You know, we’ve all heard it. Every time we look at someone’s project, there is a large chance we will get how something is “totally new” or “like nothing you’ve seen before”. How everyone in discussions talk about how you should look to have your game be unique, or how you should avoid cliches and tropes like the plague.

I’m here to say something a little bit controversial. Nine times out of ten, originality doesn’t count for anything.

Now, I’m not going to use the whole “nothing new under the sun” argument, though it is pretty hard to come up with an idea that has literally NEVER been used, I mean there is an entire website devoted to keeping track of every recurring element in fiction you can think of, but that isn’t why I think going for originality isn’t a priority.

Huh, I kind of am surprised that we have our own page there.

Huh, I kind of am surprised that we have our own page there.

And now that you’ve escaped the trap that is TVTropes, I can also say that I’m definitely not saying originality itself is bad.

What I am saying though, is that originality for originality’s sake is almost always a bad idea. When you insert a character, situation, etc to your game, the question you should be asking yourself is: What does this do for the story? How does it communicate with the player? If your answer is ever: Its because its not been done before, with no other real reason. Strike that out. Don’t do it.

Its not about having original ideas, its about executing what you do WELL. The parts of your story should fit together like a puzzle to communicate something to your player. Each piece should have a purpose, and putting in a piece for the express purpose of being unique is just screaming “look at me, look at me, I’m special” without adding anything to the overall piece.

Not only that, tropes exist because they work. They are storytelling mechanisms that are capable of giving a lot of information to the player quickly. Familiarity in parts that don’t matter can make the parts that do matter easier to explain, because you don’t need to do all the leg work around explaining the basics. And sometimes they just work because they effectively evoke the emotion you are looking for in your player.


Tropes are used because they work. Sometimes, no one has done something because no one is that stupid. “I’m going to have a plot where this and this happens, and that is so cool because its never been done.” Well WHY? What were you trying to get out of it other than, its never been done? Its never been done doesn’t MEAN anything.

Writing isn’t about avoiding tropes. Its about executing what you use well. Want some examples?

Originality3Ice, the 8th episode of the 1st season of X-Files, is generally accepted as being the first episode of the series to really prove that Chris Carter had something special with this show. In the episode, Agents Mulder and Scully are trapped at an Alaskan research facility by inclement weather with a collection of scientists in which an alien parasite has secretly taken control of one of them. Movie buffs will recognize that… wait, this sounds like John Carpenter’s The Thing! And here is the thing, it shares tons and tons and tons of similarities. I wouldn’t deny it, and I don’t think anyone else would either.

But the writing and acting in Ice were phenomenal. The atmosphere of paranoia in the episode is so thick you cut it with a knife. It was not good because it was original, but because it set out to do what it did WELL.

Another example is Final Fantasy Tactics (yeah, I know, I mention this game a lot, I CAN’T HELP IT GUYS ITS A REALLY GOOD GAME). The entire game is one pile of tropes.

  • Corrupt Nobles
  • Corrupt Church
  • Ancient Demons
  • The Young Noble Main Character who is Truly Honoroable
  • The Downtrodden Peasant who will Change The World At Any Cost
  • Save the Girl

But even though its really really filled with tropes, all the interplay of individual parts tells a great and compelling story.

Don’t focus on originality. Focus on making the story you write good. Originality will enter into the story naturally, or maybe not at all, it shouldn’t be forced.

Originality isn’t good. It isn’t bad. It just is.



As most of you know, Celianna has finished her AWESOME and amazing resource pack, and we are in the process of setting it up in our store and making it available for purchase. Rural Farm Tiles pack is absolutely huge and is the perfect pack to use in creating farming simulation or any game that takes place in a simple countryside.

To celebrate the release of Rural Farm Tiles pack, we are having a fun mapping competition!


For this contest, we want you to create a farm or farming town map. Only one entry per person, please!

What can you use?

You can use the RTP and/or any of Celianna’s Tileset and Parallax Tiles. Celianna’s got some very cool farm tiles in her parallax section. Make good use of it!

What format should the map be in?

The map should be shown in a default Ace-sized screenshot (544x416px). You may also submit a short video (15-30 seconds) to show off any fancy effects or features your map has.

How do you enter?

Post a link to your map in this comments of this blog post and include “official entry” before the link. You can also instead, follow the entry rules listed in the forum post HERE. All entries will be consolidated before selecting the winners.

