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RPG Maker

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RPG Maker
Original author(s)ASCII
Developer(s)Enterbrain, Gotcha Gotcha Games
Initial release17 December 1992; 31 years ago (1992-12-17) as RPG Tsukūru Dante 98
Stable release
RPG Maker MZ / August 27, 2020; 3 years ago (2020-08-27)
Written inJavaScript, HTML5
Available inJapanese, English, Korean, Chinese
TypeGame creation software

RPG Maker, known in Japan as RPG Tsukūru (RPGツクール, sometimes romanized as RPG Tkool), is a series of programs for the development of role-playing video games (RPGs) with story-driven elements, created by the Japanese group ASCII, succeeded by Enterbrain, and then by Gotcha Gotcha Games. The Japanese name, Tsukūru, is a pun mixing the Japanese word tsukuru (作る), which means "make" or "create", with tsūru (ツール), the Japanese transliteration of the English word "tool".[1]

The RPG Maker series was originally released primarily in Japan, but it was translated by fans[2] in Taiwan, South Korea, China, Russia, and North America with RPG Maker 2000 and RPG Maker 2003.[3] Most of the later engines have been officially translated.

PC versions[edit]

RPG Maker is a program that allows users to create their own role-playing video games. Most versions include a tile set based map editor (tilesets are called chipsets in pre-XP versions), a simple scripting language for scripting events, and a battle editor. All versions include initial premade tilesets, characters, and events which can be used in creating new games. One feature of the PC versions of RPG Maker programs is that a user can create new tilesets and characters, and add any new graphics the user wants.

Despite being geared towards creating role-playing video games, the engine also has the capability to create games of other genres, such as adventure games (like Yume Nikki), story-driven games or visual novels with minimal tweaking. Some video games made in RPG Maker engine (such as Super Columbine Massacre RPG! and Heartbeat) garnered controversy by many audiences.

RPG Tsukūru Dante 98[edit]

According to Enterbrain, RPG Tsukūru Dante 98, released on December 17, 1992, was the first software of the RPG Maker series,[4][5] although there were a few versions of RPG making software by ASCII preceding it, dating back to 1988.[6] This, along with its follow-up RPG Tsukūru Dante 98 II, was made for NEC PC-9801, and games created with these programs can be played on a Windows computer with emulators called Dante for Windows and D2win, respectively.[7] RPG Maker was a product that came from various programs that ASCII Corporation had included in ASCII along with other users' code submitted to it, which the company decided to expand and publish into the standalone game-making toolkit.[8]

RPG Maker 95[edit]

RPG Maker 95 was the first Microsoft Windows-based RPG Maker software. Despite being an early version, RPG Maker 95 has both a higher screen resolution, and higher sprite and tile resolution than the several following versions.

RPG Maker 2000 and 2003[edit]

RPG Maker 2000, also referred to as RM2k, was the second release of RPG Maker for Microsoft Windows and is the most popular and used RPG Maker so far.[citation needed] While it is possible to do more with RM2k, it uses lower resolution sprites and tiles than RPG Maker 95, but it does not have a noticeable limit of 'sprites'. Unlike RM95, which can only use one 'set', RM2k can use an unlimited number of sprite sheets with specific sizes for each type. The tilesets also have a similar non-limitation, but because tiles must be entered into a database, there is a limit on tiles. This limit however is rarely a problem (normally 5000), and even when it is, an unofficial patch exists which can bump most limits much higher at the risk of potential game corruption. It does not support text output and can program only two buttons, Z and X. There is text in dialog boxes, by manner of overlaying sprites, or maps lain with text, but not plainly on the screen.

RPG Maker 2003, also referred to as RM2k3, is largely an improvement of RM2k. RM2k games can be ported to RM2k3 (but not back to RM2k, the conversion is permanent), and most resources are interchangeable. The main difference is the introduction of a side-view battle system similar to that found in the Final Fantasy games on the Super NES and the Sony PlayStation. This was the first version made by Enterbrain, which had previously been a part of ASCII.

