RPG MAKER VX ACE
RPG Maker VX Ace is Enterbrain's latest addition in the great and popular RM series.
As you may already know RPG Maker is the best software on the market to design 2D "old-school" RPGs - think the Super NES (16-bits) style, Final Fantasy, Phantasy Star, Breath of Fire etc. This is my favorite type of game even to this date and I can never get tired of it, nor can I get tired of using RM. Since the XP version in 2005, developers are also given the opportunity to market their own games, a fantastic chance to go indie and make a living from your hard work and passion for RPG. Trust me, it works. Many have done so already!
So let's see what Ace has in store for us.
One of my favorite part in RM is playing around with the database and I can say Ace delivers in that area. It's the best incarnatin of it in the series, keeping all the good we've known from the past and adding new stuff such as:
: this new feature is downright amazing. It allows room for great customization and can basically be used anywhere from characters, classes, skills etc. It makes it easy to includes nifty tweakings or innovations such as less encounters if a certain character is present in the party, double random drops or even several actions for one character. Although it can be a bit daunting and probably requires some learning before you can make it all work together, this features basically puts high up in the sky the possibilities to create interesting characters.
* Animations and battlebacks
: they can now use 2 different ressources instead of 1, adding a huge deal of diversity. You can have a fire spell that evolves into a big thunder bolt for instance. Very cool, if you ask me. In addition, the default ones are very nice-looking.
* Comment box
: it may not seem to be very useful at first, but I like how you can now leave a comment as a reminder for something to do later (like "not included in the game yet!"), very handy when your project gets a bit big.
: they can be highly customized and let you decide of the damage formula very easily. This is a very big improvement on the past RMs. The range of customization is the best for any RPG Maker so far.
The database is the heart of the RPG, it contains all the items, skills, monsters etc. and as you can see, Ace offers a very complete one.
Another thing that is nice is the character generator. I suppose it's best to use it for NPCs (but I'm sure they could also make a fun bunch as playable characters), and it allows every character to have his own face if you want. I played a bit with it and the possibilities are quite big. Even better is how the sprite (character set) is automatically created to match the face exactly. Saves us developers some time, no more hassle matching every little details together! The only letdown is that you cannot save a character creation. If you exit, you have to start over, so be careful.
Monsters, animations, icons and sprites are all new and top-notch. Special mention to the monsters which are the best ever in any RPG Maker in my opinion. You have to see how the dragons and manticores and spiders look awesome. The battle backs are also pretty beautiful and the possibility to couple different "bottom" and "top" parts is really nice. Another cool thing is the addition of monster sprites so it becomes very easy to create a game with visible monsters matching their looks while in battle. You even have boss sprites, although they just show in one direction (ie facing you). But they look great and are animated.
The tilesets also contain new stuff but this is not where the software shines the most in my opinion, as it remains similar to what VX offered.
As with XP and VX (the past 2 RMs), Ace comes with a Ruby section (scripts) and although not a scripter myself, I was told the new structure is the best and most stable so far. Scripting offers an even higher degree of customization for people that can program in this language. It is not necessary to produce a great game, but it can be a cool way to innovate in certain areas.
Throw in cool new musics, a vastly more developed terrain system, vehicles, a well-developed eventing system, and all in all you have a very competent game maker for your RPG needs. At 90 dollars, if you think you have a good story to tell, or cool gameplay mechanisms, don't hesitate and live the dream!