We just released the Heroine Character Pack 1, and that got my line on the same thinking it did a while back, which led to the previous article on writing female characters.

A whole pack of school girls ready to star in your game!

A whole pack of school girls ready to star in your game!

But this time, I want to broaden even further and talk about writing diverse characters, such as various minorities, either racial, sexual preference, gender, or even just different social classes. Not about how to write them. To be honest, the same advice from the writing female characters thread can be carried over to writing any character. All characters are people. Think about how the society and culture would treat them because of who and what they are, then think about how they would react to that, and you have a character.

And I’m not here to demand every person to focus on representation in their games. First and foremost to me, RPG Maker has always been about people making the games they want to make. I’m a huge fan of diversity in characters myself, and when working on games, attempt to include it, but I’m never going to suggest that this is a burden everyone has to take on (though I do applaud the ones that do).

I'll admit I even sneak in an image on the blog sometimes, how many of you noticed this one here on article from last year.

I’ll admit I even sneak in an image on the blog sometimes, how many of you noticed this one here on an article from last year.

What I do want to talk about though, is the absolute truth: When you write, you will mess up. The truth is, if you mess up a white male character, or a generically anime male character, people may make fun of your writing, but no one cares that much. There are already so many of those out there, messing one up doesn’t really affect anyone. We have 8 billion more that are written pretty well.

When you mess up a character with less representation, you may face some backlash. It isn’t fun. It will never be fun. For that matter, sometimes you don’t even mess up the writing, and someone will STILL be mad at you over something you did, because it doesn’t match their personal experience with that issue. Or sometimes you’ll write the character perfectly and somebody who doesn’t like people of that minority are going to jump on you for “ruining video games with SJW nonsense.” For that matter, I might get heat just for writing this article.

More promo shots of our new Heroine Character Pack, cause honestly I can't think of a relevant image here. #honesty

More promo shots of our new Heroine Character Pack, cause I can’t think of a relevant image here, but it seems like a good break point for an image. #honesty

And this can make it scary to write anything outside our own experiences, or to write anything remotely controversial. I know I’ve shied away at times. But I’m here to say if it was something you wanted to do, stick with it. Talk to people. Get their perspectives. See what it is they see is a problem. Work to fix things. Or sometimes, there is nothing to fix. But don’t let the fear of backlash stop you from making the game you want to make. Every time we put a game out there, it is scary. In the current cultural climate, people are heated on all sides, and by writing certain characters you can get that heat, again, from all sides.

But do it anyway. Make the game you want to make. Make the stands you want to make. We believe in you.

4 comments

rmbdaybanner2fin

Hello, Gamedevs!

It’s time again for our biweekly release update, but first, we want to encourage you to do some releasing of your own! The RPG Maker Birthday: Release Something Event is still ongoing! And you have roughly two weeks to get something out there. A demo, a game, a boss fight, maybe even just a trailer or cutscene. Just get something out there.

We know finishing things is difficult, ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ so take our energy ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ!

So now, on to our new releases!


Crimson Towers BattlePack


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The first of two battlepacks from veteran RPG Maker artists, the Crimson Towers Battlepack by Michael Rookard is everything you need to spice up a spooky horror fantasy castle. Werewolves, vampires, bats, gargoyles. This pack features 8 enemies, and 3 battlebacks, all in the gorgeous painted style compatible with all the rest of Rookard’s work.

RPG Maker Web Store
Steam (RPG Maker MV)
Steam (RPG Maker VX Ace)


Haunted School Tiles


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Two things that are common in a lot of game stories nowadays: Horror, and high school. Well the Haunted School Tiles makes sure to cover both. Designed and formatted by Sherman3D for RPG Maker MV, the Haunted School tiles contain all the creepy necessary to build a nice, victorian school, and then turn it into a nightmare!

