RPG Maker XP is a powerful tool which allows a user to make
“Console Style” RPGs, akin to older versions of Final Fantasy, with
the look and style of the 16-bit game era. The program is certainly
easier to use than, say, firing up C++ and starting from scratch,
but it suffers from minimal documentation and limited active
Games are played on a top-down map, where an animated sprite
representing a party of adventurers wanders, running into Events
(programmed game actions) and random monster encounters. RPG Maker
comes pre-stocked with all of the cliches of console fantasy RPGs,
such as wizards, swords, and dragons, but all of these can be
edited, added to, or deleted. There is no need for a game made with
RPG Maker to be fantasy-themed; sample games include science
fiction and contemporary settings.
The main issue with RPG Maker is not its flexibility–if you are
happy with the basic framework of console RPGs, you can do a lot
with the tool–but its documentation. There is a very basic
help file which is primarily a reference to the RGSS programming
language (which is the foundation of RPG Maker), and that is it.
There is no structured tutorial, and RPG Maker sorely needs one. It
is not easy, for example, to figure out how to design even a simple
map so that it looks good and takes advantage of the layers.
Setting up Events, the heart of plotting a game, is barely
Fortunately, there’s a very active community of developers and
fans of the product, but it takes time to find a good forum which
is newbie-friendly. People have done amazing things with the engine
and tools, and the program is not difficult once the various terms
and procedures are explained. RPG Maker XP can be worth the effort
to learn, but it will take effort.
Note: This link takes you to the vendor’s site, where you
can download the latest version of the software.