This week’s SMILE GAME BUILDER tutorial is up, the first one in a two-parter. And it’s all about campsites!
I recently bought and started playing Final Fantasy XV so, inspired by the game’s "havens" (campsites), where you can rest, save and talk to other party members, this tutorial is the result.
Campsites (Part 2)
Part 2 will expand on this idea by adding random battles or encounters, and more, which will be in a few weeks. In fact, I’ve received so many suggestions from visitors and followers that there may be room for a Part 3 as well!
This week’s Smile Game Builder Tutorial #55: Beam Me Up, Scotty! is uploaded. Enter passcodes to teleport to different maps via a teleporter or warp gate event. It’s a bit like the Teleport Mirrors in Might & Magic World of Xeen. Perfect for adding variety to your game!
There is no extended version of this tutorial, but check my social media – Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook – or this blog for updates.
This week’s Smile Game Builder video is the first in a series focusing on Head-Up Displays (better known as HUDs). In this video is a simple HUD based on item collection, where you receive a quest to collect herbs and the HUD updates according to the number of herbs you’ve collected.
HUDs Part 2
The next tutorial will be creating a fatigue/hunger/thirst system (based on a comment awhile ago), and I’ll continue with the HUD systems including HP/MP.
In this tutorial, there is a flaw where if you accept the quest again, you can’t re-harvest the herbs. This is because it uses a Local Switch that is turned OFF but it isn’t turned back ON when the quest is complete. I’ll put a solution in next week’s tutorial, likely at the end of the video.
The Pumpkin Hunt mini-game was created for Halloween 2017 using Smile Game Builder. It’s just a bit of fun, but this downloadable file also serves as a tutorial to see the techniques I used.
You can download the mini-game and either play it or view the techniques used from Smile Game Builder (or both). The file size is around 10 Mb, so is comparatively small.
I’ve included several Easter eggs as well, references to literature, mythology or movies; some are more subtle than others. Unless, of course, you know your stuff! See if you can find them all for an extra challenge and comment them! (Hint: There are 5!)
You can watch the mini-game in action (a walkthrough) on my YouTube Channel directly or the embedded video below.
Smile Game Builder‘s built-in camera control is a very useful feature, especially when it comes to achieving certain map effects during the game.
Camera Settings Variables
In Advanced Variables, you can store the values of various camera settings into variables and reference them throughout.
In my tutorial on camera control, I comprehensively go through using the camera in Smile Game Builder, so I won’t dwell on that here.
I’d recommend watching the video first and returning to this article afterward.
As usual, an auto-run synchronize event containing the variables needs to be set up and placed on each of the maps you want to reference the camera settings.
All camera settings are set in one of three ways:
Game Data:Game Settings is used to create default settings that are then used globally across all maps.
Map Settings: Each map has individual Map Settings (right-click on the map name and select that option) and change the camera settings to whatever values you want. These override the default settings in Game Data for that map.
Auto-Run Event: You can set an auto-run triggered once event to change the camera settings manually. When the player enters the map, this event will automatically orientate the map to these settings.
Choose whichever method suits your game’s needs, depending on the effect you want to achieve. The first two methods are "fixed", so the map settings are automatically implemented for the maps. The third method, however, re-orientates towards these settings unless Camera Movement Time is set to 0 (which is instant) in the Camera Control command.
As you’d expect, Camera Settings – X and Camera Settings – Y store the X and Y angles of the camera respectively.
Camera X is governed by the keys for up (R) and down (F) and Camera Y uses the keys for rotating the camera left (Q) or right (E).
As an example (shown in Fig. 15), in Normal view on Sheet 1, a Variable Box Check is added to check if the Camera X variable is set to -48. If it is (under Yes), use the Camera Control command to change X’s camera angle to -89 for this example.
Similarly, on Sheet 2, do the same to check if its value equals -89 and reset X’s camera angle back to -48.
Bear in mind, however, that the above example (as with all the examples in this article) only applies to Normal view. Camera angles and their corresponding variables work differently when in First Person view, but I’ll cover that in one of the next tutorials in this series.
Camera XY Minimum and Maximum Values
The value stored in the variable for Camera X won’t go below -35 (which is an isometric view) or above -90 (which is directly overhead).
And for the Camera Y variable value, the range is 0 to 360.
