Ages and ages ago RPG Maker came out, and there have been a handful of versions since then. The one I’m going to talk about is RPG Maker VX Ace, which is the newest version and can be found here. You can buy the initial game all on its own and it comes with a vast amount of tools, images, and some music. There are also bundles and packs you can purchase for whichever version you are using to increase your supply. I’ll get into more about that later.
Quick summary: RPG Maker’s tagline is: “simple enough for a child, powerful enough for a developer”. (More on that in a bit). In simplest terms, this is a system where you can create, play, and publish your own games in the style of old 2-d (think Nintendo Zelda style). You have tilesets for scenery and objects, pre-made sprites for characters or a generator to make your own, sound effects, music, etc. Everything you need to make a game, from the blades of grass, battle scenes, dialog, and cut-scenes. You can also create and import your own images, music, and files into the game. There is a huge forum base that is really very nice and helpful. *As a side note: the Corpse Party game series was made with RPG Maker.
Okay, so this sounds pretty awesome and it is really! However, the tagline and options, it’s a little misleading. Yes, you can do a lot right off the bat with this game. It takes a little time to get used to the system, where everything is, etc., but you really can just up and start putting together a game from scratch. Oh, by the way, do you know how to do coding at all? Or use Ruby Script? I don’t, and I realized that knowing such things is a HUGE PLUS when using this. You see, almost everything has to do with scripting. You wish to change something with the main game-like get ride of the magic bar? You have to change the script for that. Want a flashlight that your character uses that lights a certain circumference? You need to write a script for that. I can do a lot without any scripting at all and my first game wasn’t half bad for a newbie (though I never made it public). I quickly found out though that many things I wanted to do I just couldn’t because I didn’t know how, which was frustrating and disheartening.
Not all is lost though dear gamers! Like I said, the forums are super helpful. Things not involving scripting, in my case how to have it snow outside and not have it follow you indoors, was a simple fix that I wasn’t sure how to do. Luckily someone explained the right order of buttons I had to hit and it worked. If you wanted the flashlight option I mentioned above, there are many scripts that others have written on the forums (or whole websites!). However, you either have to ask permission or mention their names in the credits-that line of script technically is there property. So there are ways around it if you don’t mind using other peoples scripts or lurking in the forums. Also, Youtube is just filled with how-to videos, walkthroughs, etc. I spent the first two days of my purchase just watching videos to learn how to do some of the basic or slightly difficult things I wanted to do. There is a whole folder on my favorites bar filled with them.
I mentioned before about packs & bundles you can buy. Caution! I didn’t realize this until after I bought a ‘modern day’ pack that it was not neatly set together like the tilesets you get with the original game. There were spaces, black spots, etc. I didn’t realize that these packs are meant for those who are familiar with programs like Photoshop to put together you own full tilesets. These are just fillers that you can use to make your own sets for your game. I have some homework to do with a photo editing program now, because dang it I want to use those sets! Money shall not be wasted. There are also many forum topics and videos on using photo editing programs on how to put these sets together or how to make your own to import. As well as making your own sprites, objects, etc.
If you’ve ever though about making your own game, or sometimes visual novel as some have done, then give this a try. It’s going to take you a LONG TIME to do so, because there is a lot of detail and technical input that goes into making a game. It’s all worth it though in my book. I have two games now that I am working on, and still learning along the way (I’ve own the game almost a year now). Each time I do a run through to work out kinds and spelling errors, I get a feeling of satisfaction and excitement to see a game I made play right before my eyes. I’m working on finding one of my friends to do artwork for character faces for speech, I’m also going to take a class on coding and scripting. Not just for the game, I’ve just always wanted to-this is just a good motivator. If one day I actually finish one of these games, I’ll put a link out there for you all. In the mean time-play on my friends!