This is a guide on how to use Essentials. It contains a number of tips to help you create a game with it.
Learn how to use RPG Maker XP first!
Essentials has a lot that is unique about it (e.g. the battle system), but it is basically nothing more than a game made in RPG Maker XP. Any game you make with Essentials will also be a (heavily modified) RMXP game. It's therefore very important to know how to use RPG Maker XP.
You can find many tutorials and guides on how to use RMXP online. This wiki assumes you already know all about RMXP, and builds on that knowledge, so it won't help you in that regard.
When learning, practice! Create a new RMXP game (not an Essentials one), and play around with the options and settings to learn how they work and go together. You should be aiming to learn about pretty much everything it is possible to do in RMXP.
Seriously, this step is very important. Don't skim over the guides, don't cut corners assuming you'll pick it up later - just do it. Trust me, it'll be at least ten times easier if you learn RMXP before starting to use Essentials - Essentials is complicated enough by itself.
Look at the example maps in Essentials
The example maps are the maps that exist in a fresh copy of Essentials. They contain examples of many different features that it is common for a Pokémon game to have. If you want to know how to do something, odds are it's in there and you can just copy it.
It's worthwhile looking through the example maps anyway, even if you're not looking for anything in particular. They will give you an idea of how to put your RMXP skills into practice in a Pokémon game, and give you context for some Essentials features which may otherwise be difficult to comprehend. It may even give you ideas for how to make your game even better.
Keep track of your work
It's a very good idea to keep a list of the things you've done to your game files, not least because it will help you to upgrade to a newer version of Essentials much more easily.
You may choose to do this in whatever way you wish, and it is up to you which changes you deem important enough to record, and what kind of detail to go into. However, there are three basic parts of your game to record:
- General alterations
- These are anything you've done to your game, whether it be adding a feature, creating maps, replacing Pokémon sprites, etc.
- You should list all these things in a single place (e.g. a text file).
- The amount of detail you go into when recording each thing is up to you. Write as if you will forget everything you've done, and will use these records to refresh your memory.
- Changes to files
- If you change any files (graphics, audio, PBS files), you will usually want to keep a record of these too.
- These changes will also be recorded in the text file mentioned above.
- It is usually okay to be vague about what exactly you've done to files, or even to bundle these notes into a bigger one (e.g. if you say you've edited the Trainer card, that implies you've edited its graphics, so you probably won't need to mention which specific ones you changed).
- Specific changes to scripts
- It's a very good idea to record absolutely every change you make to the scripts, even seemingly minor ones.
- You should put a comment next to each line you've changed containing a key word (e.g. "
CHANGED"), which clearly points out that you've edited it.
- You can easily search for the key word to find all your changes, if/when you want to upgrade to a newer version of Essentials.
- You may also want to keep a (commented-out) copy of the original line next to your changed version, to help you see what you've changed and to more easily revert changes if necessary.
When you make a new change, you should add it to the end of the text file.
Another good idea is to make backups of your game every so often. Anyone who has lost all their game data due to a computer crash will tell you how important this is.
Ideally you will keep the backups in a different place to the current version of your game, to help limit the effects of any disaster. Be sure to number each backup - you don't need to go fancy with version codes like
b.0.7.26c, though; just keep them in order.
How frequently you make backups is up to you. It can depend on how much progress you've made, how much storage space you have, and so on.
The text file which records the changes you've made to your game should note exactly when you've made each backup (and include the number of that backup). This note should be prominent and easily noticeable. This tells you which changes were made in each version.
The very first backup you should make is before you begin doing anything at all. That is, you should have a clean copy of the version of Essentials you started working with. You can refer to this whenever you manage to break something beyond repair (it happens to everyone!).