20 September 2012

Open RPG Maker - Feature Review

Open RPG Maker is the "new kid on the block" and, while it's still under development, it still shows enormous potential. The game engine is not implemented yet, which includes playtesting (this will begin when the Editor is finished), but many of the functions are. So this review is based on its features and functionality. Preliminarily, I'm quite impressed with it.

What Is Open RPG Maker?

According to the blurb:
Open RPG Maker is aimed at being a free and open source clone of the RPG Maker series by Enterbrain. The end goal of the project is to allow users to create 2D console style RPG games similar to the original Final Fantasies / Zelda Games.
And that's exactly what it is. There are some features you are all familiar with, including the all important Database, Map Editor and Resource Importer. But it also has some additional, unique features that are not implemented in the other RPG Makers, such as Screen Layouts and Find Event.

Some Additional Features

At this point in development, the important thing isn't its functionality, but being able to see what this RPG Maker will be capable of when it's completed. Almost every aspect of Open RPG Maker can be edited and, when it is finished, I bet you there will be some awesome games made with it.

Graphics Resources

This entire RPG Maker seems to be initially founded on RM2K/3 (it is a clone after all). Subsequently, you can import resources from your old RM2K/3 projects via the built-in "Importer Plugin", including Character Sprite Sheets, Tilesets and Backgrounds.

In the Tileset section of the Database, one of the functions I particularly like is the ability to change the layout of the tileset directly. You can add or delete tiles with a few clicks. These are then appended to the tileset, as each tile is actually converted into a separate file, which can then be easily deleted from the tileset if you change your mind.

Battle Characters are the same as RM2K/3 in that you can use "poses" to reflect various status effects. I have some very fond memories of spending hours creating my own unique animations for the status effects I created, but this feature was omitted in the next-gen RPG Makers. So I'm glad that this feature is present.

In addition to being able to import RM2K/3 resources, it is also possible to import those from O.H.R.RPG.C.E, which is a neat idea.

There's something else that is a pleasant, very useful feature, lacking in many other RPG Makers, and that is the ability to take a snapshot of your finished maps and save them in PNG format without having to do it manually.

Note: Since this is an RPG Maker outside of Enterbrain's, it's probably better to create your own resources - the same way you would with RM2K/3 - so as not to step on any EULA toes. If it's RM2K/3 I really don't think Enterbrain will care, since that RPG Maker is so old now (and wasn't technically legal in the first place).

Menu Editing

Open RPG Maker has a unique method of editing the menus in the form of Screen Layouts. All data is stored in XML files, which you can edit according to the particular needs of your game. Even if you don't know anything about XML files, the learning curve isn't that steep since XML is essentially about structure rather than details.

The structure of the menu layouts can be modified directly by either dragging the items around the editing area or by tweaking certain variables, such as X- and Y-coordinates and font size and weight. And, with a cursory glance, it seems that it might also be possible to change the frames and add additional graphics to the menus, although I didn't experiment with that.

Within the editing environment, you can also modify menu access conditions. This is set up using conditions and event commands. As an example, if you want background music when you open the Status Menu you can add it under "On Load" and then if you want it to stop when you close the Status Menu, it can be disabled under "On Cancel".

As a result, the potential for creating aesthetic, dynamic menus is huge. So that means there are no scripts per se to modify the menu systems. It's all done here.

Conclusioni

Open RPG Maker certainly has the potential to become something great, earning the right to rank alongside some of the more popular RPG Makers, including Enterbrain's, and I'm looking forward to when it's completed.

It's still raw and rough around the edges, but you can see that it shows great promise. Many of the functions aren't properly implemented yet, but it's enough to demonstrate what this capable engine can do. It did crash frequently, but this is to be expected since it's essentially a Beta version, so it's not a big deal.

Although I wasn't able to playtest my creations, since that function is disabled at this point, I was still able to have a good look around and so far what I see I like. I will be looking forward to its completion date and may be able to add tutorials, etc. to RPG Maker Times and RPG Maker Times Companion some time in the future.

4 Comments So Far:

Anonymous said...

This is by far nicer to use then
many others

Companion Wulf said...

I agree, and more versatile in many ways, which is why personally I'm looking forward to its completion.

minimidicomposer said...

Good write up! Thank goodness for an import feature! I'm more likely to pick this up if I can work on some older games that might have required more in-depth work in the form of scripting if they can be more easily accomplished in this. From what's been described thus far, it seems you will need to know very little coding to recreate some of the more advanced capabilities in the RM series. Wonder if they plan on incorporating a scripting language, though. Only time will tell, I suppose.

But either way, I'm liking what I see so far.

Companion Wulf said...

I think it uses XML format as some kind of foundation for scripting, so if you know that you'll be able to create a few additional things with it.

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