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The Steam Summer Sale is here!

We all know Summer is the time of beaches, sun, sand, and getting outside. But let’s be honest. It is just too hot to be out there! Much better to be inside in the AC and under a fan working on your game right?

Well, good thing that we have the deals to get you, or that friend you know needs RPG Maker going.

RPGMakerMV

Like RPG Maker MV for 65% off! The latest and greatest, RPG Maker MV supports Windows, Linux, OSX, so no matter what OS you are using, or what OS your audience uses, they’ll still be able to play your game.

But maybe you are fond of some of the older RPG Maker versions?

OtherEngine

Don’t worry, those are all 80% off! This is perfect for picking up the resources included, buying for a friend or family member to get started, or just wanting to pick up the version you remember using as a teen!

And don’t forget to check VX Ace and MV DLCs for even more discounts on packs you might need for your current or future projects!

Sakan

We’ve also got some stellar tools to build your own graphics for use in RPG Maker MV.

The first RPG Maker MV Tool, SAKAN Tileset Builder makes it easier than ever to throw together tilesets quickly from component parts! Get it now for 33% off!

 

GCH

 

Don’t need tiles, instead you need sprites and facesets? Then look no further than Game Character Hub!

With Game Character Hub you can easily make new characters from component parts in no time at all. Pick up Portfolio Edition, with RPG Maker MV support, for 40% off!

So head over to the Steam Summer Sale and get the engines and tools you need to bring your project to life!

We’re all excited to see what you will make!

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So you’ve decided to set your game in a modern/semi-modern setting. Good for you! I like medieval fantasy as well, but more variety is never a bad thing.

Earlier this week, we talked a bit about some of the differences you need to keep in mind for a modern day setting.

Today, I’m going to address something a lot more specific: Skills. What are they? Specifically: What do they represent in your game?

In fantasy games, skills usually represent magic, but in your modern game, is that what you want? Here are three options for Modern game skills.

Exceptional Skill

The first option is that skills represent just being super awesome. You have done your thing so much, that you are the best at your thing. No one can do that thing better. (Even if it is underwater basket weaving)

Pop Horror City: Great Skill at shooting the undead. (Pack available through Steam and the RMW Store!)

Pop Horror City: Great Skill at shooting (and outrunning) the undead. (Available through Steam and the RMW Store!)

The cool thing about this one is that it is really easy to justify a lot of abilities with. You know how to poison your blade? Cool. You can shoot really fast accurately? There you go. Some things though stretch credibility a bit. Rapid healing is kind of weird for instance.

Advanced Technology

Advanced Technology can do all kinds of things. Mend bones together, blast enemies to pieces with cool laser beams, build walls of hard light to protect your allies.

And Sci-Fi skills means you need some Sci-Fi Battlers! (Available through Steam and the RMW Store!)

And Sci-Fi skills means you need some Sci-Fi Battlers! (Available through Steam and the RMW Store!)

Advanced technology means going a bit sci-fi, but many modern settings use it pretty liberally, just look at any major comic book universe, or even spy fiction to a lesser degree. The one issue with advanced technology is: Why is it a skill and not just equipment? Maybe it takes specific skill to use that equipment? That is something you can tackle pretty easily, but should be kept in mind.

Psionics

In the “no really it isn’t magic” category we have Psionics.

Psionics is basically magic, just with some pseudoscientific mind over matter explanation, so you can pretty much explain any and every skill away with the flimsiest, or most complex of gobblygook explanation you can think of.

Magic can cause all kinds of weirdness, like some Paranormal Monsters! (Available through the RMW Store, Coming Soon to Steam)

Psionics can also explain all kinds of Paranormal Monsters!(Available through the RMW Store, Coming Soon to Steam)

Psionics is pretty accepted in modern settings in fiction, so there really isn’t a lot of downside to this one unless you want to stick more to realism. And like I said, anything can be explained through psionics.

You could of course, also combine all three of theses, with different characters having different skill origins. You could even just use straight up magic if you wanted to. It’s up to you. What other skill origins for modern day settings can you think of?

