I've been playing with RM2K since 2000. Been working on my current project since 2006. My approach to game-making involves attempting to do things that I've never seen in other games, and incorporating all of the elements of film making (lighting, music, symbolism, deep structure, plot twists, panning, zooming, cuts, etc.) into game making. The RPG's I've spent the most time playing are FF1 and FF6, followed by Super Mario RPG, FF4, and FF5.
The Sun Is A Star
Fantasy RPG with 6-character party size and mild humor



Story writing tips (from me. But I mean, add yours or whatever)

Some of my tips for writing stories / RPG writing.

Raise the Stakes:
Raising the stakes has the effect heightening the drama of the story after the player has already assigned an emotional value to the current goal. An example of raising the stakes would be if you were trying to win prize money to pay for a new tv, but then your kid gets sick and you need the money to pay for their operation.

Change the Immediate Goal:
Establish a goal / mission for the party, and just before they embark on it, someone barges-in to hand them a newly emergent mission with higher priority. This can be a variation of raising the stakes, since the new mission is more important than the previous one. This also has the effect of keeping the player guessing.

Characters Motivated by Seeds of Their Own Destruction:
This is just authentic writing. Characters who are motivated by their own mistakes that created their own suffering. This might manifest as being responsible for your child being kidnapped, because you took them to a big city and showed-off your child's talent, and now the character is extra motivated to get their kid back. Or it could be that a character is seeking revenge for their dead friend, but this character also gave their friend the push they needed that set into motion the events that would get them killed (e.g. encouraged them to be a racecar driver, and then they died in a car race).

Underscore the Importance:
You see this a lot in Naruto, where you get to a fight scene, and the story cuts away from the fight to either remind you or show you why this fight is so dramatic. That might take the form of a flashback to the happy moments in a character's life before they die in the fight. Or, it might show some flashback of the lives of the villains, to some time back when they were children and they first became friends when one of them protected the other from bullies.

The Hook:
A hook in storytelling is an event that is so juicy, dramatic, or mysterious that the viewer is then hooked and needs to see more. The X-Files had great hooks. Back before I was a regular X-Files viewer, the show would come on after NBA basketball, and before I was able to grab the remote to change the channel, I would see some wild hook, like the appearance of some actual real life gargoyle doing something in darkness, and I just had to finish the episode to see if gargoyles were real within the show's universe. Our community doesn't always stick to an amateur RPG and finish it like we do with commercial games, because they're playing the game on blind faith that it might be good, and the game could prove to be a low-quality waste of time; which is why the game has to prove its merits within the first hour of gameplay. For this reason, it's important that your game have a hook that keeps the player invested and frantically curious in the early going.

Illogical Mysteries that are Logical:
I noticed this a lot in the show Lost. A character will do something so completely illogical that it would seem like they were possessed or mind controlled or something. Why the hell are they doing that thing that makes no sense? It's so mysterious and intriguing, but you're gonna quit watching the show if they don't give you a damned good explanation for this. Later in the show, they do a flashback to like 7 hours earlier and tell the story of what that character was doing up until that mysterious point, and by the time it catches-up to the mysterious behavior, their motivation for why they were behaving that way makes perfect sense. So then you don't completely lose faith that most or all of the mysteries will eventually be explained.

Wrong Man Theory:
Alfred Hitchcock believed that there was something very dreadful about being accused of a crime that you didn't commit (especially murder). In Hitchcock movies like North By Northwest, once a character is accused of one crime, they don't turn themselves in to the police and try to resolve the confusion. Instead, they go on the run and attempt to prove their innocence, often committing more crimes in the process, or casting greater suspicion on themselves in the process, which digs the hole deeper. While all this is happening, the main character might be running from the real criminals at the same time that they are running from the cops. This phenomenon of digging the hole deeper happens again and again, amounting to a calamitous chain of unfortunate events.

Sustained Tension:
One thing that makes a show really bingeable is when a character is in a sustained state of trouble and never has a chance to come up for air. As soon as they deal with the problem in front of them, a new one immediately emerges like the next domino falling. If the main character ever gets too much security for too long, the story can become uninteresting. They should always be on the run from the villain, on the run from the police, trying to protect endangered villagers before the trouble arrives, attempting to pay a ransom, trying to cover-up a lie or a crime, racing against a clock, or some other kind of pressure.

