A Beginner's Guide To Cutscenes

Voxgizer

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In my short time here, I've seen quite a few threads asking about cutscenes and how to make opening cinematics. This guide was created to help new users become more familiar with creating cutscenes on a very basic level (Can't stress this enough!). It's a guide by a beginner, for beginners.  I plan to break this down as easily as possible, so without any more jabber-jawing, let's get into it!
 
Note for more advanced users: Yes, there are some things I'm leaving out that I don't feel are useful (yet) to brand new makers. The main example I can think of is the game reading pages from right to left for Events. Remember, this is supposed to be bare bones basic.  ;)
 
 


Step 1


 


 On your opening map, you'll have a Starting Position for your hero. This just tells the game where you want your hero to first appear. You can also see an Event here, but we'll talk about that in a minute.


 




 


If you're wanting to do a cutscene that opens on a blank screen, you can set the hero's Transparency to On in the System tab in the Database Manager menu (F9) and just leave the map itself blank!


For the purpose of this guide, we're going to use one of my cutscenes as an example.


In this one, the hero is invisible to begin with.


 




 


Step 2


 


Let's talk about that Event I mentioned earlier. An Event is an object on the map that can be just about anything you want. An NPC, a sign, a shop, a cutscene, the list goes on and on.


The one in particular that you can see in the screen shot is our Cutscene Event. Let's take a look at some of what makes it tick, then I'll explain how it works.


 


Here's the first page of the Event.


 

Spoiler





 

This is the second page.


 

Spoiler





 


Got all that? No? It's ok, it's not easy at first.


 



 


Let's talk about the first page and what all that means.


 


First Event Page


 


Most cutscenes will be Events set to Autorun. You can see Autorun as the Trigger on the left side of the box. Autorun means that the Event will begin when the player enters the map.


So, what happens here is the Event begins right away as the player starts on the map. The Tint Screen isn't really that important because when you leave the map blank, it gives you a black background anyway.


As you can see, the first page is full of dialogue and a few other things, one of the main ones being the Self Switch.


 


Self Switches


 


The best description of Switches that I've ever heard is that they're exactly like light switches. They are. The one in the example triggers after the player is Transferred to another map.


Self Switches, like normal Switches are Off by default, they turn On when that part of an Event is achieved.This leads us to the second page.


 


Second Event Page


 


There really isn't much to see here, is there? That's ok, because this page is very important, regardless. If you look on the left side of the page under Conditions, you'll find that Self Switch is checked and A is selected to be On.


This is a source of confusion and frustration for many, many new folks. (It sure got under my skin at first!) What this does is tell the game to switch to this page once Self Switch A is set to On.


 


You might be wondering how the Self Switch from the first page matters to the one on second page. Well, when the dialogue ends and the player is moved to the next map, the game reaches the line


that activated the Self Switch. After this, the Event, having been told that its main page is now Event Page 2 due to the Self Switch being active, will look at page 2, read it, and see what changes are made to itself.


The changes can be anything from making the Event invisible, to changing its graphic, to giving it a new text response when interacted with, to anything you want!


One of the important changes to make for Events is the Priority. This can be set Below the player in the second page, so that it's out of the way and your heroes can pass.


 


Still confused? Alright, let's look at another example!


 


 

Spoiler



Here we have the infamous Treasure Chest!


 




 


As you can see, you interact with the chest, gain 500G, and Self Switch A is turned On due to your interaction.


 


If you try to interact with the chest again...


 




 


Well, it's empty and always will be now. You can see that the Self Switch is checked under Conditions. This lets the game know that the chest has already been looted, much like a cutscene NPC having run its course already.


 


Ok, let's get back on track here.



The most important thing to keep in mind is that using the Self Switch will make sure your Autorun cutscenes don't run more than once.


For example - If you enter a map for the first time, you get a cutscene. After you exit the map, you don't need the scene again, so the Event that houses


the scene will now be on its second page permanently after being directed there from the Self Switch being turned On at the end of the first page.


 


Well, there you have it. That's probably the most basic way to make a cutscene for your game. There are certainly more extravagant and in-depth ways of doing it, but I think this is


a great place for beginners to start. Good luck, have fun, and ask questions if you need to!
 
