I tend to never think that I can do things better than the pros. That’s especially true for games, since I know next to nothing about code. So when an app like RPG Creator comes along and says it can help me make my own RPGs right on my iPad, it immediately made me sit up and take notice.
Prior to this app, creating RPGs was something that was exclusively the domain of console and PC gamers. The burning question is obvious: Can you really make a full-featured game with zero additional knowledge or tools? The answer is yes, but not without some serious dedication and a willingness to experiment.
Part of the reason that’s the case is that RPG Creator does very little to ease you into the process. There’s no tutorial to speak of, and when you first fire up the app, you find yourself looking at a menu with some options and no instructions. What you want to do is tap ‘Open Project,’ which can start you on the road to becoming an amateur game designer.
The free version of the app permits you to work on three different projects at any one time, and it even lets you download a sample game if you wish, something that is extremely helpful. Starting a brand new game almost literally gives you a blank canvas on which to start.
What can you do with that digital canvas? A whole lot, as it turns out. RPG Creator gives you all the tools you need to lay out maps, drop in locations and enemies, create triggers for events and dialogue, devise your own loot and much more. It’s very impressive to see all of this in one package, and while you can upgrade to a premium version that removes all the limits of the free version, you could easily lose yourself for hours in the creation process even with restrictions on the number of maps and levels.
It’s just a little tricky to figure out how all of it works. I made some headway by just fooling around on my own. There is a pretty complete help system built in, but it’s not easy to find. You need to tap the menu icon in the bottom-left corner of the main screen, then tap ‘System.’ You’re finally given ‘Help’ as an option, and from there you should be able to find the answers you seek. It’s kind of an RPG-style quest of its own.
Once you get the basics down, you can test out your game at any time, changing any parameters as you see fit. When I encountered bugs in my experiments, it was always something I did wrong as opposed to something funky within RPG Creator itself. There’s also a community aspect to the app, as you can visit the ‘Creator’s Web’ area to test out and rate other users’ games — and share your own if you’re so inclined.
Without ever having used RPG Maker or any other similar title for console or PC, I don’t have a frame of reference for RPG Creator. I will say it’s pretty much what it claims to be, and considering you can download it for free, it’s certainly worth trying if you fancy yourself able to crank out the next Final Fantasy.