay-what-you-want approach seems way more sensible to me. For instance, I would never pay 12.49€ for this game. As mentioned on the first page, it's pretty short comparatively, it's extremely liniar and it's basically just puzzle followed by puzzle followed by puzzle, room after room after room. Chucking five bucks at it at most would seem pretty fair to me, especially considering that there are more interesting projects out there, even in the horror genre where the horror is not as straightforward as here.