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So you’re tired of every game being pseudo-medieval fantasy.

You want your game to be different.

You want your game to be MODERN.

Don’t just make the same game with a new skin, make your modern game a modern game.

So here are two things that can heavily change the way your game works due to the modern world.

Communication is Fast

Excluding magic, if you want to get a message somewhere in a medieval setting game, you have to take it there yourself.

In modern times, we can hop on the internet. On our phones. That are in our pockets all the time (except when I forget to charge it and then people get mad at me when I don’t answer texts).

Let's throw down. But first. SELFIEEEE! (Modern-Day Menace Battlers, New to the store!)

Let’s throw down. But first. SELFIEEEE! (Modern-Day Menace Battlers, New to the store!)

Getting information to someone is not a plot that works in modern times unless they are somehow off the grid.

But you can do a lot of neat things with fast communication. You can coordinate multi-party infiltration of a “dungeon” where every team knows what the others are doing. Or communication with someone at a base camp with all the info you need.

Travel is Fast

Distance in a medieval themed game can be quite a thing to overcome.

In modern times, unless you are stuck in the middle of the desert with no way to communicate, or you are trying to get to somewhere in the middle of the Amazon rain forest, you can get pretty much where you want to fast.

If I wanted to get to Vegas tomorrow, I could do it, it is just a matter of having the cash.

And money to hit the slots. (Modern Urban Tileset, now available!)

And money to hit the slots. (Modern Urban Tileset, now available!)

This means distance isn’t going to be a good barrier for your party except in specific situations. Instead, you need to use things like access (getting into a building that is guarded is a barrier even now), time (if I can’t do it until tomorrow I can’t do it until tomorrow), or knowledge (if I don’t know about something I can’t do it).

What things do you think are important to keep in mind with a modern game? Tell us in the comments below, and join us later in the week for part 2, where we cover “What do skills represent in a modern game?”

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One of the things that a lot of fans internationally were really demanding running up to the MV release was the inclusion of a sideview battle system.

Many sideview systems existed in XP-VX Ace, as scripts, but what was really needed was a single unified sideview that could only be done by a default system built in.

So luckily we have the choice now, Frontview or Sideview! And plenty of cool battlers to use with it.

Seraph Circle Sideview Battler Pack 1

Seraph Circle Sideview Battler Pack 1, Now available on our store and Steam!

Technically, from a pure gameplay perspective, frontview vs sideview makes no difference.

Both offer the exact same decision space. In fact, both also offer the exact same decision space as a pure text RPG. But, that doesn’t mean there is zero difference.

So how can sideview enhance your game? Well, first of all, it just generally looks better.

Frontview is a more simplistic setup. You never see your characters, you only see your enemies. Most of the screen stays static. It is, well, honestly, despite growing up with many games that use it as my favorites, pretty boring.

Sideview adds a kind of dynamic look to the screen, with characters jumping forward and attacking. You feel more like your characters are actually doing something.

But not just that, sideview gives you more options for expressing status effects. A character that is raging can be red. A character that is blind can be tinted black. This is a much more efficient than symbols next to your health bar. There is much more room for the UI to be blended with the art of the game itself.

But that doesn’t mean sideview is the only choice. Yes, it is probably superior to frontview, but not every game has to take every superior option. Sometimes you have to sacrifice based on your skills, or those of your team.

Sideview is just more work. Animating sprite motion is more work. Creating battle sprites is more work. Creating different stances/etc for status effects is more work.

If you are doing a lot of custom art, frontview still might be better for you, as sideview will create a load more work. But only you can decide if it is too much work for the reward in your game.

In addition, some games, for instance, those that are intentionally imitating older games, might do better with frontview BECAUSE it is a simpler system.

So which do you use in your game? Why do you use it? Join us in the comments section below.

 

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School’s Out, but our sale almost is too!

Don’t miss out on your chance at these fantastic deals! 60% off RPG Maker MV! RPG Maker MV DLC 20-50% off!

