Want to make role-playing games straight out of 1992, with software from 2003? In 2015, we have the technology!
RPG Maker has always been a little… specialist. The idea of creating your own game is an appealing one, it’s a dream many gamers share, but the entry requirements are high – development skills, language knowledge, graphical ability – and that’s before you get onto whether your idea itself is any good.
There are tools out there that allow mere mortals to tinker, and in some cases, to achieve what they never felt possible. Game Maker Studio, Stencyl and Construct 2 are great WYSIWYG entry-points into the craft (and can make fantastic games in their own right) but if you’re taking it really seriously, you’ll want to learn to work in the big kids’ packages like Unity and even the Unreal Engine. Aside from a few tutorials and samples though, these suites are fresh snow upon which to carve your tracks, and knowing where to begin is difficult enough; that’s before you get onto the mechanics of what makes a game work.
RPG Maker from Enterbrain has always promised to bridge that gap, and being specialist is its major strength. Being genre-dedicated with an oh-so-familiar game mechanic baked right in – top-down over-world exploration, with 90s-era Final Fantasy active time battles – certainly makes it easier to get started, and the included graphical assets allow anyone to get cracking without needing to hit any stumbling blocks at all. And it’s fun. You’re not going to make anything commercially saleable with it, but if you want to see your own ideas come to life for curiosity’s sake, and maybe share it with a few friends and family, then RPG Maker is what you’re looking for.
It’s been legendarily painful to get hold of, though, and in the dim distant past aspiring storytellers have had to lay their hands on questionable translations with even more questionable licensing implications. Enterbrain have been getting better at making their titles available to the Western world though, particularly through the Steam Store. Quite why it took them 12 years to get RPG Maker 2003 to us in English is a mystery, but it’s here now, and you can purchase it from Steam today.