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In this tutorial you will learn…

• How to successfully compress your game ready for distribution
• The structure and function of the Project folder
• How to distribute your game to people without the RTP
• Some common problems and their solutions

Hi there! Welcome to my tutorial on how to compress your game data ready to distribute your RPG to people. This tutorial stemmed from receiving so many games and demos that were not compressed properly and so I couldn't run them - but hopefully this tutorial will save many a bad e-mail explanation and help some other people as well.

Okay! Let's get going. I'm going to go through the compression of a game, using my Picture Menu Demo as an example. However, before we get really into the actual compression and distribution of your game, we're going to take a closer look inside the Project folder, where all your game data is kept.

Now, you could have saved your projects anywhere, so find the folder where they're hiding and open it up. The folder should have the same title as your game (unless you've changed it), so find that and open it up. You'll see something like this…

So, what are all these different things? Firstly, the most obvious, is the Project.rxproj file, which, as you might expect, is the file that you open to work on when you want to make changes to your game. Next, you have the Game.exe file, which is the actual excutable that is run when someone plays your game. You can open this program to run your game, but it won't be in debug mode; it'll be like anyone else would play it, with no Ctrl player-float or F9 switches and variables window.

Then you have the Game.ini file. All this basically does is to tell your game some settings: namely, which .dll file to use to run (this is just complicated program-y stuff), where the script data is, what the title of your game is (this is what the Change Title command modifies when you use it inside RMXP) and the RTPs to use. As you can probably see, there is huge scope here - fanbases can get together to make other RTPs such as a Pokémon one, for example, and use that for distributing their game. However, the standard is the RTP that comes with RMXP.

And finally, we have the folders. In the Audio folder, you will find (neatly organised into sub-folders) any BGM, BGS, SE or ME that you have imported into your game. The Data folder beneath it contains files that hold all the data that is contained within the database; I.e. actors, weapons, items, skills - even common events, along with the data files for each map that you make in your game. And finally, the Graphics folder is for all the graphics that you have imported, for example custom tilesets, autotiles, characters and title screens.

Sorry for the rather dry text explanation there! Okay, now we know what everything is and where it's kept, we can compress our game data. In RMXP, go to the file menu, and select Compress Game Data… like so:

When you click this, you'll get a dialogue box not unlike the following:

(But obviously with a proper filepath in the box!) Now, this is where you choose to compress your game to. You can put it anywhere, really, but the default folder is the place where you save your projects. The check box beneath allows you to create an encrypted archive, which means that people you distribute your game to won't be able to open your project file or access any of your custom graphics, etc. This is only really useful if you're in the final stages of game development and you want to actually distribute your game comercially or for demos, etc.

So, when you click OK, you'll find that you have a file like this:

This is the compressed package that you can distribute to whoever you like. To test it yourelf, double-click the icon, and you'll get this:

You can now choose a location to decompress your project to, and when you do, you'll find that all the files and data, etc., that you saw in your project folder beforehand have been unpacked and placed in the folder that you told them to go in. Excellent! Now we know how to compress a game and its data successfully, we can move on to a common problem: custom resources.

This needs a little introductory explanation, really, so here goes - bear with me! When you import resources into your game such as custom tilesets or sound effects, RMXP automatically copies the files to your Project\Graphics\Tilesets or Project\Audio\SE folders that we looked at earlier (obviously the other resources go into their respective folders). This means that, when you compress your game data as we have just done, all the custom resources that only you (or nearly only you) have on your PC are included in the compression so that when someone else tries to run your game, they don't get an error message when the game can't find the right graphic for the custom windowskin or the correct BGM to play at the title.

But why, I hear you ask, don't we have to include all the RTP graphics in our compressed game? Well, you remember the .ini file? That tells the game to use the RTP if it can find it. That means that if you send your game to someone who already has all the default tilesets etc. on their computer within the RTP, then the game will display those graphics and play that music when it appears in your game, and all the custom graphics will be loaded from the game's own graphics folder.

However, you may see a flaw in this system. If you distribute your game to someone who doesn't have the RTP installed, then none of the graphics or music will be played and they'll just get a bunch of error messages and a momentary black screen before the game crashes out. How do we fix this? Well, you remember I said that there are Graphics and Audio folders in the game's folder? All you have to do, is copy and paste every graphic and piece of audio from the RTP's folder into those folders there. And yes, before you shout out in complaint - it does take a while! =P Of course, you could just copy and paste the whole RTP file structure into your game, but the filesize does become rather hefty, and that may be something to take into consideration, especially if you are distributing your game to people over the internet.

However, this is only necessary if you're distributing your game to someone without the RTP. If you are doing this and you want to test if you've got all the files in the right place, simply open your .ini file in your game project, and where it says RTP1=Standard, delete standard so that it just says RTP1= This will mean that the game will only load the graphics and audio in the folders within the project. If it can't find anything, it'll give you an error message with the name of the resource that it can't find, so you can dutifully find it and put it in the right place. You'll see something like this:

Which you can then fix.

Well, I think that's all for this tutorial! I hope you have been enlightened as to how to successfully compress and distribute your game - and hopefully if you are sending me your game for any reason, it'll save your time reading my e-mails telling you how to do this.

Good luck, and see you in the next tutorial!

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