(for the full list and coupon codes go to the sale page here)

Pick up SAKAN Tileset Builder for 30% off! Build your own tiles and tilesets easily from component parts!

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Or get one of our prebuilt tilesets for great prices, like the Medieval series, ranging from 20-40% off!

But we have more than tiles, there are music and sprites, and battlers and, just head over to the sale post and figure out what we have that you need!

And while you are making those maps, don’t forget to enter our School’s Out Screenshot Contest! Only about a day left to enter, so get on that now!

ScreenshotContest

You can win $25 in store credit with your masterful mapping skills. Or maybe just with your ability to make us laugh. either way, be sure to hit us up on Twitter with your entry!

Just remember the clock is tick tick ticking. The sale is almost over, and so is our contest.

 

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So for all you students, you are out for the summer (Don’t miss out on the School’s Out Sale!). No school, you can chill and work on your game 24/7! You’re going to get EVERYTHING done in days right?

Ok, ok, ok, sloooooow down alright.

Game making is a marathon, not a sprint. I know you have all the time in the world now, but don’t burn yourself out. Let’s look at a few ways to keep from burning yourself out and then getting nothing done.

Make Reasonable Goals

Make an outline of what you need to get done.

Then, spread those things out across your summer. Make sure you aren’t expecting yourself to do too much in one week! “Make battle system” if you plan on coding it from scratch is not a 1 week job, even for experienced coders.

Goals

Now try to meet those goals. If you find that you are stressing out a little bit, that is probably fine. All goals should push us to try a little harder than we would otherwise. But if you are stressing out a LOT, you need to readjust. You expected too much out of yourself that week.

And that is OK. We don’t always know how hard something is going to be. Just adjust your goals and move on.

Breaaaaks

You can’t just do game making all summer. Seriously, you are going to need to take breaks occasionally.

Take a break every day. Go out to eat. Play a video game for a while. Hang out with some friends. Don’t just sit on your computer and game make for 18 hours a day and sleep 6. You will get really tired of seeing your game.

Beach

And take some big breaks, too. It is summer! Enjoy your vacations with family, or friends, or whoever you head to the beach with. Or maybe the mountains! Or maybe just a few days off from making a game to beat that new game that just came out.

Breaks are good. And you can come back to your project relaxed and with a new perspective.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Ok, look. I don’t know about you, but I know some crazy fast brilliant RMers on the internet.

Some of them can put out a game in one week that I couldn’t put out in one year.

You can’t compare yourself to that. Most of those people have TONS of experience. They’ve been doing this for a long time and have developed a ton of skill.

Wunderkind

Or they are just a wunderkind, either way, everybody can’t do that.

It’s ok to work at your own pace, to work in a way you feel comfortable. Just make sure you are going forward with your game, and make sure you aren’t burning yourself out, and your pace is good.

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Awwww yeah, the summer is here, and that means for all the students out there, it is time for us to get out of the classroom and… probably sit behind our computers working on our projects more, let’s be honest here.

Whether you are a student that has a long break coming or just a curmudgeonly old man who is happy all the college students are going home for the summer so he can finally drive around town without traffic, what summer break does mean… is freedom!

And with all that freedom to work on your projects, you’re going to need more power, more graphic, more music.

But you don’t want to hear me wax poetically about how glad I am to see the students gone, you want to know what is on sale!

RPGMakerMVRPG Maker MV is at 60% off!
Coupon Code: mvschool60

50RPG Maker MV DLC at 50% off:
Samurai Classics Music Pack
Frontier Works: Futuristic Heroes and BGM MV
Skyforge Battlepack
Coupon Code: schoolhalf50

40RPG Maker MV DLC at 40% off:
Japanese Character Generator Expansion 1
Japanese Character Generator Expansion 2
Japanese Character Generator Expansion 3
Festival of Light: Japanese Resource Pack
Call of Darkness: Japanese Resource Pack
Twilight Shrine: Japanese Resource Pack
Katakura Hibiki’s MV Monsters Vol 1
Katakura Hibiki’s Lords of Darkness
Medieval: Town & Country
Medieval: Interiors
Medieval Town Bundle
Coupon Code: 40schoolgo

