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[DevBlog] Non-Player Character

A topic by Hiroshi Mishima created Jan 09, 2016 Views: 596 Replies: 3
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Submitted (1 edit) (+1)

Freaking internet ate my previous attempt at posting, so I'll try to keep it brief cause I really dislike needlessly repeating myself. I can't even remember half fo what I said previously, which doesn't help.

For starters, I want to apologize for not realizing we were doing DevBlogs. Although I'm familiar with game jams and have an account for throwing the occasional dollar at a neat game, I've never actually spent much time on the site. Secondly, I've become socially awkward in my 30s so if I come off as distant or don't comment much, I apologize.

The current working title (I'm considering several) for this project is Non Player Character, because the focus is not on some hero or otherwise "important" person one is used to in adventure games. Likewise, although this is similar in appearance to one of those oft-criticized RPG Maker games you see for $30 on some website *coughs*, it probably bears more in common with To the Moon. There is significantly reduced emphasis on stats or combat, if they even remain in the game. What I really wanted to accomplish was telling a short story in an RPG environment.

I'm always coming up with random game ideas and about 86% of them are in the RPG genre, largely because it's my favourite and is just so useful for telling stories. That said, I didn't ever get around to doing anything with it last year and when I heard about this jam I just knew I had to do something and this was what instantly popped into mind. While I'm familiar with RPG Maker from yesteryear, ol' RPG Maker 95, 2000, and the PS1 version, I haven't ever managed to make a full game.

So the first thing I did was fiddle about with the tileset, because I don't have the time (or patience/motivation) to do full custom, but quickly realized I was gonna need to do some rough sketch of the town that'll be the story's focus. Yes, it's a crude MS Paint doodle. My tablet is packed away in a box somewhere and my hands shake too much for smooth lines. Thankfully, I also have access to Game Character Hub so I can at least make some (marginally) original characters and face portraits.

It took me a while to get comfortable with mapping and tilesets again. The above early draft took me almost 7 hours (of pure work), but after fiddling and increasing the map size (by quite a bit) I finally found my footing and the rest of the town only took about a day and a half (including breaks and sleep). That's including rebuilding various parts of the map several times as I sought the correct size and adjusted accordingly. See, one of my big hurdles with any form of creation is the ridiculous standards I hold myself to, so I will doggedly tweak and alter something for hours (sometimes even days) until I'm satisfied. Getting myself to accept that anything is "good enough" is difficult.

That original picture was like 20 high and 40 long and the completed version is about 60x60. Getting the hang of shading (and telling myself it was "okay" that the darkened blocks aren't smoothed out) was a tricky factor, but I absolutely didn't want it to feel flat. As the above shows, I got a little carried away with it at first. I am SO glad this is a two-week project cause there's no way in hell I'd be able to get even a single town done in a day. Well, not one I'd be willing to show off, at any rate.

I have no idea how close this post is to the original, which was probably worded better.


All right, so this time I wanna touch briefly on the difference between character creation in RPG Maker VS Ace itself and the optional Game Character Hub. Below are two quick and dirty versions cobbled together in the core program and then compared to GCH.

Note that while you certainly plenty of selections to choose from and RPG Maker WILL allow you to see both at the same time, there's not a slider in sight. You can't adjust saturation or hues, and there's no way to edit the pieces themselves.

Both of these characters will be in the game, but now I wanna draw your attention to the two faces in the upper corner. The one on the right was made just like the female character, but I recreated it in GCH to show side be side the differences. You can move parts, you can remove pieces - make him only have one eyebrow if you want. Another important distinction is that in RPG Maker you're forced to use female parts with female characters. Unfortunately, there is a very limited range of expressions and on two occasions I had to borrow a male mouth for a female face, which GCH thankfully allows.

Incidentally, and this is perhaps the one flaw in GCH by comparison.. but you'll notice a lack of ears here. RPG Maker includes them by default but as influenced by my own art I constantly forget about ears. On the girl up there it won't matter cause she has a lot of hair and hiding the ears is common even in real life. As for the guy, he's gonna need some before I finish. Oh, and by the way, you can make sprites just as easily in Game Character Hub, I just didn't want to have too many images in a single post. I don't want to show off too much of the game because it's not terribly long and it's story driven.


When you start looking at the provided characters and actors in RPG Maker there are two immediately obvious problems. The first is that there's only a single face for any given character - which is really lame if you want expressions.. while the second, and arguably more important, is the fact that there's nothing but white people. Now, I'm white (don't hold it against me) and even I think that's pretty ridiculous. So despite most RPGs being in a "fantasy setting" it's always healthy to have a little sense of realism. For me that means two things: None of this "larger than life" crap (except bosses) and actually seeing people of different skin colours. So with that in mind I felt one of the most important things I should do is make sure there's some variety amongst the people in my town.

Game Character Hub does, thankfully, come supplied with four skin tones but we come in more shades than that so I tried to mix it up while also attempting to go for some faces that actually kinda resemble people like you might see on television or.. I dunno.. outside your house. Well, except for that guy in the hoodie, he looks kinda like someone who'd stab me in a crowded room or something. Speaking of suspicious people! I don't know about any of you, but when I walk into a place like this my warning sirens go off like the Enterprise just got slammed by photon torpedoes.

Seriously, that places reeks of money and not the friendly kind like your paycheck.
Submitted (1 edit)

It's coming down to just over 5 days left and I'm not entirely sure I'll have quite enough time to do all I wanted. Family's been interfering with time I'd have otherwise spent working on the project and of course I lost two days refamiliarizing myself with RPG Maker VX Ace in general and working on concepts to flesh out what I'd written last year. Spoke to a friend of mine and I may opt for a shorter, alternate ending until I can finish it properly. Sadly, that'd be cutting at least half of the story and I'd rather not, but we'll see.