RPG Maker Web Store
Steam


 Tyler Warren RPG Battlers: Monster Evolution


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RPG Maker battler artist Tyler Warren is at it again. This time, with Monster Evolution, it isn’t just about the monster. It’s about a monster that grows! Whether you find this the perfect opportunity to make your own monster battler game, or you just want your characters to finish a fight only to then face the big mama monster, this pack is for you!

RPG Maker Web Store
Steam: COMING SOON

We hope these new releases can help you complete your project, or perhaps inspire a new one! And we hope that you try to release something for our event, we’d love to see what you make. As always, we hope you make good progress on your games and have a lot of fun doing it!

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rmbdaybanner2fin

So you’ve had your eye on the Release Something event for RPG Maker’s Birthday, but you haven’t even gotten started! You don’t even have an idea!

Not to worry, we have 2 weeks left and I’ve come with a little bit of advice.

Just make something weird.

We talk a lot about what makes good game design. And when I say we, I mean, both myself, and designers all over the world. You can just jump over to our forums and find an incredible amount of opinions on what makes a good game.

So much to say about game design.

So much to say about game design.

And I’m not saying they are wrong. I’ve talked before about how unique doesn’t mean good, and how doing something that has been done before, in a very polished way, can make an amazing game.

But sometimes you get that idea in your head, and it sticks. And despite being seen in the general consensus as bad game design… you want to go for it.

My opinion? Do it. Take that thing, and design the best game you can around it. Make something weird. Who knows, maybe some weird people will like it. Not every game has to be liked by everyone and making a cult hit can be a rewarding experience. Just don’t be disappointed if the majority hate it.

Are you likely to make a cult hit? Yeah, probably not. In the end, the game you made might be terrible. I did a lot of work on a game that was built around the idea of permadeath for your allies in an RPG. It was an interesting idea, but no matter what I did, it played very badly. There were a lot of issues where you could get ground down, and it made it hard to recover.

It was also a modern day horror game, set before Pop Horror was out. I'm sure this DLC would have made my life easier!

It was also a modern day horror game, and this before Pop Horror was out. I’m sure this DLC would have made my life easier!

But, in trying to make that game, I learned. And sometimes learning is the best thing you can get from working on a game. Maybe my next one will be better. (Or maybe I’ll even finish one!)

Experiment, try something new. You may not succeed in making a good game, but never be afraid of failure. You can always learn from it, and hey, you could even end up making something quirky and different that no one else has ever done!

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rmbdaybanner2finHappy Birthday, RPG Maker!

28 years ago today, ASCII released the RPG Construction Tool: Dante for the MSX2. The release of this tool started the series that spanned the last three decades, across PC and nearly a dozen different consoles.

So it’s time to celebrate! And we have so much to celebrate with!

First up, we have free stuff. Who doesn’t love free stuff? Our forum moderators and resource staff worked hard to create a special pack for RPG Maker’s birthday, Be sure to click the image below to unwrap your free resources!

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More free resources will be added for the duration of the celebration, so be sure to check back regularly!

Happy Birthday Event!

And finally, in coordination with one of our favorite fansites, RMN (RPGMaker.net), we have a month long event! This event is super simple.

You just have to finish something. Yeah. I know. I didn’t say EASY, I said SIMPLE.

How did you know my weakness: Trying to finish things.

How did you know my weakness: Trying to finish things.

Find that old project or that project from last week. Finish it! Finish a trailer! Finish some maps! For the love of RPG Maker, finish SOMETHING.

You can find the full rules and prizes here.

Don’t have anything in mind to finish? Then why not try something Japan-themed, the DLC bundle will give you a lot to work with!

Happy Birthday to RPG Maker! Let’s have fun. Let’s be productive. Let’s release something!

1 comment

The Western RPG

in Design

With the release of two more packs in the Medieval line by PVG, we decided to ask the community on Facebook and Twitter about their opinions on WRPGs (Western RPGs) vs JRPGs (Japanese RPGs), the style they tend to go for and people’s opinions on it.