Irrational Characters:
In reality, a lot of people have irrational motives or make irrational decisions. Not to mention, a lot of people make pleasure-seeking decisions or give to inaction out of laziness. A lot of novice writers make the mistake of writing each character to be dispassionate, rational robots that single-mindedly pursue their one goal. Characters making irrational decisions can potentially help you make leaps in advancing the plot in ways that, if your characters were totally rational, you would tie yourself in knots trying to think of how to connect A to B *logically*.

RPG-specific tips:

Artificial Urgency:
Create scenarios that have frantic music and countdown timers. This can make the player feel heightened urgency. If you don't complete the scenario by the time the countdown timer runs out, you don't necessarily need to force a game over (for example, even in the fail case, the characters could come-up with some last second workaround to survive the explosion). But making the player panic and play with urgency can increase the drama, the emotional engagement, and the fun.

Character Development vs Mobility:
If your RPG story spans cities across the whole world, then most likely each NPC in the towns is not getting a lot of spotlight or character development. If your RPG spans less area, and your party is revisiting the same towns many times, then each of your NPC's speak some dozens of pages of dialogue. This means that the player will begin to learn the NPCs' names, personalities, backstories, and they will be more humanized. And that also means more dramatic effect when you kill off an NPC. So, if you want NPC's that the player cares about, you need to restrict your RPG's world to hanging around a specific area. Another thing you could do is have NPC's who follow you from one town to another; which could be because they're stalking you, or they're coincidentally visiting the same cities, or they are a rival who's after the same goal, or they're an escort character who doesn't belong to your fighting party, or they were sent to deliver a message to you, or the villain kidnapped them and brought them to you as a hostage.

What are some archetypes for non-boss enemies?

Some stat-driven archetypes from my game:
-High agility character like a rogue: need to use the never-miss attack on.
-High armor character like a turtle: need to use the armor-piercing attack on.
-Low-MP black mage: need to use an MP drain on them quick or they'll hit you with big damage.
-Low health, high damage, large numbers like fire ants or spiders: gotta take them out all at once with a hit-all attack.
-Passive regeneration, like a troll: gotta blitz them at once so that their regeneration doesn't have too much effect.
-Big guy that summons adds
-Stat-rearranging shapeshifter: stats shift so radically that you need to use Scan effects or use feelers to gauge which way their stats have gone.
-High-health, low-damage bait like a giant sloth: kill his buddies first, or you're a fool.
-Growers: kill before it grows too much.
-Resistance: either it almost completely resists physical attacks, or almost completely resists magic
-Boss-tier experience beacon: you pretty much have to blow all of your best spells and fight until near death to beat this and then immediately run back to the inn. But it's the fastest way to grind. Probably located somewhere remote that is a long way from the inn.

[RM2K3] CBS - is it worth it?

I've made a CBS in RM2K which accommodates a 6-character party (pause for applause). However, I'd say it's not worth it for these reasons:
-The time that you put into custom systems takes away from the time that you could put into other parts of the game. So, you could have a great game with a DBS in 4 years, or you could have a so-so game with a CBS in 15 years. (Technically, it doesn't take 11 years to create the CBS. But then you have to take into account how long it takes to create each monster, each monster skill, and each hero skill within the CBS.)
-Since it takes longer to create skills in a CBS than in a DBS, there is a lot of incentive to create monsters that just auto attack, and then you get very vanilla fights. Whereas, if you were using a DBS, it would be totally effortless to just give a monster 5 random skills.
-Lots of bugs. Lots of time spent on troubleshooting and fixing bugs.
-Have to allocate a lot of variables in the variable database.

One of the upsides to creating a CBS is that it enables you to create mathematically complex skills, or complex monster behavior. For instance, I have a skill in my game called Omni Drain that drains some HP from the enemy, depletes some of the enemy's MP, and reduces each of their stats by 1. Or you could make some hit-all attack that damages all enemies a bit and transfers all damage dealt into the form of life gain. Or you could make an Earthquake attack that damages all enemies and all allies, but only if they don't have the Float status condition. Some of these might possibly be doable in a DBS, I dunno, it's been 15 years since I've looked at what the DBS can do. Or, you could program a monster that, every other turn, it jumbles the values of its stats, or it heals itself if it's at less than 30% health, or it casts a Life spell if an ally is fallen, and otherwise it attacks.

Making a CBS also allows you to break any rule you want. I forget which of these things are possible in the DBS, but in a CBS, you could do literally anything; like change the background music in the middle of the fight, change the parallax background, change the monster sprites, allow a character to take multiple turns with a Quick spell, create a skill that targets both a monster and a hero, create a skill that targets a custom selection of monsters (i.e. more than single target, but less than hit-all), or literally anything else that you can think of.

