I've been playing video games since the tender age of four. As a result, most of my articles are related to video games.
If you're anything like me, you're probably gotten the itch to make your very own video game more than once during the course of your life. Of course, maybe you've also thought that you needed to be an expert coder just to get the game's foundation completed. While you would be excused in your line of thinking, nowadays you are also quite wrong.
Video game development engines have become more common nowadays, and serve as a way to make games for people that perhaps don't have the technical know-how (or perhaps someone who does, but wants to shortcut the process of video game development). During the course of this article, I will be talking about RPG Maker VX Ace, a 2D role-playing video game development engine created by Enterbrain. I will give helpful tips and tricks that will be useful both in this engine and off of it.
So, without further ado, let's get started.
Overview of RPG Maker VX Ace
As mentioned previously, RPG Maker VX Ace is a video game development engine used to create 2D roleplaying games. Using this powerful engine, you can go from placing the first terrain tile to polishing up the final boss battle without a single line of code, as Ace features a powerful eventing system which consists of many hard-coded features that most RPG games can use. Of course, if you have knowledge of coding, you can make a truly polished experience. Google Exit Fate and Eternal Eden if you're curious as to what that entails.
However, coding is most definitely not for beginners. So, let's start with something that is.
Switches and Variables
If you're even considering making your own game, you will need to learn switches and variables. Indeed, any video game design class worth its salt should have this in the first couple of lessons. Why? Well, think of switches and variables as the building blocks of your game's behavior. Here's a small list of things you can do with switches and variables:
- Make a door open in response to a button being pressed or a lever being pulled.
- Count the amount of wolves left in the wilderness for your hero to slay.
- Count how many sacred artifacts you need to complete the game.
- Make a conversation change topics based on who you've talked to previously.
- Make a character's skill stronger or weaker based on external factors.
- Make a character betray the party if their loyalty does not meet or exceed a certain number.
- Make the game end prematurely if you don't have enough of whatever it is you need.
Basically, without switches and variables, your game is going nowhere! Pretty much the only thing more important in an RPG than switches and variables is the story!
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Any roleplaying game worth its salt needs to have a good story. Or, at the very least, the story it does have has to keep the player engaged throughout the entirety of the game. Otherwise, people just aren't going to finish your game. About the only thing worse than a bad story in an RPG is an RPG riddled with bugs or horrid gameplay. Considering that the default battle system for RPG Maker VX Ace is a tried and true top-down turn-based system, at least you're guaranteed to have good gameplay, if a bit simplistic. Of course, simplistic works depending on what you're going for in your game.
Tips and Tricks for Beginners
Now, it's time to give you all a list of tips and tricks for making roleplaying games and using RPG Maker VX Ace to do it:
- The default formula for damage in the Ace database favors linear progression of stats, much like the classic Final Fantasy games. Decide whether or not you want to use such a system. I personally prefer a system that doesn't have everyone with 9999 health by the end of the game.
- Design whatever you are in the mood of designing at the moment. At least for me, it helps to map out an area, then go back to a previous area to polish some things if I remember to. Doing different things keeps your mind from getting numbed by the tedium. Of course, some people would just do all of the mapping, then all of the quests. Whatever works for you here.
- Make area-appropriate enemy encounters. No one likes to get their party wiped half an hour into the game (unless it's plot-related and doesn't result in a Game Over screen). On the other hand, it's no fun if you're never challenged either.
- On the same note, you should strive to make interesting boss fights. Most people fall into the trap of making bosses just a stronger version of a regular enemy with no regards for strategy. This can work every once in a while, but if every boss in your game follows the same formula, then it's bound to get bland eventually.
Need More Help?
If you find yourself needing help and I can't provide the answer to your questions, feel free to visit the RPG Maker VX Ace Community at http://www.rpgmakervxace.net/.
There are many helpful people there, including expert coders who may even be willing to help you script up some basic functionality if you decide that the eventing system is lacking for your project. Basically, if you have a need, they can probably aid you.
- Reward out of the box thinking. Here's one clever example I've personally used: Have a power-up item that's also food. You can use the power-up item to boost a stat, but you can also have a quest where you turn in the item but get better rewards than if you just had used the item instead. Rewarding this sort of thinking gets players more involved in the game and makes it more dynamic.
- If you're feeling devious, you can also punish metagaming. Metagaming is using outside knowledge to weigh your decisions in-game (such as repeatedly killing monsters in a certain area because you know beforehand you will need the money for a specific reason later). I'll leave the actual ideas in this bullet up to you.
- That One Item. Unless it is hidden behind an appropriately long or difficult questline, do not just hand the player a +255 Sword of Mass Destruction, or you'll end up ruining that player's experience down the road. Remember what I said before about challenging the player?
- Using solely eventing, you can do stuff in RPG Maker VX Ace like making a certain type of tile slippery or impassable until you get a specific item.
- Speaking of terrain tiles, Ace has a robust database for editing the properties of tiles. You can tag terrains with a number to be later used in events, or even make them only passable from certain directions.
- Besides that, Ace allows you to create character classes, skills, enemies, encounter tables and even generate your own character sprites from a decently-sized list of art assets.
In conclusion, now you are armed with some tips and tricks that should help you on the road to creating your very own roleplaying game with the aid of RPG Maker VX Ace. Feel free to ask me questions related to the engine or request tutorials on eventing and some such, so long as they don't involve scripting (as I'm going to start learning how to do that myself soon).
Your feedback on this article is, as usual, much appreciated!
Until the next time, take care and have fun! ;)
shtheroom4 on April 05, 2013:
Nice Hub! I love tinkering around with RPG Maker. It's a great way to kill time ^^