RPG Maker XP[edit]

RPG Maker XP (also referred to as RMXP) was released on 16 September 2005.[9] It is the first RPG Maker which can use Ruby, making it far more powerful than previous versions programming-wise. However, many normal, simplified features present in RM2k(3) have been removed. Most of these features have been programmed with Ruby, and distributed online. RMXP runs at 1024x768 resolution (though games made in it run at 640x480), while offering four times the playable area of its predecessors. By default, games ran at 40 frames per second, though the game's scripts can be modified to set the framerate to any value. Additionally, it allows greater user control over sprite size (there is no specific image size regulation for sprite sheets) and other aspects of game design. This more open-ended arrangement, coupled with the inclusion of the Ruby Game Scripting System (RGSS [ja]), makes RPG Maker XP more versatile than older versions in the series, at the cost of a steeper learning curve. This was named after Windows XP which was active from 2001-2014.

The Pokémon Essentials pack, one of the main methods of making Pokémon fan games, was exclusive to RPG Maker XP and never ported to any later engine, causing XP to be widely used for such games more than a decade later, such as in making Pokémon Uranium. It was taken down in 2018 due to a cease and desist by Nintendo, though it continues to circulate the Internet.[10]

RPG Maker VX and VX Ace[edit]

A screenshot of a user-created map in RPG Maker VX.

RPG Maker VX (RPGツクールVX, RPG Tsukūru VX) was released in Japan on December 27, 2007, and in the West on February 29, 2008. The frame rate was increased to 60 frames per second, providing smoother animation. The engine still used the Ruby programming language, but the game's default programming was overhauled to allow more freedom for scripting in new features. A new editor and RTP were included, this time in a much simpler "blocky" style. The default battle system is comparable to that of the Dragon Quest series or its predecessor RM2k, with a head-on view of the battlefield and detailed text descriptions of each action taken.

However, the lack of support for multiple tilesets when mapping represented a notable downgrade from the engine's predecessor, leaving the player with only a finite number of unique tiles with which to depict all the game's environments. Multiple player-made workarounds were created.

RPG Maker VX Ace was released in Japan on December 15, 2011,[11] and the West on March 15, 2012. It was later made available through Steam, and is also available physically.[12] VX Ace, an upgraded version of VX, addressed the tileset issue. Battle backgrounds were re-introduced, and are separated into top and bottom halves. Spells, skills, and items can all now have their own damage and recovery formulas, although a quick calculation method reminiscent of the older RPG Makers is available. The VX RTP was redesigned for VX Ace, and a new soundtrack featuring higher quality techno-pop tracks was included. With VX Ace came a large quantity of DLC Resource Packages offered by Enterbrain, also available through Steam.

RPG Maker MV and MZ[edit]

Released by Degica on October 23, 2015, RPG Maker MV includes a large number of changes over previous versions, with multiplatform support, side-view battles, and high-resolution features.[13] It is the first engine in the series to use JavaScript instead of Ruby, with the addition of plugins. Completed games can be played on PC and mobile devices. RPG Maker MV also goes back to layered tilesets, a feature that was removed in RPG Maker VX and VX Ace. Unlike RPG Maker XP, which allowed users to manually choose which layers to build on, MV automatically stacks tiles on top of other tiles.[14] It also came out on consoles under the name RPG Tsukūru MV Trinity. It was originally announced to only be on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch but was later announced to also be on Xbox One. This release was later cancelled.[15] It was released on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 in Japan on November 15, 2018, and was released in North America and Europe in September 2020.[16][17]

RPG Maker MZ, a minor upgrade to the engine of MV, was released worldwide on August 20, 2020.[18] MZ's new features include the Effekseer particle system, an autosave function, and often-requested XP-style autolayer mechanics. Like MV, it allows users to develop plugins using JavaScript. RPG Maker MZ received mostly positive feedback from users, who praised its additional features and the return of the XP layer mechanics, though its similarity to RPG Maker MV drew a mixed response.

RPG Maker Unite[edit]

RPG Maker Unite is an asset for the Unity game engine based on RPG Maker.[19] It was released on the Unity store in May 2023.

