Make Your Game
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There is a robust community of people on the PC who create dungeons and adventures to go along with their favorite games. Titles like Neverwinter Nights and Morrowind smartly include either a creation engine or the actual tools the developers use along with the core game. This lets level designers, or modders as they are sometimes called because they create mods to a game, add into a fan community of adventures. The end result is an extremely long life for most titles which include this.
But does that mean the PS2 is left out? No. The RPG Maker series helps PS2 gamers create some pretty amazing worlds to wow their friends on the console platform.
The original RPG Maker came out for the first PlayStation, and RPG Maker 2 came out a few years ago for the PS2. The main difference between the second and third title is the ease of use of the most recent version.
Ask anyone in the game industry and they will tell you that making a console RPG is not an easy task. And even with RPG Maker, don't expect to jump right in and become the next top master in the field.
Still, making worlds is surprisingly easy. Each adventure is divided up into four different areas, with a lot of sub-areas under each heading. There is The World, Characters and Items, Story and Rules and Data Management. Each adventure you create will be broken down with a large over-world and several sub-worlds or fields within it. In the main world you walk around exploring and will eventually come to a sub-filed like a town or a dungeon. When your character chooses to enter the sub-world, a new level is loaded. So think of the main world as the map if you will, with towns and dungeons and the like dotted through it.
Creating a field is surprisingly easy. If you want to make a town for instance, you can plop various buildings down from the template. Then you populate the world with characters and can give each of them speeches to make when a character talks to them, or if they are a shopkeeper, items to sell and trade.
Making a dungeon is even easier. You mostly have to draw lines on the map and the game will turn them into corridors. Then you can populate the dungeon with traps, monsters and loot.
The Data Management area is where you link everything together into an adventure. Really, the gameplay kind of feels a little like a series of levels linked together loosely, but if you create a good story then it will really help bring everything together.
There is a tutorial dungeon called Dear Brave Heart which is pretty interesting and begins as you step off an airship into a nice town. Besides being able to play the game, you can load it up and see how it was created. This way if you can't figure out how to force a conversation, you can see how it is done by looking at the Dear Brave Heart code.
Don't expect super rich graphics or really spectacular gameplay, but you can really put together a solid game that is a lot of fun to play. And anyone thinking of being a programmer should start here to understand the basic structure of how games really work. Also, you will quickly find out if you are cutout for long hours in front a computer trying to make a game work. You may find you like this a lot less than actually playing games. Then again, you might just get the bug.
There are two things you should be cautious about. First, you really need a USB keyboard to create long stories. Who wants to hunt and peck with the joystick for several paragraphs, much less doing the text for the entire world. Secondly, the game can take up a ton of space on a standard 8M memory card, eating up all available space quickly. To really make use of the game, you should probably have a PS2 hard drive. If you do, there is an option to install the database and title onto the drive. You should take this.
RPG Maker is fun if you like to, or think you want to design games. It earns 4 GiN Gems for putting forward a unique concept, and opening up the world of game design to the masses.
John Breeden II is the Chief Editor of GiN. While a forward thinking man he admits to a fondness for older video games. You should have seen him at Videotopia. John can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org.