Making RPG Shops More Interesting

in Design

With the new release of the TOKIWA GRAPHICS Event BG No.1 and No.2 giving us some great Blacksmith, Tool Shop, and Inn backgrounds, my brain got to thinking about how to make the standard “go in, buy item/rest at inn” parts of town more interesting.

Let’s start at the top, with the Event Graphics No.1’s Blacksmith!

So the humble blacksmith, you go in, you check and see if they have buy new weapons and armor, and you leave.

It gets kind of boring to be honest. So what can we add to it? Well, there is the obvious weapon and armor crafting, where we turn components into new equipment. It’s a good place to put choice on the player, allowing them to decide what type of equipment to make with the materials they have.

But you can also include things like upgrades. You could have each weapon/armor have +1-+5 variants. Maybe most swords just get stronger, but say a sword that drained life could get a stronger affect as  you upgrade it.

On to the tool shop, also from TOKIWA GRAPHICS EVENT BG No.1

The obvious choice for this one is the item equivalent of crafting:: Alchemy. Mixing up potions from various monster parts you found. It’s an easy idea, and while some people don’t enjoy this kind of thing (why would I ever use consumables), it can make a neat boost for players, especially when they have choice in what they make.

But what could we add that is a bit more new? One thing I’ve noticed is that in a lot of games, we run into a lot of sell junk. And sell junk is always sold at a terrible price. What if we had small quests at the Tool Shop for acquiring certain sell junks that are in high demand at the time that give much more money? It would be a way to speed up getting money, while creating diversity in where the player would want to go in the game based on whats in demand.

And finally, the Inn, part of the TOKIWA GRAPHICS Event BG No.2!

In other games, other than healing up, I’ve seen a couple of things with Inns. One was for finding rumors that could unlock more quests (or even just put a quest board in the Inn). Another, that I thought was neat was in Breath of Fire III. You could always camp out, but camping out didn’t get rid of max HP penalties (dying in combat gave your characters a stacking penalty to max HP). Only resting in an inn cleared those.

But what if we worked that from reverse. What if camping worked fine, but when you rested in an Inn, you regained up to 20% more than your max HP and max MP. So if  you had 400 HP and 30 MP, you would heal up to 480/400, 36/30. This would give you an extra little buffer to start your next trip with, letting you get to the next dungeon more than likely with still over 100% health/mp even if you got into a fight or two.

So how would you make the various stops in town more interesting? Tell us in the comments below!

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Another release day is here, and this one is HUGE! We don’t just have 1 pack. We don’t even have just 2 packs? 3 packs? No, we have 4 brand new packs for our release day!


Making up the bulk of today’s releases, TOKIWA GRAPHICS has 3 new packs for us today! TOKIWA GRAPHICS Giant Monsters Pack No.1 is the first one we will look at today. This pack will bring 4 giant boss monsters to your game: The Orc, The Manticore, The Kerberos, and The Wraith. All 4 include 4 variations of sideview battler, and 2 variations of walking sprite!

Read more on the RPG Maker Web Store and on Steam.


Second up from TOKIWA GRAPHICS, TOKIWA GRAPHICS Event BG No.1 Blacksmith/Tool Shop! Perfect for adding a little flair to the conversations in certain locations, this pack has two backgrounds for use in events, the Blacksmith, and the Tool Shop. Each comes in 4 variations for time of day.

Read more on the RPG Maker Web Store and on Steam.


And to finish up our packs from the group, TOKIWA GRAPHICS Event BG No.2 Inn! Some more town backgrounds for your game! This time at the Inn. Two images, the common room, and a inn bedroom, again, with 4 variations for time of day!

Read more on the RPG Maker Web Store and on Steam.


And to round out our releases for today with a bit of sound, from TK.Projects, the 8Bit RPG ME Perfect Collection. 100 Music Effects in all of their chiptune glory. With true to the era synthesizer sounds, this pack will transport your players back to the 80s!

Read more on the RPG Maker Web Store and on Steam.


And for our Deal of the Week, let’s continue to make our way around town with the Medieval: Town Bundle for 50% off!

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Release Week, and this week, we expand from school, to the city!


Visustella Modern City Vol. 1 expands the style originally used in Visustella School Horror Vol. 1, taking the game from the books, to the streets! Use this pack to expand on your School Horror game, or to start a whole new game!

Featuring a A2-A5 and B-E tileset pieces, Visustella Modern City will make mapping your city a breeze. And then populate it with 100+ character sprites. Bring it to life with cars, trucks, doors, and more animated pieces! And round out the whole game with a new windowskin.

Read more on the RPG Maker Web Store and on Steam.