Field of View
The Field of View (or FOV) is the telescopic distance in and out from the character. In other words, when you zoom in (with the C key), objects become closer and zooming out (with the V key) results in objects becoming farther away.
With the example in Fig. 16, on Sheet 1 is a Variable Box Check where the Field of View variable is smaller than 4. And if Yes, change the FOV to 0.5 in Camera Control to zoom right in.
On Sheet 2, likewise, if it’s equal to 1, the FOV is reset to 3.5 from within the Camera Control event command.
Note that, as with all instances of decimal fractions in Smile Game Builder, they’re rounded down. And, since the default FOV is 3.5, if you were to use that as a variable value, it would be recalibrated as 3. Hence, in the above example, the variable’s value is set slightly higher. With the Variable Box Check, numbers are either above or below, or equal to, their fixed values; they’re not inclusive, so setting a higher value is good practice anyway.
FOV Minimum and Maximum Values
When zooming in and out with the C and V keys, the range is 0 (really close) and 4 (slightly above).
This only applies to the FOV on the map; it doesn’t apply to any other camera settings for FOV because that’s separate.
The camera’s Distance only applies to Normal view. It measures the distance of the camera in relation to the character or a position on the map.
In the example in Fig. 17, I set up a Variable Box Check for checking if the Distance variable is "the same as" 71 (1 above the default distance) and, because in this instance it’s not (under No), the camera moves all the way above the scene and rotates as well. If the operator is set to "smaller" instead, this would return true (under Yes) and it just zooms in with the FOV.
Don’t forget that the Variable Box Check operators don’t include the numbers you set in its Value, so they always have to be one above or below the actual value you want to use.
The final part is the Camera Mode. This is to check whether you’re playing in Normal or First Person mode to create different effects for each.
A prime example of its use – in conjunction with Player Direction – is my tutorial on creating a Compass HUD that correctly moves with the player depending on whether Normal view or First Person mode is used.
As another example, with First Person mode, you can create an event sequence where the camera quickly rotates behind you (useful to add tension to horror games), which would be useless in Normal mode. For Normal mode, therefore, you’d simply create another appropriate camera effect.
To use it, the Variable Box Check would use the Camera Mode variable, set to the value corresponding to either Normal view (0) or First Person mode (1). Use one or the other, but remember the Yes/No order in the branch. If it’s set to either 0 or 1, that condition then becomes true or false when you switch between modes using the B key, so whatever is under Yes will activate, otherwise, whatever is under No will activate instead.
I generally tend to use 0 (Normal mode) to make it easier to reference. That means, I always know that 0 is Yes and 1 is No. But, of course, it’s a matter of preference as long as you know which is which.
If you use any other value, it won’t run properly because there are only two modes and Smile Game Builder will treat the variable’s value as though it’s a zero, i.e., Normal mode.
I haven’t decided on the topic of the next tutorial in this series yet, as there’s still plenty to cover in Advanced Variables.
That said, I may continue with Camera Settings, but using the variables in First Person mode since they work differently than with Normal view. Although I’d like to go through some of the others first before revisiting this subject, it’s going to be one of those "wait and see" things.
In Smile Game Builder, you can store and reference various character stats via Advanced Variables.
Under Character Information, you can store:
Experience: A character’s Level and Experience.
HP and MP: Current and maximum HP and MP.
Stats:Attack, Defense, Accuracy, Evasion and Agility.
Each stat is stored in a separate variable per character. If you intend on using all of them with a full party, you’d need to reserve 44 variables. And then with each additional recruitable character, you need 11 further variables.
Using Stat Variables
There are many possible applications for Character Information. I’ve already visited several in my Smile Game Builder Tutorials series, but here are a few more.
Creating Stat Based Skills
What if you wanted to create stat-based skills, such as Lockpicking or Dodging?
You’d first need to store each stat in a variable (as in Fig. 11) and then create separate skills based on those stats.
I also covered this in Tutorial #29, which deals with using skills with chests.
So, for the first one, Lockpicking, it can be based on Accuracy.
To What? would be the Lockpicking skill itself, How? would be set to the variable assigned to Accuracy, and Do What? would simply be Assign.
The next step for this example would be to create another Variable Box where Lockpicking is divided by the Fixed Value 2 (or whatever number you want for the division). The end result is that Lockpicking is equal to half of the character’s Accuracy.
