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.

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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.

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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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It’s golden week here at RPG Maker Web, which means the JP office is enjoying time with their families and trying to avoid Golden Week crowds, and I’m left to my own devices. FUFUFUFUFUFU… Ok, this doesn’t change the blog that much but it has been a relaxing week!

So that got me to thinking about one of my favorite bits in video games, Plot Downtime.

Those points in the plot where things slow down, and the characters can goof off and do something unrelated. If it was an anime, I’d call it the beach episode.

Ok, got my drinks, got my boat, time for a wonderful time on the... wait, I forgot my swimsuit...

Ok, got my drinks, got my boat, time for a wonderful time on the… wait, I forgot my swimsuit…

A lot of people see this kind of stuff as filler. Something to pad out the time to keep the game from being too short. But me, I think this is the perfect time to do something important. Establishing what your characters are like outside of crisis.

A lot of games occur at what feels like breakneck speed. The characters are dealing with one thing after another. Villages burned down, mentors killed, saving kidnapped nobles, saving kidnapped children… the characters never get a chance to breath.

The Dark Lord is burning down a church AND kidnapping a kid! Why? Cause EVIIIIIIL

The Dark Lord is burning down a church AND kidnapping a kid! Why? Cause EVIIIIIIL

All we ever learn about characters in these situations is how they react to crisis.

I always like to see what characters are like when left to their own devices. If they have a week in a mountain cabin. Or the beach, or wherever, you get a chance to explore this.

Maybe you find out the serious soldier who only thinks about the mission actually loves fishing. Or that the hyper, excited character that you expect to love a week at the beach actually just gets bored because nothing is happening.

Either way, downtime for the plot can be great for fleshing out your characters. Have you ever used lulls in the plot this way? How do you establish who your characters are outside of crisis? Tell us in the comments below!

In the meantime, I’m going to go enjoy a few more days of no coworkers!

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The brand new Love and Sorrow pack from Richard John S made me think about Romance in games.

Romance makes it into a lot of game stories. Either in a choose your own adventure style, a la Dragon Age, or just connected to the story, like Xenogears.

And well, it should! Romance is a part of the human condition for most people, and dramatic times (like, you know, saving the world) can force people into very close relationships.

But, you know, there are three tips I would suggest when writing those relationships, and here we go!

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#1: Make Sure Characters Exist for their Own Sake

Look, if you want to include romance in your games, sometimes it makes sense to just create characters for your other characters to be interested in. Whether this is an RPG, or a visual novel type game, this happens a lot. What is the purpose of this character in the story? To be a love interest!

But resist this urge. Write characters with their own problems, with their own connection to the plot… then think about if they would be romanceable or if their romance with another character would feel organic. Don’t make characters that exist just to be a romance option. It makes them feel fake.

#2: New Romance Isn’t the Only Romance

Ok, maybe this is a pet peeve of mine personally because I’m a bit older than a teen, but make sure to include more than just “just about to get together” relationships.

As anyone has been around should know: The drama doesn’t stop when you get together! Write characters who have been together for a short while, write characters who have been together for a LONG while.

I always liked Clive Winslet of Wild ARMS 3, and one of the really interesting things to me about him was finding out he was married and had a daughter. His side quest of collecting children’s book stories for his daughter was one that stuck with me a long time.

#3: Add things outside the plot of the main story.

Ok, we know that the main story is going to be the primary focus of the game. If it isn’t, perhaps it doesn’t need to be the main story.

But if the only time we see two characters who are supposedly in love interact is during that high drama/high stakes stuff… well it doesn’t bode well. Feelings in those situations are like pressure cookers, they are all heightened, everything seems more extreme and dire than it was.

So instead, show them hanging out in down times. City with a casino? Maybe show them having fun out there. Maybe a quiet time during travel through a quiet wood. A good example of this is the Gold Saucer dates in Final Fantasy VII. They let you see the characters in a context other than life or death struggles.

Cause if the only reason they get along is life and death struggles, that is going to be a lot of thrill seeking necessary to keep that relationship going!

