|Game: RPG Maker VX Ace
Genre: Design & Illustration, Web Publishing
Release Date: Dec 10, 2012
Platform: PC / Windows 7
|Overall rating: 8.5/10
Learning Curve: Medium-High
Ease of Use: Easy AND Hard
Menu Placement: Decent
Features: Too Many
Assets: Many, but expensive
RPG Maker VX Ace is a newer, improved version of a software which, as the title states, helps you make RPGs. It’s not a game, but a software to make games. While with a lot of work you can make quite complex, not necessarily retro looking games, the base idea of RPG Maker is to make RPGs that are styled like those of the early 90’s: mostly 2D and 16-bit looking, such as the older Final Fantasy titles, or other such so called JRPG styled games.
I had used RPG Maker in the past -one of the first versions, in fact- and I’m glad to say the whole selection of menus and things you can do are much easier to find your way through now, and you can truly have a very short, very simple game out in a matter of days thanks to the wide variety of stock images they provide.
It might look quite confusing at first, but don’t be daunted by the amount of menus and options the program has to offer. Simply find a tutorial for beginners online and follow it, and you’ll be sure to be able to find your way around it. Or, if you’re the adventurous type, do what I did at first and learn by trial and error for the basics, it was also quite fun to learn this way!
So long as you’re trying to make a game that follows the typical RPG rules, RPG Maker VX Ace makes scripting basic game features easy, as it will take care of most of the coding and you just have to fill in the options; it has some pre-made sample maps that you can use when you’re just starting out; as well as a character generator (for sprites and heads, you can change the eye color and shape, nose and mouth shape, skin color, clothes, and hair style and color between a few choices) that gives you a small amount of freedom on how your characters will look, while still working with the existing bases. This way you can busy yourself to learn the very basics of making a game thanks to not having to worry about the art and background.
The slightly more advanced basics (or should I say, intermediate scripting features) might take a little longer to learn (I still haven’t, I’m still only figuring out the basics of what this program can do), but if your goal is to make a small, simple game, you will surely find RPG Maker a great help. And, if you’re willing to delve into the world of scripting and use your own art, you can truly make of your game a masterpiece that might stand out from the rest, since with RPG Maker and some work you can customize everything: from the classes, through the damage formulas, to the menus and everything in between.
There’s lots of user scripts to be found online that will help you with more complex stuff too, if you look for it! As well as free and paid packs of sprites, tiles, etc for download, some which are only allowed to be used with non-commercial games, while others have commercial licenses (be sure to check that when you download them!)
One thing that bothered me: Adding new tilesets to the default can be easy, but it’s not overly intuitive; some imported right and some not so, even though I added them as the tutorial told me to. Having better automation for this as well as for transferring tilesets you might make to someone else would be nice. Of course, since I’m new at this it could have been user error, but I feel like this step should be as easy as changing the images for the characters was, to make it more user friendly.
RPG Maker is good for beginners and advanced users alike, regardless of how big or small their project is. The only downside of it is that the official DLCs with music, new tilesets and characters can be quite expensive, but if you take into account that most of those are allowed for use in commercial games, it’s not too bad. They can, however, be quite an expense on an already expensive piece of software.
I’m not at all good with RPG Maker yet, and that is why this review for it is so short and not overly in-depth on all the possibilities you have, but as a beginner I can say: if you want to start out with a 2D RPG, RPG Maker is one of your best choices (though by far not the only one); if, however, you’re looking to make something a bit different from 16-bit styled games, you might find RPG Maker a bit more difficult to learn than you’d like to make a simpler game.