How are winners chosen?

One winner favorite will be chosen by Celianna, two participant winners will be chosen through a community voting process and two participant winners will be chosen via a random draw.

DEADLINE: Monday, March 24rd at 6:00am GMT


In this tutorial, we are going to be covering Event Triggers (some of our avid blog readers might recognize some of this part) and Event Pages, more bits of the Ace Event system that control the flow of the game.

If you would like to read the full version, right click save as the pdf HERE But now, let’s get on to the preview!

[click to continue…]


With all games in which you play a campaign against the computer itself (as opposed to human opponents), the game should have some semblance of a difficulty curve.

The difficulty curve is how hard your game is at different points in the game. Ideally, your game should get harder as you play through it. Most people, for instance would put something forth that looks a bit like this:

CurveThe player has to learn faster and faster to keep up with the game that is working to beat him. This is a very simple curve, but in my opinion, not the most ideal, ESPECIALLY not in RPGs.

I would suggest you try to hit a difficulty curve that looks a bit more like this:

waveAnd here is why:

Match Difficulty to Story Tension

In most cases, the tension in a story will wax and wane as you build up and resolve situations the players face. By matching your difficulty to the tension of the game, they compliment each other to create a much more tense situation for not just the characters, but the players, too.

Take for example, Borderlands 2. SPOILERS AHOY, DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT THEM There are three points in the game where I think the difficulty spikes up pretty hard:

  1. Rescuing Roland from the Bloodshots
  2. Infiltrating the Bunker
  3. The final mission
OK, these opinions might center around my hate of Constructors...

OK, these opinions might center around my hate of Constructors…

All three of these points are also where the storyline also ramp up:

  1. Roland is captured by the Bloodshot bandits and BOOM halfway into rescuing him, Hyperion Loaders bust through the wall and take him from the bandits. You have to race to the end of the dam and stop them before he is taken to Handsome Jack (OK, in gameplay you can take as much time as you want, but that is the story)
  2. You’ve collected all the things you need to infiltrate the Bunker, grab the Vault Key, and prevent Jack from taking control of the Warrior.
  3. You’ve discovered where the Vault is, and you have to get there and save Lilith stop Jack from awakening the Warrior. (which doesn’t quite succeed, but I guess the Warrior isn’t all he was cracked up to be, huh?)

By making the difficulty on these missions high, it cranks up the tension, making it feel much more epic than if you were rolling over the enemies without even trying.

Try to think of what is happening in the story, and match the difficulty up with that.

Character Power

RPGs, almost by definition involve characters gaining more and more power throughout the game. Which is fun! Most players enjoy “playing with the new toys” that they are given. Having dips, usually after big events such as major bosses, lets the player feel like his characters are powerful as they more easily storm through the next “challenge”.

It should still be more difficult than the last dip, but easy enough that with the new powers and increased skill of the player, they get a bit of a breather after the last peak.

Things to look out for:

Quadratic Heroes, Linear Enemies

I’m borrowing a bit of terminology from D&D fandom (Quadratic Wizards, Linear Fighters) to express one of the issues I see with the difficulty curves of some games.

In the game, the character’s power grows up and out, giving them both higher stats and crazy new combos of powers. On the other side, enemies only seem to gain power in one category. Or don’t take advantage of the second.

A strong example of this is Final Fantasy Tactics. The player gains stats from levels, and gains more and more powers to combo together, creating nearly gamebreaking units.

Add in a touch of Blade Grasp, and some Bravery/Faith Shenanigans, and you have walking gods.

Add in a touch of Blade Grasp, and some Bravery/Faith Shenanigans, and you have walking gods.

Enemies on the other hand, never seem to grasp any real power combos. They just keep using basic builds while the player’s party becomes more and more unstoppable. A game designed like this will, contrary to what you generally want, tend to be HARDEST at the beginning, and get easier as the game goes on.

Difficulty Walls

We’ve all played that one game. Where we are chugging along, no problem, little bit of challenge here or there, but nothing to bad. Then you go into a new area, or go to fight a boss. And BOOM. You are wanting to throw your controller through the screen.

Running headlong into one of these hurts.

Running headlong into one of these hurts.

You go online and find out there is all this crazy bit of strategy that all the veterans seem to know, all these little details of the mechanics that you never used. And why would you?! The game never eased you into all this stuff being necessary. You didn’t have to slowly learn to tighten down your skill, instead it made you have to learn 80 things at once because you are going to need all of them to overcome this next part.

