Review: RPG Maker MV

In case you’re worried, this isn’t a review for an RPG Maker game, it’s for the software itself. If you were worried, come on now… they aren’t all that bad. Is this a little weird for The Backlog? Yes and no. When reading up on the videogame reviewing as a “profession”, I read that while you can spout all of the love and/or hatred at a game you want, until you try and make a game yourself, you’ll never really get an appreciation for what you’re reviewing entirely. That is where my fascination with the RPG Maker series comes from and that is why this review exists. I’ve always wanted to make a game, why not try now?

Given the overwhelming majority of people on my Twitter (@TVGBL) (and by overwhelming I mean all two people voted for it) I decided to go with a single large map forest instead of a instanced off section by section forest ala Zelda.

Given the overwhelming majority of people on my Twitter (@TVGBL) (and by overwhelming I mean all two people who voted for it) I decided to go with a single large forest map instead of a instanced/sectioned off forest ala old school Zelda.

So how does one “review” a non-game from a gamer’s standpoint? As I’ve already stated, I’m making my own game. I had a fun dungeon/labyrinthian crawler in mind so I went about making that. One would think that it shouldn’t be too terribly difficult should it? (Assuming much am I?) I was well on my way to developing this game when I hit a snag. I had an idea that I couldn’t figure out how to “program” (for the lack of a better word) into RPG Maker MV. I went to the internet for help from the forums and followed links to specific people who know better than I, as any logical thinking person would/should. I asked my questions and got some answers I wasn’t quite looking for. Turns out, not every idea is so easily accomplished.

Crafting your own weapons is one of the coolest features in RPG Maker MV... it is also one of the more time-consuming features if you're going to create a full-fledged RPG.

Crafting your own weapons is one of the coolest features in RPG Maker MV… it is also one of the more time-consuming features if you’re going to create a full-fledged RPG.

For this review, I wanted to make a game with some basic assets and not use anything too fancy. I really wanted to make a game with the vanilla version of the software so you or anyone with a desire to create a game right out of the box could experience. It’s not that large of an idea. What everyone was telling me is that I needed to use user-created scripts to “mod” RPG Maker and add some features not included with the vanilla version of the software. It’s not that this is too much to add these scripts, but I don’t really know how and in the instructions, most people just explain it like you already know where you’re going and what you’re doing. So with that, I’ve moved on to the second idea for a game which kind of ruins the point of the software for me in this review… or gives you the reality of the reach sometimes. (It wasn’t that grand, I just wanted to turn off encounters in a specific region… why isn’t that included in the code? That’s just goofy.)

I'm really enjoying learning how to make this tool doing what I want by exploring events. It's rather satisfying at times.

I’m really enjoying learning how to make this tool do what I want by exploring events. It’s rather satisfying at times when you keep trying and it works.

Moving on though, the other game in my head is a more “traditional” RPG as far as setup goes. In the process of developing this new game, I’ve learned a lot about how RPG Maker MV works. I’ve been making events within events and (to my brain at least) they are getting pretty complicated and I’m discovering new ways of making the program do what I want it to and there’s a lot of wiggle room too to be found here. (I’m also secretly hoping I learn a way around my initial problem, but I’m not holding out for any miracles… but maybe I am.) Some things, without scripts I assume or lack of inherent knowledge due to experience, have caused me to make multiples of maps so that I can have encounters run properly when not on the same square. I know I may be talking over some people’s heads with this, but trust me, once you get your feet wet, this will all make a little more sense.

Ah... ye olde starting town. This took a long time to setup and I'm still not satisfied with it.

Ah… ye olde starting town. This took a long time to set up and I’m still not satisfied with it.

What I’ve really come to like is the Character creation setup. There is a lot of different options in creating new characters for your game. That is unless you want some epic beards, in which case you are really, really out of luck. At the most, you can change the color, but there is not a single Dwarven-worthy beard to be found in the creator process. That was hugely disappointing. Moving on, while there is a lot of cool features and colors, it’s not mind-blowing. Also, it seems developers assume you want to stick with the once static face per person and not have really any emotion show up in their faces. Well, that’s not completely how I roll so I went about making (and exporting to save) 8-16+ faces for the main characters so I could have them react to situations with more than just the, “I’d like two pies please” face on. Then I have to go into a photo editing software (gimp here) and put them all together so I don’t have to scroll through that many 2×4 face slides with one single face on them. Why can’t you just export it to a file and save over? Well… why can’t I just have beards. There’s a work-around for one of those problems so I guess I’ll take it. (Still bothered about the beards though.) Either way, it’s pretty fun even with its quirks.

Another thing that is kind of grinding on me is my inability to create a cool looking castle in the Overworld looking map. I've made some decent ones, but I've erased most of the "oh jeez, what did I just create" ones before screen capturing this.

Another thing that is kind of grinding on me is my inability to create a cool looking castle in the Overworld looking map. I’ve made some decent ones, but I’ve erased most of the “oh jeez, what did I just create” ones before screen capturing this.

I guess the biggest thing I would want to point out to anyone thinking of picking this up is that there is a very large community of people out there that know what they are doing and want to see you succeed in making your own game. Also, there are a lot of people who want to show off their art assets as well as music. It’s pretty impressive. While there isn’t a whole mess of content specifically suited for MV since they use a different aspect ratio (is that the right term here?) for their art, you’ll have to wait to get more user-generated themes and such like what VX Ace had in abundance. Remember, if you’re going to use someone else’s material, you’ll have to give them credit or ask their permission at times so don’t just go grabbing stuff off the internet all willy-nilly. If you’re looking to create a game, the last thing you’ll want is legal trouble. Good luck out there!

I'd have to admit that without the ability to directly import the content I paid for in VX Ace, the lack of proper beards, the need for scripting in what I thought were simple ideas and a few other simple things, RPG Maker MV can't get a Tasty rank here on The Backlog. However, it still is very impressive for what it can do and it can do a lot with some "moding" and help from the community. That's what makes these engines so robust though, is the size of the community that cares about it. It's pretty awesome. While I wouldn't assume that anyone that wants to make a game can create one easily with RPG Maker MV, I would say that anyone with a desire to create a game with this JRPG-themed creation software would be hard-pressed to find another set of tools that is this easy to manipulate straight out of the package. UE4 and Construct 2 and some others are significantly more complicated than this, but you can get pretty complicated here too if that's what you fancy. Let your imagination go nuts here, it's pretty fun. Who knows, you could have an idea that could net you some Steam development cred.

I’d have to admit that without the ability to directly import the content I paid for in VX Ace, the lack of proper beards, the need for scripting in what I thought were simple ideas and a few other simple things, RPG Maker MV can’t get a Tasty rank here on The Backlog. However, it still is very impressive for what it can do and it can do a lot with some “moding” and help from the community. That’s what makes these engines so robust though, is the size of the community that cares about it. It’s pretty awesome. While I wouldn’t assume that anyone that wants to make a game can create one easily with RPG Maker MV, I would say that anyone with a desire to create a game with this JRPG-themed creation software would be hard-pressed to find another set of tools that is this easy to manipulate straight out of the package. UE4 and Construct 2 and some others are significantly more complicated than this for me personally, but you can get pretty complicated here too if that’s what you fancy. Let your imagination go nuts here, it’s pretty fun. Who knows, you could have an idea that could net you some Steam development cred..

More RPG Maker info: Facebook / Official Page / Steam / Twitter / YouTube

Jonathan Amarelo Sig


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