Console versions[edit]

RPG Tsukūru Super Dante[edit]

Victor Reetz created the first console RPG Maker, RPG Tsukūru Super Dante, which debuted in 1995 for the Super Famicom, as a port of RPG Tsukūru Dante 98.[5] RPG Tsukūru Super Dante was later broadcast via the Super Famicom's Satellaview accessory.

RPG Maker GB is the first console[20] portable version of RPG Maker.

RPG Maker[edit]

In 2000, RPG Maker was released for the Sony PlayStation, but only a limited number of copies were made for releases outside of Japan. The software allowed user-made characters, and monsters through Anime Maker which was separate from the RPG Maker, which required saving to an external memory card. However, there was a limit to how many user-made sprites and monsters could be used in RPG Maker. Also, in Anime Maker, the user could create larger sprites for a theater-type visual novel in which the player could animate and control characters, but these sprites were much larger and unusable in RPG Maker.

The RPG Maker interface was somewhat user-friendly, and battles were front-view style only. Item, Monster, Skill/Magic, and Dungeons had a small limit cap, as did the effects of any given Item, Magic or Skill (9,999). Items were all inclusive; Weapons and Armors were created in the Items interface. The types of items were as follows: None (mainly used for Key Items), Weapon, Armor, Key (up to eight sub types), Magic (for binding Magic created in the Magic interface to an item), Healing, and Food (which raises stats and EXP, or experience points in which this particular software is the only one of the series to do so natively).

Events were a separate save file from the System file, and are referred to as Scenario files. This is how the user could make multiple parts to one game, provided the user had enough memory cards and card space to create the files.

RPG Maker Fes[edit]

A version for the Nintendo 3DS was released by NIS America on June 27, 2017. While it remains portable on a small screen, users can create games on-the-go and also download games to play as well. The game received some criticism, with NintendoWorldReport saying that the title would be more suitable to hardcore RPG fans, who want to create their own game, rather than for every type of player.[21] Games completed can be uploaded to the RPG Maker Fes Player app for those to download and play on their own systems. It is the second RPG Maker to receive a limited edition (the previous one being RPG Tsukūru DS) which includes a CD soundtrack in a jewel case containing all the soundtracks in the game, and a full-color paperback artbook. It is the first RPG Maker on consoles/handhelds to receive a digital release.

English versions[edit]

Historically, few early RPG Maker versions had official English releases. Each Windows version has, however, been subject to unlicensed distribution through the internet in some form or other.[22] RPG Maker 95, as well as translation patches for the Super Famicom titles RPG Maker Super Dante and RPG Maker 2, were translated and distributed by a group called KanjiHack. In 1999, KanjiHack closed upon receiving a cease-and-desist e-mail from ASCII's lawyers. RPG Maker 95 was re-released with a more complete translation under the name RPG Maker 95+ by a Russian programmer, under the alias of Don Miguel,[23] who later translated and released RPG Maker 2000. Later versions, RPG Maker 2003, and RPG Maker XP, were similarly translated and distributed by a programmer under the alias of RPG Advocate.

The first official English release of the PC series was of RPG Maker XP on September 16, 2005. The next two versions of the software, RPG Maker VX and RPG Maker VX Ace both received official English releases. Since 2010 English versions of RPG Maker have been published by Degica, who have also officially released English versions of the older titles RPG Maker 2000 and RPG Maker 2003.

The first official English language of a console version was the PlayStation version in 2000, simply called RPG Maker, by Agetec. Agetec also localized RPG Maker 2 and 3.

Reception and legacy[edit]

By August 2005, the series had sold more than two million copies worldwide.[4] Later Steam releases are estimated to have sold nearly 1 million units by April 2018, according to Steam Spy.[24] Since its first release, the series has been used to create numerous titles, both free and commercial. According to PC Gamer, it has become "the go-to tool for aspiring developers who want to make a game and sell it", due to being "the most accessible game engine around".[25] In addition to games, the series has been used for other purposes, such as studies involving students learning mathematics through the creation of role-playing games,[26] and programming.[27]

With the release of 2012 video game Ib, it has been credited with helping popularize its engine's use in developing more story-driven and horror games than role-playing games.