For our Deal of the Week, maybe add some romance and heartbreak to your RPG with the Love & Sorrow Music Pack, 50% off!

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The last release day of May is here. With warm weather on the way for a lot of us, its a good time to be inside working on your game and out of the heat! So let’s see what we have to help you with that today.


If there is one thing that we know there can never be enough of, it’s Character Generator parts! Heroine Character Generator 4 will add 40+ new pieces for you to play with for your female characters. Clothing, hair, accessories, weapons, and more!

Read more on the RPG Maker Web Store and on Steam.


Whether it’s your first story, or your eightieth, some good modern tunes could be just what you need. My First Story features music for towns, fields, dungeons, battles, and many more, making it the perfect well balanced pack to round out a project!

Read more on the RPG Maker Web Store and on Steam.


And for our deal of the week, you can never have too many monsters for those generated heroines to fight, so pick up Tyler Warren’s Battler Bundle for 50% off!

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Many games are abandoning the classic world map, but there is still a charm to them that I find appealing.

A sense of exploration, a sense of scale.

But that doesn’t mean that world maps aren’t without problems. Backtracking over and over again between the same areas can be time consuming. In general, it isn’t fun to make players do the same thing they already did again. So let’s look at solutions!

Classic Solutions: Vehicles, Quick Travel, Teleport

First, let’s cover all the obvious, often used solutions out of the way.

Vehicles are a great solution. They both make it easier to bypass challenges that have already been faced, and open up new parts of the map to explore. The big thing to remember here is when you add a new vehicle, try to give it as many shortcuts to earlier locations as possible. Add a boat that can go down rivers? Try to make sure there are rivers that can lead back to most of the previous towns!

Quick Travel and Teleport are very similar. Either something in the towns lets you travel from one to another, like gates that unlock once you find a new gate, or in the case of Teleports, a character learns a skill or an item allows you to travel to a variety of locations you’ve been to. This solution is perhaps the most direct, but sometimes feels like it can diminish the feeling of a world map’s scale.

Roads!

One of the new solutions that I’ve used before is the Roads.

Using tiles and RegionIDs add roads between well traveled areas of the map. Then have no encounters set for that RegionID. This lets players get from city to city quickly, while still making getting to some dungeons and out of the way locations just as challenging. As a bonus, it also explains how the world actually has functional trade. In world you can just have them patrolled by soldiers of the various areas.

I like this solution a lot because it makes exploring, going off the beaten trail the hard part, but makes travel easier. It also doesn’t ruin the sense of scale of the world map.

Weak Encounters Don’t Happen

This one will require a plugin, but let’s face it. At some point, it isn’t worth it for your party to fight two numpty slimes from the beginning of the game. Just make encounters not happen in areas where the players are over the level of the encounters.

This lets people backtrack to old areas without wasting time, and even lets them visit non-town areas if they need to. It’s a pretty good solution but does have one downside: What if the player needs an item that an enemy drops for some reason but it is well below their level?

The easy solution is to just add an equip piece that turns off the feature, or just have a spell that calls an appropriate fight for the area (like whistle from the Dragon Quest Games.

So we’ve covered several ways to make travelling your world more convenient for players, what methods do you use? Join us in the conversation below!

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Thursday has come again, and that means time for a new release!

It’s time for horror, and what bigger horror is there than SCHOOL! The Visustella School Horror Vol 1 pack is here, and it’s about to bring an education in spookiness to your game!

Featuring tiles, character sprites, animated doors, and windowskins, this pack is sure to get any horror school game jumpscared into reality!

Read more on the RPG Maker Web Store and on Steam.

With all the spooks of the Visustella School Horror, maybe compliment it with some creepy tunes! Enjoy our deal of the week, Sinister Hollows, for 50% off!

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It’s the most wonderful day of the week here at RPGMakerWeb, Release day!

Add some extra flair to your world with a new set of architecture! Featuring Elven inspired designs, the Fantasy Tiles – Elven resource pack adds tiles for grounds, floors, walls, furniture, outdoor decorations, doors, roofs, and more. Create a town that looks truly elven!

Read more on the RPG Maker Web Store and on Steam.

Next up we have one of our most popular resource pack types: More FaceGen materials! Fantasy FaceGen Vol.1 adds hair types, scars, eyes, faceshapes, eyebrows and more for Male and Kid characters! Make your generated characters even more unique!

Read more on the RPG Maker Web Store and on Steam.

And to round out our release day, our Deal of the Week! 50% off the Spirits of Nature: Enemy Pack!