Its not about hard games. Hard games are fine, but you should be easing your players into the difficulty. This kind of difficulty wall is usually when you start getting players calling the game cheap, ridiculously hard, etc. Train the player to use all the tools at his disposal FIRST, before tossing him into the deep end.

Do you have any thoughts on difficulty curves? Maybe something I didn’t think about when I wrote this? Or maybe even just a question? Join us in the comments section below.


LayoutA-6If there is one thing that I know has been anticipated by our fans, its this. I’ve been fielding questions about when Steam Workshop would be available for months now, and unfortunately, for most of that time, I really had no answer to give you other than: We are working on it.

And that is why, I am proud to announce, that the Steam Workshop for RPG Maker VX Ace is now OPEN.

For those who do not know, Steam Workshop is a place where Steam Users can upload, download, comment on, rate, and favorite user made content made with or for the program. With most products that have a Workshop on Steam, this is usually just a place to upload User Made Mods, but with RPG Maker it’s a bit different, because, by definition, the Steam Workshop seems tailor made for the RPG Maker series. We are, by definition, Content Creators. That is the reason we are here. To make and share our games. To show off the graphics and music that we have made for the community to use. We’ve had places to do this before, with many great fansites, and our own website as well, but with Steam, the community we are reaching is so much larger.


To celebrate our Steam Workshop Launch, we have coordinated with Steam to be this weeks Mid Week Madness sale! Offering a staggering 75% off RPG Maker VX Ace Products! Also, we have worked with our fan contributors to have some excellent launch content available in the Workshop from the very beginning, with music, graphics, and games, there for you to explore and use in your own projects.

With Steam Workshop integration, sharing your RPG Maker creations and getting feedback has never been easier. Do you have some sprites you have made? Or a song or two? Or maybe unlike most of us, you’ve actually finished a game! Share it with us on the Steam Workshop! Reach an audience larger than ever before! And as an added bonus, all through the first week, we will be doing drawings for prizes, all you have to do to enter is have something up in the Workshop! At the end of the week, we will even be picking some of our favorite uploads for even MORE winners. We also have several more events to win prizes in the Steam Community: check out the Steam Announcement for more information. Don’t miss out!

If you have any questions about Steam Workshop, or just want to talk about what you are uploading, join us in the comments section below.


It took me a few more days than I imagined to get to this. Partly being burned out from playing so many games in such a short time, partly just because I had to really work to get my thoughts into place. So here is how this is going to go. For the most part, I’m going to do a rundown of the story setup, my impressions of the fight, and then why I selected it to place. I will NOT be covering the endings, because I believe all of them are posted up now, so I would rather not spoil anything.

So, on to the show!

Demon Slayer Z (Third Place)

DemonSlayerZStory Setup: Four heroes face off against a little girl possessed by a demon. The setup cutscene really didn’t take itself too seriously, including some funny lines concerning the swordsman’s technique (and whether a specific technique he declared actually existed.) Its not complex, but it sets it up well, and the LAST TIME ON DEMON SLAYER Z opening made me smile a bit.

The Fight: This is where this entry shined. Each character had a bit of a different rhythm to them, so you had to figure it out a bit for each character. The swordsman was focused heavily around building up your TP bar, the Mage required a lot of manipulation to keep your MP high (as most of his skills were more effective in that state), and the Gunslinger had his MP bar used as an ammo bar for his gun, which needed to be reloaded regularly. The Cleric was more standard, but still fit in with the rest of the crew well.

The enemy was also well thought out. she started with minions, and summoned more periodically through the fight. And each time she summoned them she mentioned how delicious they looked. The last time she said she was going to eat one. I’m going to guess it would have healed her, but I pummeled her really quick at that point and she died. I liked the hints in the battle dialogue.

Conclusion: Mediocre story covered by a bit of campiness and selfawareness, unique character skillsets and a memorable boss fight with good hints.

Lamia Must Die (Third Place)

LamiaMustDieStory Setup: An evil Lamia, once a woman cursed by a goddess because the goddess’s god husband cheated on her with the mortal woman is terrorizing the countryside. Four heroes from different walks in life, with different reasons for going after the Lamia band together to defeat her.

