Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Thoughts about the RPG Maker and some unusual games

After my rant last night, I have a more relaxed and positive post here. It’s about the RPG Maker, a tool for making your own old-school, old-console RPGs. I’ve owned and used the RPG Maker (in various versions) for several years now, having fun with it and, most of the time, getting caught up in figuring out aspects of a new project instead of finishing it.

While you can really make a professional game with the tool (check Amaranth Games for a lot of those), it’s actually cheap enough for a non-professional to buy and easy enough for a non-professional to use. You paint your maps with tiles, add a few events with pre-defined commands (which are pretty straight-forward), and export the whole thing as an installation file you can share with whomever you want. You can add your own tiles (there’s free ones as well as sets to buy in the shop), your own music, your own characters (the ACE, the newest version, even has a character generator), and your own scripts to make the game do something different.
And this is where this post actually starts for me. You can’t just make RPGs with the RPG Maker (although you can surely make those and they can be a lot of fun), you can also make other games, if you can script. I can’t, but I can appreciate those who can.

Three of those other games will feature in this post, two I wrote about before and one I never mentioned so far.
The first one is “Madame Extravaganza’s Monster Emporium” by John Wizard Games. It’s a monster-gathering game of sorts. It has turn-based battles like a regular RPG Maker game, but you buy your monsters from Madame Extravaganza and earn money by going into randomly-generated dungeons and fighting your way through normal monsters and one boss per dungeon. After you won the boss fight, you get rewards (you can also find stuff in the dungeons). There’s different types with different monsters which unlock as you level up (so will your monsters). You can customize your monsters by choosing which attacks they will use and you can exchange members of your group whenever you’re in the town and not in a dungeon (if you have more than 3 monsters, of course). I admit I haven’t finished this game, because I just can’t get two of the orbs I need to unlock the last area and I just can’t get some of the special rooms in the dungeons I need to spot all monsters (you need to fight a monster and defeat it once before you can buy it). That’s the downside of Madame Extravaganza.
The second one is “Our Love Will Grow,” also by John Wizard Games. It’s a game like “Harvest Moon” or “Animal Crossing.” You have your own farm, you start growing crops, you get new seeds in a while, you also can pick stuff in the forest, keep animals (cows, sheep, chicken, bees, and a dog), mine for stones, iron, silver, gold, and gemstones, and find the love of our life. There’s regular parties in town where you can meet several different women whom you can woo. If you manage to get one of them to marry you, you can even have a child. This, of course, requires a top-kept farm and a big farmhouse instead of the small hovel you start with. I haven’t finished that one, either, but I did a lot of farming and I had a lot of fun with it so far. And one of those days, I will get all I need to propose to the girl of my character’s dreams and they will have a kid and live happily forever after on their farm.
The last game is “Fortune’s Tavern” by Michael Flynn (available on Steam). It’s not an RPG and it has some aspects from both games I already mentioned. Like “Madame Extravaganza,” it offers various pets for you to raise and keep. They accompany you into the forest behind the tavern, where you go working on quests (usually ‘find this’ or ‘find out about that’). Your main job, however, is to run and to renovate the tavern itself, so you get more guests and make more money and can do even more for the tavern. There’s three fractions you can cater to, there’s different additional buildings you can rebuild and put to use. On the whole, you can do a lot of stuff in the game and they just added a DLC where you can take over the job of Mayor for the nearby town of Fortune, as well.

All three games are a lot of fun and not the usual RPGs you might expect. And they show that with the ability to use the right scripting language, you can make a lot of different things with a relatively cheap and mundane tool.

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