Exceeding Game Engine limitations -- Sega Genesis Batman edition

Hey. I hope that this post isn't taken to be commercial spam / promotion. But I saw a youtube video about how the Sega Genesis game The Adventures Of Batman & Robin appeared to exceed the technical limitations of the Sega Genesis. They created an effect that appeared to render 3-D polygons using a much more basic and available technique, which was the skewing of images. I just thought that this was a good lesson for how to resourcefully apply the tools available to you to create the illusion of capabilities that are not available to you. Newer RPG developers must learn that, although an RPG Maker's event commands have one obvious purpose, that you need to learn to figure out ways to apply these commands in non-linear ways to achieve novel effects. So, I just thought that this 8-minute video might open up some of the creative windows in your brain. (Note: I'm not affiliated with this youtube channel in any way.)


Damn, that looks great.

Touch Encounters and EXP

Overleveled? Not underleveled? My game has touch encounters, and when I play it, I just juke most of the encounters and go through the game earning as minimal experience as possible.

If anything, I think touch encounters balance out the experience well enough. Players will seek them out when they need exp, but dodge them when they don't need exp.

Other than that, I like to place most of the exp on the boss fights, less on non-boss fights, so that it's hard to end up too far outside the expected exp range, regardless of how much grinding you do.

Misaos 2020 - Discussion Topic

I'd like my game, The Sun Is A Star to be considered. I marked it as completed this year. You can eventually have 6 characters in your party at one time. It has a CBS, CMS, and custom shop system. Towards the later parts, it has a lot of symbolism. Several artistic, musical cutscenes. A lot of the Skill commands are roughly balanced with the Fight command and lend themselves to difficult choices of which is best.


Looks good.


mysteries of rpgmaker?

(I know how this works, but a tip for others who encounter the issue)
Crash: "Events Call Limit Exceeded"

What does it mean?
If your game crashes with this error message, it means one thing: the "call stack" has exceeded its max size, which is like 1,000 events.

What is a call stack?
RPGMaker called-events (basically functions) work synchronously. Which means that if an event is called, then everything else freezes and only one function is executing at a time. So what happens if an event calls another event while it's in the middle of execution? 1) Execution on the caller (first event) pauses 2) the second event gets added to the call stack (the stack is now two events deep) 3) the second event's commands begin executing 4) once the second event is finished executing, it gets removed from the call stack 5) the first event picks-up where it left off and executes the rest of its commands. And what happens if the second event had called a third event? Same basic concept, except now the call stack is 3 events deep.

What happens if the very last command of event 1 involves calling event 2?
Some might assume that event 1 will disappear from the call stack just as event 2 begins firing, but this is wrong. In this situation, event 1 still remains on the call stack until event 2 is finished executing. Once event 2 finishes, event 1 can finally finish and be removed from the call stack. Extrapolating this further, if you build some sort of menu system where you have an endless round robin of event A calling event B which calls event C which calls event A; then you will eventually crash the game if you use this system for long enough.

How to program in a way that avoids this problem?
You must ensure that events finish executing and get removed from the stack. Instead of a circular control flow, event A should have a cycle, labels, or some other kind of flow control in order to avoid the need to be re-called by the same events that it calls.

Example of the wrong way to code a shop system:
Event A is the menu system. It prompts the user for input. If you hover over an item and press Enter, it calls Event B.
Event B displays various item proficiencies, item descriptions, and other setup. Then it calls Event C.
Event C handles the quantity of the item you want to purchase. Once you make the purchase or cancel, it calls Event A to take you back to the menu.
(At this point, the call stack is now 4 events deep. Event A, Event B, and Event C are basically hanging at their last line of execution, and a second instance of Event A is at the beginning of its execution. If you keep going through this flow, the call stack will continue growing unbounded.)

Example of the right way to code a shop system:
Event A contains a cycle. Inside the cycle, it prompts the user for input. When the user hovers over an item and presses Enter, it calls Event B.
Event B displays various item proficiencies, item descriptions, and other setup. Then it calls Event C.
Event C handles the quantity of the item you want to purchase. Once you make the purchase or cancel, it does not call any other events.
(At this point, Event C will finish executing and be removed from the call stack. Control will return to Event B, which will finish executing and be removed from the call stack. Control will then return to Event A, which will reach the end of its Cycle, and then return to the top of the Cycle. The call stack is currently 1 event deep. No matter how much you use this menu, the call stack will always be at most 3 events, and at least 1 event.)