RPG Maker VX Ace allows for customization of almost every element of your project. For those who have the artistic and scripting resources, you can edit your game to the point that players won’t even recognize it’s a RPG Maker game.
Often developers focus on having custom tilesets, character sprites, portraits, battlers and music. But there are several elements that even the more customized projects seem to overlook.
A) The title screen
The title screen is the first thing the player will see after starting up your game. It should set the “tone” for your game. The last thing you want to do is give the impression that your game is another generic RPG Maker title. It doesn’t take that much to customize the title screen to make it stand-out. Consider the Remnants of Isolation title screen:
It behaves very much like the default Title screen but the aesthetics have been customized to create a unique feeling for the game. The title and menu have been moved to the bottom left quadrant to allow the picture to take up the rest of the screen space. The window border and background color is customized to match the color palette of the game. There’s also a haunting track playing in the background that tells you this will be an emotional game experience. Overall, it’s a great title screen and gets me excited to play it!
Before releasing your game, consider putting effort into customizing your title screen to quickly get the player in the mood to play your game.
B) Default Menus/User Interface
Considering how much time you spend in menus in RPGs, you would think most developers would put some effort into editing the default interfaces. Unfortunately, that is often not the case.
In the past it was excusable since if you didn’t have any scripting experience it was difficult to edit the interface. Last year, RPG Maker released the Luna Engine – a series of scripts that would allow anyone to customize the RPG Maker interfaces.
The Luna Engine doesn’t just allow you to make aesthetic changes to the interfaces. You have total control over all the menu options, allowing you to edit them to fit your in-game systems.
The window skin and font are also overlooked elements of the UI. Even if you don’t customize the window skin and border, you can edit the background color in the Systems tab of the Database to fit the color scheme of your game. When choosing a font, make sure it’s readable! A bold sans serif font is usually best. Save the decorative fonts for titles.
C) Sound effects
Even the most aesthetically customized RPG Maker games still seem to feature the default sound effects. While this might seem like a minor detractor, consider how often you hear that cursor sound effect. Quite a bit! And while RPG Maker does come with a rich library of fantasy sounds, it’s lacking in terms of modern and futuristic effects.
Fortunately, our talented staff has picked up the slack. We have a wide array of Music and Sound resources available in our store. You can also find many free sound effects on the forum and through Google searches. Just make sure if you plan on going commercial that you have permission to use them.
D) Battle Animations
The default battle animations that come with the editor are quite extensive and aesthetically pleasing. They’re also used in just about every RPG Maker project! Once you see an attack animation a few hundred times in your own project or others, you rather just turn them off than see them again.
Battle animation resources aren’t quite as plentiful as tilesets and music. If you can’t find custom battle animations to match your game, you can still make good use of the Animation editor in the Database of the engine. It can allow for some visually impressive effects. Pair your custom animations with new sound effects to really make them memorable!
RPGs have their own terminology that you hear over and over again. Levels and HP are such key elements of RPGs that is hard to imagine one without them.
RPG Maker has its own set of terms and while some of them are RPG basics there are others that are unique to the engine. When creating a project, consider customizing as much of the terms as possible. Go through the database and see what names you can change to make them more closely fit your game world. It will give your world more weight and make it standout from other RPG Maker games.
The Database interface is where you’ll change most of the game terms. You can also change some of the default messages by opening the Script Editor and clicking the Vocab module which stores many of the battle messages.
When naming objects, try to focus on things that already exist. It can be cool to have terms unique to your game but overuse of jargon can confuse or bore the player.
Small changes to your project can add up to make a huge difference. The next time you look at your project, consider what elements can be changed to make it standout more.
What other aspects of RPG Maker games do you think are often overlooked? Please discuss.