I picked up a copy of RPG Maker MV and spent some time experimenting with it. If you are considering this product for your next project, here are my general impressions of it:
- As its title suggests, RPG Maker MV is pretty heavily tuned to building RPGs - but specifically, 2D sprite based JRPG style games. Think of the SNES era style games like Final Fantasy 4-6, Chrono Trigger, or Dragon Quest. The stock engine is mostly turn based, so if you’re thinking something more like an active time battle system, be prepared to customize it yourself or find a plugin online. The combat engine is isolated enough that you could also make an adventure or puzzle game quite easily, as long as it doesn’t require too many real time interactions.
- The tools are straightforward to use, although some of the terms aren’t particularly well defined and if it’s your first time using RPG Maker, you’ll need to refer to some tutorials on the web. There are plenty of those out there.
- The game engine is fundamentally event driven, and doesn’t require any programming experience to use. For example, you create an event that says “when the player steps on this tile, move them to this other tile at the entrance to the dungeon.” These events are very flexible, so you could create an event that says, “after the player has stepped into a certain part of the map, if the player has a lodestone item, after 10 steps, play a video showing an airship rising from the desert, and place the player on the airship.” There are also plenty of plugins available on the Internet for new interactions.
- The built in graphics and music assets are serviceable. It’s very handy to have a range of stock assets that you can use as your are prototyping your game. But if you’re building something you plan to ship, you probably want to find some more differentiated assets anyway, to distinguish yourself from other people using the same engine.
So should you get RPG Maker MV?
- If you’re a game designer with minimal programming experience and you’re designing a turn based RPG, this is great to experiment with ideas without spending all your time trying to learn programming. Or spending all your time begging the engineers on your team to implement your prototyping changes. Even if you do have a lot of programming experience, you can still save a lot of time by not having to fiddle with code to modify every little thing.
- If you’re planning to ship a game focused primarily on concept or narrative, and you are sticking with stock game mechanics, I think this product would also be quite suitable for you. For common tweaks, you can probably find a plugin online (be sure to check the license). You should still get your own art and music assets though; otherwise, though it may not be fair, your game will be immediately derided as a low effort knock off.
- If your game has a lot of 3D elements or action elements, or if you really want to push the envelope on graphics or fancy particle systems, this is not the engine for you.