Saturday, 30 August 2014

RPG Maker Vx Ace, Pros and Cons for the Beginning Developer

Hello again!

Let's take a look at the RPG Maker Vx Ace engine and my reasoning as to why I consider it to be a fairly good engine to begin with for your first project. When I was still debating and thinking of what I could possibly do to move forward on my Game Development aspirations, I was still in the middle of my first year in my Commerce Degree in university. When I spoke to a friend of mine that works within the university's Digital Game Institute, he recommended I take a look at RPG Maker Vx Ace.

Quite honestly, I was doubtful about the engine's capabilities and such at first. Although today I look at it in a different way.

  • A price tag that a student or someone with a not too high budget can afford. 
On the digital distribution platform Steam, on the day of this post being written, the software costs €59.99. Along with the software you get a number of resources that could essentially be used to create an small game with just them. Needless to say, if you find the software on sale during a Steam sale or any other sale, you can get it for cheaper.

  • The community based around this software is helpful and there are a number of tutorials available online to get you started!
 Youtube and the RPG Maker Vx Ace forums themselves both contain a large amount of valuable resources and tutorials. If something that you would like to know isn't listed down yet, simply ask on the forums themselves and someone will most likely get back to you. 

  • Easy to get into, a lot of room to master different skills. 
The fact that the software is fairly easy to get into allows you to focus on other aspects of game development. This includes things such as Story design and writing, level design, balancing and many many more areas that you might find interest in. If your working in a team, you'll get to experience how having different team members can affect development, along with the challenges of keeping a team moving towards a focused goal to eventually release a fully fledged game.

  • No need to know programming prior to going into developing with this engine.
This was a major factor that pulled me towards this engine. As mentioned in the Introductory post, I do not have the strongest background in programming. The RPG Maker Vx Ace engine makes use of an Event System to create a number of systems in the game you wish to create. It can be used to create NPCs, Quests, Cinematics and much more. If you wish to do more that than the event system can handle, the software also has it's own programming language called Ruby. If you want to learn more about Ruby, there are a number of tutorials that help to teach the language itself. Though as said, scripting is optional, and even then you can find a large number of scripts on the RPG Maker Vx Ace forums and other websites.

  • Basic systems are included, and can be changed via scripts such as different battle systems.
By basic systems I refer to things such as Main Menu, Inventory, Movement, Turn-Based Battle System, In-game Saving and so on. These of course can be modified by scripts however it is not necessary to do so. Unless of course you wish to modify that system to something you prefer.

  • Convenient testing and editing for maps and enemies. 
As you will likely realize after you get started with creating a project in RPG Maker Vx Ace, you will be going through a number of variations when it comes to many aspects of your creation. Whether it is modifying a map, changing an event or balancing out an enemy, you will soon realize that you will need a fast way to test these. The engine comes with a Play Test feature that allows you to save your project and play it out as you have created it to let you test out events and such. When it comes to enemies, the engine also comes with a Battle Test System to allow you to simulate a battle with the character and equipment you wish and the enemies you wish.

  • Ample resources available online and people to collaborate with. 
Whether your good at art, music, programming, story writing or other disciplines, you can request or collaborate with people that perhaps are not good in your discipline but good in another that you aren't. This means you can work with others or trade resources to help make your project more unique or appealing.
  • RPG Maker Vx Ace games are limited to a maximum resolution of 640 x 480. 
The games can be played in full screen, however black bars are likely to appear on widescreen monitors. This may not be a crippling technical limitation of the software, however it is worth keeping in mind when looking into the software.

  • Data entry can be tedious. 
When you are creating a large number of different weapons, items, armor and skills, and you plan these out on a spread sheet program or some other external software, you will probably have to manually input the data from the spreadsheets into the software. This also can be a minor complaint, to my knowledge at least there are no methods to directly import data into the software.

In conclusion; 
Would I recommend RPG Maker Vx Ace for an aspiring game developer? Definitely. More so to those who wish to get use to the development processes and who do not have a lot of experience in programming. Those who do have experience in programming would not be disappointed either as they may use their programming background using Ruby to add on or modify the existing systems to suit their needs.. It's a software that allows you to create your first project by letting you focus on the areas you wish to focus. If you are an artist that prefers digital drawing for example, you can focus on that area and possibly get others to work with you for the other areas such as story writing and implementation, or you can do it yourself. In my case, I wanted to get a feel about story telling and creating a game world, as well as learning things that I could only learn by working on a game. 

These are, of course based on my experience and opinion of the software. However with these I hope that you can get a better idea of whether or not the RPG Maker Vx Ace software would be useful to you. As we move forward, I will be sharing my experiences and processes that I undergo with my current project.

If you have any questions you wish to ask feel free and I will try to answer them as best I could!
Coming up; I will begin looking into the process I went through when designing my game world, lore wise more specifically.

For now I will see you all next time!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

An Introduction

Hello and welcome to what will be what you could call my developer diary or blog!

At the current time of this post, I am a student at the University of Malta who is pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce degree. However my career choice goes into Game Development, which I plan to pursue a Masters in Digital Games after my degree. In the mean time however, I am practicing game development and hope to begin constructing a portfolio for my masters!

More on myself, I am a 19 year old and I have an interest as in terms of Project Management, Game Design, Story Writing, 3D Modelling and a number of other aspects. My weakness in this regard is my lack of expertise in programming. Whilst I have learned some programming in the past, it is far from the level I would like it to be.

My past as a gamer began back when I was very young with games such as Doom 2, Starcraft 1, Dune, Command and Conquer and a number of other fantastic titles and franchises. My interest in game development began when I was around the age of 11 to 13. The notion of being able to create a game that can provide a rich story and fun experience began to become more and more attractive to me.

My viewpoint on games is that games are a unique art form. They encompass Art, Literature, Music and gaming's own unique aspect, interaction. Games can serve to teach just as much as it would entertain, and having the ability to tell a story and involve the player in that story, is simply an amazing notion in my eyes. The wonders of games is that it doesn't take anyone with a deep understanding of art or literature to understand or feel the message that a game may be trying to deliver. Enough of that for now, as I tend to drag on when it comes to why I think games are or can be such an amazing aspect of our lives.

More on the blog! This blog will serve as both a motivator and means for me to keep track of my progress throughout the years. I will be posting on things such as projects I am currently working on, the thinking process as to why I chose the engine or software that I did, what I learned and what I'm hoping to learn and more. Hopefully this will strike the interest of a number of individuals such as those wanting to get into Game Development, but haven't the clue as to where, or perhaps even to those who are currently learning game development and wish to see if others are experiencing what they are, or want to look at it from a different perspective. Regardless I hope to reach as many aspiring game developers and gamers alike, and hope my experience, ideas and opinions may serve to assist those who wish to pursue game development as a career. As well as perhaps be entertaining to those who wish to see someone who is working his way into game development, perhaps someone who isn't necessarily studying Computing or Creative Computing.

I look forward to bring you further posts and hope you join me and stay with me on this journey!
Feel free to provide feedback to help me improve on the content I bring to you :)
Coming up; I will be speaking of my first project and my choice of Game Engine 'RPG Maker Vx Ace'

See you all then!