RPG Maker is a cool utility that allows gamers to create their own RPG games in the same vein as Final Fantasy, Chronotrigger and Zelda. It does this by allowing the use of graphics and predefined commands, which can easily be modified to suit the needs of the game being created.
The first in the series (at least for the well-known earlier versions) was RPG Maker 95 (RM95), which was very limited but served its purpose. This was soon superseded by RPG Maker 2000 (RM2K), which was an improved version of its predecessor, including a renovation of features and commands. The next incarnation was RPG Maker 2003 (RM2K3), which again offered more improvements. The problem was that the programs were only available in Japanese, so the Western world was left out.
A Russian programmer and hacker named Don Miguel took it upon himself to translate RM2K into English, then circulated it around the Internet, along with a Sample Game that he had created. It actually took the world by storm and web sites dedicated to the RPG Maker were springing up all over the place. Translation of RM2K3 soon followed and the RPG Maker craze was in.
The problem was, though, that Enterbrain, the program creators, did not authorize the translation and eventually distribution of the program lessened substantially. There are still a few sites that actively support RM2K and RM2K3, but for the most part, they have been abandoned in favor of Enterbrain’s newest incarnations:
RPG Maker XP (RMXP)
This was the first of the RPG Makers to be officially translated for the English-speaking world. I guess the demand was high enough that they could justify the action, especially given the history of the previous versions of their software.
RMXP is essentially the same, but has some vast improvements over the 2K series. To name a few of them:
- It supports JPG images (for pictures), rather than just PNG and the proprietary XYZ formats.
- It fully supports MP3s, without needing to download a patch, in addition to the old MID and WAV formats.
- The graphics for the game – map tiles, characters, etc. – can be larger and in 24-bit color instead of 256 colors.
In addition, everything in the game is highly customizable, thanks to its built-in programming language, Ruby Gaming Script System (RGSS). This allows game creators to create new windows, add enhancements and customize virtually every aspect of the game itself to offer a more comprehensive game.
A downloadable 30-day trial version is available, but after that you have to buy it, and it costs $30 to receive a license key for the full version.
RPG Maker VX (RMVX)
The followup to RMXP is RPG Maker VX. The official Japanese release date was December 27, 2007, and was eventually released worldwide on February 29, 2008.
It is essentially the same as its predecessor, RMXP, but its interface is much more user-friendly. The graphics are more compact, with multiple icons being available on one “sheet” instead of individually. It also has a feature to create random dungeons (a feature that was available in RM2K3, but was omitted in RMXP).
Again, it makes full use of the Ruby Script programming language, with a few enhancements implemented. It is usually referred to as RGSS2 to distinguish from scripts created for RMXP and those created for RMVX.
RMVX is also available as a 30-day trial from Enterbrain’s website. The English version is available here, which is purchasable for around $60.
RPG Maker VX Ace (RMVXA)
Enterbrain’s latest and best RPG Maker by far is RPG Maker VX Ace, which is a vast improvement on its predecessors. Almost every aspect has been improved, including an updated version of Ruby (RGSS3) and advanced actor options. It even has the capacity to insert movies (in OGV format) into an event through the Event Commands, which was lacking in previous versions.
RMVXA can be purchased here for around $80 (more expensive but definitely worth the extra given the amount of extra features and functionality you have).
A try-for-free (limited shareware) Lite version is also available for download.
Additional Resource Packs
With the introduction of RMVXA comes a plethora of additional resource packs, which includes graphics and music. Unlike previous versions, where resources were limited to RPG Maker projects only, you can now purchase Non-RM Licenses to allow their use in projects outside RPG Maker.
Indeed, RPG Maker itself has had a rich and successful history, from its earliest beginnings with the introduction of ASCII’s Mamirin for the PC-8801 (Japan 1988) to RPG Tsukūru Super Dante for the Super Nintendo/Super Famicom (Japan 1995) to RPG Maker 3 for the PlayStation 2 (Agetec 2005) and finally to RMVX. In fact, some form of RPG Maker has appeared on a variety of computers and consoles, including the MSX2, Sega Saturn, PlayStation 1 and 2, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance, and of course the PC. For a more comprehensive list, visit Wikipedia’s entry.
Hence the purpose of this blog. The focus of RPG Maker Times is more on the next-gen RPG Makers (RMXP, RMVX and RMVXA), but with occasional updates on RM2K3 (not RM2K) as well. On this blog you will find tutorials, how-to’s, scripts and resources here. Updates may be sparse, depending on how much free time I have, but they will be consistent.