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Game Creation in RPGMaker: Standing Out from the Rabble

Updated on December 30, 2014

RPGMaker is a software developed by Enterbrain first published in 1995. Since then, it's released 6 versions for PC, the last of which being RPGMaker VX Ace. Note that all versions are different, so check before trying to use resources built for one version on another! Some are compatible, or at the least, convertible.

There are a plethora of resources available for aspiring game makers, and many of them cater to those who lack the programming skills to make a game from scratch. Among game creation engines for the coding incompetent, the RPGMaker series has received the most attention.

Unfortunately, not all that attention were songs of admiration; many game developers outright refuse to believe any RPGMaker games are worth playing. Now, it's a polished engine that gets things done, and while it's a far cry from CryEngine or BlitzTech, RPGMaker is perfect for making the genre for which it was created: role playing games.

Example map created by Raceme using tilesets from the High Fantasy Mega Bundle. (www.pioneervalleygames.com)
Example map created by Raceme using tilesets from the High Fantasy Mega Bundle. (www.pioneervalleygames.com)

Conformity is the enemy of creativity.

Each version of RPGMaker comes with a barebones set of resources, including graphics, music, and system presets. They are functional and they are quality, designed by a team of skilled artists, but they are not something one wants to use to make a successful game.

"These graphics come free with the software, so why shouldn't I use them?"

In asking that question, you are provided with the answer; the default graphics in RPGMaker are what everyone's going to use. Anyone familiar with the RPGMaker platform is going to recognize that you've used the default graphics, and automatically deem you lazy or unoriginal.

Even using 8-bit graphics gives you some measure of originality, as proved by Mortis Ghost's famed RPGMaker game, OFF.

While being the most noticeable, background and character graphics are not the lackluster elements that could use with a bit of sprucing up. The music provided in the sample resources is drab at the best and irritating most of the time. There's plenty to choose from, but nothing that really inspires a connection to the game in you like the soundtracks of Bravely Default, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, or Legend of Zelda.

Outsourcing is an option

"But I don't have the skills to make all these graphics, or coding, or any of those things!"

Just because you shouldn't use the default resource pack doesn't mean you can't explore other options. The RPGMaker community has been around for years, even if it's only recently that any games made with the program are becoming popular. A surfeit of free resources are just waiting in the many RPGMaker websites, and all you have to do is find them.

I'm here to make that task a bit easier. I've compiled some of the more popular RPGMaker websites and a few specific must-haves.

Popular RPGMaker communities:

Essential tools for a great game:

  • Luna Engine is an engine developed for the purpose of easily editing the user interface with minimal coding. It allows for near limitless customization of every menu screen.
  • Parallax Mapping overrides the default tileset configuration that RPGMaker uses, allowing you to create your maps with images instead. This allows fuller customization and eliminates the boxed in feeling of a tiled map.
  • Ace Message System is an expansion of the default message system that adds new formatting options, including name boxes, character busts, and a large amount of fontand text additions. Only works on RPGMaker VX Ace.
  • H-Mode7 is a script that turns your maps into a 3D landscape. It gives RPGMaker an all new outlook, but it can be a bit laggy. When using H-Mode7, it's recommended to install an anti-lag script in your game. Only works in RPGMaker XP.

What do you think is the biggest pitfall of a game?

See results

What's the most common cause of bad or abandoned games?

Even with all the right tools, there's one thing that will make your game utter rubbish: poor planning. Despite having a general idea ready to go, most people get caught up in the mechanics of the game engine as opposed to the actual story behind the game. With RPGMaker, the story will be what makes or breaks your game.

You need to plan out every plot twist and action sequence before ever even opening RPGMaker. If you have trouble with planning, I'd highly consider reading the article Writing a Fictional Story – Ideas, Creation, and Story Planning.


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