[VX]Basic Game Making:Using the Database- The Actors Tab

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Player Character Creation, Part One


Using the Database to Make a Custom Actor

Spoiler for:
In this series of tutorials, we’ll look at the Database. The Database is the second most dynamic section of the RM software. In it, you can alter almost every parameter in the game, such as the Characters, Skills, consumable Items, and Weapons and Armour. This section of the software is highly important because it determines a whole lot of what your game engine does.  ;)

In this particular tutorial, we will cover making a new Actor from scratch. There are a whole ton of considerations that come into play when messing with the Database, and care must be taken to keep everything balanced. We will look at these considerations and try to address them accordingly. I will be using RMVX for my examples, but the basic techniques are pretty common to all the RM software, more or less. :)

In RM, an Actor is the collection of nuts and bolts information that defines the programming parameters for predictable behaviour in gameplay. In other words, it’s the rules for the little dude on the screen. :V The Actor can also be thought of as the person who has a collection of trainings that are his Class. A Player Character is an artistic expression of this fictional person.

This skill, along with Class Creation, are not as basic as the title may suggest. Intimate  :gracie: knowledge of the software's math and how to alter it are recommended. And before you go fooling with the numbers, you should play a dirt basic game or two to know what the software is designed to do as it is. However, because this should be a part of EVERY RMaker's skillset, I include it in the basic tutorials.

As with any of the tutorials I write, this is merely my opinion; a collection of techniques that works for me. Seek the truth as you experience it.

The Actor Creation Process
Spoiler for:
Our destination for this tutorial is the Actors Tab. We will visit other tabs eventually, but the Actor tab will be our focus for this trip. The Actor tab, as with many other tabs, is a brick in the wall that is your game Database. There are factors here that affect other tabs, and other tabs that affect it. When making your Actor, you have to complete all the work in these other tabs before the Actor will work properly in your game. :police: But don’t worry, we’ll cover those tabs by the time the next few tutorials are done.

Actor Graphic Resources
Spoiler for:
To make the actor’s graphics, you’ll need a spritesheet for your character, and a facesheet.

a whole spritesheet

a  single spritesheet

You may want to know that the dimensions of each sheet must be correct. Spritesheets must be EXACTLY 384 x 256 (or 128 x 96 for single character sprites) and Facesheets must be 384 x 192. Additionally, a single spritesheet has to have a filename that beginning with a $ if it will walk in the middle of a grid square. If it has a !, the image will not appear correctly. In addition, if a complete sheet has ! in the filename, the image will sit directly on a grid line instead of in the center of the grid square.

The wrong way...

…and the right way.

See the difference? Now simply stick those graphics in the proper Resources Manager spots. Remember How?

 You’ll want to have a good idea of who this character is, and what function they play in the game.When making your Actor, you must know exactly what the character's role will be and how they support their share of the story. Have a good idea about the gear and skills you want them to be able to use. Also consider how their abilities will develop- not just where they start out, but how they improve as levels go by.

The Actors Tab
Spoiler for:
In the Actors tab, we can see that  the game comes standard with six pre-fab characters. They work fine as they are, but we are now at the point where we want to make our own Actors. I advise that you keep them to look at how the pros make actors, and use them for a baseline.

 There are several self-explanatory fill-in boxes and drop down menus to customise your new actor. Let’s go over them.

Spoiler for Actor Tab Page Key:
1 The list of currently saved actors. Six come with the program.
2 This button changes the number of slots available for actors. Four is standard, but other group sizes are do-able. 
3 Your actor’s basic attributes. By clicking on these parameter curves you can alter how high the scores are and how quickly the score is gained. More on that window later.
4 The Actor’s name. Be careful here. At the same time, if you don’t already have this figured out, go back to your notebook and brainstorm.
5 The Actor’s Class. This refers to a tab that we will cover in depth later.
6 Staring level can be modified here.
7 The Actor's Sprite. Double click to modify.
8 The Actor's Face. Double click to modify.
9The Actor's starting equipment. Drop down boxes allow you to change this.
10 This section contains special abilities. Two Swords lets an Actor dual-wield, Fix Equipment restricts the Actor's equipment options to what you give initally, Auto-Battle removes battle control from the player, Super Guard reduces all incoming damage by 1/4 when defending, Pharmacology increases effectiveness with Healing Items, and Critical Bonus Doubles the base chances of critical hits.

If you haven’t done so yet, take some time to familiarize yourself with the drop-downs and menus and crap.

Let’s Make an Actor!
Spoiler for:
Now that we know what the interface does, let’s do the voodoo.  :D  First, we decide where on the list our actor will go. Not a tough decision. Pick a spot-if the spot is occupied, you’ll go to that actor’s information. If not, you’ll see a blank template to fill in as you see fit.

To make a new actor slot, click the “Change Maximum” button, number 2 in our key above. A drop-down box will ask you to set the new maximum number of actors. If you set the max lower than what it already is, you will lose the actors that don’t fit on the new list starting from the bottom.  ;9 If you set it higher than the current max, new blank slots will open up.

