Time for a RPG Maker Feature... or in this case a CREATURE FEATURE, as we interview the king of RPG Maker DLC store battlers, with HUNDREDS of battlers created, Tyler Warren.
How long have you been an artist?
My whole life, but since High School in a limited sense with a few small paid projects or contest wins. I didn’t really start professionally until 2013. I’m still only part time, so looking forward to when I can be a full-time artist.
Tell us about your childhood years and what inspired you to become an artist?
I loved comics (Garfield books as a kid, then Marvel Comics as a teenager). My first real “blown away” moment came when I bought my first-ever comic book; Incredible Hulk #370 by Dale Keown, which I have framed in my house (along with all Dale Keown‘s issues). His art just floored me and I wanted so bad to draw like him. Every page made me want to create something as epic and powerful, but a kids my efforts were rough. I’m still trying to come somewhere close to that and I’ve had a affinity for the Hulk since.
What are some of your career highlights?
At 14 I almost got a job as a political cartoonist for the local paper. Near the end of High School I did a logo for the Frigo “String Cheese Man” which they used up until a couple years ago. I also won a logo design contest and had NFL superstar Reggie White come to town, which was a big deal at the time. Perhaps even better is when someone messages me to say they enjoy my work and are using it in a game, that feedback is really a highlight.
What kind of gear and / or software do you use to create your packs?
I’ll just list them: Drafting mechanical pencils; Prismacolor colored pencils on/with Windsor and Newton watercolor paper; Photoshop; PixaTool
Tell us about your creation process.
Process looks something like this:
- Pencil sketch and refinement on watercolor paper
- Outline in colored pencil
- Erase pencil lines
- Flat color each area
- Add shadows, highlights, outline, repeat until final
- Scan into the computer and edit in Photoshop
- Create variants and pixel-style using PixaTool
Would you say you’re the type to binge-create or do you pace yourself when working?
For me it’s all “on” or all “off.” When I catch the creative itch, I feel like I could go forever, but other times I can’t put pencil to paper to save my life. It seems almost random, but deadlines can be helpful, or being really close to the end of a project can be helpful.
How did you become involved with creating asset packs for Degica?
As a college student back in 2005, I was working on creating my own RPG game (and learning C# language), but after creating around 80 monsters and not getting much past programming a simple fight sequence, I gave up and just put it all on the shelf. Fast forward a few years and I was trying to get my kids some experience with programming languages. I started looking for any software that would help them make games. I found RPG Maker for them and after using it for a while, I really liked it, and even wanted to try and finish my game. There wasn’t much time available and I had the thought that it might be better to offer what I had created as a resource to others instead. I resurrected the monsters I already crafted, added some new ones and put together my 1st and 2nd monster packs, targeting 50 monster in each. I found a submission article on the RPGMakerWeb forums and made my pitch via email. Luckily they liked what I had and my first packs were released in 2013 and we’ve been slowly/steadily creating more ever since. My big goal would be to reach 1,000 monsters!
What inspires you when you make an asset pack?
Feedback mostly. When it starts feeling like a job, it’s not as fun and slows down a lot. Like most artists, getting positive feedback fuels more creation, and keeps the excitement going. The occasional email or forum post that says “I love your work” or specifically how they use it, can go a long way for motivation. Most requests get granted. When there is a long lull in communication, it can just slow everything down for me. Also, when I surprise myself, it is really rewarding. Sometimes a monster turns out way better than I expected or planned and that’s a big high. I impress myself once in a while. I am also probably my own biggest fan and have “archived” most of my original artwork; when I get too unmotivated, I can go through them and remember the fun of creating so many little characters.
What are some of your favorite games?
Early JRPGS for NES/SNES are my favorites, because that’s when I had the most time to play; Final Fantasy series, Dragon Warrior series, Secret of mana series, really anything that was RPG on those systems I loved.
Do you have any inspirations in the game world?
All of them. I’m always watching the art in games. I have hundreds of games (some I haven’t played yet) that make me want to do a certain thing, or make a certain other thing. I also track art in the table top game world (D&D and others) to see what is going on there. I think somewhere deep inside me still wants to make art like Dragon Quest or Megaman.
Have you seen or played any games that are published and using your assets?
I love to play games that use my assets! If you are using my monsters in your game, I openly invite you to send me a link and I’ll check it out. A few games I know of are:
- Endless Combat Dungeon 2 by Blackthorn
- Crisis of the Middle Ages by OrgAction Games
- Last Dream World Unknown by White Giant RPG Studios
- Unhappy Ever After by Warped Tales
Final Boss in FF6, the multi-screen boss that ends with Angel Kefka at the top. It wasn’t super hard, but I loved the visuals of it. It was unheard of at the time to scroll the screen up to see more of the boss and the music of that whole encounter is so over-the-top epic. Really fun and memorable experience.
Most difficult boss battle?
First time playing through the original Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest) back in the late 1980s. Was totally unprepared for the final boss (Dragon Lord) when he turns into his true form. At the time, we did not know where any secret items were (Edrick’s sword/armor/etc.), so it was just basic gear from the towns. Ended up grinding lots of levels and trying over and over again. Was very rewarding to win the fight at long last.
Do you have any favorite movies, filmmakers, books or authors?
This is a big list, but to pick a favorite…I have to go with Hayao Miyazaki (studio Ghibli co-founder), who struck gold with pretty much every project he did. He ranges from total-fantasy to near-documentary and pulls it all off with such authentic spirit and story telling. Love his work and legacy on the animation industry.
Favorite comic books?
The Incredible Hulk, but really just the Dale Keown drawn ones from the 1990s.
If you had to take only one game to the old desert island what would it be?
World of Warcraft, because it’s never ending and can eat any available time you throw at it. I played it way too much in college and had to abandon it eventually in favor of doing something with the rest of my life.
Any other previous jobs or careers or concurrent jobs that are/were notable for you?
I mentioned I am not yet a full-time creator, but in time want to get there. In the next few years, I plan to wrap up a 20-yr military career with the US Air Force. I am very proud to have been able to serve my country in this way. I’ve even written a book on leadership based on my time as a training instructor (“Leadership Yourself!” is the title).
What’s your favorite asset pack of yours / asset pack you’re most proud of?
Two packs I’ll call out here, because they are an experiment in broader collaboration. The 7th and 8th packs are “Time Fantasy Tributes” and were designed to be used with the Time Fantasy series of resources, matching his monsters and aesthetic. I have to say a huge thanks to Jason Perry (the creator of Time Fantasy) for agreeing to let me create the packs and for being a truly fantastic collaborator throughout. I received helpful feedback during the process and updated some of the standard features, including new pixel-style color palettes and new facesets. I’ve created a personal sample project within MZ using Time Fantasy assets, modified Tokiwa’s battlebacks, my battlers/facesets, and other available DLC resources and when combined they work beautifully well together in a single project. I would love to do more packs that blend well with other creator’s resources.