Some RPG Maker video games received critical acclaim, and later adapted into multimedia franchises only produced in Japan including Angels of Death, Ao Oni and Corpse Party.

RPG Maker variants are re-implemented by the open-source Open RPG Maker, MKXP and EasyRPG editors and interpreters.[28][29]

RPG Maker as a machinima form[edit]

The RPG Maker engine is sometimes used for machinima, rather than making video games. Short films and series made in RPG Maker engine include Decisive Destiny (2018), Yanzilla (2019), and Alley (2023).

RPG Maker series timeline[edit]

Japanese title English title Developer Platform(s) Japanese release date English release date Publisher(s)
Mamirin PC-8801 1988 ASCII
Dungeon Manjirou[30] MSX2 1988 ASCII
RPG Construction Tool: Dante[31] MSX2 February 8, 1990 ASCII
Dante 2[32] MSX2 February 8, 1992 ASCII
Chimes Quest[33] PC-9801 1992 ASCII
RPG Tsukūru Dante 98[5] PC-9801 December 19, 1992 ASCII
Dungeon RPG Tsukūru Dan-Dan Dungeon[34] PC-9801 April 28, 1994 ASCII
RPG Tsukūru: Super Dante Kuusou Kagaku Super Famicom, Satellaview March 31, 1995 (Super Famicom)
April 4, 1996 (Satellaview)
RPG Tsukūru Dante 98 II[5] PC-9801 July 14, 1996 ASCII
RPG Tsukūru 2 Kuusou Kagaku Super Famicom, Satellaview January 31, 1996 (Super Famicom)
April 22, 1996 (Satellaview)
RPG Tsukūru 95 Microsoft Windows March 28, 1997 ASCII
RPG Tsukūru 95 Value! Microsoft Windows November 21, 2001 Enterbrain
Simulation RPG Tsukūru Pegasus Japan Sega Saturn, PlayStation September 17, 1998 ASCII
Enterbrain Collection: Simulation RPG Tsukūru Pegasus Japan PlayStation November 29, 2001 Enterbrain
Simulation RPG Tsukūru 95 Microsoft Windows May 29, 1998 ASCII
Simulation RPG Tsukūru 95 Value! Microsoft Windows November 21, 2001 Enterbrain
RPG Tsukūru 3 RPG Maker Kuusou Kagaku PlayStation November 27, 1997 October 2, 2000 ASCII (Japan)
Agetec (North America)
PlayStation the Best: RPG Tsukūru 3 Kuusou Kagaku PlayStation November 19, 1998 ASCII
RPG Tsukūru GB Kuusou Kagaku Game Boy Color March 17, 2000 ASCII
RPG Tsukūru 2000 RPG Maker 2000 Microsoft Windows April 5, 2000 ASCII
RPG Tsukūru 2000 Value! Microsoft Windows May 14, 2003 July 7, 2015 Enterbrain (Japan)
Degica (Worldwide)
RPG Tsukūru 4 Agenda[35] PlayStation December 7, 2000 Enterbrain
Uchūjin Tanaka Tarou de RPG Tsukūru GB 2 Game Boy Color July 20, 2001 Enterbrain
RPG Tsukūru 5 RPG Maker 2 Kuusou Kagaku PlayStation 2 August 8, 2002 October 28, 2003 Enterbrain (Japan)
Agetec (North America)
RPG Tsukūru 2003 RPG Maker 2003 Microsoft Windows December 18, 2002 April 24, 2015 Enterbrain (Japan)
Degica (Worldwide)
RPG Tsukūru α[36] Microsoft Windows, Mobile phone December 18, 2002 Enterbrain
RPG Tsukūru Advance Game Boy Advance April 25, 2003 Enterbrain
RPG Tsukūru XP RPG Maker XP Microsoft Windows July 22, 2004 September 16, 2005 Enterbrain (Worldwide)
Degica (Worldwide)
RPG Tsukūru RPG Maker 3 Run Time PlayStation 2 December 16, 2004 September 20, 2005 Enterbrain (Japan)
Agetec (North America)
RPG Tsukūru for Mobile Mobile phone April 17, 2006 Enterbrain
RPG Tsukūru VX RPG Maker VX Microsoft Windows December 27, 2007 February 29, 2008 Enterbrain (Worldwide)
Degica (Worldwide)
RPG Tsukūru DS[37] Nintendo DS March 11, 2010 Enterbrain
RPG Tsukūru VX Ace RPG Maker VX Ace Microsoft Windows December 15, 2011 March 15, 2012 Enterbrain (Worldwide)
Degica (Worldwide)
RPG Tsukūru DS Plus Nintendo DS December 15, 2011 Enterbrain
RPG Tsukūru MV RPG Maker MV Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, HTML5, Android, iOS[38] December 17, 2015 October 23, 2015 Kadokawa Games
Degica (Worldwide)
RPG Tsukūru Fes RPG Maker Fes Nintendo 3DS November 24, 2016 June 23, 2017 Kadokawa Games
NIS America (Worldwide)
RPG Tsukūru MV Trinity RPG Maker MV PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch November 15, 2018 September 8, 2020 Kadokawa Games
NIS America (Worldwide)
RPG Tsukūru MZ RPG Maker MZ Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, HTML5, Android, iOS[38] August 20, 2020 August 20, 2020 Kadokawa Games
Degica (Worldwide)
RPG Maker With RPG Maker With PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch April 11, 2024 October 11, 2024 Gatcha Gotcha Games
NIS America (Worldwide)