Medieval: Underdeep The Medieval sets remind me a lot of the old Ultima games, one of the classic WRPG series.

Medieval: Underdeep: The Medieval sets remind me a lot of the old Ultima games, a classic WRPG series.

And then, imagine my surprise when people tended to not know what I was talking about!

Maybe it is a matter of age, as the two genres have blurred together somewhat in recent years (And I’m not exactly young anymore). Maybe the two terms are more regional than I thought, and it’s mostly people in the US who refer to the two biggest styles of RPGs that way.

So what makes a WRPG a WRPG, rather than a JRPG, stylistically. Like, obviously JRPGs are made in Japan, and WRPGs aren’t, but even that isn’t always the case. For instance, the style of game being made by most RPG Maker users is much more JRPG.

WRPGs tend to favor:

Player-Defined Main Character: In Final Fantasy VII, you play Cloud. Cloud is Cloud. You can change his name, but not a lot else. He has a set personality, he has a set skillset. WRPGs tend to favor giving as much control over who the main character is to the player. In Skyrim for instance, the only thing that the game really defines about your character is that you are the Dragonborn. You get to decide your name, gender, what you look like, what skills you are good at. Do you use one-handed swords? Magic? Archery? Sneaky or in your face? That is all up to you. How you react to situations, how you interact with people. You get to determine what your character is.

Non-Linear Plots: Even if the game has a central plot (almost all games do), WRPGs tend to favor a more free-form approach to the order, or even whether you do it. In the newer Persona games, one day follows the next. The main plot of the game marches on at the same pace for everyone. One beat, then the next. You might have branches for good ends and bad ends, but in general, you just follow along with the story the game tells you. In Knights of the Old Republic II on the other hand, once you get off Peragus, you have the option to go to several different planets, and you can handle the different things going on in each in any order you want. Some WRPGs even have so much side content that you could play for 100s of hours without even touching the main plot (Does anyone even know the plot of Daggerfall?)

Player Impact on the Story: Usually, the game progresses much more strongly around the player’s decisions, rather than the characters. In Fallout 4, which of the factions do you support? The entire ending of the game can change depending on who you back. In a series like Mass Effect, these decisions even informed bits and pieces of the next game. We aren’t JUST getting to see the story the writers wrote for us, we are getting to be part of that process as well.

Medieval: Town Bundle

Medieval: Town Bundle: The perfect starting point for your Medieval Collection!

Do you tend to design more like a WRPG, or more like a JRPG? How can you borrow bits from each style to enhance your game? Neither is superior. JRPGs tend to create tighter more controlled experiences, which allows for greater balance and pacing for instance.

And of course, shameless plug: Pick op the new Medieval: Underdeep and Medieval: Townfolk packs for your game today!

1 comment

One thing that has been common in RPGs recently, and very popular, is the ability to develop relationships with your companions.

In real life, developing relationships is complicated. How much do they trust you, how much do they like being around you, do they think you’re hot?

In video games, this is usually made much simpler. A linear scale of one variable. You do things they like, relationship bar go up. You do things they hate, relationship bar go down.

I'm caught somewhere between the "what does this say about our perception of relationships" and "I need to collect 40 more chocolates"

I’m caught somewhere between the “what does this say about our perception of relationships” and “I need to collect 40 more chocolates now”

To be fair, I think it would be fun to make something more complex than that, but in this tutorial, we are going to create the standard relationship system with one minor change: How long you spend with someone in your party, affects their max relationship score. The way I see it, spending two minutes with someone and spamming them with gifts is more creepy than endearing. (Though if you wish to just hang out with me for two minutes and give me massive amounts of things, I’m not going to COMPLAIN, I just won’t necessarily like you more.)

We are going to simplify this to one character for the tutorial, but it is just about repeating the process for multiple.

So, Step 1: Let’s create two variables:

2

Step 2, cut a hole in those vari… wait no.

The first variable, ThereseRel is going to store her relationship value with the character. The second, ThereseRelMax is going to store the maximum she can gain, based on time spent in the party (maxing out at 100).