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Virgo vs The Zodiac, Developer Interview

in Interview

Virgo Vs the Zodiac. A catchy name, and a simple enough premise. A step into a mythological realm where the Zodiac signs are each represented by a single character. And you are Virgo, and you’ve made it your quest to bring the others into line.

While this may be a simple premise, the story going on in the background seems much more complicated than you would think at first glance. With quirky humor, unique pixel based art, and in depth combat mechanics, Virgo Vs the Zodiac promises a story and experience that is incredibly memorable.

As the original demo was created in RPG Maker, we decide to catch up with the developer of the game, Nana, to ask a few questions.

Before we dive into the game itself, let’s hear a little about you. What is your history with video games? How did you get into gamedev?

I’ve been playing games since forever, I don’t know when I started (my memory is really bad), but I played a ton of Final Fantasy X and tactical games, aside from Pokemon. Because of my inability to do anything game related back then (programming, pixel art etc), it sounded unreasonable in my head to even pursue game making. Maybe I thought it wasn’t something conventional to do, or that it was too hard to even try.

Hence, I don’t actually have a childhood history with wanting to be a game developer, actually I spent half of my life wanting to be a journalist, and even got into Psychology college too. At some point, I found Nanoreno, which is a Visual Novel jam and thought it should be easy enough to participate and I tried to do it with nothing much in mind other than “oh, I have an idea for a story, I want to do something with it”. After that, ideas for other kinds of games flourished when I sensed doing Visual Novels wasn’t really for me at all, even though I liked playing them.

Then I found, I think it was “LieEat” on Steam, researched on the engine they used in the game and ended up finding RPG Maker instead in the process, which I used to do another game of mine that I plan to launch after VVTZ, so it’s a secret for now. After that everything sounds blurry in my head, suddenly I was making Virgo Vs The Zodiac and was sunk into it in a way that there was no coming back anymore and I was addicted. I can now say RPG Maker was what actually allowed my former (and lazy) self to actually start doing something in this field!

Of course, now my mind has changed, and upon trying my hands on it I can say it definitely sounds harder from the outside (or as a beginner) and I’m enjoying my time spent in game making, as nothing really got my attention before like this!

The first thing that struck me when playing through the RPG Maker demo of Virgo vs the Zodiac was the art and writing style. How did you arrive at the style you went with? Any inspirations?

For the art main inspirations it’s more of a counter-inspiration than actual inspiration. Many of the character designs were created by taking what I hated most in characters from JRPGs and doing the opposite, which is why Virgo herself is so simple, opposed to over-designed characters. The portraits often come before anything else so they dictate what will be relevant to show on the tiny world sprites. I try to use few colors as well so that palette swaps can be done more effectively, and for it to be more relevant in their designs/to show their Zodiac Qualities. All denizens from the Realms have mythological guidelines such as goats for Capricorn, rams for Aries and so on. Aside from Frans Beyond. Frans Beyond is too free to be held by guidelines. Actually most of the designs came to life from trial and error, until I got something that I was completely satisfied with and was plausible to animate.

For writing style, I think it was borrowed more from books and movies than games. My favourite book would be Neverending Story, and for a movie I can recommend Old Boy. I read a lot and try to consume as much as what fellow earthlings bring to the world, so that is a great source of inspiration!

A game I’m more inspired by for writing would be Mother and Earthbound. Undertale too! I absolutely love the first Mother game, it’s such an amazing game, I had moments of crying of laughter with it. Biggest influence for the writing style, though, comes from me having this naturally awful sense of humour in my daily life, so I just write the stuff I think would make me laugh. I also like to make fun of daily things that seem irrelevant, like a box. I think that’s why I added so many objects interactions in the game, since they’re usually scenario or irrelevant for the context in most games. For the more lore heavy stuff it’s mainly from personal Astrology knowledge, since I’ve read deeply on Astrology for years before even thinking of making the game, so it transfers more organically, I think.

Many RPG Maker games inspired me, since they always have this specific unique touch to them, as well as a lot of love put into it. I can say OFF and Space Funeral as well as Three Ghostly Roses inspired me a lot! Honorable mentions to Hylics, To the Moon and Helen’s Mysterious Castle!

So on from the art and writing, let’s look a bit at the mechanics. Virgo vs the Zodiac uses a lot of mechanics to mix up the normal turn-based RPG formula: Rock/Paper/Scissors mechanics, counterattacks, timed hits and more. What was the design goal with the combat system, and what was the process that led to the implementation of those mechanics?

