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Suggested Game Engine for a beginner wanting to make a JRPG?

So I was wondering if anyone knew a game engine which is good for beginners to game development and want to make an RPG/JRPG. I’ve tried for about 2 months looking up tutorials, asking on here and discord but Unreal Engine just doesn’t seem right for me personally, especially with it being my first ever game development project. The game I want to make is similar to Pokemon in terms of the battle system (Fight, Party, Items, Run - 4 abilities which have something similar to PP which if you use a certain number, you have to heal to use it again) and similar graphics to the typical JRPG. Or if that seems too complex, something like the earlier Final Fantasy games.

I’ve been thinking somewhere like RPG Maker (willing to pay for a program once I have some more expendable money if I know it will be useful in making a game/if I will definitely use it.), Unity or GameMaker Studio. Would anyone be able to suggest what game engine would be best for making a turn based JRPG, in terms of how harsh it is for beginners or if there are many, if not any basic tutorials for it? I’m following the Virtus Learning Hub Creating an RPG playlist and that’s pretty good for beginners so if I can’t find a game engine at least I’ll know some mechanics for Unreal Engine.

Thanks in advance!

“Best” is a subjective thing. You should try em all and do a simple test scene to see what the workflows are in each and which is the easiest for you. All of them can make such game. However for a beginner you will probably find more various JRPG related starter material for Unity and GameMaker than for Unreal.

Hey @DanF2000 ,

Like Magnex said “best” is subjective. However, I can try to point you in the right direction. First, what kind of RPG are you trying to make? Is it 2D sprites like the SNES FF games? Or is it 3D like FF7?

RPG Maker
If its 2D sprites, then RPG Maker is perfect for it. I’d used the program a long (long) time ago and it was very easy to get up and running. All the systems are already there and you just have to configure it. The downsides are that the program is paid and that its very limited. It will make your RPG, but ONLY your RPG. The time you invest learning this tool will only be useful for that tool. Also, the games all look the same, as the art style is the same if you use the stock images. Personally, I would only go this route if you only want to make RPGs and are trying to release your game ASAP. Otherwise, the tool is too limited.

Game Maker
I haven’t used the tool, but I’ve looked into it a lot for 2D Sprite games. This is much more robust and lets you start with “logic blocks” and then graduate to scripting. Its more complicated to get started but gives you more flexibility. This is a good starting point for someone trying to learn game dev and wants to start with 2D games. Construct is also a great alternative to Game Maker (check it out!)

Unity
I created my first real “game” with Unity 4.X years ago. Unity’s latest version is VERY capable and will get you 95% there (compared to Unreal). Its also a lot easier to learn (IMO). If you want to create a 3D RPG this is what I would recommend. The upsides - its easy to learn and there are a LOT of resources available. You will probably be able to buy an RPG asset from the store that gets you close to what you want. The downsides - you will have to learn to code C# (its honestly a good thing!) and you will have to buy assets to get many features you get for free with Unreal.

Unreal
Since we are here, I’ll give you my take even though you feel its not right for you. Unreal is hard to learn compared to the other engines. The engine is VERY feature complete and this is why its hard to learn (very overwhelming at first). However, once you spend time learning everything starts to “click” and all the systems work really well together (In Unity you will have several assets that may not work well together or will break when you update to a new engine version). In Unreal everything just works really well together. The upsides - Since its so complete, you wont have to spend much money to get started. Its also easy to learn if you don’t want to learn to code (Blueprints). Downsides - the community is smaller so you won’t find as many tutorials.

My opinion - Game Dev is really hard and no matter the tool you choose you will spend a long time learning (years) before you can get good at it. 2 months is nothing and I would not base your progress as an indication that Unreal is not for you (2 months with Game Maker wont get you too far either). My suggestion is simple - think about your long term goals in game dev and choose the tool that gives you the most. If your goal is to make 2D games first but then go into 3D, then start with Unity or Unreal. It will be harder at first, but all that knowledge will be useful for years to come. If you start with Game Maker and then switch to Unity and then Unreal you will waste a lot of time learning the tools and not making games.

Hope this helps!

@CoquiGames Thank you for this!! Yeah, I’m planning on making something similar to Pokemon, Blue Dragon (Xbox 360), Fire Emblem and a few other RPGs (it takes aspects at first from numerous RPGs I’ve played, but over development/updates I’m planning on expanding these into my own ideas), with a main game being in 3D and a mobile game being the prequel to the main one being 2D (have to make both a Digital Game and Companion App to this game, or in other words a mobile game relating to the digital game.)

