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Article - 'The N00b Club' by Angroth

An item about Game Design posted on Mar 2, 2004

Blurb

Outlines good and bad factors of rm2k(3) and then helps sort out the first few likely problems you'll have.

Body

I’m sure most of you know good and bad things about rm2k3 but if you weren’t of some of its good and bad features, or if you have yet to get it and would like to know how it fares overall then this article is for you. The first half I’ll show rm2k(3)’s pro’s and con’s and the second half will help you through the main problems you’ll encounter.

Firstly we’ll start with the good points. The most obvious feature of rm2k3 that makes it good is its incredibly easy interface. When you first get the maker it seems pretty daunting because there’s a lot of commands and for a long time you won’t know how to work half of it (like variables) but with a little fiddling you’ll soon figure out the main things you need to know. Next we can easily say that whether you know little or a lot you can make games pretty quick and to a reasonable standard. Basically, variables allow you to do anything and extend from not only rpg format but to create almost anything if you put the effort into it.
The colours it can support aren’t too bad quality, better than old final fantasy games and with tons of resources scattered across the internet it’s easy to find things that make your game nice, colourful and attractive. For sounds it uses midi format which is ok, some playstation games seem to use midi, and for little rpg games it seems to fit them much better than mp3s (which require a lot of space). But if you really do want mp3s you can save a .wav file into the music folder for a poor quality but similar effect.

Now onto the main bad points, the things that are the opposite side of everything mentioned above. ^__^
Although at first it seems like you have a lot of commands, after finding out what they all do you’ll notice that there isn’t anything particularly powerful or diverse which is disappointing. Note that variables are very handy but even when you know how to work them really well there’s isn’t that much you can do with them, a few mini-games or sub systems is probably all you’ll use them for. This alone makes rm2k3 a rpg maker only tool. Obviously it’s name is RPG Maker 2003 suggests it’s for rpgs only but it really is, so those of you who try to spend years making something else, it won’t work (mind you, Space Invaders wasn’t bad on rm2k). And you have to accept that by using this maker the rpgs you make will be in a pretty strict fashion, falling into a little pre-defined type game, good rm2k3 programmers can break out of this a little but really you won’t have quite as much control as you might hope for.
Ok, the colour is actually only 256 colours, which is alright for little games but it rules out any pretty pictures you might want to use. And as for the .wav sounds and midi music, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s up to you for what you prefer, you can get small mp3 loops which completely rule over midis but I guess that’s just opinion.

So is it worth using? Definitely. If you want to make a standard rpg I recommend this as your number one choice. Anything else and you might want to go to Game Maker which is getting ever better at making anything non-rpg although with a lot of effort I don’t doubt you could make an rpg, it’s also free to download which is pretty handy.

Now, anyone new to rm2k(3) will encounter all forms of problems from glitches and bugs to general game development problems and lack of skill. But hopefully I can rectify that and help you out with some of the weird occurrences you might be experiencing. Hopefully this way you can be practicing your game making skills with ease before maybe one day producing something you can truly be proud of.

Big borders of doom!:
A common problem with getting character set graphics into your game is caused by stuffing lots of files into your character set folder by click and drag or copy and paste. If you’ve found a few characters from certain files have the background moving with them then there is an easy way to sort that problem out. If you go into the import/export option aka resource manager and import the file you are having problems with, then when you see the picture of it, click on the (most likely green) background. When the background flashes click ok. What this does is makes the colour that flashes, the see through colour. So the problem was that rm2k(3) will have assumed by the colours on the file that either a colour on one of the people or, none of the colours at all was the colour that needed to be transparent…. Intriguing.

File won’t import!:
You’re bound to at least experience this a few times and it’ll help to know what it is and how to sort it out. You’ll be getting an error message saying something about the colour depth or somewhere on the lines and then the file won’t import. To sort this out you need to open the graphic file and save it as a 256 colour bitmap file. It’s likely to change the quality of the file you want to import but that’s the price to pay for rm2k(3)’s poor graphic handling. If the picture looks too dreadful to use now try copying it (when it looks good) into a 256 colour picture that has very similar colours to yours and it might look better (trust me) and if nothing you do seems to make it look any better and it really is genuinely awful… Get another picture…

The ghost files!:
One thing I find extremely irritating is when you’re playing a game and it suddenly closes down and says that the game cannot open the file ‘blah blah’. Now this is not to say that you are actually using the file ‘blah blah’ in the game but, the file was in the game and has been deleted (obviously, to save memory etc) and the game won’t run because it thinks it needs the file for some unknown reason. I had this with one of my games long ago. Don’t ask me why it happens, it just does. Here’s how to fix it:
1. Add the files to your game as you make it instead of adding excess resources and deleting the ones you don’t want. This will prevent the problem even occurring in the first place!
2. Play your game all the way through (before you send it off for download). This way you will actually find if the files you have deleted were required in the game.
If you do have files missing that don’t need to be in the game, you don’t even need that exact file. Simply have a file of the same name and same file type (eg, .GIF) and the game will continue to run fine. I found with some of my recent downloads that I had to do this myself to continue playing the game and it became very tedious, so be kind to your fellow players and try to fix this.

I can walk on walls but not the floor!:
If you find you’re able to walk on weird areas of the map where you aren’t meant to or if you can’t walk on something you should be able to then here’s a way to correct that. You’ll need to go into the database and to the section where you add/remove and edit your chipsets. Then if you click on the passability section, then when you click on each tile you’ll see them change from circles to crosses and sometimes squares. This is where you modify what you can walk on and what not. A circle means you can walk over it, a cross means its impassable and a square means you can walk one down into it and it’s above your hero (use it for ceiling type features, your hero can’t walk on it). Also, in upper chipset you’ll find stars, this just means that you walk under it (it’s like a circle but shows up on top of your character), this is good for trees or tall objects to add an element of 3D or can be used for things like signposts that stick out of buildings, it just makes stuff look better.

And there you have it. The main problems you’re likely to face as a new person to rm2k(3). Well this should help all of you out solving problems or deciding what maker to use. Goodluck.