28 September 2012

Navigation Menu Changes

The next big project for RPG Maker Times is its top navigation menu. The current one is way too out-of-date now and there's no question that it needs updating. Because this blog is quite large, spanning four years worth of updates, it's a mammoth undertaking.

Now, I'm not entirely sure how this should be done. I've been thinking about it for a while and experimenting with the different ways of updating the menu to reflect the evolution of the blog and RPG Maker Times Companion.

Here are some ideas I've considered:

  • Simple Menu - A menu displaying only the main areas of the blog, such as Resources or Tools & Utilities. These in turn lead to complete index pages listing their respective sub-pages. This, however, may lead to duplicate entries.
  • Same Format Menu - Keeping the same format menu as the one currently in place, but updating the main categories to reflect the new changes. This includes additions to RPG Maker Times Companion.
  • Keyword/Tag Menu - A menu based on keywords and tags. This utilises posts' categories and tags (rather like Wordpress's parent-child system).
  • Sliding Menu - A hidden menu that, when clicked on, slides out to reveal the main categories and subcategories of the blog and RPG Maker Times Companion.

Further suggestions are welcomed, of course. I'd like to make it easier for my visitors to navigate throughout the site with only a few clicks. I have all the software I need to create some dynamic menus so, regardless, will be experimenting with a few styles and perhaps later will put them to the vote.

Feel free to make suggestions in the comments box below.
25 September 2012

HUD Designer (RMVXA)

A HUD (Head Up Display), which is an interface overlaying the screen to display parameters and other information, always adds aesthetics to a game. In fact, many SNES games have HUDs. One in particular comes to mind: Zelda. The hearts container at the top of the screen is a HUD.

There is an online WYSIWYG HUD generator for RMVXA, where you can create your own by dragging and dropping elements into place to create one of your own.

There are only four options at present - Rectangle, Gradient Rectangle, Image and Text - but I'm sure more will be added at a later date. Notwithstanding, each has its own set of sub-options, including HP/Max HP and MP/Max MP, making it quite customisable.

Once you've created your HUD you can then click "Generate Script" and you'll be able to copy and paste the script into your game. You can also Export/Import your creations for later use and modification.

20 September 2012

Open RPG Maker - Feature Review

Open RPG Maker is the "new kid on the block" and, while it's still under development, it still shows enormous potential. The game engine is not implemented yet, which includes playtesting (this will begin when the Editor is finished), but many of the functions are. So this review is based on its features and functionality. Preliminarily, I'm quite impressed with it.

What Is Open RPG Maker?

According to the blurb:
Open RPG Maker is aimed at being a free and open source clone of the RPG Maker series by Enterbrain. The end goal of the project is to allow users to create 2D console style RPG games similar to the original Final Fantasies / Zelda Games.
And that's exactly what it is. There are some features you are all familiar with, including the all important Database, Map Editor and Resource Importer. But it also has some additional, unique features that are not implemented in the other RPG Makers, such as Screen Layouts and Find Event.

Some Additional Features

At this point in development, the important thing isn't its functionality, but being able to see what this RPG Maker will be capable of when it's completed. Almost every aspect of Open RPG Maker can be edited and, when it is finished, I bet you there will be some awesome games made with it.

Graphics Resources

This entire RPG Maker seems to be initially founded on RM2K/3 (it is a clone after all). Subsequently, you can import resources from your old RM2K/3 projects via the built-in "Importer Plugin", including Character Sprite Sheets, Tilesets and Backgrounds.

In the Tileset section of the Database, one of the functions I particularly like is the ability to change the layout of the tileset directly. You can add or delete tiles with a few clicks. These are then appended to the tileset, as each tile is actually converted into a separate file, which can then be easily deleted from the tileset if you change your mind.

Battle Characters are the same as RM2K/3 in that you can use "poses" to reflect various status effects. I have some very fond memories of spending hours creating my own unique animations for the status effects I created, but this feature was omitted in the next-gen RPG Makers. So I'm glad that this feature is present.

In addition to being able to import RM2K/3 resources, it is also possible to import those from O.H.R.RPG.C.E, which is a neat idea.

There's something else that is a pleasant, very useful feature, lacking in many other RPG Makers, and that is the ability to take a snapshot of your finished maps and save them in PNG format without having to do it manually.

Note: Since this is an RPG Maker outside of Enterbrain's, it's probably better to create your own resources - the same way you would with RM2K/3 - so as not to step on any EULA toes. If it's RM2K/3 I really don't think Enterbrain will care, since that RPG Maker is so old now (and wasn't technically legal in the first place).

Menu Editing

Open RPG Maker has a unique method of editing the menus in the form of Screen Layouts. All data is stored in XML files, which you can edit according to the particular needs of your game. Even if you don't know anything about XML files, the learning curve isn't that steep since XML is essentially about structure rather than details.

