Last time we explored the map making interface and made our first map in RPG Maker. It looks nice, but there is not much for the player to do.

RPG Maker Edited Map

Enter Events

Events are a collection of commands that happen under certain conditions. Think of these like mini-programs. A shop keeper is an event, a map change is an event, even battles can be triggered by events.

To get started we need to enter Event Mode(F6) before we can start adding events. A grid should appear showing you the dividing lines of each tile. Right click anywhere on the map and you will see a context menu with many options for events. Click new and the event editor will open up.

The Event Editor

RPG Maker new event window

There is a lot going on here, but fortunately RPG Maker splits the window into easy to understand parts.

Title Bar

In the title bar we have the event ID, this is the number that will get referenced by other events and scripts we write in the future.

Name and Page Controls

Then we have the event name, this is for your reference and will not be seen by the player.

Notes are similar to the name in that they are for your reference, but some plugins use them for special commands.

Next we have page editing features. Events are broken up into pages. Most events we will work with will only have one or two pages, but you can have up to 20 different pages. You can see that all sections underneath this part of the interface are in a tab, this is an event page.

Page Conditions

This is where event pages come in handy. We will explain this stuff in detail in a later article, but events that have unmet conditions will not execute. Each page can have a condition. Lets say we want something to happen only once or the dialogue of a character changes each time we talk to them, this is where you can make that happen.

Image

RPG Maker Sprite Seclector

Events are invisible to the player by default, but we can give them a character image. These images can be doors, switches, animals, monsters, or anything else that you would like your player to interact with. Each character image is split into cells. These cells are three by four. This makes an animated character sprite. The first image is the right foot, then standing still, and finally the left foot. The process repeats downwards for each direction. These characters are placed on a sheet of 8 characters.

Images are a bit complex and we will cover them in-depth at a later date.


Autonomous Movement

Movement is another complex feature that could use an article of its own. With autonomous movement you can make a sprite move without any input from the player. This can be random, always moving towards the player(Approach), or defined by you(Custom). Speed is how fast the sprite moves and frequency is how often.

We will be working a lot with movement in the future, but it is okay to set this one to fixed for now.

Options

Options determine how the event will be displayed.

Walking displays animation when moving, this is what we want to use for most of our characters.

Stepping displays the stepping animation while the character is stopped. This makes fire and lights glow automatically. This can also make a character walk in place.

Direction Fix prevents the direction that the image is facing from changing while moving.

Through allows to pass through terrain and events that cannot be passed through.

Priority

Priority determines how the event will interact with the player and others.

Below characters will let players and so on will be able to move on top of this event.

Same as characters will be at the same height as characters, and it will not be possible to go through this event.

Above characters players and so on will be able to move beneath this event.

Triggers

Triggers determine how the event activates.

Action Button activates the event when the player is touching the event and presses the action button. This is how events are handled by default.

Player Touch activates when the player touches the event. You could use this for things like pressure plates.

Event Touch activates when an event makes contact with a player through either their autonomous movement or the player touching them.

Autorun activates as soon as event conditions are met. This is useful for introduction sequences and one time events that must trigger no mater what.

Parallel activates the same way as autorun, but the it runs in the background. This lets the player move and continue playing even as the event is executing. This is great for background elements that need to happen, but should not interrupt gameplay.

Warning
Autorun and parallel can cause your game to enter an endless loop if you do not stop it. Always end your autorunning events with something that stops them from running.
RPG Maker Event Commands

Event Contents

The right side of the event editor contains all the event commands. This is where the magic happens. Today we will only cover a few commands, but these will be the building blocks for more complex systems in the future.

Double click in the contents section to open up a list of event commands. There are a lot of them, but they are broken up into easy to digest Groups.

We are going to start with the Show Text command. This will let us make a dialogue box that the player will see when they activate the event. We can chose a face image to show along with the text. You can change the background and position if you wish. For this example we will have the character say “Hi, how are you?”

Now that we have a question we should let the player respond. We will use the Show Choices command to do so. This will let the player make a choice, we can execute different commands based on their response.

Lets say “Good” and “Terrible” are our choices. When we enter the command you will see that there is text that says “When good”, “When Terrible”, and “End”. Every command we place in the Good section will only execute when the player selects “Good” and the terrible section only executes if “Terrible” is selected. Everything entered after the End statement will execute no matter what.