Now we can begin filling out the form! Input the Actor’s name and starting level (which ought to be level one.) For now, use the default class of Warrior for this Actor. Also, use the basic equipment available for this class… just for now.  :police: In order to really change stuff in those spaces, we need to enter the class tab, and that’s a different tutorial. While you’re here, think carefully about the special abilities (8-11 in the key) before you assign them. :holk: They’re all by themselves for a very good reason.

The actor’s face and sprite should be in the Resources database by now. If not, you can import them by having the properly sized spritesheet and facesheet saved on your ‘puter and using the resource manager’s “Import” function to locate the resources’ address, just like we did in our tutorial game. You did the tutorial game, right?  >:(

Ability Scores
Spoiler for:
A’right, boyo, we’re gonna mess with the Actor’s ability scores now. There are six of them, located at the top of the Actors Tab, and a dialogue box for the Experience curve. (If you don’t know what experience points are, GTFO of this forum  :mad: :firerain: >:( .) The pre-fab classes all come with ability scores that are appropriate for the pre-fab monsters and pre-fab leveling math. They work just fine without being messed with, UNLESS you plan on messing with monster power or only have one or two actors in the PC party, or, as is the case with this tut, you are making an Actor from scratch. Let’s make a melee-type Actor.

Image Coming soon

Looking at the ability scores, you should see that they are pretty self-explanatory: Strength is how hard an Actor hits in melee; Agility is how precise the Actor is; Endurance figures into how resistant the Actor is to damage; Spirit is a measure of magic power; and HP and MP stand for Hit Points and Magic Points, respectively.  ::)

If we’re starting from scratch, we can assign a general curve to Strength and also govern its advancement as levels pass. Clicky-click on the Strength window and a new window pops up. The letters A through E appear in buttons atop the window, and we can use these buttons to select pre-fab curves- each button click gives you a different curve, each slightly different from the last but all relatively similar. The curves get wimpier as the lettering progresses to E.

Image Coming soon

By this point you probably figured out that a melee Actor should have a high Strength score. Strength means bigger hits with weapons you hit with, like axes and swords. Click on the A button until you find a curve that suits your liking. You will find that some curves “bow down” towards the middle; this will therefore mean less noticeable advancement per level in the middle levels of the game. Conversely, those that “bow up” represent the very opposite. Decide which you prefer (I can’t really help you here) and make it so.

A melee Actor’s Agility doesn’t need to be very high, since he uses few weapons that benefit from Agility, like bows, and he uses heavy armor- mobility isn’t an issue. Select an Agility curve in the C range.

Endurance is pretty important to the melee character because he’s probably going to take some hits. More on how we know that later. This is the second most important ability for a melee class; Endurance reduces damage taken. Let’s pick a B curve.

Spirit is one of the least important ability scores for a melee class. They won’t be using many magic-based skills (or at least they shouldn’t) and therefore this ability can safely be set to an E curve.

Hit Points are key to a melee class, so we should give quite a few. We can try a B curve here as well, but one of the lower ones.

Why not go for broke?
Spoiler for:
Because we first need to learn how to make an Actor with “decent” ability scores before we make one with godly scores. The Fighter we’re currently making is balanced in many ways, not the least of which is challenge for the player. Sure, we could give him all the HP in the world, but this does two bad things: first, it reduces the challenge of the game by making it less likely the player will die. No risk, no fun. Second, it doesn’t give us anywhere to go if we decide to make a really specialized Actor who may have exceptionally high HP to make him special. Leave room to grow!

Melee classes should not be tossing many spells around, if any at all! However, if you give the class special abilities, those skills will cost MP- so there has to be something here. You can probably get away with an E curve, but for now let’s pick a D curve.

A note on the XP curve: While you can mess around with this set of numbers, it’s usually easier to adjust monster XP rewards. Remember, tailor level advancement to your game’s speed.

Now you may have noticed a trend here. We decided how relevant our Actor’s abilities were to its job, and decided on a priority for each ability. For the prime ability we chose from the A curves, the two secondary abilities from the B curves and everything else from C, D and E. This gives us an Actor who is good at his job but not so great at other things. Perfect! An Actor should be good at his job and little else because he’s a fraction of a whole. Now to make the other Actors that will make up for his deficiencies! Just follow the same steps, taking into account the Actor’s prime, secondary and tertiary ability scores- that is, make mages Spirited with lots of MP, make rogues Agile, that kind of thing.

Of course, when you make Actors that are destined for Classes that you make on your own, play to that class’s needs- and we’ll discuss that in the next tutorial, The Class Tab.

Spoiler for:
There we have it, folks, you have just made an actor! The Actor tab is a small but highly important part of the Database; it defines what the player will be playing the game with, and therefore deserves a lot of thought and restraint.

While Actor Creation and its sister skill Class Creation are technically basic skills (in that every game designer ought to know how to do it) they are very much also advanced in that you MUST do it correctly every time, and "correctly" is a subject to the game you design.

When used in conjunction with the Class, Skill, and Equipment tabs, and with your imaginative writing, you can lay the foundation for a memorable, fun gaming experience for your players.

« Last Edit: March 21, 2014, 03:39:04 PM by EvilM00s »