|Developer(s)||ASCII, Enterbrain, Agetec, Degica, Gotcha Gotcha Games|
|Initial release||17 December 1992as RPG Tsukūru Dante 98|
RPG Maker MZ / August 27, 2020
|Available in||Japanese, Chinese, Korean, English|
|Type||Game 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. The Japanese name, Tsukūru, is a pun mixing the Japanese word tsukuru (作る), means "make" or "create", with tsūru (ツール), the Japanese transcription of the English word "tool".
The RPG Maker series was originally released primarily in Japan, but people started to translate and release the software illegally in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Russia, and North America with RPG Maker 2000 and RPG Maker 2003. Most of the later engines have been officially translated.
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 (see Yume Nikki), story-driven games or visual novels with minimal tweaking. Some video games made in RPG Maker engine (See Super Columbine Massacre RPG! and Heartbeat) garnered controversy by many audiences.
RPG Tsukūru Dante 98
According to Enterbrain, RPG Tsukūru Dante 98, released on December 17, 1992, was the first software of the RPG Maker series, although there were a few versions of RPG making software by ASCII preceding it, dating back to 1988. 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. 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.
RPG Maker 95
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
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. While it is possible to do more with RM2k, it uses lower resolution sprites and tiles than RPG Maker 95. However, 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. However, 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
RPG Maker XP (also referred to as RMXP) was released 16 September 2005. 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, however, 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), 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 2001-2008.
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.
RPG Maker VX and VX Ace
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, and the West on March 15, 2012. It was later made available through Steam, and is also available physically. 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
RPG Maker Unite
RPG Tsukūru Super Dante
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. RPG Tsukūru Super Dante was later broadcast via the Super Famicom's Satellaview accessory.
RPG Maker GB is the first console portable version of RPG Maker.
In 2000, RPG Maker was released for the Sony PlayStation, however, 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
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 writing that "Ultimately, it’s hard for me to recommend RPG Maker Fes to anyone but the most hardcore of RPG fans that have always dreamed of creating their own game." 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.
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. 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, 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.
Reception and legacy
By August 2005, the series had sold more than two million copies worldwide. Later Steam releases are estimated to have sold nearly 1 million units by April 2018, according to Steam Spy. 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". 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, and programming.
RPG Maker as a machinima form
RPG Maker engine is sometimes used for machinima, rather than making video games. Short films and series made in RPG Maker engine such as Decisive Destiny (2018), Yanzilla (2019), and Alley (2023).
RPG Maker series timeline
|Japanese title||English title||Developer||Platform(s)||Japanese release date||English release date||Publisher(s)|
|RPG Construction Tool: Dante||MSX2||February 8, 1990||ASCII|
|Dante 2||MSX2||February 8, 1992||ASCII|
|RPG Tsukūru Dante 98||PC-9801||December 19, 1992||ASCII|
|Dungeon RPG Tsukūru Dan-Dan Dungeon||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||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)|
|RPG Tsukūru 4||Agenda||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)|
|RPG Tsukūru α||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)|
|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)|
|RPG Tsukūru DS||Nintendo DS||March 11, 2010||Enterbrain|
|RPG Tsukūru VX Ace||RPG Maker VX Ace||Microsoft Windows||December 15, 2011||March 15, 2012||Enterbrain (Worldwide)|
|RPG Tsukūru DS Plus||Nintendo DS||December 15, 2011||Enterbrain|
|RPG Tsukūru MV||RPG Maker MV||Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux||December 17, 2015||October 23, 2015||Kadokawa Games|
|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||August 20, 2020||August 20, 2020||Kadokawa Games|
A number of developers who have created notable games via RPG Maker include:
|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|
|FutureCat Games||OneShot||2003, XP||Adventure|
|Mason Lindroth||Hylics||VXA||Surreal role-playing|
|Mortis Ghost||Off||2003||Surreal role-playing|
|Nishida Yoshitaka "Yubiningyō"||Palette||95||Psychological horror|
|Sable Lynn and Joshua Shaw||Five Nights at Fuckboy's||VXA||Surreal Comedy, Horror|
|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||Tactical role-playing|
|Miro Haverinen||Fear & Hunger||MV||Survival horror|
|Nemlei||The Coffin of Andy and Leyley||MV||Psychological horror|
- Outline of Tsukūru Archived 2012-02-27 at the Wayback Machine at the official Tsukūru website (in Japanese) (Retrieved on 2010-3-6)
- Zavarise, Giada (2018-09-01). "Are RPG Maker games as bad as people think?". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2021-06-30.