Lets make our event respond to the player’s choice. Afterwards our event should look something like this:

Now we just need to play test the game. Give it a try and see your world come to life!

Wrapping Up

RPG Maker has many more commands that we will cover in the future. You should read the documentation for more details in what each event command does.

We will start building our database and make more events in the next few tutorials. Look forward to it.

Now that we have our story and game engine, we are ready to start making our game in RPG Maker MV.

Creating a new Project

We need to make a new project before we can start making our game. To do so we have to go to the file menu at the top of the screen and press New Project… or CTRL+N.

A dialogue box will ask you for the Project name, Game Title, and the Directory you wish to save it under.

New Project in RPG Maker
Making a new project is easy.

I will call the file MercenaryTutorial so it is easy to find, the game is going to be about a war so the working title will be The Great War (we will change it later), and we will save it where we can easily find it later.

Navigating RPG Maker

RPG Maker MV has a lot of powerful features tucked away in a relatively simple interface. When you open up your new project you will see a window that looks like this:

RPG Maker Editor Window

Menu

At the top of the screen we have a menu bar. Most options should be familiar with you as they appear in other programs so I will only cover RPG Maker specific options.

  1. File contains options for opening, creating, and deploying Projects
  2. Edit holds copy, cut, paste, and find.
  3. Mode lets you select between Event and Map Editing Modes (We will talk about that latter).
  4. Draw lets you select your brush when in Map mode.
  5. Scale lets you zoom the map display in and out.
  6. Tools is where all of RPG Maker’s power lies. Most of the editing features are contained here. The database, plugin manager, sound room, event search, resource manager, character generator, and the options for the editor. We will cover each of these at a later date.
  7. Game lets you play test your game or open the directory it is saved in.
  8. Help gives you RPG Maker’s Documentation, a basic tutorial, and a simple about dialogue box.

Toolbar

The tool bar has functions similar to the Menu, but these are displayed as icons so you can quickly access common functions. They are separated into groups.

  1. New, Open, and Save Project
  2. Cut, copy, and paste
  3. Undo
  4. Map and Event Mode
  5. Brushes: Pencil, rectangle, ellipse, flood fill, and shadow pen
  6. Zoom options
  7. Database, plugins, sound, event search, resources, and character generator
  8. Playtest (You will be using this often)

Maps and Tilesets

On the far left corner you will see a sidebar split into two parts. The top is your tileset. This consists of your pallet of tiles to draw your maps with. There are tabs at the bottom labeled A-E and R. Different tilesets will have different tabs, but tab A and R are always available.

We have a list of all maps in your game underneath the tile pallet. You can make, delete, and modify the properties of maps.

Event and Map Editor

The largest section of the window is the map and event editor. This is the section where you design your maps and the things that happen in them. You can only edit the map in map mode and events in event mode. 

If you click on a tile in the tileset pallet and enter map mode you can change the way the map looks. Give it a try.

RPG Maker Edited Map

The Footer

At the bottom of the screen is a bar that tells you what map you are on, that maps dimensions in tiles, and the current tile’s location if you are in event mode.

Wrapping Up

We setup our RPG Maker project, learned about the main window, and even drew our first map. We will learn the basics of events and playtest our game in the next tutorial.

Read the help file in the mean time, it holds a wealth of information on how to use RPG Maker. You should also take a look at the RPG Maker Forums, the community has helpful resources available for anyone interested in making a game.

Many people dream of making a video game. Gaming is one the the ages most popular hobbies and stories of people getting rich off side projects are everywhere. The truth is very few people actually want to make a game nor are the success stories nearly as common as we would like to believe. Building a video game on your own is a massive undertaking and rarely yields success financially. That said, there are options. Over the next few articles we will explore building a small video game in RPG Maker MV.

Getting Started

After deciding we have the determination to make a video game we need to do several things:

  1. Define our goal
  2. Pick a genre
  3. Pick an engine
  4. Refine our concepts
  5. Estimate costs
  6. Build our team

Many are tempted to run ahead and make things up as they go. That rarely works. If you look on Steam or Itch you will see many unfinished projects. These ‘games’ are unpolished, poorly written, and use the generic features of what ever engine the developer could find at the time. To avoid this we need to define our goals beforehand.

Define out goal

Before we begin building our game we need to know the scope of our project, the story, the type of game we wish to make, etc. We need to set expectations and do research around the market we are targeting.

