And for the dungeons and other dangerous environments, you have to decide how those labyrinths are going to twist and turn and what they’re going to look like. Is it a natural cavern? An abandoned underground base or prison? A base or prison still in use? You have to decide where the doors, pitfalls, traps, secret paths and healing fountains (if you please) are going to be located. Deciding how functional or random you want an environment to be is something RPG Maker MV empowers you with. It was an interesting process for me, because it made me realize how much (and in some cases, how little) I really knew about geography, architecture and geology.

RPG Maker MV | Character Portrait Tool
This character’s quest is to find a razor that can shave off that lethal beard.

So, you’ve got your world laid out. You’re getting there, but there’s still so much to do. Because the next step is populating this world with people to interact with. Towns and cities need NPCs to interact with, such as vendors, tavern patrons, children running around fountains and old men ambling around in circles. You get to set the behavior and attitude and even write up the dialogue they’ll recite to you. Do you want them to react differently based on your game progression? There’s a behavior setting for that. Want them to follow you around or block you from advancing until you accomplish a mission objective? You can do that. Other NPCs can be set up to allow for dialogue trees that will engender different responses based on what you say. You can even set them to ignore you or attack you, initiating a combat, if you want that risk to be there. You can have NPCs give the players items, such as keys for opening doors you’ve set up somewhere in the world, to only be accessible once players have completed the required sequence of events to advance. That’s how detailed RPG Maker MV is.

RPG Maker MV | NPC Object Behavior Interface
The old man I designed was most certainly NOT a sage-like fount of wisdom and knowledge.

You can even design and trigger cutscenes by interacting with objects in the game world, either based on game progression or if you just want to initiate an infodump through interaction. And if you want certain NPCs to stand out from the rest, you can pull from the character tool to put an image next to their dialogue, and there are tons of customization options here, such as the colors of their hair, eyes, lips and costumes if you want to go deeper with the presentation. Or, if you just want to give every NPC a face, you can do that too. It all depends on how you want to present the world to the player and where you want the emphasis to be. One NPC I had a great deal of fun creating was the ‘old man’ that wanders in a circle moaning and complaining about how he’s ‘just too old for this,’ but if you answer a question he asks you correctly, you see through his ruse and he immediately runs offscreen at a breakneck pace.

Combat is a part of most RPGs, and RPG Maker MV gives you everything you need to set up encounter rates, which can be adjusted by region/environment or if you just want to set a standard random rate based on the number of steps the players take as they progress. You set up the enemy strength, the grouping arrangements, what types of enemies appear in what zones and how much experience they grant for defeating them (more on experience when I talk about characters and progression). Additional reward parameters can also be set, such as in-game currency (which you give whatever name you want) defeated enemies drop and the percentage of acquiring items such as potions, weapons, armor and junk to be sold. You can even set up super rare encounters that give big XP and the best weapons in your game if you want. Battles can be portrayed in the first-person view, a la Dragon Quest, or set them up in a side view similar to the earlier Final Fantasy games (a new addition with RPG Maker MV, by the by.) I designed one section of my world map to spawn an encounter every other step the players took, which would be extremely frustrating for them as they had to deal with hordes upon hordes of enemies. It just goes to show how thinking about the rate of combat is an important step in ensuring the game has balance and good pacing: bury the adventurers in battles, even against meaningless foes that can be killed in one hit, and you risk disengaging the audience.

RPG Maker MV | Monster Design Interface
The dreaded VS. XIII monster. I will still working on this one ten years from now.

Music is another aspect of RPG Maker MV that you have complete control over. You can use the stock music the application gives you, which is considerable and quite capable as the soundtrack to your RPG. But if you don’t like the tracks that come with the package, you can import your own and just use those instead. I was actually pretty surprised to discover such a wonderful selection of stock tunes. Some of these tracks are the equal of what we’re hearing in games being released by major publishers today.

So, let’s get to characters. That’s what RPGs are really about at the end of the day, right? That’s who the player will be spending most of their time with and forming attachments to anyway. RPG Maker MV allows for full customization of character progression. If you want an easy leveling system where stats rise and abilities are obtained just by gathering enough XP, you can do that. If you want to introduce a job/class system and complex character customization right down to allowing the player to determine where their adjustments per level are allocated, you can set the game up in that fashion, too. The sky truly is the limit here, even down to the character art, which allows you to select from a nearly endless variety of models that can be modified in a number of ways to get just the perfect look for your adventurers. And with the option to decide just how you want the game to introduce these individuals, whether it be through the auspices of the story or by requiring your players to go and gather them up, the choice is completely yours.

RPG Maker MV | Character Progression Interface
Enough jobs can be created to employ everyone right out of college.

In summation, I found RPG Maker MV to be initially overwhelming in the resources it provides you, and I developed a healthy respect for an aspect of the industry that I always knew was hard work but never quite grasped the scope of the challenge. I can’t say that I’d ever be able to finish a RPG that I started building with RPG Maker MV, but it has nothing to do with the quality of the client and everything to do with my own limitations of time. If anyone out there ever has a dream of building a RPG of their very own, RPG Maker MV will not let them down. It’s a fantastic program that I have no reservations about recommending.

Review Score

Review copy provided by the publisher

Tom Tolios
Really smart, talks too much, loves the video games and the Star Wars and the Game of Thrones, likes the manga and some anime and knows that Kentaro Miura's Berserk is the greatest thing ever made.