RM Project: Iteration of Itemization
Greetings, ladies and gentlemen!
Over the holiday break, I did some quick number crunching for my RM Project. I wanted to know precisely how many armor items I would need to create to fully realize the itemization system I had intended to use. Keep in mind, since I am using RPG Maker VX Ace, I need to stay within the 999 item limit. This wouldn’t be so bad if the database information for the Armors tab didn’t consist of items from four different equipment slots. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for more modern item systems.
I will let you know that the results were not encouraging. Due to the aforementioned item limit, my initial design would not have worked. In order to complete the full list of items, I would require at least double the space that RPG Maker VX Ace affords, if not more. While I didn’t expect to be able to use my initial design, I was still surprised by how much I would have to do. I was not surprised by RMVX Ace’s inability to support it.
I was forced to rethink the system as a whole. I took what I already had and chopped it into pieces. I created a new assortment of equipment slots, a new system of organizing the bonuses from equipment, and removed shields as a standalone item (more on the last bit later). Today, I will do a quick overview of how I organized the original equipment slots and itemization features I had planned to use. Then, I will discuss the new system that was created from the ashes of the previous one. This may get a bit technical at points, but I will attempt to speak plainly, for both our sakes (lawls).
Note: Moving forward, I will be making references to names of stats not used by the default RM sofware. They are, in fact, names that I have set for this RM project. You may check out my previous RM Project post, Playing with Parameters, to familiarize yourself with the terms I will be using.
Previous Itemization Rundown
The following is the list of equipment slots that I had originally intended to use for my RM Project, minus one slot that I will describe later on. This will be a quick overview of those four slots followed by a breakdown of where my original itemization system went wrong.
As one might expect, the weapon equipment slot represented the weapon physically carried in a character’s hands. Weapons provided the characters an amount of Power, which would be higher with stronger weapons. Each class/character utilized their own weapon types. Enchanted weapons would provided bonuses to any combination of Prowess, Ferocity, Focus, Defense, and MaxHP. They couldn’t give extra Power, because… RPG Maker.
The off-hand slot existed solely for one type of item; shields. Shields were used only by the fighter and healer, but only when neither of them were using their two-handed weapons. The use of a shield would cause a character to sacrifice some of the power that would have been gained from their larger weapon for an increase to defense. For the thief, this slot would be replaced by an additional weapon slot which would allow her to wield two weapons (dual wield).
The armor slot consisted of items that fell into one of three categories; Light, Medium, and Heavy. These different armor types would provide an increasing amount of defense the “heavier” the type. Conversely, the amount of speed provided would be dramatically decreased with heavier armor. The difference here would be the capacity to withstand an attack (defense) versus the capacity to avoid an attack (speed). Enchanted armor (and shields) provided any combination of Power, Prowess, Ferocity, Focus, and MaxHP. As with weapons, these items could not provide extra Defense, because… RPG Maker.
The amulet slot replaced the Helm slot from RPG Maker’s default set, and it does not provide a stat by default. These items were only meant to appear as enchanted items, and provide any combination of Power, Prowess, Ferocity, Focus, Defense, and MaxHP. Generally, these were items intended to give players a way to customize the stats of their party to suit their needs.
Where was the problem?
The problem with my original itemization idea was that the scope of it was far too large for the limitations of RPG Maker VX Ace. I tried to implement a system that mirrors the itemization found in games like World of Warcraft, WildStar, or even Diablo 3. The problem came with the concept of having regular item upgrades at every few levels, adding on additional item qualities, and having multiple predetermined stat compositions. My concept required that I create more and more items for the increasing character levels. Unfortunately, before I would even get halfway through the creation of all those items, RPG Maker would run out of room.
Redesigned Itemization Overview
Now, this is the modified set of equipment slots I designed following the discovery that the previous one was just not going to work. I went through a few iterations before I managed to come up with something that RPG Maker would be able to handle (space-wise). I will explain the specifics of what I had to do at the end of this section.
The weapon slot has not changed functionally, but the items that can be found have changed a bit. For the most part, each character still possesses a unique set of weapons, but their overall composition has been modified to suit the new concept. Shields no longer have their own equipment slot in the off-hand. Instead, they can now be found as part of new weapon types.
- Swords: The fighter can use either a Greatsword or a Sword and Shield.
- Magic: The mage can use either a Staff or a Focus.
- Maces: The healer can use either a Hammer or a Mace and Shield.
- Agility: The thief can use either Dual Daggers or a Bow.
This new setup for weapons allows for a few different things. First, enchanted weapons now provide bonuses to stats through a different method, which reduces the number of weapons I need to create. Next, by having a single slot for weapons I can limit some abilities to certain equipped weapon types. For instance, the fighter’s Shield Bash ability would only be available while she had a Sword and Shield equipped. For certain characters, this new weapon design could create for some interesting ability setups.
The armor slot is in the same place as the weapon slot. By this, I mean that it is functionally unchanged from the previous version, but the construction of the items that would inhabit this slot have been redesigned. Armor still comes in three flavors with defense and speed varying based on “weight”, but now armor will provide additional health that will be at similar values for all armor types. Enchanted armor also utilizes the new method of providing bonus stats used by weapons which drastically reduces the number of armor items I need to create.
Major Core and Minor Core
These two equipment slots, presently named the major and minor cores, have taken the position of the amulet from the previous system. They are enchanted items that provide flat bonuses to character stats. The cores are universal items that can be used by any character in your party, because they aren’t limited by armor type. This can allow players to build all of their characters for the same stats, but that is assuming such an action would benefit their team.