Notable games[edit]

A number of developers who have created notable games via RPG Maker include:

Developer Game(s) RPG Maker Genre
773 Cherry Tree High Comedy Club XP Adventure
Danny Ledonne Super Columbine Massacre RPG! 2000 Role-playing
Dark Gaia Studios One Night Trilogy VX Horror
Freebird Games To the Moon XP Adventure, psychological drama
Fummy The Witch's House VX, MV Horror, puzzle
Ghosthunter Grimm's Hollow 2003 Adventure role-playing
Hoshikuzu KRNKRN Angels of Death VXA Psychological horror
Kikiyama Yume Nikki 2003 Psychological horror-adventure
Kouri Ib 2000 Psychological horror
Laura Shigihara Rakuen XP Adventure
FutureCat Games OneShot 2003, XP Adventure
Mason Lindroth Hylics VXA Surreal role-playing
Mortis Ghost Off 2003 Surreal role-playing
Noprops Ao Oni XP Horror
Nishida Yoshitaka "Yubiningyō" Palette 95 Psychological horror
OMOCAT Omori MV Psychological horror
Sherman3D Alpha Kimori VX Role-playing
Stephen "thecatamites" Gillmurphy Space Funeral 2003 Surreal role-paying
Temmie Chang Escaped Chasm MV Adventure
Team GrisGris Corpse Party 98 Adventure
Dancing Dragon Games Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga customized[39] Tactical role-playing
Miro Haverinen Fear & Hunger MV Survival horror
Nemlei The Coffin of Andy and Leyley MV Psychological horror