My idea was to make the mobile game in RPG Maker, and then the main game in Unity. Bearing in mind this is going to be my own project for the next 2 - 3 years which I’ll work on in my free time (as well as playing other RPGs on my 3DS/Switch of course!), I should have enough time to expand this. At the moment, I’m following the Virtus Learning Hub tutorials to make an RPG, as I’ve had to essentially give up on the JRPG so I actually had something to hand in for the assignment (which was to make my own game in UE4, after having about 6 hours experience with it previously) so maybe I might learn a few things on there.

My main problem was that I could not for the life of me find a tutorial online for making a turn based JRPG in Unreal Engine 4, so I’m hoping if I go for Unity, there’ll actually be some tutorials online which I can use/follow and from there I can expand and implement my own ideas. So in short, my plan is to make a classic 3D turn based JRPG similar to Pokemon, Fire Emblem, Bravely Default, etc in Unity, and then a prequel game on mobile in 2D using RPG Maker.

EDIT: Actually, I was having a look at RPG Maker MV and it seems pretty expensive although I don’t think the others can make games for mobile, so I was wondering what you’d recommend for a 2D Mobile JRPG?

Hey @DanF2000 ,

Glad you found it useful. If your intention is to make a 3D JRPG and then a 2D RPG then I would stick to Unity (It has a very nice 2D toolset). This way you dont waste time learning another tool like RPG Maker. Unity can handle both games just fine. Unreal can do it too, though 2D in Unreal is worse than Unity (while I would argue 3D is a bit better).

The reason you dont find tutorials for JRPGs is because most tutorials focus on small features / functionality. You might find a complete tutorial series in Unity, but I’m not sure it would suit your needs well. Here’s how I would approach it (no matter the engine):

  • Write down your idea in detail - what will your game have? Is it open world? linear? Will it be Multiplayer? Splitscreen? Will it have a party? Will combat be random like the old FF games? Write as much detail as possible here (it really helps)
  • Now that you have a general list of features, break them down into smaller chunks of functionality
  • Now think about how to accomplish that functionality or look for a tutorial on how to do it

Example: “My game will have random encounters when roaming the world map”

Feature - Player will roam the map and randomly be pulled into a battle

Breakdown:

  • Have timer running every X seconds and then pull a random integer (0-100). If integer is >= to 90 (10% chance) then call custom event EventStartBattle

  • EventStartBattle

  • Teleport Player and party to “battle map” (Use Teleport node)

  • Load random enemy party (max = 3)

  • Start Battle music

  • Start battle system - call function fnStartBattle()

  • fnStartBattle()
    [LIST]

  • Load Battle GUI

  • Give Player first turn

  • Start enemy countdown

[/LIST] …

This is just an example that took me 2min, but you get the point. Break it down as much as possible and now you can think:

  • How do I start a timer and check a random integer every X seconds?
  • How do I teleport Player character to another location on the map?
  • How do I spawn random enemies?
  • How do I change the background music?
  • How do I display a HUD?
  • How do I keep track of who’s turn it is to attack?

For all those things you can then try to figure it out or look for help. I can guarantee you that there are tutorials or posts out there that will teach you how to spawn an actor or start a timer or display a HUD :slight_smile:

This is how I learned and still approach new projects. This way you will always be making progress and actually learn overtime. You will find that after a while you dont need tutorials as much because you can figure things out.

And just as an example of what I developed with this method, check out my first project in UE4 (I started from 0 and took me about 5 months):

I hope this helps you - good luck :smiley:

I tell you, you are better off learning the ins and outs of game development and RPG development as a whole. It doesn’t matter what engine you use. All engines have their perks, but are ultimately tools.
If you don’t know how to build, it doesn’t matter what tool you use.

Unreal Engine obviously. Are there any other AAA engines? No.

Unreal Engine is good for any type of game. Have a look at my jRPG Template that I created in 2 months using blueprints:

https://forums.unrealengine.com/unreal-engine/marketplace/1690213-turn-based-jrpg-template

And this is the Action jRPG Template :slight_smile:
[Action jRPG Template - Marketplace - Unreal Engine Forums

Unreal Engine Action jRPG Template: Trailer - YouTube](Action jRPG Template - Marketplace - Unreal Engine Forums)