What should I invest in to get started?

plasticlove

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I am going through the MZ tutorial now. Obviously, I want to make an RPG, and I'm coming at this from a pretty blank slate. I know how to write, and I'm better-than-mediocre at anime art on physical paper but not quite sure how to draw on PC.

I understand I should probably be creating my own assets, and I'd definitely like to. My question is really -- what do I need for to produce pixel art? Another program? A stylus?

Are there other "must have" add-ons or tools I should look into?

Fwiw -- I'm not quite asking for a Bible "you must have these tools" so much as I am "what are good tools to budget for" or "what are standard tools people enjoy using."
 

Shaz

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Moving to Useful Development Tools

 

Finnuval

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Dont know about pixel art but for digital art I would recommend Krita (freeware) tho having a tablet to go with that wouldnt hurt.

Other then that you're biggest investment is going to be time
 

ZenVirZan

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I'm not an artist, but in my limited experience,
  • Mouse is best in most cases where you're using pixel-art techniques. For large images maybe not, but when actually spriting you're probably going to want to use the mouse.
  • I personally use Paint.NET for anything static (I imagine any image editor supporting transparency would be fine), and Aseprite for animations.
  • Aseprite is fantastic for animations: the inbuilt animation editing functionality is much, much better than editing the sprite sheet as a single image
 

NeptuneTron

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For pixel art, I'd highly recommend paint.net . It's completely free, and very flexible for pixel art, especially when it comes to the selection/movement tools available. It's especially great for making and manipulating tilesets, but also just really good for general image manipulation and compositing.

There's also a paid program by Degica as well called the "Game Character Hub", and it's quite useful for making and manipulating sprites, since it's basically a much more feature rich version of the in-software character generator. It's highly compatible with all versions of RPGMaker, and you can also make your own templates and such, so I've found it to be very nice indeed. It's a little on the pricy side to get it on top of MZ, at $28 CAD, but you can periodically find it on sale at places like humble bundle, and I've found it to be quite helpful.
 

plasticlove

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Thanks so much! Definitely forgot about Paint.net -- I tried to fire up Gimp to refresh myself only to remember why I never touch Gimp. Will definitely look into Asesprite.
I'm not an artist, but in my limited experience,
  • Mouse is best in most cases where you're using pixel-art techniques. For large images maybe not, but when actually spriting you're probably going to want to use the mouse.
  • I personally use Paint.NET for anything static (I imagine any image editor supporting transparency would be fine), and Aseprite for animations.
  • Aseprite is fantastic for animations: the inbuilt animation editing functionality is much, much better than editing the sprite sheet as a single image

For pixel art, I'd highly recommend paint.net . It's completely free, and very flexible for pixel art, especially when it comes to the selection/movement tools available. It's especially great for making and manipulating tilesets, but also just really good for general image manipulation and compositing.

There's also a paid program by Degica as well called the "Game Character Hub", and it's quite useful for making and manipulating sprites, since it's basically a much more feature rich version of the in-software character generator. It's highly compatible with all versions of RPGMaker, and you can also make your own templates and such, so I've found it to be very nice indeed. It's a little on the pricy side to get it on top of MZ, at $28 CAD, but you can periodically find it on sale at places like humble bundle, and I've found it to be quite helpful.

Thanks so much! I'm looking at Game Character Hub rn and some of the Steam reviews are griping that it's not compatible with later versions, and it only lists compatibility with "RPG Maker XP, VX and VX Ace" in the text. Is this outdated? (It can be hard to tell with Steam, because sometimes people's five year old complaints remain elevated years later because of the review weighting.)
 

Frogboy

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I would take the time to learn Gimp. The UI is more complicated than Paint.Net but Paint doesn't really get updated and is missing a lot of useful features unless something changed in the last couple of years. Even simple things like drawing grid lines don't seem to be available and those kinds of things are very useful when rearranging tilesets and such. Just queue up a couple of YouTube tutorials, learn the basics of Gimp and you're good.

If you're just starting out with RPG Maker, I wouldn't worry much about anything besides making a generic RPG to learn the engine inside and out. Once you acquire that knowledge and want to move on to making the more creative game that's in your mind right now, then think about the extra tools and resources you'll need.
 

plasticlove

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I would take the time to learn Gimp. The UI is more complicated than Paint.Net but Paint doesn't really get updated and is missing a lot of useful features unless something changed in the last couple of years. Even simple things like drawing grid lines don't seem to be available and those kinds of things are very useful when rearranging tilesets and such. Just queue up a couple of YouTube tutorials, learn the basics of Gimp and you're good.
Oof. My issue with GIMP has always been how... conspicuously user-unfriendly it is; I fired it up for the first time in years last night to take a look at it and the first that struck me was the "default" UI is monochromatic to the point where I thought it was broken, and changing it required several runs through Google. It's such a powerful program and I wish it weren't so immediately unintuitive.

But if it's the tool for the job, it's the tool for the job!

If you're just starting out with RPG Maker, I wouldn't worry much about anything besides making a generic RPG to learn the engine inside and out. Once you acquire that knowledge and want to move on to making the more creative game that's in your mind right now, then think about the extra tools and resources you'll need.
I don't disagree with you in principle -- my initial focus is just to learn the system itself, and I don't want to spend a dollar until I need it, but I like having my ducks in a row.
 

ZenVirZan

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I would take the time to learn Gimp [...] Even simple things like drawing grid lines don't seem to be available
This is a very good point actually--this functionality has bothered me so, so much in the past with Paint.NET, I might actually jump over to GIMP myself at some point if it makes this stuff easier.
 

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