RPG Maker VX Ace

RPG Maker VX Ace

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MadTinkerer Dec 22, 2012 @ 10:39am
Quick N00B Guide!
Hello my fellow RMVX customers! I see there are quite a few others here who have never used any previous RPG Maker at all, so I think I should give you some advice to get you started as quickly and painlessly as possible.

#1: RPG Maker is designed primarily for old-school style RPGs.

While RPG Maker is very versatile, it's main focus has always been 80s/90s RPGs such as Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Ultima, Chrono Trigger, and so on. This means 2D graphics. This means single player. This means the most painless way to make your awesome magnum opus in your mind is to start by learning how RPG Maker does everything by default and not trying to force it to do things that require scripting. Which leads us to...

#2: You don't need custom scripts for anything. (until you know how EVERYTHING ELSE works FIRST)

If you ask a question on a forum and someone answers by saying you need a script to do it, they may be wrong. Usually they're not, but I've noticed a few people here and there recommend scripts when common events can more easily be used, which means they're unfamiliar with how to do things right. If they are correct and what you're trying to do does require a script, you need to stop and learn how RPG Maker does things before even thinking about trying what you want.

The RPG Maker map editor is the shallow end of the pool. The database is the middle of the pool, with common events being the deep end of the pool. The script editor is THE OCEAN. YOU WILL DROWN IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO SWIM, SO LEARN TO SWIM IN THE POOL FIRST.

#3: There are three main things you need to learn, all of which are designed to be easy to learn but have many features, and a few smaller super easy things.

a) The map editor.

The map editor lets you paint tiles on the map in a number of layers, as well as placing events. The different layers of tiles are designed to give a sense of space and define where the player can go. It's pretty straightforward, you just need to figure out what each tile is supposed to represent.

b) The Event Commands menu.

You won't even see this unless you are adding a new command to an Event or Common Event. Events are placed on the map and are usually either invisible or they have a sprite which represents a characer or object. You will use Events a lot. You will need to know how Event Commands work in order to do anything. You will eventually need to understand how every Event Command works, but it's all pretty straightforward.

c) The Database.

The Database stores a vast amount of complicated information in extremely well-organised and easy to understand tabs. This is where you decide your characters' basic graphics and information, their class abilities and stats (and how those classes work), how skills work, define items, define equipment and weapons, the stats of enemies and how they're arranged in encounters ("troops"), and a few other things.

The most powerful part of the database is Common Events. Before custom scripts were possible, almost every work-around involved Common Events. Common Events use the Event Command menu just like regular map Events. Common Events are the last thing you need to learn how to use before bothering with custom scripts, and you should always try to figure out how to do things with Common Events (or regular events or just the database) first before resorting to custom scripts.

d) Resource Manager, Sound Test, and Character Generator

The resource manager defines what the project can "see" and is the place to go when you want to use different graphics for things and when you're ready to add your own music and sound effects.

The Sound Test is a player for all the music and sound effects in your game, and you can tweak the pitch and volume. It's the same menu as when you're defining when music or sound effects play in Event Commands.

The Character Generator is a nice tool for quickly making custom character graphics in the style of the default graphics. Even if you intend to do a different graphical style, it's nice for quickly coming up with placeholders.

#4: There is a LOT to learn, but each part is easy to understand.

RPG Maker is pretty darn powerful for what it does. It does take a while to learn everything, but you just need to take your time and learn how RPG Maker does everything by default. RPG Maker is designed for ease of use, which is why one of it's few downsides is that it's not as versatile as Game Maker (for example).

But making RPG or Action Adventure games is quicker and easier in RPG maker than in Game Maker, and databases are an advanced feature in Game Maker as opposed to a standard feature in RPG Maker. If you want to make a kind of game that RPG Maker is trying to make easy, then it is easy. If you want to make something different, you may want to resort to Game Maker or custom scripts.

Using custom scripts is the same as full-on hardcore programming. If you've taken a programming course or two, reading the code that makes eveything actually work will be easier. It is perfectly fine, EVENTUALLY, to use custom scripts in your work. But not before you know what you're doing. Just save yourself a massive series of painful headaches and stay away from the script editor until you're no longer a N00B.

Even after learning Game Maker and a little bit of Real Programming Languages including C++, Visual Basic, and Java, RPG Maker is still my number one favorite toy. VX is even more powerful than XP or the other versions I used back when I was really obsessed with RPG maker, so if VX is your first version you are really lucky. I love RPG Maker and if you follow these guidelines I hope you will find it easy to love as well.

