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Article - 'Could You Make a CBS?' by Dark Black

An item about Game Design posted on Mar 14, 2004

Blurb

Dark Black gives us the pros and cons of making a CBS for your game. Are you up to the challenge?

Body

This article will be looking at the pros/cons of making a custom battle system, and which one would be best for your particular game.

So, is it going to be worth it? That is the main question you have to ask yourself when considering making ANY custom system (CMS included). You should ask yourself a number of questions before you even consider it, namely:-

1) Do you have the knowledge? I get the feeling most people think you have to be some uber programming genius to do even a decent CBS, but this isn't true. Look through the commands within an event and if you know what they all do (not hard considering RM2k/3's learning curve (which plummets into the ground and dies a painful death after you get the idea of how variables work)) or even how most of the commands work and you can probably make a CBS. There is NO advanced theory or super secret to doing it. Just lots and lots (and lots and lots and lots...) of fork conditions, show pictures and variables (oh so MANY variables).

2) Can you draw? Sure, you may have the know-how to create a wonderful CBS but if you can't draw (and can't get anybody to draw for you) your CBS will look... crap. It's as simple as that. You don't have to be excellent at drawing by any stretch of the imagination (any pictures you use are going to have to fit into a 320, 240 screen, and therefore will be pretty small), but being a competent spriter is probably necessary. You could try editing things (like using the RTP message box pics to make a menu, or chipsets to make the battle background), but you're going to have to draw something at some point! Get a copy of IDraw and start editing some RTP to get the hang of it, it ain’t hard! Oh, and don't even THINK of using the in-game message boxes to make menus or any other crapola like that. You knew when you decided to make a CBS that it would be hard work!

3) You actually have, you know, AN IDEA FOR A DAMN CBS! Too many battle systems seem to be just carbon copies of the

FF6 battle system, with a (very small) number of changes made. Making a FF6 style system was OK when all there was RM2k, but RM2k3 already has this system as default. If you want a FF6 system use the RM2k3 version and spend the time you were GOING to spend on a CBS making the default better! If you want to make a CBS, make it original. You can do nearly anything,

SO BE CREATIVE!

So you answered yes to the above questions? Then maybe you can make a CBS! A few more pointers first though:- - Think it through. A CBS will take a LONG time. Every character will need a massive load of variables for their stats, position in the menu, position on the map (if you're going for a ABS/TBS), current action, current affliction, etc...

Then there are the game mechanics. Creating just a simple menu, nothing else, will not doubt be much longer and time consuming that any other regular event you have created. Just sit back and consider exactly how you will do everything.

Actually doing a particular task in the system may not be hard, but just think how many variables and fork conditions it'll use...
- Drawing. You'll have a lot of pictures to do. A LOT. Again, think it through...
- Do you have the time? Even if you have the patience, you will have to work continuously on a CBS. You can't take a

break for more than a few days, a week at the most. Why? Well, this thing is going to be LONG, physically very, very long.

Even a well commented CBS is going to be a nightmare to work on after taking a break. You'll just forget what everything did.

So only attempt it when you have some spare time!

Still not put off? Well, take any feelings of disillusionment and depression at the concept of making a CBS you feel after reading this a multiply them by a magnitude of 10 and you'll know what you'll feel while making the damn thing. It ain’t going to be easy.

Still here? Well then, what KIND of CBS you going to make? Here’s a quick run-down, with pros/cons for each type.

(Forgive the acronyms, I've forgotten what some of em are/stand for. And here I am writing a CBS article...)

SBS - Side Battle System, this is what is (by far) the most popular. You can mess around with it and create a whole new system, but you have to ask yourself - couldn't I just as easily do this with the default?
PROS - Easy(iest) to do
Can be modified and changed easily
Looks rather good, and people will recognize it!
CONS - Can be unimaginative

ABS - Active Battle System, where you run around hitting things (usually). You'd think it'd be easy, wouldn't you?
PROS - Engages the player more
Usually unique (ha! look at the Zelda clones...)
CONS - Collisions - namely them going wrong
Almost always buggy as hell

TBS - Tactical Battle System. Seriously, don't even try this. Just think - programming AI... *shudders*
PROS - Original? Who knows...
CONS - Almost impossible to do. I only know of one game that succeeded, and THAT was a demo...

So there you have it! Still want to try making a CBS? Well, take a look at how many FULL games actually have one. You'd be surprised... Just don't feel inferior, or that your game will be considered N00bish for not having one, 'cos not many do!