The Fight: The fight is pretty straight forward. None of the party members really had any unique mechanics, but it was still balanced well. The part of the combat that WAS interesting though was that there was no spell to resurrect a fallen ally. On its own that wasn’t significant, but I felt that the way it interacted with the possible endings was really an interesting take, and something that couldn’t be done in a longer game. That awareness of the short game formats strengths was a brilliant touch.

Conclusion: Character motivations introduced in a succinct manner, each character getting a bit of highlight into their thoughts, competent but not spectacular battle, but a wonderful grasp of the advantages of the format of the contest in order to make a memorable ending.

Magus Spirits (Second Place)

MagusSpiritsStory Setup: The government has outlawed Magus Spirits, and apparently because of that, our heroes’ tavern is doing particularly badly. One of the four sneaked off and gathered up the materials to make the illicit substance, and was trailed back to the tavern by a government lackey. This, of course, instigates what one of the characters refers to as a “ball room brawl.”

The Fight: As with Demon Slayer Z, this is where this entry shined. There were tons of interesting mechanics with the characters. The healer, for instance, used when she went in the round as part of the cost of casting stronger healing spells. She could go first and heal a little, go last and heal a lot, or go at her normal speed and heal a middle amount. Another character, a sort of monk-type character, had a combo system, in which she could build up a combo pool, and it would make certain skills stronger, while using some skills would empty the combo pool to use. There were also a few other neat tricks with the skills. The boss itself was interesting with a changing element type mechanic.

Conclusion: Likeable characters in a game that wasn’t about an ultimate evil, with solid mechanics and a lot of strategy changing up during the fight.

SAD (First Place)

SADStory Setup: You play as a girl attempting to ask someone out, but you must face down your inner insecurities. To help you face them down, positive virtues come out to beat them down. The game is entirely played inside the main characters head, with her trying to overcome an inferiority complex that is really… well sad. This one blew me away when I played it because it took the outline of the contest, and then turned it on its ear. It followed the rules to the letter, but what came out was completely different than what I could have expected.

The Fight: The fight is interesting and really thematic. Your main character is really a bit weak, changed somewhat based on different options you chose during the opening scenes. In the beginning your virtues will carry the load, but there is a lot of mechanics in play to let them make the main character stronger and more capable. The whole concept is really well played out.

Conclusion: Incredibly thematic game mechanically that turned the whole concept of what I thought I would be playing and made something unexpected and brilliant. It tackles a subject I haven’t seen really dealt with in games before, and I felt that overall, it was an experience I am glad that I was fortunate enough to play.

And that concludes my thoughts on the four winners. Any questions? Any comments on the games? Have you played any of them? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

1 comment
Beautiful banner art by Makio-Kuta, BG art by Archeia

Beautiful banner art by Makio-Kuta, BG art by Archeia


Wow! RPG Maker has made it to 24 years. My own history with RPG Maker goes back perhaps 15 of those years, and its really been a long run, and hopefully one we will continue to make longer!

The last couple of years for RPG Maker have been something really special for the English RPG Maker team, with our popularity outside of Japan skyrocketing, and I’m glad to be able to share this event with our fans. We have many announcements to make in celebration of RPG Maker, but first, let’s go with some Contest Winners!

Encounters of the Boss Kind Winners!

This contest was a huge hit. I was flabbergasted by the number of entries we had. I played through 28 short games in a day, and had a lot of fun doing it. Almost all of the entries were good, but unfortunately I only have so many prizes to give! Let’s get on with announcing the winners!

First Place: SAD


Second Place: Magus Spirits


Third Place: TIE betwen Demon Slayer Z and Lamia Must Die

thirdplaceI’m going to be making a post talking more about the winners later in the week after I’ve collected my thoughts, so be looking out for that! Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone who participated and made this a really great event.

RM Heroes’ Day Off Winner!

We also had a fanart contest. There weren’t as many entries for this one as the Boss contest, but it was still a lot of fun to look through the entries we received. The winner of this contest was THIS GLORIOUS MASTERPIECE:

Hero's day off


Congratulations to the winner, and thanks to all that entered.

If you were one of the winners of either contest, please PM Touchfuzzy on our forums to claim your prizes.

Events and Giveaways!

We also have events and giveaways going on on our Facebook, Twitter, and Forums. As well as a cool coupon code you can get for $30 dollars off a boxed copy of RPG Maker VX Ace!

And hey, I’ll even do a Giveaway on here! Tell us in the blog comments how you are celebrating RM Day for a chance to win!


