RPG Maker XP
RPG Maker XP is the fourth PC version in the RPG Maker series of programs developed and published by Enterbrain. It is the first PC version to be officially translated into English and released outside of Japan.
RPG Maker XP has several features lacking in previous versions. Foremost is the return to a 640 x 480 resolution, where RPG Maker 2000 and 2003 were lower resolution. Also, the Ruby scripting and RGSS (Ruby Game Scripting System) make it more customizable. The program's EULA allows games to be sold. Some games made using RPG Maker XP were commercially successful, Aveyond for example.
RPG Maker XP is the first RPG Maker since RPG Maker 95 to feature a resolution of 640×480, compared to the 320×240 resolution of RPG Maker 2000 and RPG Maker 2003. Due to worries about hardware compatibilities, Enterbrain decided to make it perform the rendering in Software-mode only. The program's resolution can be raised through the program's scripting system, though this requires modifying the RGSS. Alt+Enter enters fullscreen mode.
The battle system for RPG Maker XP is by default a front view turn based battle system. The contrast in this version of RPG Maker lies within the actors or heroes in the player's party. The new setup allows users to create new animations for both party and enemy battlers. The battle system (because it is scripted in the database using both RGSS and Ruby) can be edited by the user to conform to whatever they want, within the limits of the program. Certain communities have created several scripts allowing users with no programming experience to use complex systems in their RMXP games.
Ruby Game Scripting System
RMXP is the first in the RPG Maker series to feature the Ruby programming language, which adds greater flexibility and enhancement to the RPG Maker scripting system. To make it easier for beginners to customize their project the program uses a kit called the Ruby Game Scripting System (RGSS), of predefined classes and program code for the standard functions of an RPG-like game.
RPG Maker XP uses graphic resources for title screens, game over screens, character sets, tile sets, transition effects, battle animations, battle icons, item icons, backgrounds, and window skins. New graphics can be created by users through image editing software. The program can accept virtually any graphics extension such as PNG, BMP, and JPEG. However when using GIF animation images, a script must be input into the database for the animation to display, otherwise the image is unanimated.
Characters are displayed in sets (named Character sets, or Charsets). Each animation is displayed in a square 1/4 the height and size of the file, which makes 4×4 = 16 animations for each charset. The way their animation is designed gives them the illusion that they are actually walking.
Mapping is the name given to the creation of the characters' environment and surroundings by using tiles that contain eight 32 by 32 pixel frames lined up horizontally. According to Enterbrain:
These files contain tiles for mapmaking. Each tile contains at least one block of eight 32×32 pixel frames lined up horizontally, but can go on to contain as many blocks as necessary. There's no limit on the file's vertical size.
These tiles can be placed in any order to pattern such as a field of grass or a desert depending on the tileset. A tileset obviously contains graphics displayed on the game screen.
RMXP has a way of identifying certain tiles and how flat or tall a specific tile is going to be. For example a tileset that contains trees and grass both have different heights. A tree is typically tall and must stand above the player, and grass is usually below the player's feet. Two important features RMXP uses to identify these are passability and priority. Passability tells the system where the character can pass and where he or she cannot. For example if a rock has a passability of X that means the character cannot pass through the rock; though the user can allow the character to pass through the rock.
Priority is what tells the system how tall something is and how much higher it is than the character. A priority of 1 tells the system that the specified tile is just above the player. A good example would be a table. A table is usually not taller than a person, therefore it would have a low priority. The higher the priority the taller the tile would look. A tree which tends to be taller than a character would have a priority of 5 (the highest priority) because it is the tallest tile out of the set. With this system, users can verify how tall or short they want something to be. Without priority the player would just be looking at flat images.
Mapping also uses five layers: the three tileset layers, an event layer and a fog layer, modifiable though the use of the database or an event.
Fog is used to adds an alpha compositing special effect to the game. This can be used to create fog, or the shadows of trees of clouds, for example.
Battle Backgrounds are 640 × 320 pixel images that cover the entire resolution of the program. Users can create their own battle backgrounds or use the ones provided. RPG Maker XP users are allowed to use any background image they wish so long as it meets the 640 by 320 pixel requirement, if it fails to meet that requirement the background will appear too short and some black spots may be seen as a result of the background image being too small to cover the entire screen.
Animations are just a series of images that get cycled through. Animations add effects in battles. Animations include all types such as hit animations to show when a character has been hit, magic animations to show when a character has used magic, etc. Animations can be used inside or outside battle. This allows for a greater variety of control as a user can show a battle animation without physically being in battle.
Most games have a graphic file that holds text written by characters. Text can be displayed on this graphic file called a windowskin. This graphic file typically measures 192 by 128 pixels. Windowskins carry the basic window which will house the text written by the user for the character. A second part is the windowframe which notifies the player of the game that there is more text to be displayed through 16 by 16 arrow icons. A command cursor which notifies the player of what has been selected, a pause graphic is also present, to notify the player that they have stopped cycling through the text of the character. It contains a four frame animation which makes it seem like its moving. Finally the arrow cursors, these are the pointers, very much like the ones used in computers. These are used to make to point decisions when a player is faced with multiple options.
Transitions are just like the name suggests. They are graphic files which transition a player from one scene to the next. Typically transitions are used in the program to transfer the player from their map environment to a battle. The sign of the transition is usually used as a notification to the player that there is an upcoming battle. However, transitions can be used for anything, such as transition a player to bed or from one place to another.
Pictures can be displayed which allow for great control. Pictures are kept in a picture folder and must be directed in x and y coordinates to tell the system where to display the picture. Pictures can be any size and can be any format allowed by the program. A 'picture' is displayed about the 5th layer.
RMXP can accept MIDI, OGG, MP3 and WAV sound formats. This is an improvement over the RMXP predecessors such as RPG Maker 2003 (which could only accept MP3, MIDI or WAV sound formats, or RPG Maker 2000 which could only accept MIDI or WAV sound formats). RMXP features 4 different types of music, BGM, BGS, ME, SE. BGM stands for background music, which is the music that plays over the course of the game. BGS stands for background sounds like the sounds of a cricket at night. ME which stands for musical effects, like a short effect, such as horror, SE stands for sound effects, a quick sound such as a dog barking.
Events are commands that tell the character what to do. The whole plot is derived of events that happen in the game. Events are executed as Ruby and RGSS code which can be read through an interpreter in the program's database which then executes the code. In the program there are about 3 pages full of events from adding music to dimming the color tone of the screen which add up to about 90 event commands you can use. Events can add special effects to a game and can give a game more life or simply just tell the character what to do. They tell the system to do something without needing to be coded by the user because the code associated with the event is already included. Such events can be intricate or simple such as variables which can store information like numbers or even map names. Up to a total of 5000 variables can be created.
RPG Maker XP was translated in 2004 by RPG Advocate in the form of an unofficial English patch. This allowed people who bought the Japanese version of RPG Maker XP to use it in English, despite doing so would mean being in violation of the EULA for RMXP, which specifies that third parties may not alter the program's executable file. In September 2005, Enterbrain released an English version of RPG Maker XP, leading in decline of the English patch created for the program. It was the first PC RPG Maker title to have an official English translation. However, many unofficial versions are in circulation, mainly in French, Spanish, Portuguese, or German localizations. Most often, the translations for these languages (English included) do not come in the form of patches, but instead in pirated versions that have been entirely translated.
Official Enterbrain website (Japanese)
Official RPG Maker XP website