30RPG Maker MV DLC at 30% off:
(new) SAKAN Tileset Builder
Future Steam Punk Collection
Animations Collection II: Quantum
Medieval: Warfare
Medieval: Knights Templar
Town of Seasons Tiles Pack
Coupon Code: out30school

20RPG Maker MV DLC at 20% off:
Karugamo Fantasy: Vol. 1
Karugamo Fantasy: Vol. 2
Karugamo Fantasy: Vol. 3
Karugamo Fantasy: Vol. 4
Karugamo Contemporary BGM Pack 01
Karugamo Contemporary BGM Pack 02
Samurai Classics: Temple of Darkness
Hiroki Kikuta’s The Calm Music Pack
Hiroki Kikuta’s The Fury Music Pack
Hiroki Kukita’s Calm and Fury Bundle
FSM: Town of Beginnings Tiles
Fantasy Heroine Character Pack
Medieval: Dungeons
Medieval: Bosses
Elemental Dungeons Tiles
Use coupon: yay20school

This offer is valid from 12:00(noon) PST on 5/25/2017 until 8:00AM PST on 5/30/2017.
One coupon per order.
No rain-checks.

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Retro-styled games are super popular right now. Make it look like an NES game, or GBA game, and you get a look that brings out that nostalgic feeling in fans.

In fact, we just released some new tunes for retro-styled games, the 8-bit Perfect Collection!

8-bit-perfect-collection-right

You can get it here on Steam, or here from our store. Check it out on our store for some sweet samples. But enough of the blatant advertising, let’s look at two things you need to keep in mind if you are going Retro with your game.

Retro is Not Easier

Sometimes, people get this idea into their heads. That retro-styled art and sprites are really easy to make, and anyone can do it.

No, just no. Old school looking sprites are tricky, the problem isn’t in getting all the details right like it is with larger formats, the problem is that you are trying to communicate a LOT of information in a tiny amount of space.

Not only that, but your palette is even MORE important than with painted or even larger pixel styles. Just look at how much Jason Perry conveys with just a few pixels with his Time Fantasy Pack.

Pshht and you thought the blatant advertising was over. Check out the Time Fantasy Pack on Steam or our Store.

Pshht and you thought the blatant advertising was over. Check out the Time Fantasy Pack on Steam or our Store.

At this level of detail, every single pixel matters. Don’t pick a retro-style just because you think it is “easier”.

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency!

Ok, another thing we need to talk about is consistency. If your graphics look like they are being pushed out by ’92 hardware, and your sound seems like it is coming out of 2017 hardware… well, it is going to seem kind of mishmash and not cohesive.

Make sure every part of the presentation of your game matches the style you are going for. The whole thing needs to be retro. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t make your gameplay more modern, but the look, the sound, those should all be cohesive.

So that means, all your graphics, sprites, battlers, tiles, parallaxes, animations, etc, etc. All your sounds, SFX, Music, etc.

Personally, I would even suggest getting a retro-styled font.

... This time I'm not even going to try to put it into the flow of the article. Just check out Old School Modern on Steam and our Store!

… This time I’m not even going to try to put it into the flow of the article. Just check out Old School Modern on Steam and our Store!

 

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Every time you design something in your game, it should exist for a reason.

Now, that doesn’t mean that it has to have a grand purpose, but nothing should be there just because.

Let’s look at Dungeons and a number of reasons they should exist.

First, let’s define what I mean by Dungeon. I don’t mean a literal dungeon, I just mean any location that you have to travel through or into in a game that is self-contained and contains challenges, encounters, and goals. The goal can be as easy as “reach the other side of this forest”. Or it can be to retrieve something. Technically a city in your game can also be a dungeon if it contains enemies, challenges, and goals.