Hi, everybody. The blog has been a bit quiet, but it was all the calm before the storm! This will be the first year that we celebrate RPG Maker Day, on February 15th, and to celebrate our 24th Birthday we will be having loads of events, giveaways, and free stuff!

And to kick it all off we are going to be hosting an awesome game making contest: Encounters of the Boss Kind! This game making contest will be a bit different though in that you will be making the shortest games possible: Just one boss fight. Here are the basic criteria for your entry:

  1. No Scripts
  2. No custom resources. Only use RTP or official resource packs.
  3. The game should have the following structure: Opening Cutscene => Boss Fight => Ending Cutscene
  4. Follow the party outline listed in the next section.

Party Outline

Your party will consist of the following four characters:

Party Member 1: The Hero

The Hero uses a sword. He/She has some magic too. He/She is an all arounder.

  • 1-5 Sword Skills
  • 1 Healing Spell
  • 1 Damage Spell
  • 1 Wild Card Skill (Any Effect)

Party Member 2: The Healer

The Healer can use any weapon you would like. He/She focuses on healing and buff skills. His/Her skills can be set up as follows:

  • 1 Weapon Skill
  • 1-3 Healing Spells
  • 1-3 Buff Spells
  • 1 Wild Card Skill (Any Effect)

Party Member 3: The Mage

The Mage uses a staff, but not well. He/She focuses on attack spells and debuffs. His/Her skills can be set up as follows:

  • No Weapon Skills
  • 1-3 Damage Spells
  • 1-3 Debuff Spells
  • 1-2 Wild Card Skills (Any Effect)

Party Member 4: The Wildcard

This Character is completely undecided. You can make it any kind of character you would like. His/Her skills can be set up as follows:

  • 1-8 Wild Card Skills (Any Effect)

Judging Criteria

Your game will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Storyline/Writing. This will mostly be judged around the Opening and Closing cutscenes, but remember, you can use battle events to insert some lines into the boss fight as well.
  • Boss Fight Strategy. How much thinking does it take us to beat the boss. How much do we have to work skill combos and adapt to make it go down.
  • Fun. Just how much FUN do we have while playing it.

Entering Submissions


Email your Submission to with the title “Encounters of the Boss Kind”


You have the chance to win the following prizes!

  • Grand Prize: A Steam Copy of RPG Maker VX Ace + Any one item from our Forum Store with a cost of $25 or less + 1 Free Year of Member+
  • Second Place: Any one item from our Forum Store with a cost of $25 or less + 3 Free Months of Member+
  • Third Place: Any one item from our Forum Store with a cost of $25 or less.

Any questions? Ask them below in our comments section.

Now, get on making those Boss Fight Games and keep an eye out for more RPG Maker Day announcements!


Today, we have 3 great new products to share with you.


Tyler is back with a brand new batch of battlers. Inspired by classic games like Dragon Quest, this set features 50 new battlers – from creepy fish from the depths of the oceans to trolls and dragons, and more!

Check out some great screenshots right here.


Kairi Sawler has created yet another fantastic adventure pack. This time, she explores a few of the world cultures such as Egypt, Japan and magical lands that exist beyond time.

Check out music samples right here, and don’t forget to download 3 completely free tracks!

Haven’t picked up Kairi’s first album or Tyler’s first 50 battlers yet? They are featured as our Deal of the Week right now.


Created by Joel Steudler, this musical mini-pack is a fantastic preview of Joel’s impressive composing skills. If you’ve never bought any of Joel’s packs, consider this an affordable way to check out his music. And if you’ve bought one of Joel’s packs, then you know that you’ll be getting a quality set with the perfect fantasy feel.

Click here for samples and more information.


No royal children to save, no dark lords running amuck. The bandits are all in prison, the dragons all resting peacefully on their mountains. Our heroes find themselves with a day to themselves…


Yes, Ralph. We checked.

Anyway, as I was saying. A whole day to themselves, what would our heroes do? And you are here to answer that question in an art contest! Here are the rules:

  1. Your entry may be any form of visual static art.
  2. Your entry must depict one of the RTP characters from XP, VX, or VX Ace on their day off from adventuring.
  3. You must email your entry to with the subject line of “RM Heroes’ Day Off” by February 8th, 2014.

That’s it. No more rules. All entries will be put up on Facebook for a vote. The winner will receive a prize!