That comes from replaying old JRPGs and noticing they had very little going on to them, while a turn-based system allows for so many things at once. I wanted to “fix” some things that bothered me on the genre, such as the lack of interactivity during combat, the long-term management (such as having enough MP to either cast spells on your way to the boss or use them in the bossfight, or having enemies that deal 1/20th of your HP bar in damage and only really matter over a bunch of encounters) I wanted a more immediate management and sense of danger.

I wanted to take gameplay elements from JRPGs and make them more meaningful, less safe, to encourage players to learn every bit of the system and strategise outside of the obvious. I wanted enemies to push players to make unthoughtful decisions because they actually felt pressured, instead of following a “I win” command order for every battle. This also means battles needed to be fewer and longer. I wanted the player to feel the struggle of a super powerful being fighting other super powerful beings.

Back in middle school when I was playing Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga I kept imagining a more traditional JRPG using timed-hit mechanics, since that game had very few commands and more focus on the puzzly aspects. The counter-attack system takes from the Virgo archetype to incorporate with the whole game. I wanted the player to feel like a Virgo, and think like one, preparing beforehand for their troubles and being tactful. Virgo as an archetype is quick to judge, always ready with a counterpoint, so the whole game gets with that. Enemies follow the same rule, to always show a clear risk management when attacking them. If they’re protected, they’ll hit you back as well so paying more attention to the enemies is relevant, as I wanted all systems to be.

So the original demo was created in RPG Maker, but doesn’t feel like a “standard RPG Maker Game”. A lot of this has to do with the custom art, but also the implementation of plugins. We noticed a lot of plugins that are publicly available. How much of the coding customization was custom made, and how much was using publicly made materials? Where do you suggest RPG Makers look to help differentiate their game mechanically from the standard RPG Maker game?

Not a single plugin used in the RPG Maker demo was customly made, actually! All the ones I used back then were found on the internet. Kudos for Yanfly, SumRndDde, Moghunter, Galv, Himeworks and a bunch of other amazing people! I probably edited a 5 or so lines of code from the base RPG Maker code as well, but nothing other than really tiny details.

Most of the battle system was made through MV’s database and Yanfly’s battle plugins. For adding Virgo’s attack animations I used composite frames (dividing all weapon animations in 2, then cautiously putting them together in the Animator) and using Yanfly’s shenanigans to hide the true Virgo during the attacks! That’s why it stutters a bit sometimes, hehe.

For suggestion, starting with Yanfly’s library is pretty solid. Especially now that he updated a lot of plugins to use the new MV interfaces. Then you customize the everliving heck out of everything. Try to change all the values, play around A LOT and learn all the small things. Never fear the engine. Make a dummy project and dump all your ideas in it, try to take these ideas further, try to make a whole game based on a single mechanic and grow it out of that. Many say RPG Maker is limited, but limitation breeds creativity, and there’s where the riches of game development are.

For the world to feel more of its own thing, I believe it’s more of a custom graphics thing. In Virgo I didn’t want elements and characters to feel too restricted by their sprite borders, so everything is a little smaller than their sprite limits. There are some nice plugins as well to zoom in the camera (Virgo is 2x), change tile sizes and the like. I think people should try to build new foundations for their projects rather than taking a lot of the defaults and just adding things to that.

Also, try to “fix” any issue with events before looking for plugins. The puzzle-solving aspect of how to deal with situations on RPG Maker makes it so much more fun to build things in it. There’s no single solution, only several paths towards greatness. And I think that summarizes a lot of what’s game making in general.

Overall, it’s important not to take your first project too seriously, and not to be afraid of high numbers. I see many games with low chances, for example, 15% critical chance for a buff, which stalls the combat and makes for the things thought out to be less relevant, so be bold and do not care much about what other people are doing. It is your game before and foremost, and it should show your ideas! Go for the extremes!

So after using RPG Maker for the initial demo and proof of concept, you’ve moved on to another engine for the full game. What is in store for the future of Virgo vs the Zodiac? The ending of the demo hints at much bigger events going on behind the scenes, what can we expect from the full game?

The future is brimming with Alpacas!

There’s much more I want to show people, and I’m so excited to actually see them playing the game. There’s much more intrigue, alpacas (you can have Alpacas as a mount!), betrayals, supernovas, odd friendships and maybe even marriages! Who knows?

An important thing we added was to take the final equipment you get on the Capricorn demo and make the combat focused on that (with the addition of several kinds of timed hits), also adding branching battles (for example, killing an enemy first triggering different skills on its partnering counterpart), more carefully thought AI, which reacts to several buffs and debuffs, with more honed out combat overall. Crafting is also a thing now, and more than 150 equipment choices are available to use in Virgo or share with the party members!