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voymasa

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Actually, that's pretty much how I was doing my opener for my test game. I just started using RPG Maker. At first I put the opening events on my first map, but then I switched them to a blank map for the first page. Because I had some opening cutscenes occuring on my first "real" map, I didn't bother with setting a switch on the first page because I had an event run immediately upon them transfering to the other map (i.e. an event set on the map I transfered to). To clarify I'll list it out briefly:

1. Opening screen with CloudSky2 parrallax background.

2. Play BGM Theme2

3. Change Weather to Storm (I went for the dramatic effect)

4. Scrolling Text

5. Flash Screen Effect

6. Fade Out Screen

7. Transfer to Second Map

On Second map I have a new event that begins (Autorun) and continues the rest of my cutscene

1. Fade In Screen

2. Play BGM Theme2

3. Change Weather to Storm

4. Show Text

5. Flash Screen

6. Shake Screen

and so on...

It runs perfectly for me. Remember, Autorun starts as soon as the even "appears", so I'll have to further check (for future cutscenes) whether it will occur every time the player enters that map.

I guess it all depends on if you have multiple screens for your cutscene (especially when using the "blank screen" method for your opener when a new game is started).
 
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Voxgizer

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If you just have the game transfer the player to a new map at the end of a cutscene and it happens to be a map they'll be revisiting, it will replay it unless you toss the Self Switch in there to get it to stay off. Also, good call on the reminder about Autorun!  ;)   :thumbsup-right:

Your opening scene sounds pretty awesome, though.
 

voymasa

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If you just have the game transfer the player to a new map at the end of a cutscene and it happens to be a map they'll be revisiting, it will replay it unless you toss the Self Switch in there to get it to stay off. Also, good call on the reminder about Autorun!  ;)   :thumbsup-right:

Your opening scene sounds pretty awesome, though.
I do use a switch (though I'll check the self_switch to maybe save on switches used) at the end of each event page for that map, so I can prevent the replay of the whole event (i.e. skip right to the page I want to run next); though when you enter the page it may replay it due to Autorun (I'll have to check on this).

I don't have much done on the game yet, but maybe I can compress a copy of what I've got so far, for you (where would i send it to). It will literally last maybe 1-2 minutes. It's mostly scrolling text intro, and then the "ressurrection" scene with asking the player's name. (I'll be adding in choice of "race" which will affect stats, since classes actually control stat growth, and the actual class will be chosen; the race choice will set the variable which will determine starting point in the main stroyline, plus a few of the story points. I may even choose to do something like Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2) where your primary and secondary character choices affected who the main and secondary villians were.) It will be an interesting project while it progresses, though I do have some struggles with stat balancing.

Looking forward to continuing theses topics. These forums are very helpful.
 

Voxgizer

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Ah ok. For the event that has the Autorun, do you have the Self Switch ticked on the left side under Conditions on the second page? That ought to stop it.

As for sending me a copy to look over, I think most people just upload the game to Mediafire or something similar and link it (a PM would probably be best), not quite sure, really. One good thing to know about this is that you don't have to include the RTP files for other RPG Maker users. It really saves on game size. 

After reading the description of your game, all I can say is "Wow." Color me excited, because that sounds awesome.  BD   :rock-right:
 

voymasa

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Ah ok. For the event that has the Autorun, do you have the Self Switch ticked on the left side under Conditions on the second page? That ought to stop it.

As for sending me a copy to look over, I think most people just upload the game to Mediafire or something similar and link it (a PM would probably be best), not quite sure, really. One good thing to know about this is that you don't have to include the RTP files for other RPG Maker users. It really saves on game size. 

After reading the description of your game, all I can say is "Wow." Color me excited, because that sounds awesome.  BD   :rock-right:
I do use the self-switch to change event pages. Part of the below mentioned "tweaks" is to send the player off on an early "get to know the game" fetch quest so that when their next event interaction is a page with action button as the trigger (it's nice that each event page can have a separate trigger). When you do compress it into game form, will it let you not put the RTP files in?

