Pixel Game Maker MV gives you the tools to develop an action or platformer title. It then throws a very easy to use, visual scripting system on top and allows you to easily add multiplayer features with minimal effort.
Made by the makers of RPG Maker, Pixel Game Maker MV allows game development enthusiasts to make their own side-scrolling action game — either shooters or platformers — with a suite of tools that allow the process to be relatively easy. Putting together games is a snap, literally, with a tile-based design system that allows you to snap tiles together, easily modify their collision, and set up ramps and platforms with ease.
Designing your characters does require you to use your favorite pixel editing software of choice — I prefer Aseprite — in order to fully customize what you’re making, but that’s standard fare for any game design. There’s an assortment of premade tiles, an animated character and a bunch of objects that can be used for backdrops and obstacles; enough to get you started at the very least. The system of assigning actions for your characters and enemies takes a bit of getting used to, but luckily, Pixel Game Maker MV has one of the most intuitive tutorial systems I’ve ever seen.
Instead of having you follow difficult to understand, written instructions, the tutorials show up in the interface and give a step-by-step approach to learning the fundamentals of how to set everything up. With lessons on what each menu does, placing characters and tiles, programming enemies and setting up scenes, the tutorials available in Pixel Game Maker MV are thorough and easy to follow. You’ll quickly learn your way around the menu system and be able to get your own projects going soon after finishing their relatively short, but fully explained tutorials. Additional settings and features are something you can play with as you feel a bit more comfortable with the tools, but there’s a wealth of customization afforded to you.
Laying out scenes is how you set up levels in your game, and this is made even easier with the tile tools. You can choose sections of your tiled layout and draw larger objects right into your scene or pick smaller, tileable level pieces and draw them all over, allowing you to quickly box out your level’s layout. Once you have your basic design drawn out, you can fill it in with fine details and even work in layers in order to add additional background objects and scenery. Adding tilesets is as easy as selecting them in the scene settings, where you can also manage your current sets available to work within the scene.
Animations tend to be cumbersome in most game development software, but the one in Pixel Game Maker MV reminds me of Unity’s system. Animations are processed in states, and you can transition between them by activating states through actions. Something as simple as activating ‘walk’ if you press the left or right movement key is built right in. It’s comforting to see simplicity made from something that might take you hours to perfect in other game design packages. Once you have your animations and states set up, it’s on to tweaking movement and other parameters.
Your character settings aren’t set in stone, but they are all pre-programmed for you. Movement speed, jump characteristics, and health are all just a variable tweak away. Same goes for enemies, too, as you can modify their values just as easily as the Player Character object. This building block serves as an excellent ‘jumping-off’ point and lends itself to quicker prototyping, allowing you to focus more on the feel of the look of the game than fine-tuning the programming behind it.
Once you get the hang of everything, you should be able to design your own levels, fill them with enemies and obstacles, and link them together as scenes, which you can even use transitions between. Platforming games are a likely choice to start with, but you can make auto-scrolling games with the software too, which could lead to high-speed sci-fi shmups if you have the ambition to create such a thing. With a package such as this — even with the preprogrammed options — there is so much variety that you can basically make a game that could fall into any of the genres. The only limit, it seems, is your imagination — and dedication to making that dream game.
I really enjoyed the time I have spent with Pixel Game Maker MV. Its simple-to-start set of tools gives you access to a kit of sorts that, with a smidge of patience and an open imagination, can really create something quickly — leading right into the fun parts of game development. Taking out the guesswork and the programming aspects that are required with most packages lowers the bar significantly, allowing budding developers in that may just know art or just want to play around and see if they have what it takes. It’s a great piece of software, and I feel that Pixel Game Maker MV will really help spark the next generation of developers.
Pixel Game Maker MV is available now on Steam, along with a demo to try out its features.