Write our Synopsis

First we will get a general idea of what our story will be about. Some video games are more about the mechanics and some about the world they inhabit, but most start with a story the developer wishes to tell. For this reason we will focus first on a story and then build a world and mechanics that fit that story.

Lets say we want a game following a band of mercenaries who are about to be dragged into a war between two rival nations.

Pick a medium

Would this story play out best as a platformer? Perhaps a shooter? A grand strategy game? The genre we chose will greatly impact the rest of the decisions we make in development. The engine we use, the mechanics we design, and the way we flesh out our story all depend on how the game is played. An action game is going to have fewer cutseens and less dialogue than a RPG or Visual Novel. A RPG will be far more time consuming and costly to develop than a platformer.

With that in mind we will say that this will be a role playing game centered around one particular mercenary who is having second thoughts about the war.

Define our scope

Now we need to decide the scope. Are we building a 100 hour epic or perhaps a 15 minute tech demo? Do we want to show this to our friends and family, release it to the public for free, or perhaps make our millions from Steam and GOG sells? These questions will help us decide how we want to write our story and how we go about marketing it. If we decide to sell our video game it will need a lot more refinement than if we just gave it to a friend for a birthday present.

You must have a realistic goal for your first game, many developers set impossible goals and give up under the pressure. We will be in a difficult position if we are to build a game 100 hour dream game in between work and taking care of the family for example.

Let’s imagine we are working full-time with no other responsibilities. After work each day we will dedicate an hour to game development. Our goal is to build a 1 hour long episodic 2D RPG telling the story of a mercenary as he fights through a war.

Pick an Engine

Now that we know our story and what type of game we wish to make we need to decide on an engine. A game engine is a prebuilt set of libraries and tools that we can use to build our game. These range from a few python libraries to full development environments. There are far too many to count and you will have to do your own research to find the best one for your needs.

In our case we chose to build a 2D RPG so we will pick an engine that has great 2D support and provides us the tools to build an RPG. We have limited amount of development time and few resources. This brings us down to two engines that work well for our project.

Godot

Godot Video Game Engine

Godot is a free and open source (MIT) general purpose game engine for both 2D and 3D games. It has support for all major platforms (Linux, Mac, Android, Windows, FreeBSD, OpenBSD and Haiku and iOS) and multiple programming languages. The catch is that you will have to build most of your resources from scratch. Godot does some of the heavy lifting, but you will have to write the scripts and make the artwork yourself. Godot is not ready to make a RPG out of the box, but it is powerful enough to do so.

RPG Maker MV

RPG Maker game engine

The latest release in the RPG Maker series of engines, RPG Maker MV is a proprietary engine that supports all major platforms and utilizes JavaScript and HTML5 for programming. The engine is easier to use than Godot and is built for our particular task. All the functions for a RPG already exist and it comes with many resources prebuilt for our use. The catch is that it is proprietary, not as flexible without putting in effort, and costs money. That said there is no royalty fees and you are getting a lot of resources with it.

Due to the cost of hiring artists and scripting we will use RPG Maker MV for this. It does cost more initially, but we can get away with using the default assets till we are ready to publish our game.

Estimate Costs

We have made it to the final stages of planning out our game. We now need to estimate how much this project will cost us. If we are going to do this by ourselves or with friends who are willing to donate their time and skill, the costs will be that of the engine and the time we put in. If we need to hire a programmer for a specialized system or voice actors, however, we will be needing a much larger budget.

We need break down our costs

$80.00 – Engine

$25.00 – Main Character Portrait

$150.00 – Tileset

$300.00 – Title Theme Music

Etc.

Refine our Concept

Now that we have our video game planned out we need to actually flesh out our story, gameplay, and other plans. We need to build a detailed game design document that explains the setting, characters, story, and gameplay. How is combat going to work? What abilities does the main character have? How does our key mechanic play into a particular level? All these things will be important to the development of our game.

Our RPG’s game design document may start something like this:

[Insert Title] is a turn-based RPG that follows a mercenary during a great war. Combat is the focus, with each character having unique abilities that will change the outcome of battle. Each level of the game takes place as an episode during the war and consists of self-contained goals. After completing a level, the player will be awarded a grade and rewards based on performance. These will aid the player in the next level.

It is a bit rough, but it will do for a start.

Next time we will start exploring the RPG Maker engine and design the first level of our video game.