I've been working on adding the enemies on map screen (it's pretty simple). This is a "get to know RPG Maker" game, so it probably won't be lengthy. Tweaked the opening cutscene a bit to increase the FPS (it was lagging, probably due to the parralax background). Added a catacombs section to the first area. I'm trying to figure out how to get an event to change a map tile (not the tile set used, but rather one or more tiles on the map) to show certain plot points changing (like an orb on a pedestal "breaking"). I've been messing around with the formula bar extensively (they say that RPG Maker doesn't do low stats well, but I've been tweaking the damage formulas for even the Attack action using a proportional rather than substraction formula. I'll probably upload this project as a freeware if I complete it, though I might upload an incomplete version as a "demo" for fun if I don't complete it (give the player a congrats message when they finish the first area, etc.).

The player's first quest is to retrieve their bones from the equivalent to a graveyard for heroes and villains and bring them back to the guy who ressurrected you. I'm using the fetch quest to let the player choose their "race" (apply a series of stat buffs and debuffs based on the race, maybe use a State), which would also choose where their start point in the main quest world is.

I still want to consider theme, style, etcetra when tweaking the game (otherwise it's just a series of quests and fighting some bad guys). Oh well, should be fun.
 

JoeyLYCAN

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This'll definitely help me for sure! I'm compiling all the information I can for when I get started on my project! thanks a lot!
 

Voxgizer

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I do use the self-switch to change event pages. Part of the below mentioned "tweaks" is to send the player off on an early "get to know the game" fetch quest so that when their next event interaction is a page with action button as the trigger (it's nice that each event page can have a separate trigger). When you do compress it into game form, will it let you not put the RTP files in?

I've been working on adding the enemies on map screen (it's pretty simple). This is a "get to know RPG Maker" game, so it probably won't be lengthy. Tweaked the opening cutscene a bit to increase the FPS (it was lagging, probably due to the parralax background). Added a catacombs section to the first area. I'm trying to figure out how to get an event to change a map tile (not the tile set used, but rather one or more tiles on the map) to show certain plot points changing (like an orb on a pedestal "breaking"). I've been messing around with the formula bar extensively (they say that RPG Maker doesn't do low stats well, but I've been tweaking the damage formulas for even the Attack action using a proportional rather than substraction formula. I'll probably upload this project as a freeware if I complete it, though I might upload an incomplete version as a "demo" for fun if I don't complete it (give the player a congrats message when they finish the first area, etc.).

The player's first quest is to retrieve their bones from the equivalent to a graveyard for heroes and villains and bring them back to the guy who ressurrected you. I'm using the fetch quest to let the player choose their "race" (apply a series of stat buffs and debuffs based on the race, maybe use a State), which would also choose where their start point in the main quest world is.

I still want to consider theme, style, etcetra when tweaking the game (otherwise it's just a series of quests and fighting some bad guys). Oh well, should be fun.
Yes, you can opt out of using the RTP files, but remember that anyone downloading your game will have to download them as well. The good news for that is that once they have the RTP installed, they never need to do it again!

The bit about tiles sounds like it's more of a Variable thing. Not sure how familiar you are with those, but Celianna has an excellent tutorial on them.

This'll definitely help me for sure! I'm compiling all the information I can for when I get started on my project! thanks a lot!
Glad it'll help! Be sure to check out Celianna and GrandmaDeb's tutorials too for Variables and Switches, respectively.
 

georgethecow

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Thanks a ton Mikey! This is definitely a tutorial I needed to see!
 

Joe

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Um, I did all that you said but my character is still invisible after he teleports to the area I want him to start at. Please help.
 

Redweaver

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Um, I did all that you said but my character is still invisible after he teleports to the area I want him to start at. Please help.
You didn't turn "transparency" off before fading the screen in.  Second tab of the event command window, first button under "character".
 

Xortberg

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Just popping in to offer my thanks. Just got RPG Maker a few days ago. I probably would've figured all of this out on my own given enough time, but this topic sped the process along considerably. Specifically the Self Switches; that probably would've had me stumped for ages.
 

FCU777

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Can I start with a black screen and then feature the background without the player being involved?

Like, here is what I wrote so far:

 View attachment 10925
 
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valjus

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Thanks for this guide really helped me 
 
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Thanks for this, I had no problems with the self switches, it was getting the game to start on a black screen I couldn't figure out (and of course the solution turned out to be incredibly simple).
 
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bit of a noob question but how do I make the hero reappear, I transferred to a new map but the hero is still invisible?

EDIT: Ok fixed it myself.
 
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