Using the defaults at Level 1, Sion’s Accuracy is 95. Halved, the Lockpicking skill would be 47 because fractions are rounded down.
For the Dodge skill, in this example I’ve based it on Agility and Evasion.
Assign the Dodge variable to Agility (in the same way as with the Lockpicking skill) and add another Variable Box to add Evasion to that.
Evasion is primarily based on armor. Light armor would probably decrease Evasion because it’s easier for weapons to penetrate through. Heavy armor would increase Evasion, as it offers much more protection than light armor.
Thus, Evasion can be a negative number. Cloth armor, for example, since it offers very little protection, might have -3 Evasion. And when this is added to the Dodge skill, it is, of course, subtracted from the total.
You can change the Evasion rates in Stat Modifications for each piece of armor (in the Items tab).
Checking Stats for Success or Failure
Once you’ve set up the variables and skills, the next course of action would be a chance of success or failure.
Smile Game Builder doesn’t have a direct method of comparing one variable with another because the Variable Box Check uses fixed numbers only. This means that we have to use a kind of workaround.
Starting with Lockpicking, decide on the percentage of success beforehand. In this case, there will be a 50% chance to successfully pick the lock.
So, Variable Box Check is then used to determine if the Lockpicking skill is greater than the percentage. The Yes branch would, of course, contain the routine for opening the chest successfully. And the No branch would be for its failure.
The events containing this information need to be running automatically synchronized and put on each map you want to reference them.
You can create other stat-based skills in a similar fashion. For instance, Strength could be based on half the character’s Current HP. Or Intelligence could be based somewhat on Maximum MP.
At the moment, you can only store the character stats defined in the Game Data. It’s not possible (yet) to similarly store monster stats, so these would need to be defined separately for each monster on the maps for an ABS or similar system. They would either be fixed values or random numbers and then scaled by multiplying them with character level.
For the next tutorial, I’ll look at variables for Camera Settings and how they can be used for various purposes.
Every game must have an element of randomness to it, not only to add an element of surprise to the game, but also to increase its re-playability.
In Smile Game Builder, assigning a random number to a variable is as easy as setting its minimum and maximum values. So, setting the range between 5 and 100 will do just that and generate a random number between those values.
In fact, you can have negative values in Min., thereby greatly increasing the range and impacting randomness and any operators applied to it.
The maximum ranges are actually between -9,999,999 and 9,999,999, so this gives a pretty good range to work with.
Random Contents in Chests
Although there are many uses for random numbers, one notable use is randomizing contents in chests (referencing one of my Tips & Tricks video tutorials, #28, on chests).
You can either use a single sheet with corresponding Variable Box Check branches or multiple sheets with the Event Sheet Conditions set to its variable values. The former is more useful for smaller ranges and the latter is better for a much broader range (as I’ve done in Random Conversation below).
Another use could be for NPCs giving you random items, perhaps as rewards for completing quests. In fact, this same setup can be used as a template for any other event with randomized content.
In most RPGs, people usually say the same things each time you speak to them. The only time conversations change is usually when certain conditions become true, such as during quest lines.
To add some realism to your game, add randomized conversation snippets. However, to increase the range you can set your "between" values on separate sheets.
Sheet 1 is the "randomizer", triggered once only, with the random number range set in the Advanced Variable Box.
On subsequent sheets, you’d add the conditional minimum and maximum variable ranges with the conversation snippet in its Event Details. The triggers for each of them is When Main Hero Talks; it’ll automatically select the appropriate sheet accordingly.
When you talk to the NPC, they’ll say something more random, based on the randomized number range from Sheet 1.
Random Events or Encounters
For additional dynamic contents, adding random events or encounters will provide an element of surprise, as I did in Tutorial #26.
Doors of Possibility
The random element in games opens the doors of possibility wide open.
"The doors to possibilities are limited only by your imagination and creative flair."
In addition to random treasure, conversation, and encounters, randomness can be used for so many different things; the possibilities are only limited by your imagination and creative flair.
Anything from reading a random passage in a book to displaying a random image to randomizing monster encounters via events can add that uniqueness and unexpectedness to your games. You can also combine random elements, such as using the Environmental Effects Conversation Choices from Tutorial #19 to randomize things that NPCs say about the weather.
I’ll follow this article up with a video tutorial some time later.