Now, to handle the max amount. The easiest way to do any persistent background handling is with a common event. So go into your database and pop down to the common event tab. As this will constantly be going on in the background, you should set it to Parallel. You’ll need to assign it to a switch to turn off and on, so be sure to switch it on at the beginning of your game, or when the relationship system turns on in your game.

Who thought it was a good idea to make joke captions for every image in a tutorial? What do I even joke about with this?

Who thought it was a good idea to make joke captions for every image in a tutorial? What do I even joke about with this?

This common event is honestly fairly simple. The waits add up to a total of 3600 frames (60 seconds, 1 minute), and each minute it checks if Therese is in the party with a conditional branch. If she is, it does another conditional branch to see if ThereseRelMax is still less than 100. If it is, it raises the variable by 1. So, after a total of 1 hour, 40 minutes with Therese in your party, you will be able to max out her relationship score.

Now let’s make an event that the player can interact with that will change Therese’s relationship score. I made a puppy. When you talk to the puppy, you have four options Hug (Therese loves), Pet (Therese likes), Ignore (Therese dislikes), Kick (YOU MONSTER, I mean, Therese Hates). So all we do is use Show Choices, Conditional Branches and Variable Controls to implement all of this.

Long Image is Long.

Long Image is Long.

This is all fairly simple. In every choice, the first thing it does is tell us how Therese feels about this with a Show Text command. Then, on the ones where it is going up, it uses a conditional branch to check if it is below the max. If it is, it raises it by 1 or 3 depending on like or love (also, if it is going up more than 1, it makes sure it didn’t go above the max, if it did, it sets it to max). If it equal to max, it tells the player that they need to spend more time with her before it goes up.

The negative ones are much more simple. As there is no minimum, it just subtracts. You could easily place a minimum (such as -100) in much the same way you did the max.

The only thing left to do is implement these relationship scores into conditional branches when talking to the character! But there are many other ways you can use the score other than just to change dialogue options and giving you some romance scenes. Maybe the person in your party who has the highest score is the one who comes to rescue you in a key point. Maybe the person who has the lowest score will betray you at a certain point (or maybe if you keep them all high enough, you have no traitor!). How else could you use these relationship scores?

4 comments

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Hello Game Devs!

The last two weeks in releases for RPG Maker has been a musical delight, with 2 packs each from RPG Maker pack veterans BIttersweet Entertainment and Joel Steudler. Ranging from Celtic sounds to the roaring adventure of exploring ancient ruins (with inexplicably round rolling boulders), there is at least one pack here that is perfect to enhance your project.

Celtic Adventure Sound Collection

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The first new pack from Bittersweet Entertainment is filled with Irish pipes, bagpipes, harps and more, with full orchestral backing to provide you with the Celtic feel you need for the highlands of your latest game. The Celtic Adventure Sound Collection features twenty themes suited for a variety of situations.

Listen
Soundcloud

Buy
RPG Maker Web Store
Steam (RPG Maker MV)
Steam (RPG Maker VX Ace)

Dignified Fantasy Music Vol 2

dignified-fantasy-2-bittersweet

Bittersweet Entertainment is also following up on their previous Dignified Fantasy Music Vol 1, with an equally dignified Vol 2. Twenty more tracks filled with instruments and sounds from around the world: orchestral, piano, battle drums, asian strings, and more! If you liked Vol 1, then you need Vol 2.

Listen
Soundcloud

Buy
RPG Maker Web Store
Steam (RPG Maker MV)
Steam (RPG Maker VX Ace)

Magical School Music Pack

magical-school-music-pack-joelsteudlerpng

Ever since the novels who shall not be named were released, we’ve all dreamed of going to magic school. This music pack from Joel Steudler brings the magic school to your game. Twenty four tracks to back up the adventures of your teen wizards and witches, and the poor teachers who have to teach them.