The structure of the menu layouts can be modified directly by either dragging the items around the editing area or by tweaking certain variables, such as X- and Y-coordinates and font size and weight. And, with a cursory glance, it seems that it might also be possible to change the frames and add additional graphics to the menus, although I didn't experiment with that.

Within the editing environment, you can also modify menu access conditions. This is set up using conditions and event commands. As an example, if you want background music when you open the Status Menu you can add it under "On Load" and then if you want it to stop when you close the Status Menu, it can be disabled under "On Cancel".

As a result, the potential for creating aesthetic, dynamic menus is huge. So that means there are no scripts per se to modify the menu systems. It's all done here.


Open RPG Maker certainly has the potential to become something great, earning the right to rank alongside some of the more popular RPG Makers, including Enterbrain's, and I'm looking forward to when it's completed.

It's still raw and rough around the edges, but you can see that it shows great promise. Many of the functions aren't properly implemented yet, but it's enough to demonstrate what this capable engine can do. It did crash frequently, but this is to be expected since it's essentially a Beta version, so it's not a big deal.

Although I wasn't able to playtest my creations, since that function is disabled at this point, I was still able to have a good look around and so far what I see I like. I will be looking forward to its completion date and may be able to add tutorials, etc. to RPG Maker Times and RPG Maker Times Companion some time in the future.
14 September 2012

Arabian Nights Resource Pack

The folks at RPG Maker Web have done it again! We were previously presented with the Modern Shop Add-On, purchasable for only $5.99.

This time, however, we have the awe-inspiring Arabian Nights Resource Pack. It costs $9.99, but it's worth the price. It's stunning!

Image borrowed from RPG Maker Web

I'm promptly reminded of one of my favourite SNES games, Arabian Nights and, of course, the Aladdin movies.

To be brutally honest, I'm not sure about the music sample they have on their page, entitled Arabian Nights - Town. It's too shrill and tinny and gave me a headache, though it's probably not the best one in the pack.

I know one thing, there's a small fortune amassing in my bank account specifically for all this cool RPG Maker stuff (yes, including RMVXA).
10 September 2012

RMVX / VXA Resources

Lovely Blues Place has a handful of cool resources, including tileset and tileset extensions, as well as a plethora of sprites. Even though it hasn't been updated for around a year, it's still worth a mention because of the quality of these resources.

Halloween Charset

My favourite part of the website is actually the Halloween collection (an example is to the left).

There are 14 Halloween character sets to use. They're cute and well drawn and, with October fast approaching, someone may be able to use them if they're planning on creating a Halloween type game.

Garden Tileset

This is by far my favourite, the Garden Tileset. I can really see this in a garden or park setting, along with some park benches and lampposts.

RMVXA Compatibility

The charsets and tilesets should work with RMVXA, but unlike with RMVX, it's possible to create new tilesets and add any additional autotiles. RMVXA also has a "VX Compatible Type" option under the tilesets Basic Settings as well.

If you use them, don't forget to credit Lovely Blues somewhere in the game, usually the end credits.
05 September 2012

Q-Engine Script In Progress (RMVX)

Companion Wulf Presents
The Q-Engine Script was originally going to be named CWEngine, i.e. Companion Wulf's Engine, and is a kind of foundation script for my own scripts, as well as other functions and features.

The Q-Engine Script is based loosely on my Scripts/Addon-Ons Compendium for RMVX, which incorporates my Extra Stats Window and Parameter Equip +/- Icon scripts.

An expansion to the Bitmap class is planned to include additional shapes (circle, semi-circle, square, etc.) and font capabilities (enhanced shadow and text effects), as well as windows and windowskins effects.

There will be enhancements to the menu, including icons, and status windows. I'm also hoping to re-do my MMORPG Styled Status/Equipment script.

It's an ambitious project, but I'll try and post updates and screenshots throughout until the script is finished.
02 September 2012

More Sound Effects for RPG Maker

Following on from this post, here are some more websites for sound effects.

  • Noise For Fun - This site has a blend of high quality, unique sound effects, which have been "exclusively produced". Although many of the sound effects have a distinct sci-fi feel to them, under the "Fantasy and Magic" section you might find some sound effects you can use for skills.
  • Free SFX - This site has quite an impressive collection of sound effects. It also has some amazing music tracks. You'll need to register first before you can download anything, but it's worth it.
  • Soundcli.ps - This site boasts 10,000+ sounds! All sounds a free to download in MP3 format. What I like most about this site is that you can preview and download the sound effects without leaving the page too often.
01 September 2012

Melodia (Rpg Maker VX ACE)

Here's another awesome script from Moghunter. The Melodia script for RMVXA is a "rhythm game" in a similar vein to Guitar Heroes, where you press keys with the notes as they travel down the "note highway".

I've played Guitar Hero and many of its clones, and thoroughly enjoy it, but that's not to say I'm any good. My hand-to-eye coordination is rubbish! That said this is an excellent addition to your RMVXA script collection and will give your game an extra dimension.
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