Games and Graphics

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I’ve been learning more about RPG Maker over the last couple of weeks.  For now I’m using the free Lite version while I work through several tutorials available and learn the basics.  Initially, I thought this would be fun for doing some simple games and learning some basics of game design, but probably not much else.  Much to my surprise the game engine is a bit more versatile and powerful than I initially realized.  It does lack somewhat in documentation and as I learn how to do things in it I may eventually write and publish my own docs for it.

If you haven’t looked at the game and it’s graphics, the basic sprites that come with the game are pretty simple stuff.  A mere 32×32 pixels, they look more like something on a 1st gen Nintendo or the old Legend of Zelda games.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved some of those old games and the graphics had a certain charm.  Looking at some of the popular smart phone games out there, its a style that still has a market.  But if I was going to do some adventure RPG games I was really hoping for graphics more on par with say the original Diablo or Sacred, both of which I still play when I’m feeling nostalgic.  So, you can perhaps imagine my surprise when I discovered that the RPG Maker VX Ace engine CAN use higher resolution graphics.  Its not immediately obvious and that is perhaps a flaw in the documentation / marketing.   But with a little scripting, for which their is a lot of help in their user forums, you can increase the screen resolution and use better graphics.

That just opened up a whole new treasure chest of possibilities.

So I’m now looking forward to buying the full version of the engine soon, making a few demo games using the basic graphics while I learn how to customize things more.  Eventually, I will start making my own graphics and resource packs for it; and most likely some of those I’ll make available for purchase by others.

The above are just first steps into game design.  In the future I want to try my hand at strategy games as well and I’m looking at possibly using Vassal as a first strategy engine.  Ultimately, I eventually want to try developing some 3D games, either first person shooters (probably what I’ll try first), social games (something like Second Life) or some kind of MMO.  I’m considering the Unity and UDK 3D engines for that, but leaning towards Unity since there seems to be a lot of cross over support between it and Blender.  Lot of stuff to learn but its exciting thinking about the possibilities.

Meanwhile…

Still getting comfortable with my graphic tablet but I am starting to use it to create concept art for some 3D projects.  I’m also still practicing drawing line are with it and hoping to have some results to share in another week or so.  I’m already wishing I could afford to upgrade to the Intuos Pro tablet which is about 4 times the size of the one I have now.  I’m realizing how much the larger drawing area would make doing line are easier.  Of course what I’d really love is the Cintiq 24HD, but that’s going to have to wait awhile as it has a $2700 price tag!  Will probably have to wait til I can afford a new computer system but its something to work towards.

I’m also continuing to hone my math skills over at Khan Academy.  I’m a bit surprised at how much algebra and geometry I’ve either forgotten or never learned.  But the site makes it easy to go back and relearn the basics and move forward from there.  Plus, I’ve now earned over 100 badges!  LOL  I have not started the javascripting course they offer.  Since I’m already learning the scripting language for RPG Maker I didn’t want to risk confusing myself with two languages at once.  When I finish the tutorials for RPG Maker I’ll move on to javascripting.

In a way its very ironic that I used to love programming when I was in high school but then completely lost interest.  I’m not sure why that happened, but its funny to be rediscovering what I enjoy about programming now.   These scripting languages seem simpler than the computer languages I learned way back when.  However, I was always good at logic and that helps.  I’m just beginning to learn to script events in RPG Maker.  I’ve done a tutorial on creating a “bank” in game and am looking at ways I can modify it further (adding accrued interest for example).  Having taken a quick look at the javascripting course, it looks like its going to be just as much fun for me.  I plan to finish these RPG Maker tutorials and then switch to javascripting and see how quick I can knock that out.  By the time I finish with it I should have the full version of RPG Maker and be ready to produce my first demo game which I’ll give away free.

But what I am enjoying most is rediscovering all the forms my creativity takes.  It really does feel like a re-awakening of sorts, rediscovering things I love that I’d forgotten and it also gives me new things to move towards.  The upshot is at some point in the future I may be adding new sections to the site for poetry, games and game resources.   I’m also going to try to start making weekly blog entries each Saturday, so look for more regular posts in the future.  I’m starting a little note file on ideas for future articles.

That’s all for now, see you next weekend.  Until then, do something creative!

Without adventure civilization is full of decay.
Alfred North Whitehead

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