For the past few years I’ve been putting together a game called The Book of Metal using the RPG Maker VX Ace Software – for those who don’t know what that is it’s a… erm, RPG Maker, allowing the user to create retro-style video games in the style of SNES-era classic games like Final Fantasy I – VI and Chrono Trigger to name a few.
As you can guess my game is heavily musically-themed, and after not finding the built-in fantasy jingles to be quite what I’m looking for in a metal-themed video game I decided to make my own using a program called Music Maker Jam, which is perfect for those of us without an ounce of musical ability whatsoever. Some of the earlier efforts are appalling but I think I’ve now got a reasonably decent soundtrack to compliment the game I’m working on; a combination of syth-style 16-bit era music fused with metal and rock. With that in mind I’d love to hear your feedback on what I’ve put together so far.
For those unaware of what RPG Maker is think back to the classic SNES RPGs of that era – the early Final Fantasy games, Secret of Mana and of course A Link To The Past. The RPG Maker software allows you to create your own games with a similar style, but with much more creativity available. There are literally thousands of ‘scripts’ available to add to a game made by talented developers, which means an aspiring game maker is pretty much only limited by their imagination.
The RPG Maker software itself has been around in one form or another since 1988 would you believe, but it wasn’t until 1992 where it started to take shape. With the release of RPG Maker 95 and later 2000 it truly became a powerful tool for creating detailed and intricate RPGs, only to be improved further with each subsequent release which included RPG Maker 2003, XP, VX, VX Ace and most recently MV.
I’ve personally tinkered with the software on and off since about 2002, playing about with RPG Maker 2000 and later 2003 where I started developing my first game, tentatively titled ‘Truro vs Treno’ which involved two rival soldiers developing a common bond and friendship in order to end a decade-long war. Unfortunately I had no particular direction for the overall story to go in and the game was ultimately abandoned… and a bit boring, if my girlfriends brutal yet honest review was anything to go by.
It wasn’t until a Humble Bundle appeared in mid-2014 selling both RPG Maker XP and VX Ace, so both Alan and I jumped on the deal and bounced around a few ideas for a game. This was just before ‘Alan & Pete Play’ became a semi-serious thing for us, and with that taking up most of our gaming time the idea of creating an RPG took a back seat.
I can’t remember exactly what made me come back to RPG Maker nearly 18 months later, but I’d had an idea for a game called ‘The Book of Metal’ in my mind for quite a while leading up to firing up the software again. Of course what’s taken shape now is pretty far from what I wanted to put into the game originally, but the core idea is the same – metal music is stolen in the form of a book, and it’s up to a band of heroes to get it back and follow a (hopefully) amusing and entertaining story. It’s a simple premise and one I wanted to generally keep that way as its my first game, and not only that but having not touched an RPG Maker for more than 12 years I had absolutely no clue as to what I was doing at first. In many ways I still don’t, but I’m happy with how the game is going and some of the frankly awesome things I’ve put in it – for example there’s a WWE style Triple Triad game (the card game from Final Fantasy 8) in there, simply because I can do that. There’s also a guild system akin to that of the Fairy Tail anime series, which I very proudly programmed myself after spending hours reading and learning about how things like ‘events’ and ‘switches’ work.
But that’s enough about all that, you’ve hopefully read this far because you either have an interest in old-school RPGs or metal music, so please check out this 11 minute video of the opening to The Book of Metal. I currently don’t plan on making it publicly available but if there’s enough interest I’ll happily release it for free when the game is complete. If you have any questions, critique or ideas please put them in the comments box, I’d love to hear them. My girlfriend likes it too, which is a plus.