There are many intricacies behind the events that occurred in Capricorn along the game, and I hope people can catch on that as well, to uncover more truths behind the events there throughout the game and alongside the Zodiac Memories, an outside of the main quest section where you dive into Virgo’s memories with each Zodiac! Other than that, players will be able to visit fluffy labyrinths, a colosseum, the chocolate factory, mushroom forests and even a horrific vampire hotel! There’s a great variety of places with a bunch of aching plots as well as many tough battles along the way. It’ll probably be a really tough mission for a cookie, but as Virgo, you’ll be able to purge your way in, or die a lot along the way, but you can always try again! So I hope it’ll be an enjoyable journey in the end!

Thank you for taking the time to tell us more about Virgo vs the Zodiac, and your experience in building the demo in RPG Maker. Is there anything you want to say to aspiring game devs and/or potential future fans of your game before you leave?

For aspiring game devs: Continue being you and doing your own things! They’re special! Experiment, try on a simple engine like RPG Maker, make your first RPG. Games have made me laugh, cry and caused many mixed feelings, because they’re made by people, and we’re all different and unique in our own ways. I want to play the games you all make (hopefully, when I get the time…)! Never give up, because then you won’t see the end road of your tough journey! Work hard on your games, try to keep things consistent, even if slow, and you’ll get where you want someday! It is a long road, so no need to panic or feel anxious about it. Just do the game you are proud of, in your own time!

I would like to thank everyone who takes their time to play games. Making games is definitely something hard to do, and people can only finish them with a lot of love being put into their projects, so when you play a game you’re essentially making developers happy across the globe. Thank you! Thank you to everyone who played or intend to play the game once it’s out! And please do play the demo if you can, even if you’re waiting for the full game. It’s one of my first humble little experiences that I did by myself with RPG Maker that I’m very proud of, and I hope you can play that as well!

Now I must go, as Virgo is pressing me into finishing her story while calling me a Heretic. =( But I do hope you’ll have fun with the final game, I’m giving my best to deliver the best I can do! 😀

Thanks you Nana for taking the time to talk to us, and for the words of encouragement to all the aspiring RPG Maker devs out there. Virgo Vs the Zodiac is shaping up to be a solid entry into the RPG genre, and we wish you the best in its future!

So, to all the aspiring and perhaps even successful game devs out there in our audience, what questions do you have, either about the game or about dev in general, for the Virgo Vs the Zodiac devs?

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Golden Week is over and its time for us to get back to work releasing fantastic RPG Maker DLC! After a light week of work, trust me, it feels like going into the…. Dragon’s Den.

From Joel Steudler, you too can send people into the Dragon’s Den with the Dragon’s Den Resource Pack! Featuring Tiles, dragon themed side view enemy battlers & sprites, Battle Backgrounds, and facesetes!

But that’s not all, to bring the Dragon’s Den to life, you’ll also find 10 draconic music tracks, and a plethora of dragon roars, growls, and fire breath! Top it all off with some taunting lines from the Dragon’s servants, and you’ll have the perfect den to challenge your players!

Read more on the RPG Maker Web Store and on Steam.

And with our return also comes the return of the Deal of the Week! Pick up Medieval: Interiors for 50% off this week!

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It’s that time of year again! Time for the Golden Week Sale!

Up to 85% off almost everything in the RMW store! Makers, MV DLC, VX Ace DLC, and more!

Is there a RPG Maker pack you’ve had your eyes on? Well while our Japanese office takes a well deserved break, it’s the perfect time for you to get it for a steal!

This sale ends May 8th, so you have a little time to think on it, but don’t let this opportunity slip you by!

But today isn’t JUST about Sales, it’s also release day. And we have two brand new packs for you:

Tokiwa Graphics Classic Monster Pack No.1 introduces 4 new, but incredibly classic enemy designs for your game. The goblin, the undead, the hornet, and a little dragon to top it all off!

These four new monsters come in four variations: day, sunset, night, & rain, making it extra easy to use them in any environment. In addition, walking sprites, both in colored and shadowed versions, let you easily include the enemies in your game world!

Read more on the RPG Maker Web Store and on Steam.

Much like Pack No.1, Tokiwa Graphic Classic Monsters Pack No.2 brings you another 4 classic enemies. This time, your world will be enhanced with the slime, the mandragora, the lizardman, and the bat!

As with pack 1, this pack will include day, sunset, night & rain variations of each monster, as well as walking sprites in standard colored and shadowed versions!

Read more on the RPG Maker Web Store and on Steam.

So check out the new classic monsters from Tokiwa, and of course, don’t forget to check out the massive, massive GOLDEN WEEK SALE!

SALE ENDS MAY 8TH!

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