RPG Maker VX Ace – Map and Character Creation

J has taken the lead on designing the game through RPG Maker (and he has done a great job!). I want to make sure that I can hold my own, though. So here today, I will give a brief tutorial on map and sprite creation with RTP-only tools (Run time package basically means the tools, tilesets, codes, sprites and faces that come with RPG Maker on purchase), so that this looks like any game a person may make with a fresh RMVXAce purchase.

For my following posts regarding RMVXAce game creation, I’ll be focusing on a very simple game, with a simple map and simple focus: you will be a character in your bedroom, whose mother demands that your room be picked up. All kinds of fun events can be done with this premise, though, and the principles in creating a simple item-retrieval game can be used in larger games, as well.

Game creation really starts with a map. Start by right-clicking the area that says the name of your game. You’ll notice that the below picture already shows that I have 2 maps – but I wanted to start fresh to be able to chronicle my map and event creation from square one. I wanted to make sure that I clicked the overall game, because selecting “New Map” when clicking on an already-created map will display that new map as kind of a “sub-map” to the first. It’s useful when you have, say a map of a town with houses in it, and want to show that each house is a “sub-map” within that town. For our purposes, though, we’re going to create a brand new map.

map building

When you select “New Map,” it calls up the dialog box depicted above. From here, you can change the name of your new map to make it easier for you to navigate your creations. I might name this room, “Poop Face’s Room” or whatever the name of the character will be.

You’ll also want to set the size of the map. Most often, you may make the map bigger than what you plan for the actual space to be, especially for rooms, so that when roaming to a corner of map, the camera can follow the player all the way. You will also select your Tileset. Custom tilesets are available all across the web, especially on RPG Maker forums, but we’ll do every RTP for now. You’ll notice that in the dialog box above, four tilesets are included RTP: Field, Exterior, Interior and Dungeon. The tilesets are basically what they describe in their title. Field focuses on “fields” or plain landscape – which I actually find best to make in-game Map. Exterior has tiles for areas a player might roam through, as well as things one might run across while exploring the outdoors: exterior walls for buildings, roofs, exterior windows, flowers, trees, water, bridges, statues, etc. Interior focuses, of course, on things you might find inside a house or room: interior walls and windows, furniture, flooring, trinkets, and the like. Dungeon… well, you’ve all seen RPG dungeons.

After selecting “New Map,” you will typically default to Map Mode at this point – but you will notice two additional possible modes, being “Event” and “Region.” Today, we’ll focus on Map.

map 2


Map mode will look like the above, with your tileset to your left and a drawing area to your right. You may only draw within the space you selected in the starting dialog box. You will notice that my above map has empty space in the form of blue squares around it. Worry not. They will look like black space during gameplay.

Familiarize yourself with your toolbar; at the top, you will see a pencil, polygonal and elliptical tool, as well as a fill bucket. Each has its own use. The pencil too is great for stamping down select objects. The polygonal tool will allow you easy drawing of straight lines (like my walls above). The elliptical tool… so far I haven’t really needed to make anything circular, but I’m sure it’ll come in handy some time. The fill bucket is great, because once you have your walls drawn, you can simply fill in your flooring – or it can be used for much more. Next to those tools is your scale/zoon selection.

The RTP tilesets are quite handy. They’re pre-coded so that they look like continuous walls if next to another “wall” of the same kind, but look like corners if next to flooring or a wall of a different dimension (that helps add perspective to a 2D world). You’ll see that above, while the “ceiling” tile looked like it had a nice edge everywhere else, where I doubled it up, the ceiling tile directly blends into itself so that it doesn’t look like two tiles next to each other, but rather one large, smooth one.

My completed map:

completed map

“Wait, what?!” you might ask. “I know you said simple, but this is blank!” That, my dear reader, is because any objects I hope to eventually interact with by collecting it, fixing it, or in any other way altering the appearance of, I will add during event creation. Eventually, my room will look like this:

completed map with events

The reason I’ve chosen to add that bed, the money bags, the bottles, the fish dinner, the flipped chair, the broken windows, and the shelf as events only and not inherent parts of the map is because an event graphic will simply lay over the images of the map. If anything is a different size, then, it might poke out from behind the new event image that I want to show at a later time.

Now that you have a world, however large or small that it may be, you need someone to occupy it. That’s where character generation comes in.

Look at your tool bar, to the right of modes, tool shapes, etc:

character generation

The little dude next to the eighth note couplet triggers the character generator upon click.

character generation 1

Play around with the different options until you get a look you want. You’ll notice several choices and then associated color schemes. Once you’re satisfied, click both “Output Face” and “Output Character” to save in a system file. It’ll ask you for a name; usually, that would be the name of the character, or a description for NPCs.

Now, if you’re building a game with hand-drawn portraits, this step would be a little different. Since I don’t want to be limited by the small selection of looks offered by the RTP, I actually usually will draw a character first and then generate a sprite, and then edit the sprite through Photoshop or GraphicsGale to match it to my character. Justin, on the other hand, will often generate a sprite to fill an immediate need, then send me the sprite so that I can draw a portrait based on that. I would say that the second option is easier and quicker (since if you match the portrait to the sprite, you don’t need to edit the sprite), but it gives you less freedom.

If you have a character that will interact with your player, you may also choose to create those at this time. Conversely, you may choose to create several of them at one time, then plug them into your scene as needed.

Now that you have your main character, you must set it as the player. For that, refer back to your toolbar, where it says “Database”databse

The screen shot says that the database is your best friend, and you can’t argue what the screen shot says.

When you click database, you’ll be met with… well… a database:

set player

Under the “Actors” tab, we can select the character sprite, the portrait, the starting equipment (which admittedly doesn’t seem too important for a game about cleaning your room). If you’re afraid you’ll forget details about a certain character, there’s a field for notes. You can enter the name, the character type, etc. etc. Meet Poop face, a hand ax-wielding soldier. Or school girl if looks are to be believed. Simply by entering her as the first character, she defaults to the player.

And from there, you can lay her in a spot on your map quite easily. Change your mode from Map to Event. Select a spot. Right-click and…

set start point

Er… not too sure what’s next…

This was basic but already quite a long post, but I feel we made progress. Great job, everybody! …Everybody? What’s that? I haven’t told you anything you couldn’t figure out on your own? Huh? You’d rather have just tooled around for a few hours? Hey! Leave my mom out of this! …Oh… you weren’t talking to me? You turned on House re-runs several hours ago? Well… well… that’s disappointing.

Anyways, next time, I’ll do a little walk-through on simple events, like an auto-run conversation. This is where I’d make a “Your Mom” joke, but as I understand it, she’s a classy lady.

So to that I say, Stay Classy, San Diego.