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With our recently released Elemental Dungeons Pack (also available on Steam), I felt it was a great time to look at making Elemental Dungeons feel… well more elemental!

At this point, Fire, Water, Air, Earth Dungeons, well, it is a bit cliche, but they are still fun to play with. But the thing is if you are going to make an elemental dungeon, you really need to add something to make it more than just wallpaper.

Think about some mechanics that would fit that style of dungeon.

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Water Dungeons can give you lots of ideas. How about a diving system? So much time to travel underwater to get to the next section. Or you could do the traditional raising/lowering water levels with rafts.

Or maybe you could find ways to freeze the water, and then do sliding puzzles on the ice that remains.

How would you make a water dungeon feel like a water dungeon, rather than just being a dungeon that has water in it?

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Or a fire dungeon! Cooling an area to then walk on, much like the ice in the water dungeon works. But what about areas of noxious gas? Maybe a heat mechanic where you have certain areas you have to move through quickly to prevent overheating?

Another option is forming a puzzle around a limited amount of some kind of resource for putting out fires blocking your path, and trying to figure out how to use that limited amount to get where you need to go.

The main thing is you want your dungeon theme to feel like something more than wallpaper. So how would you do a fire dungeon?

What about an air one? Or an earth one? How could you make it unique and thematic mechanically?

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Hi everyone, ever been looking to make a character, you are playing with the generator and you just need MORE POWER?

Well you’re in luck, cause Game Character Hub: Portfolio Edition is currently on sale for 35% off on Steam?

Why Portfolio Edition?

Portfolio Edition adds several new features over the original GCH, first of all, it added support for RPG Maker MV style characters. By just adding a few pieces, you have a full sprite ready to go.

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It also creates all the sprite sheets, plus Faceset all in one go. So you get your walking sprite, your battle sprite, your down sprite, and a faceset all from the same work.

And unlike the built in generator, it doesn’t just do one style. Game Character Hub: Portfolio Edition supports RPG Maker XP, VX, and MV styles out of the box, but also features DLC to support DS style, and the new “Second Story” Style, which can be used with any engine, even ones outside of RPG Maker.

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So what is the strength of Game Character Hub: PE vs the built in generator? Versatility! Want to add two of the same item type? Three? Four? Go for it. More Color Options? Sure.

Flip some eyebrows over, move it around, erase part of it, draw a bit more, and pretend it’s a mustache? Why not?!

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Game Character Hub: PE gives you full control over each piece you lay down, you can flip, recolor, draw on, and move around any layer of the materials. You can also change the order that the layers are drawn, perfect for making sure everything goes behind/in front of what it is supposed to.

Get yourself the superior generator, and pick up Game Character Hub: Portfolio Edition today!

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We’ve just released the Fantasy Heroine Character Pack, giving you 8 new cool designs for you to use in your game, and it really got me onto a subject that I think is incredibly, incredibly important.

How to write women characters.

Okay, first of all. I’m going to introduce, Rule 0 of Writing Women in games.

It is an important rule. And one that everyone should take to heart. And if all else fails, you should fall back on this rule. In fact, you should be referencing this rule long before anything fails. Here is the rule:

RULE 0: WOMEN ARE PEOPLE!

Now, I know this is obvious! I’m not trying to lecture here, but sometimes I think writers forget that. Not just with women, but with writing any character, especially one that is not like themselves.

All of these? Still should be written like people.

All of these? Should be written like people.

This isn’t to say that there is nothing else to consider. Yes, you can write a woman exactly like a man, but there is a lot that can affect how a person acts. First, to write women in your setting you need to know three things:

1. How does their culture treat women?

All people products of their environment. And, as we have previously established, WOMEN ARE PEOPLE.

So, it is important to look at how their environment would treat them. Now, let’s ignore the real world for a moment, because that is a whole can of worms we don’t want to get into, but think about your world, or at the least the specific region you are in: How does that society treat women?

Does it put women on a pedestal, protecting them from everything?

Does it treat men and women no differently?