So here we go, reasons Dungeons can exist in your game:

1. It Moves Forward the Plot

"We can't let the Dark Lord drain the magic crystals from the Sky Holds!" (Elemental Dungeons Pack)

“We can’t let the Dark Lord drain the magic crystals from the Sky Holds!” (Elemental Dungeons Pack)

This is the simplest one. By doing this dungeon, the plot goes forward. You fight a villain and stop them (or don’t stop them) from doing something dastardly, which opens up your next move. You find a MacGuffin in the deeps of the mountain that will help you stop a great disaster. Or just something like that.

Just to get to the other side, with no real development isn’t moving the plot forward. It’s just filler. But if every dungeon in a game only moves the plot forward, that might turn into a pretty short game. Now, not that there is anything wrong with that, but maybe we should have a few dungeons that exist for other reasons, what could they be?

2. It Helps Build/Develop a Character

"It's him! The dragon that destroyed my home!" Medieval Dungeons

“It’s him! The dragon that destroyed my home!” Medieval: Dungeons

Some Dungeons can exist to help flesh out one of your characters, without directly moving the plot forward. Maybe you discover the secret of their long lost brother there. Or it helps them overcome a flaw. Or the dungeon somehow challenges one of their flaws and you have to rescue them from their failure to overcome it.

All of these types of developments don’t necessarily move the main plot forward, but they can make your characters feel more real, more complete. Well developed characters are, in my opinion, the key to a successful game, so make sure you use this a bit, too.

3. It Helps Build a Sense of Scale

"It's a long trek through the Frozen Forest, but if we don't take this shortcut, we'll never get there in time!" Ancient Dungeons: Winter

“It’s a long trek through the Frozen Forest, but if we don’t take this shortcut, we’ll never get there in time!” Ancient Dungeons: Winter

Sometimes things in your game just need to be far apart. And if you can travel almost instantaneously between them, it cheapens that feel of distance. And this is an ok reason to put in something in between! Just remember, you need to be doing it on PURPOSE, not doing it just to fill space. It isn’t about making the game longer, it is about communicating the length of the journey. It is about getting the right pacing for the plot.

There are many more reasons for a dungeon to exist in your game. Sometimes it is just because the challenge is interesting and engaging! Or maybe it is a mix of all of the above. You can be really efficient if you always make scale building dungeons also build a bit of character (my opinion, you should ALWAYS be building your characters), or even throw in a bit of main plot at the same time.

The main point is: Do what you are doing with a purpose and carry that into all parts of your design.

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Note: This article is addressing a fairly standardly designed RPG. There are possible design spaces where some of these will not be true.

Many people, when designing a game, look at enemy stats and PC stats and skills, and then they think of them the same way.

This is a mistake.

DoesNotEqual

The purpose of each is completely different. A PC is running an endurance race. They have to fight multiple battles, with the enemies fighting one battle each, waging a war of attrition on the PCs resources.

This alone makes a huge difference. Skills that would be overpowered in the hands of the PCs, would be fine for monsters, and skills that would be fine for monsters might be overpowered for PCs.

A skill that costs 0MP and TP but attacks two random targets? With a monster that 0MP will not be a big deal. Monsters, unless you build them with really low MP, generally don’t last long enough to run out. But that same skill on a player character would double their damage capabilities for no cost.

A skill that drains all your MP to do a massive attack on all enemies based on the percent you had left? That is a powerful, but fair, attack for a player to have, as it requires a large expenditure of resources. On the other hand, a monster with that ability… well monsters are only around for one combat each anyway, so the resource expenditure means nothing to them.

Also, enemies come in different numbers. If you have 4 PCs fighting a single boss, then that boss needs more ability to do absorb and take damage, otherwise, he will go down super quick. Or if your PCs fight a group of 8 enemies, and each has the damage output of one of your characters, then it can easily be a TPK.

SlimeTime

Always keep in mind the context that mechanics fit into a game. Symmetry sounds like a good idea sometimes, but usually, the context is NOT symmetrical.

Can you think of more situations where symmetrical PC/Enemy design would not be a good idea? Can you think of an overall design that would make it work? Tell us in the comments below!

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