Listen
Soundcloud

Buy
RPG Maker Web Store
Steam (RPG Maker MV)
Steam (RPG Maker VX Ace)
Steam (Visual Novel Maker)

Grand Adventure Music Mega-Pack

grand-adventure-music-pack-JoelSteudler

Traverse humid jungles and dry deserts. Find ancient ruins and tombs. But do it quickly, because the bad guys are on the same track! Joel Steudler’s Grand Adventure Music Mega-Pack has it all. Twenty four background music tracks, thirty music events, and forty sound effects to bring your adventure to life.

Listen
Soundcloud

Buy
RPG Maker Web Store
Steam (RPG Maker MV)
Steam (RPG Maker VX Ace)

Two artists, four new music packs, four different sounds, for a total of eighty-eight background music tracks, thirty music events, and forty sound effects. How will you use them in your game?

0 comments

One thing that is in vogue these days are free-roam open world games. And for good reason! It is fun to be able to decide where you want to go and what you want to do on your own time, and not be required to just do what the game wants you to do right now.

The problem, of course, with this kind of system is that RPGs with character progression make it difficult. Some areas will be just too hard because your character isn’t high enough level, and so by default, you still end up with the same thing you had before, just instead of physical barriers being in your way, the enemy strength keeps you from exploring certain areas early.

Well, I mean, I could go anywhere, but apparently not that direction...

Well, I mean, I could go anywhere, but apparently not that direction…

To a certain degree, this is to be expected. One of the freedoms you are given when you are allowed to go anywhere is the ability to get in over your head. But in the long run, it can lead to funneling the game into a very linear progression, even if you can theoretically go anywhere. Or, you go the other way, and because the enemies are weak enough to take down for any level character in most areas, then those areas lack any challenge later in the game.

Now, some games have attempted to get around this in various ways. Bethesda has used leveling enemies along with encounter zones. This means as you get more powerful, the enemies get more powerful, within a range determined by the encounter zone, so one zone might have enemies that are level 10-20, depending on your level. This method is useful. It isn’t the worst way to handle it, but there are still some issues. On top of the need to occasionally toss in recolors and adjectives to show any progression of enemy power level, sometimes, especially with enemies that have no upper cap, it feels like leveling too high only makes the game harder for you, rather than easier. And players should be awarded for getting higher levels!

Fallout 4, property of Bethesda Softworks LLC

Fallout 4, property of Bethesda Softworks LLC

Another option, one I favor a lot more, is to flatten your power curve, and instead of focusing on your character getting infinitely more powrful, have your character instead learn more and more diverse abilities. A good example of this type of game, though not strictly an RPG, is the PS4 exclusive (and all around excellent game) Horizon: Zero Dawn’s weapons.

While there are some weapons that are just more powerful, these are either only obtainable in New Game+, the DLC, or doing some crazy things in game (perfect on every hunter challenge). For the most part, you’ll be using the Basic=>Carja=>Shadow version of each weapon. And while one of the bonuses given is an extra modification slot, which does make the weapon potentially more powerful, the main bonus is getting an extra attack option.

For instance, let’s look at the War Bow. The standard War Bow gives you Shock Arrows. The Carja War Bow lets you shoot Shock or Ice Arrows. And the Shadow War Bow lets you shoot Shock, Ice, or Corruption Arrows. Instead of strictly making you more powerful, this gives you more OPTIONS. You grow in being able to do more things and target more weaknesses, instead of just growing in pumping out more damage.

Horizon: Zero Dawn, property of Sony Interactive Entertainment

Horizon: Zero Dawn, property of Sony Interactive Entertainment

This does let you take out bigger and more dangerous things easier, but it does so in a flatter way. You can still take out a Thunderjaw with a full set of Basic equipment, but it will be incredibly challenging and a huge drain on your resources. The full set of options provided by Shadow equipment opens up new strategies, letting you take down one faster and more efficiently. This way, you can roam anywhere in the world, at any time, and while the challenge of enemies changes, things don’t tend to drop so far off the bottom end of difficulty as to be pointless and nothing is ever impossible.

