Back in college, I became infatuated with a computer program called RPG Maker, which allows you to design and play your own desktop roll playing games. I used to create my own RPGs on paper as a kid, so the ability to do so on the computer, and at Super Nintendo-level graphics, was really cool. I recently purchased the latest version, RPG Maker MV, to see what it had to offer. All the basics were still there, but the graphics are better and it allows you to do so much more.
I decided to play around with it and come up with a simple RPG. Every game needs a name, so we’ll call it “Mists of Tongass,” after the ancient forest in Alaska. Right off the bat, you see the interface is deceptively simple and intuitive. Just wait.
Now we need a hero. RPG maker comes with lots of default settings, including an initial team of four “actors” of different classes. We’ll just start with one; a simple man living in a simple, forest town, with a mysterious destiny. We’ll call him Lucius York. That has a nice ring to it. His initial equipment is set to default, but later I’ll change that to remove any weapons and armor. The character will have to find those later.
RPG Maker MV has a cool feature that allows you to quickly and easily customize the look of all characters. In past versions, you had to rely on a few defaults unless you were a graphic designer, which I’m not. You can basically change every aspect of the character–eye and skin color, wrinkles, shadows, clothing color and design, front and back hair, etc. You can even add a tail if you want to.
We don’t want Lucius to look like a fantasy hero, at least not yet, so we’ll make his hair shaggy and give him some chin scruff. He hasn’t ventured out into the world yet, so we’ll give him a youthful face, arrogant smirk, and wide, naive eyes. For clothes, he’ll wear a simple brown tunic and green cloak, because he lives in a forest. That’s more like it…
Now we need a place to begin. I already have a rough plot in mind, so we’re going to start in Lucius’ uncle’s house. Designing an interior from scratch is too involved for a blog post. Luckily, RPG Maker MV comes with dozens of pre-made settings that we can customize later. You’ll notice the program allows you to customize the height and width, which corresponds neatly to a 48×48 grid system (an improvement over the old 32×32). You can also choose what background music to play and what background will appear in the battle screen. “Enc. Steps” specifies how many steps, on average, your character will take before encountering an enemy. That won’t come into play just yet.