To the RPGM Developers:
Firstly, I'd like to say that it has been amazing to see how far the scene has come since Aveyond back in 2005. The commercial RPGM scene has grown exponentially and the accelerated growth has seen the bar constantly being raised in many areas. As you know, RPGFan is quite supportive of the indie scene and I myself believe that, as with music, the next big thing will come from the underground.
That being said, because the scene is growing so rapidly, the staff and I felt that some guidelines/policies regarding how we handle the scene were needed. The scene is very recent and we ourselves are new to it, so we've been taking things as we go along; basically growing along with the scene. I'll be honest, with the scene blooming as rapidly as it is, we at RPGFan are doing our best to define our evolving role within it. The bottom line is that we want to support the scene while still maintaining our level of professional integrity. And we want there to be a good relationship between us at RPGFan and you the indie devs.
This is what the staff as a whole have come up with after much laborious discussion.
1) If we review an RPGMaker game, it should be a commercial (for profit) title rather than a freeware title. This is because commercial titles tend to avoid the major pitfalls in 2 and 2a.
2) The game should not have "plagiarized" content such as music or sprites from other games. This has, thus far, never been an issue in commercial RPGMaker titles, but it's very commonplace in freeware RPGMaker titles. Xenogears music and Dragon Quest sprites, for example, belong in Xenogears and Dragon Quest respectively. Anti-plagiarism policy applies to storylines/scripts as well.
2a) Freeware titles are more numerous than fleas on an Old English Sheepdog and, well, a lot of them just aren't very good and/or have borrowed content. As a semi-professional site, we're more interested in evaluating commercial RPGM titles since those are professional/semi-professional in nature as well.
3) With games like Aldorlea's Millennium and Warfare's Dark Souls 2 (to name two examples) raising the bar on the production values possible in an RPGM title, our standards/expectations from developers will naturally go up as well. We now ask that a commercial RPGM game we review have some original aesthetic content in the character art, sprites, tilesets, and/or music. With the scene being what it is now with so many games sporting original/custom content, a game that uses 100% stock/default everything probably isn't going to "cut the mustard" with us. Basically, using a blend of stock and original stuff is perfectly fine given the nature of the toolkit, but we definitely would like to see at least a few aesthetic elements that set your creation apart from someone else's XP or VX title. For example, Dark Souls may have used stock music, but had original sprites; and Dawn's Light may have used stock graphics but had an original soundtrack.
Basically, if your RPGM game is aesthetically on par with RPGM games we've already reviewed, then you should be fine. If it exceeds them, even better.
4) With the scene expanding the way it is (and I love that it is) I may not be able to personally review every commercial RPGM game that comes down the pike (even though I would love to.) There's so many indie games and only one of me. With RPGFan I also get assigned to mainstream projects (that sometimes take precedence as per my big bosses), and *gasp* I even have a life outside of RPGFan (heh heh.) In addition, site policy is that we like to complete retail copies of games prior to reviewing them. It's time consuming, yes, but we think it's better for the readers. So other writers may be given the chance to review your games. Some are bigger old-school fans than I am, some are getting into the scene and don't want me hogging all the fun, and some have even tried their hand with the RPGM software themselves, so rest assured, evaluations of your games will be thorough and fair. Honest, but still thorough and fair. Plus, we at the site feel that having multiple editors evaluate RPGM games will show that someone else other than me actually cares about the scene.
*Please be aware that we care about the indie/underground scene and want to see it grow, even if we don't like every game within it. It's like with music, I enjoy the progressive-metal genre but I don't like every band within it.
That being said, I will still be the primary indie/RPGM developer contact. If you want RPGFan to potentially review your RPGM/indie game, contact me. I may then have to confer with the rest of the staff about it (since they're now taking more stock in this growing scene as well). If we accept to review your game, I'll be the one assigning/distributing the reviewables to other staff members and I'll get back to you with the email contact of the staff member reviewing the game.
5) We've been asked about doing affiliates in the past. http://www.rpgfan.com/boards/index.php?topic=5992.0 We generally do not, since it could be construed as a conflict of interest. However, the Computer RPG boards are open to promote your games and/or you can contact our advertising/marketing person (you'll find him on the staff page) about possibly having a banner ad on the boards. We had a banner ad for Blossomsoft's Eternal Eden at one point.
I think these protocols are reasonable, especially with the scene growing at the exponential rate it is. We ourselves at RPGFan are growing with the scene. Any questions or concerns you may have, shoot me a PM or an email (it's on the staff page) and if I can't answer it, I'll point you to someone else on staff who can.