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Outline of Tsukūru Archived 2012-02-27 at the Wayback Machine at the official Tsukūru website (in Japanese) (Retrieved on 2010-3-6)
  2. ^ Zavarise, Giada (2018-09-01). "Are RPG Maker games as bad as people think?". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2021-06-30.
  3. ^ "International Licensing Business" Archived 2007-09-23 at the Wayback Machine at Enterbrain's website
  4. ^ a b "『RPGツクールXP』英語版 海外サイトにてダウンロード販売を開始" (PDF). Enterbrain (in Japanese). 2005-08-16. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-12-08. Retrieved March 27, 2024.
  5. ^ a b c d "Maker web - History of RPG Maker" (in Japanese). 2004. Archived from the original on 2009-02-18. Retrieved March 27, 2024.
  6. ^ Griliopoulos, Daniel (December 2016). "Engines of Creation". Maximum PC. 21 (12): 48–53.
  7. ^ [1](in Japanese) at Digital Famitsu Homepage
  8. ^ Ito, Kenji (2005). Possibilities of Non-Commercial Games: The Case of Amateur Role Playing Games Designers in Japan. Proceedings of DiGRA 2005 Conference: Changing Views – Worlds in Play. Digital Games Research Association.
  9. ^ "RPG Maker XP on Steam".
  10. ^ O'Connor, Alice (2018-08-29). "Nintendo's lawyers shut down tool used to make Pokémon fan games". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved 2023-11-02.
  11. ^ [2] Archived January 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "RPG Maker VX Ace Release | The Official RPG Maker Blog". Retrieved 2012-08-10.
  13. ^ "RPG Maker MV announced for PC, Mac". Gematsu. August 4, 2015.
  14. ^ "RPG Maker MV | RPG Maker | Make Your Own Video Games!". www.rpgmakerweb.com. Retrieved 2016-05-21.
  15. ^ "RPG Maker MV cancelled for Xbox One". 11 March 2019.
  16. ^ "RPG Maker MV for PS4, Xbox One, and Switch launches November 15 in Japan". Gematsu. 25 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  17. ^ "RPG Maker MV for PS4 and Switch launches September 8 in North America, September 11 in Europe". Gematsu. July 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  18. ^ "On top of unveiling new features like the Event List, the mouse optimized game UI, and many System options, it is finally time to announce the RELEASE DATE AND PRICE!". Twitter. Retrieved 2023-07-13.
  19. ^ Romano, Sal (15 February 2022). "RPG Maker Unite announced for PC". Gematsu. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
  20. ^ "ツクールweb - RPGツクールの歴史". August 25, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25.
  21. ^ "RPG Maker FES Review – Review. (2017, June 20). Retrieved December 05, 2017".
  22. ^ "Sad Fact" at Enterbrain's website
  23. ^ A look at RPGmaker 2000, translated by Don Miguel at gfxartist.com (archived copy)
  24. ^ "KADOKAWA – Company Stats". Steam Spy. Archived from the original on 12 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  25. ^ Sayer, Matt (April 12, 2017). "The surprising explosion of RPG Maker on Steam". PC Gamer.
  26. ^ Maltempi, Marcus Vinicius; Rosa, Maurício. "Learning Vortex, Games and Technologies: A New Approach to the Teaching of Mathematics" (PDF). International Congress on Mathematical Education. Universidade Estadual Paulista. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2007-06-09.
  27. ^ Ralph, Tiffany; Barnes, Tiffany. "The Catacombs: A study on the usability of games to teach" (PDF). Unknown. Colorado State University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-06-09. One of the versions was developed using RPG Maker XP and provides students with a more exploratory gaming experience than the other, which was created using the BioWare Aurora Neverwinter Nights Toolset and has the user follow linear stages of game play.
  28. ^ Larabel, Michael (2014-01-08). "MKXP: Open-Source, Linux Engine To RPG Maker XP". Phoronix. Retrieved 2023-09-16.
  29. ^ Schaff, Tobias (July 2016). "EasyRPG - An RPG Maker 2000 and 2003 engine". ODROID Magazine. Retrieved 2023-02-06.
  30. ^ Dungeon Manjiro at Generation MSX
  31. ^ Dante at Generation MSX
  32. ^ Dante II at Generation MSX
  33. ^ "ゲームを作ろう!(2)RPGツクールでつくーる". www.uraken.net.
  34. ^ "yananayika" (The Tsukūru Museum) Archived 2007-08-23 at the Wayback Machine at the official Tsukūru website (in Japanese)
  35. ^ Agenda-Game: Products Archived 2010-07-25 at the Wayback Machine (in Japanese). Retrieved on 2010-11-10.
  36. ^ RPGツクール2003製品情報 at Enterbrain's website (in Japanese)
  37. ^ RPGツクールDS Archived 2015-03-17 at the Wayback Machine(in Japanese) Retrieved on 2010-1-12.
  38. ^ a b It can build games for Linux, HTML5, Android and iOS, but it cannot be used on them.
  39. ^ Stringer, Jonathan (2022-06-30). "Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga Interview". RPGamer. Retrieved 2023-05-22.

External links[edit]