Want to flex your creative
muscles? Want to capture the hearts of game fans across the world, or at least those of
your friends across the street? Do you want to make your own RPG, Squaresoft be damned?
Well, Agetec has attempted to give you that very opportunity with RPG Maker.
If you are
like me, you approach these things with a little skepticism. I have been disappointed by
so many whatever-makers other games have thrown at me in an attempt to extend their replay
value that I have become jaded. And a set-up devoted solely to design? Ouch, that is a
hard sell. Questions abound. Can I really create the RPG I have always dreamed of? Or is
it so limited that I will have to once again settle for what the programmers think I want?
And, how exactly does it work? Well, let me dodge those first two questions for awhile.
does it work, then? The game is split into two sections: RPG Maker and Anime Maker. RPG
Maker contains both the edit features you will use to create your own RPG and a sample RPG
that is a must-play, not because it is all that fun, but because it gives you a look at
what kind of RPG you will be working with. Anime Maker is an art program that allows you
to draw your own title screens, characters, and monsters and edit them into the game, as
well as design some basic animation on the side. More on that later, first lets dig
into the RPG Maker.
There are several steps and a lot of man hours involved in creating a successful RPG.
RPG Maker uses a series of simple menus to make these steps as easy and straight forward
as possible. First, come up with your concept. Do this with as much preparation as you
feel is necessary, but you will need a story, some characters, and a driving idea. Title
your RPG, select some opening art, or design your own in Anime maker, and get to work on
your characters. You can have four main characters in your original party, and can add
more as the story progresses. You choose the characters skins (out of 68, or design
your own in Anime Maker), their HP, MP, experience level, strength, stamina, intelligence,
luck, and more. And of course, you will need some terrifying monsters lurking about, so
create them. This is the fun part, isnt it? There are 99 existing monsters from
fairies to the undead to dragons and griffins and the like, and, again, there is the Anime
Maker if you want to draw your own. I have to say, though, that I was impressed with the
choices -- they are about as good as they come. You set the monsters attributes much
like the main characters. You also set each monsters pattern of attack by way
of probability, through percentages, that each attack will occur. So, there might be a 35%
chance the monster will attack physically, 25% it will use magic, 5% it will earn a
critical hit, etc. You also need to create the items and magic used in the game. Name
them, select what they will do, choose a graphic and sound effect for it, and assign it to
a person, place or thing.
me so far? Okay, now that you know the story, the characters, and the monsters, you need
create the maps that provide the settings of the game and the events that drive the story.
This is a long process, indeed, but it is the very substance of your campaign. Textured
tiles are used to piece together the landscape where you place your towns and dungeons and
so forth. An "event" is anything that changes the current flow of action, such
as a screen change, a message, a movement from, say, forest to forest or town to dungeon,
a choice the characters have to make, a battle, anything.
And thats the basics, the nutshell, so to speak. Keep in mind the game comes with
two full manuals of specifics. The choices are indeed fantastic. But are they unlimited?
No. And how would that work exactly? Lets face it, you want choices, need choices,
graphics, menus, because if you are down to dealing with ones and zeroes you better be
getting paid. You deal with the current limits, and wait for the next game to break
of the first limitations you will encounter is that the overall concept of RPG Maker is
geared toward fantasy-oriented settings and gameplay. There are some sci-fi dungeons and a
big-ass robot bad guy to chose from, but if you are looking to capture the atmosphere of
your favorite sci-fi RPG, you wont be able to do that here. However, the biggest
limitations of the game itself are not in the construction of the game, but in its
performance, specifically the graphics, sound effects, and fighting system. I am not
kidding when I say that if you picture your favorite 16-Bit RPG from the Super Nintendo or
Genesis, you are about on the mark. The graphics are embarrassing, the music and sound
effects barely register and there are no special effects. The battles are rigid and old
school. And I dont care how good an artist you are, nothing you can do in the Anime
Maker can compensate for this.
Which brings me back to the Anime Maker. It is a nice touch, but difficult to use if
you dont have the PSX mouse. The controller simply doesnt offer the fluidity
you will want. But they have done a good job of separating the steps so that they are easy
to understand and ensure that your characters, monsters, title screens and animations are
complete. And given the low frame rate of the game itself, there arent many steps
required in animating the movements of characters. In all, this is a feature some will
appreciate, but only a few will really use.
the fact that you are really creating an RPG whose performance is at least a decade
outdated, the game practically begs for a little silliness. I had a lot of fun trying to
make the most humorous, self-parodying campaign I could. I created Mudboy and Mudbunny,
who had save Chuckleville from the Dragon using spells like "Ouch My Butt!" and
"Holy Crap!" Yeah, its dumb but it was fun.
rest really depends on you and your memory card. Or cards, I should say. This game eats
memory faster than a kid can eat candy. A small, one map game will take an entire card.
You can, however, link several cards together in order to create a more complex campaign,
but that takes money (or a big, fancy card). But if you have the time and the memory, if
you are an RPG addict and must see the current state of consumer RPG design, RPG Maker is
a must. And creating an RPG that is specific to the tastes, humor, and experiences of you
and your friends, to include likenesses and obscure in-jokes that would make the writers
of "The Simpsons" jealous, is almost too good pass up.