Is it a society of women warriors, who consider women heroes?

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That girl on the right looks like she comes from a completely different culture than the one on the left, how do you think their cultures treated them differently?

All of these will produce different PEOPLE. Because each will affect the way the character was raised. And then the second part:

2. How does this woman react to that?

Just because society expects them to act a certain way, doesn’t mean they will. The next thing to look at is how do they react to the way their culture expects them to act.

Do they rebel against it?

Do they buy into the cultural expectations?

Do they ignore sit completely, because they don’t care?

A mix of the above?

All of these are valid responses, but all people respond to the way society treats us, even if it is to ignore it. And since WOMEN ARE PEOPLE, they do too.

And then, we can look at the third part:

3. What else is going on with them?

And honestly, for most characters, this is still going to be the most important part. Unless their story arc is specifically ABOUT overcoming societal expectations (or maybe even, someone from a woman warrior society learning that men can also be awesome warriors, and losing some of her superiority complex), their interaction with how society treats their subgroup is probably going to be a minor (but important) detail to the way you write them.

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Each of these characters have a different story, it is up to you to figure out what it is.

If they are trying to avenge their murdered parents, that is more important than the way society treats them as women.

If they are trying to overcome the loss of the love of their life, that is more important than the way society treats them as women.

People are more than their gender. And again, WOMEN ARE PEOPLE.

So hopefully, this helps you with writing women. But I’ll tell you a little secret: This trick works for all kinds of characters. Ask yourself 3 things: How does society treat the group(s) they are part of? How do they react to that? What else is going on with them? You do this well, and you can write a pretty good character.

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I’ve always been fascinated by non-linear gameplay. I’m not talking about full on Skyrim go anywhere do anything. But even the smaller ideas. Things that are even achievable in a game that won’t take years of development.

So, I have a little challenge for you. Imagine a scenario from your game, and then find a way to make it less linear than it is. Then tell us how you think you would do it and still stay manageable. Now, you don’t actually have to DO it of course, because sometimes linear is the best way to tell the story you want to tell. But stretch your mind a bit, and see what comes out.

For an example, I’ll come up with one for a fictional scenario (As I do not have a current project).

Scenario: Defend the castle from an attack!

All your base are belong to us.

All your base are belong to us.

The evil lord is making a final push, and the castle you are in is under attack. So we fight him off. The end.

But what if there was more that we could do?

Let’s say we see him coming. Scouts tell us we have a week before his forces get here! How will we prepare!

Now let’s give the characters options. Non-Linearity is all about options. With a week to prepare, let’s give them 3 possible side quests to do.

  • Go to the Elves for help.
  • Go to the Dwarves for help
  • Try to regain contact with the missing troops on your northern border.

But there is only time to do one!

See, this is a more interesting decision. This is something the player can agonize over.

Option 4: Well... never really did like the people in this castle anyway...

Option 4: Well… never really did like the people in this castle anyway…

But… let’s go DEEPER. What about if you split up the party? Say you have 8 people in you party. You probably want a preset leader for each mission, that keeps things from getting TOO complicated, but you can assign the rest and then just give them conditional lines in the plot. Maybe you have an elf in your party that goes to meet the elves. Or someone knows the northern commander.

You can now do all three, but you have to split your forces. 3-3-2. Or you could do two fo them, and go 4-4 and have full parties.

And each one gives you a different bonus in the battle to come.

CHOICES. What does the player do?

But what if you give him yet ANOTHER choice. Instead of waiting on the enemy to arrive at the castle, strike out in the dead of night and ambush the enemy army in a mountain pass as they attempt to approach instead.

What you thought we'd just stand in a line and wait our turn? What is this, a JRPG?

What you thought we’d just stand in a line and wait our turn? What is this, a JRPG? (also, you expect our writer to take the time to make a good looking map?????)

And all of these changes don’t really create more work after this is resolved. Oh, maybe a different line of dialogue here or there, someone mentioning that daring ambush. Maybe the dwarves see you more favorably because you helped out. Or maybe the elves are angry, because a lot of their troops died to protect your castle.