Allowing enemies to have a flatter progression and focusing on character progression being more about versatility than pure power, especially if the player can decide how to advance that versatility, is in my opinion one of the best ways to deal with open world games.

What do you think? How would you balance the progression of player and enemies in an open world RPG?

2 comments

While not all of you out there are, I imagine that a significant portion of our fans are adults. And even those that aren’t? Generally teens in high school with homework, extra-curriculars, and that exam on Thursday that you forgot to study for.

You heard me Jimmy, hit the books!

You heard me Jimmy, hit the books!

The truth is, very few of us make a living making games, so all of us have some responsibilities to handle outside of doing it.

And what does that mean? Sometimes you have time to work on your game, sometimes you don’t. And this is a tricky situation to be in! Stop and go on a project can really really drag it out longer than it needs to. (I know this first hand… as some of our friends on the forum full well know.)

So here are 3 tips to help you out when you are jumping back and forth on your project.

Tip 1: Plan time to work on your game!

The thing is, when you have a lot of responsibilities, or just other hobbies, it’s very easy to put a game project on the backburner for a long time. Instead of just saying “I’m going to do X later”, actually schedule time specifically for working on your project. Even just 3-4 hours a week is something, and because you schedule for it, you can fit other responsibilities around it. If you don’t schedule time for it, trust me, your schedule will have a way of filling itself up.

Just remember, scheduling game dev time instead of sleep is NOT HEALTHY!

Just remember, scheduling game dev time instead of sleep is NOT HEALTHY!

Tip 2: Set goals and a timeline!

Yeah, you won’t always meet the goals you set, but making a timeline, giving yourself deadlines, if you take them seriously, will force you to try to prioritize making time for the project. Sure it won’t come in over your actual responsibilities, but if you tell yourself “I’m going to finish that sprite this week”, you’ll think twice before starting another episode of that show you’ve been watching until 6am in the morning cause you lost control of your life and… wait no, I’m talking about myself there. (… Noooooo, it’s not 6am right now while I write this… It’s 5:55am. There’s a difference)

Tip 3: WRITE NOTES!

This is a big one. Because let’s face it. Even if you are taking your self-imposed deadlines seriously. Even if you are working on your project every spare moment you have. The truth is sometimes your non-hobby life will take over and you won’t touch your project for a week. Two weeks. Maybe even a month.

And all those cool ideas you hadn’t had time to implement yet. You will barely remember what they even were. So always, always jot down notes while you are making your game. Jot down notes when you are just thinking about your game. Always make sure you have something to go back to that tells you what your plan was!

Now if only I had actually organized these notes...

Now if only I had actually organized these notes…

Making a game, finding time to make a game, while balancing the rest of your life is a daunting proposition. One that I’m terrible at, but really hoping to improve. What advice do you have for people trying to organize their life to finish a game?

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RMW_WinterSaleEM

The Steam Winter Sale is coming to an end in less than 24 hours, but you still have the chance to loot some amazing discounts!

And if you’ve been into RPG Maker for a while, the tilesets we are looking at today come from an artist that needs no introduction: First Seed Material.

We were wowed by the packs back in the 2k3 days, and the MV days are no different!

24 Woods and Cave

First up in our “You should act now, because this deal is fire” list is FSM: Woods and Cave.

This tileset includes everything you need for spelunking and wandering the wooded wilderness. And all of it with the normal level of FSM quality and style.

At 35% off, this is a steal!

25 Town of Beginnings

But we are sure you need somewhere for a player to explore those woods and caves FROM, so that of course leads to the earlier MV pack from FSM, FSM: Town of Beginnings.

With this, you can build fantastic towns and cities, and of course integrates perfectly with Woods and Cave to give you enough to easily make a complete game, 50% off until tomorrow.

Don’t miss out on these deals, and more!

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