- "International Licensing Business" Archived 2007-09-23 at the Wayback Machine at Enterbrain's website
- Enterbrain (2005-8-16) 『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 Archived 2006-12-08 at the Wayback Machine(in Japanese)
- "RPGツクールの歴史" (History of the RPG Tsukūru) Archived 2007-08-25 at the Wayback Machine at the official Tsukūru website (in Japanese)
- Griliopoulos, Daniel (December 2016). "Engines of Creation". Maximum PC. 21 (12): 48–53.
- (in Japanese) at Digital Famitsu Homepage
- 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.
- "RPG Maker XP on Steam".
- 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.
-  Archived January 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
- "RPG Maker VX Ace Release | The Official RPG Maker Blog". Retrieved 2012-08-10.
- "RPG Maker MV announced for PC, Mac". Gematsu. August 4, 2015.
- "RPG Maker MV | RPG Maker | Make Your Own Video Games!". www.rpgmakerweb.com. Retrieved 2016-05-21.
- "RPG Maker MV cancelled for Xbox One". 11 March 2019.
- "RPG Maker MV for PS4, Xbox One, and Switch launches November 15 in Japan". Gematsu. 25 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
- "RPG Maker MV for PS4 and Switch launches September 8 in North America, September 11 in Europe". Gematsu. July 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
- "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.
- Romano, Sal (15 February 2022). "RPG Maker Unite announced for PC". Gematsu. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
- Romano, Sal (2023-03-30). "RPG Maker Unite delayed to unannounced date". Gematsu. Retrieved 2023-11-01.
- "ツクールweb - RPGツクールの歴史". August 25, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25.
- "RPG Maker FES Review – Review. (2017, June 20). Retrieved December 05, 2017".
- "Sad Fact" at Enterbrain's website
- A look at RPGmaker 2000, translated by Don Miguel at gfxartist.com (archived copy)
- "KADOKAWA – Company Stats". Steam Spy. Archived from the original on 12 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- Sayer, Matt (April 12, 2017). "The surprising explosion of RPG Maker on Steam". PC Gamer.
- 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.
- 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.
- Larabel, Michael (2014-01-08). "MKXP: Open-Source, Linux Engine To RPG Maker XP". Phoronix. Retrieved 2023-09-16.
- Schaff, Tobias (July 2016). "EasyRPG - An RPG Maker 2000 and 2003 engine". ODROID Magazine. Retrieved 2023-02-06.
- Dungeon Manjiro at Generation MSX
- Dante at Generation MSX
- Dante II at Generation MSX
- "ゲームを作ろう！（２）RPGツクールでつくーる". www.uraken.net.
- "yananayika" (The Tsukūru Museum) Archived 2007-08-23 at the Wayback Machine at the official Tsukūru website (in Japanese)
- Agenda-Game: Products Archived 2010-07-25 at the Wayback Machine (in Japanese). Retrieved on 2010-11-10.
- RPGツクール2003製品情報 at Enterbrain's website (in Japanese)
- RPGツクールDS Archived 2015-03-17 at the Wayback Machine(in Japanese) Retrieved on 2010-1-12.
- Stringer, Jonathan (2022-06-30). "Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga Interview". RPGamer. Retrieved 2023-05-22.