But the main part of the story remains the same: You stopped the Dark Lord from taking that castle. So it has minimum impact on the long-term workload of the game, but for the player… he gets something that is a bit more HIS story.

So what ways could you make you game more non-linear. Has this example inspired you in any way? Tell us in the comments below.

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Hey, everyone.

The month is wrapping up, and I felt it was a good time to take another look around the community at a helpful thread, a cool project, and an interesting discussion currently ongoing.

Helpful Thread

Ever like one of the characters in the RTP, and you want to use them for something, but then realize they don’t have an SV Battler. Or they don’t have an Enemy battler… well have no fear! Avery has put together “What the RTP is missing” – MV Edition, just for you.

This thread links fan made pieces that try to cover all parts for every RTP character. So head on over and see if there is something you need. And as always, remember to credit!

Cool Project

Our cool project this time is Tailor Tales by one of our favorite resource pack artists Celianna.

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Tailor Tales is an Otome game about an aspiring fashion designer opening her own boutique, and finding some time between making clothes to develop some romance.

I like this project because it isn’t your standard RPG Maker project. It isn’t a theme that has been done over and over. Who has played a fashion designer in a video game before? Plus, the art is super cute. It’s still in early beta, but we look forward to seeing where it goes.

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An Interesting Discussion

Looking through discussions of gameplay mechanics, one topic really caught my eye, MP & TP Consumption Amounts, Fixed or Fluctuating?

The concept is simple, rather than having a spell/skill cost a static amount, why not have it affected by armor? You are wearing light armor? Then that physical skill costs less to do. Wearing heavy armor, it tires you out quickly. I think this could add an interesting depth to a game if you did it right. Why don’t you jump over to the thread and say what you think.

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So you’ve picked up an RPG Maker MV Tool, and you want to add it to the program. But you don’t know how. We’re here to get you sorted.

1

First, in RPG Maker MV, select Tools, then select RPG Maker MV Tools to open the RPG Maker MV Tools menu.

2

In the menu, click the Select Path button to open up a file explorer box.

3

Navigate to the folder that contains the MV Tool. For official tools, you will find all the tools in the tool folder in your RPG Maker MV program folder. For instance, with SAKAN, it is in tool\SAKAN\.

Click on the folder for the tool you are adding and click Select Folder.

4

This will send you back to RPG Maker MV Tools menu, but now there will be a new tool in the lower list. Click on it to highlight that tool and click the Add button.

5

Close the RPG Maker MV Tools menu and then select Tools again. Your MV Tool should now be in the menu underneath RPG Maker MV Tools.

And that’s it, you are now ready to use your RPG Maker MV Tool!

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Wow, we had a busy week last week. Linux Support, Sale, New MV Tools.

So busy we didn’t get a good chance to even look at the first MV Tool, SAKAN -Tileset Builder-

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SAKAN is an easy way for you to organize and build tiles for your game, right from the RPG Maker MV editor. Have a tile from one tileset that you need in another tileset for your map?

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It’s as easy as grabbing the tiles you need, and plopping them into the other tileset.

Need to build a custom tile from component parts? SAKAN comes with a bunch of pieces to build from. I mean, do you know what is better than a teddy bear? A teddy bear with a bow!

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And it only took a few seconds to make. There are a huge amount of component parts that come with SAKAN, allowing you to build all kinds of fun tiles really fast. I could have given him a hat… or an evil summoning circle. Because all teddy bears need evil summoning circles right?

But can you make edits to tiles? Can you just cut things together from component parts, or can you make things from scratch? You can do that too.

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See, now he has a monocle! (Look, pretend I’m not a terrible artist.) Don’t all Teddy Bears need monocles! And Summoning Circles! And cute bows and hats.

SAKAN can help you create what you need for your game, so pick it up today, with a launch discount of 15%, and explore all the ways SAKAN can make your life easier!

What MV Tools would you like to see? How do you think MV Tools could be enhanced? Tell us in the comments below.

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