EDIT: If you liked this post, I am working on an expanded version as a Community Guide here: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=116493312#-1 It is still very rough and incomplete, as I decided that instead of just giving advice from the perspective of someone who used earlier RPG Makers, I should work on my own VX Ace project first, to get a better idea of the full capabilities of VXAce. There's been a lot of new features added in the last decade!

Unfortunately, that's been going a bit slow as Real Life is demanding more of my time. It'll be complete eventually, though. Maybe not my game, but the guide. Well, more complete than it is.
Last edited by MadTinkerer; Jun 21, 2013 @ 12:15am
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Showing 1-15 of 53 comments
Knifight Dec 22, 2012 @ 10:51am 
Great, thanks a lot for the quick overview. I was already starting to look into Ruby to learn some of the scripting language first, but I think your approach seems more intuitive.
Levi Dec 22, 2012 @ 10:54am 
Here is another useful thing I found. A huge newbies tutorial.


I'm actually surprised at how easy it is to use so far. Pretty impressive.
Knifight Dec 22, 2012 @ 12:47pm 
Ow wow, nice find. What a professional looking guide, not to mention the info looks great.
Clarynaa Dec 22, 2012 @ 12:59pm 
Originally posted by Levi:
Here is another useful thing I found. A huge newbies tutorial.


I'm actually surprised at how easy it is to use so far. Pretty impressive.

I like this guide A LOT more than the official one. It rushed through everything, had bad(imo) mapping techniques, and was overall just lower quality.
MadTinkerer Dec 22, 2012 @ 1:17pm 
I knew there were guides like that out there already, which is why I stuck to the more general approach. Plus, I really wanted to get the message out that you don't need to learn Ruby to just make RPG Maker games. :)

That is a great tutorial, Levi! Thanks!
Jaguar Dec 22, 2012 @ 2:33pm 
One thing I noticed when XP, and subsequently RGSS scripting, were released, no one ever used common events anymore. I remember seeing tons guides for 2K/2K3 for doing things with just common events, and then it all just disappeared when RGSS scripting came out.

With common events, you can simulate a lot of things you can do with scripting (and a lot easier/straightforward too). RGSS should only be used to change fundamental core mechanics like UI or combat.

For example, you can do day/night with just common events.
Diachron Dec 22, 2012 @ 5:17pm 
Very good intro-- thanks for imparting your perspective.
Rirath Dec 22, 2012 @ 9:32pm 
Nice write-up MadTinkerer, thanks!
UncleSam Dec 23, 2012 @ 3:12am 
The FAQ is pretty good, but I'm thinking about making a steam group for the newcomers to avoid the tons of topics with the same exact question and also to relieve greenlight from the "merely anything" game concepts, but i don't know how would that work and where to start (I'm not into this kind of stuff). I can answer the most basic questions but only myself vs a horde of newcomers well.. i need more "veterans". Also i don't know if it's needed or not.
AliveDrive Dec 25, 2012 @ 7:20pm 
This made me laugh! Well written, this should be the preface for every newbie out there.
FestivePenta Dec 25, 2012 @ 8:02pm 
Well made!
Might I suggest turning it into an actual guide useing the new guide feature?
PurpleRose Dec 26, 2012 @ 6:55am 
Haha, thanks now i know where to step.
Kronosloth Dec 26, 2012 @ 9:56am 
Great advice, thanks!
[BMC]Nos_42 Dec 28, 2012 @ 3:55pm 
"The RPG Maker map editor is the shallow end of the pool. The database is the middle of the pool, with common events being the deep end of the pool. The script editor is THE OCEAN. YOU WILL DROWN IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO SWIM, SO LEARN TO SWIM IN THE POOL FIRST."

Had 2 people laughing seriously hard xD
awesome, helpfull post
MadTinkerer Dec 28, 2012 @ 7:09pm 
@stephentheslayer: Yep, it's over in the Guides now!

@[BMC]Nos_42: That's what I was going for. But it's so true as well. Custom scripts are the only part of RPG Maker that are not designed to be easy and fun to learn. I'm not knocking Rubyscript, I'm just trying to point out that RPG Maker is itself very game-like and fun and extraordinarily flexible. Most of RPG Maker is like Legos or Technics. Rubyscript is like power tools.
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