The glyph slot is a unique feature of the characters, because it doesn’t focus on boosting character stats in any way. The purpose of these items is to give characters access to new abilities. For instance, a glyph of fire would give a character access to an assortment of fire spells. Equipped glyphs can enhance a character’s core playstyle, increase their damage against certain enemies, modify their role in the party, or just give them some new fun tricks to use in battle.
What did I do to fix the problem?
In order to get to this point, I had to scale back my concept WAY down. I changed how armor provide bonus stats, I reduced how often the game provides stronger items by removing every other tier, and the only items that provide bonus stats through the original method aren’t limited by armor type. This has effectively reduced how many items I need to create (at least in the armors tab), but I have retained some core elements of my original system, and added some new elements to armor that may make for some unique build options.
Some Final Thoughts
Now, with all this thought process having been done, and key ideas sorted out for the most part, there are a couple questions that I think could use answers. These are just some ideas that came to mind while I was writing this post. I just feel like they are ideas that need to be addressed.
Why am I preparing this information beforehand?
On my Steam account, I have 1000 hours clocked for RPG Maker VX Ace. A very small percentage of that time has been spent developing games (I believe I have only completed one small game). Most of that time has been spent figuring out the ins and outs of the software. By now, I have learned more than enough about RMVX Ace to have made a couple small games. I have learned that RPG Maker does make a lot of things fairly easy to do, but it also comes with a litany of limitations.
The limitations I am forced to contend with stem from simply adding items to the Armors tab. I am limited by the total number of items that can be added to the database, and this one tab is designed to hold items from multiple equipment slots. I am limited by the database list; I must input the data for each individual item one at a time, and there are zero quality of life functions to speed up this process. The items that appear in the in-game inventory appear in the exact order they are listed in the database, which pretty much requires RM users to sort out their entire library of items well in advance. With all of this in mind, I am required to determine if the system I am using will even work within the limitations of the RPG Maker software.
Why am I investing energy into creating a complex system?
One reason I am creating an item intensive system is because of my history playing modern RPGs and MMORPGs. I am used to playing games like Diablo III and WildStar that provide players with an assortment of stats with which to customize their characters. I want to have a system like that in my game, and it requires a lot of time investment in order to design. I have already explained why I can’t stand to use the default RM stats, but it boils down to two things. I want players to have interesting stat choices when building their characters, and I don’t want those stat choices to be arbitrary like the ones players get from World of Warcraft or The Elder Scrolls Online.
The other reason I am working on a system like this is because I am not a fan of the combat system that exists in RMVX Ace. I find it to be much less compelling than the combat systems that exist in RMVX and RM2K3. I am worried that people playing my game will find the combat boring. This thought makes me feel like I need a gear system that will raise enjoyment when players have to regularly fight monsters during, and after, the campaign. Plus, as much I usually dislike games with gear treadmills, a lot of people still play games that offer nothing more than a gear treadmill (cough World of Warcraft cough).
Why am I not using RPG Maker MV?
This question comes about after realizing how many issues I have with RPG Maker VX Ace. After all the work I have put into figuring out how to best use VX Ace, the developers of RPG Maker decided to release a “new” version of their software. I have been keeping a watchful eye on RM MV, but I have been iffy about buying it. From what I have observed of the software during their 20 day free trial, I am not convinced it is worth the $80 price tag (or even the 10% discounted price on Steam). I have already explained a few of my issues with MV in another post from last year, but I will expand on those ideas here.
The differences between RPG Maker VX Ace and its successor, RPG Maker MV, are very minimal. The majority of baseline functions that exist in MV are nearly identical to those that exist in Ace. The developers have done very little to improve the software in any way, and this has caused MV to retain many of the same limitations that exist in Ace. While some may argue that there is a lot more flexibility to MV than is possible in Ace, I can counter this argument with one undeniable fact. The additional power that MV possesses over Ace only exists because of the Plugins feature, and many of the components that make this feature worthwhile have been designed by the Yanfly Engine team — not the developers of RPG Maker. I don’t enjoy the idea of rewarding a company for releasing a product that is barely distinguishable from the last when most of its newly found flexibility is being designed by dozens of members of the community after the product has been released.
Alternatively, the plugins that the Yanfly crew have been churning out (at an alarming rate) look amazing. They offer a large number of options that the baseline software just can’t. I’m excited to try some of the plugins that bypass the limitations that migrated from VX Ace, or even plugins that add new features like the Charge Turn Battle mechanic. I have watched a bunch of the Yanfly Engine videos, and I have found plugins that I could use to add features that I had not considered before. So, because of the efforts of the Yanfly Engine crew in making amazing plugins, I am struggling with the idea of getting a refund on the copy of RPG Maker MV I bought after Christmas…
What do you think about my itemization ideas? Have you had any of the same issues with adding items to your game? What kind of item system do you typically use in your games? What are your thoughts on RPG Maker MV? Join the discussion below.
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Thanks for reading to the end. I hope you’ll be back for the next one.
War Fist out.
Posted on January 13, 2016, in RM Project and tagged Diablo 3, Game Design, Gaming, Plugins, RM, RPG, RPG Maker, RPG Maker MV, RPG Maker VX Ace, Video Games, War Fist, WildStar, World of Warcraft, Yanfly Engine. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.