What are the limits of the RPG Maker game engines?

A_Higher_Plane

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What can and can't you do with the RM series for RPG games? Is your imagination the only limit to these? I especially care for the battle system, which is the main gameplay for RM RPG games.
 

Lunesis

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Depends on how much you understand javascript I've heard.
 

Andar

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basically almost everything IF you put in the work to program from scratch.

the entire engine is open code and any part of it can be changed in any way if you know how to program.
The problem is that large changes are a lot of work and can rarely be done by a single programmer in a single year.
for example it usually took scripters 2-3 years to program an ABS (action battle system) for a new maker, and that was only speed up for MZ because MZ is very similar to MV.
and there have been tries to create tactical battle systems as well, but that only succeeded for specific games and not in a general use for everyone script/plugin - because the unit AI can't be generalized, you'll need specific code for specific units for that to function.
 

TheoAllen

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Animebryan

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.
 
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Animebryan

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The above is basically a limit if you only doing it in the editor.
Thanks for pointing that out Capt. Obvious. The editor is waaaay too limited.
 
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MoonBunny

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@Animebryan Many of those could be accomplished with plugins or manually writing JavaScript. Maybe not possible with the base engine, but certainly not hard limitations.

But overall, I would say that MV/MZ are more open-ended than previous engines, due to how JavaScript is built you're more able to modify it extensively than with say, VX Ace's Ruby code.
 

HexMozart88

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@Animebryan A lot of this stuff just requires a little creativity. I can think of ways to event half the stuff you talked about.

Also, you don't need to be rude. People are pointing out that the stuff you're saying can't be done, can in fact be done. The reason the editor is limited is because it's made so that kids could figure it out. It's not meant to be a Unity or an Unreal, otherwise it would just call itself Unity or Unreal.
 

zzmmorgan

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The primary limit is how much effort you want to put into it. There's an amazing amount of stuff you can do just with judicious use of common events - Yanfly mentioned at one point you can do most of what his plugins do with common events. I've tinkered enough I completely agree with him. If you throw in some inline script calls within common events you extend things quite a bit more without actually having to do a full plugin. I've contemplated just bypassing RM entirely and using pixi.js but I honestly am not THAT fond of javascript :) I'm actually contemplating doing some projects I'd initially planned for RM in Unity even though in comparison Unity is like carrying a 400 pound pig on your shoulders for stuff like this....... For a basic RPG RM really helps you stay focused and have a more rapid development cycle BUT not every project fits easily into that.
 

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I've moved this thread to Product Discussion and Support. Thank you.

 

Beregon

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Have an ABS system using just events
I made a SHMUP "platformer" and an Action RPG with ABS system using just events and basic script calls when I just started with RPG Maker, it's just the matter of thinking outside the box with the tools you have available. I'm not saying it's ideal, but it's 100% possible.

As for the most of the rest, I'm sure you could eventually archieve it through plugins (even if some don't exist yet, there was an MV plugin that allowed you to make a bigger than maximum size map by combining several different maps for example).

Are you kidding me? You can't? >_>

Yes, you can. And a complex one too.
Yeah, I agree, I did that as a newbie.
 

orochii

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Some of the points listed here are right, especifically anything related to hard limits of the editor. Beyond that, is either "can I make this idea work through events or should I code it in Js".

The procedural maps for example, RMMZ's dungeon generator is implemented only on the editor, unlike 2k3 which had it built in the player itself. If you want a dungeon generator, you have a couple existing options (like this one) or if they are not what you want you can do it yourself.

AI is not impossible, but it needs planning. Especially if you want it to adapt to different uses and be flexible. Even if you implement some sort of neural network (or any other magical solution) you'll need to pick the right inputs that would work for most cases. And even then they'll do stupid. I don't think RM is at fault on this tho, it's the same wherever you go.
 

GregorDuckman

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Things you can't do due to limitations;

  1. Make a Tactical Strategy RPG (Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, Final Fantasy Tactics, etc.)
  2. Keep track of killed monsters
  3. Have an item used in battle run a common event that applies an effect to the User of that item. This also includes not designating a specific target when changing things using certain event commands.
  4. Make Randomly Generated Maps that change each time you enter them. Also, you can not randomize the positions or placements of events just by using event commands.
  5. Run a post-battle event (such as Meat Drop from Final Fantasy Legend/SaGa games or Monster Medal drop from Dragon Quest 3)
  6. Can't change the max map size (256x256, used to be 500x500 in VX Ace)
  7. Have an ABS system using just events
  8. Can't set Currency or Item Drop bonuses by %. Only the Party Abilities x2 Gold/Item Drop exist. Can't increase it like +10%/+30%/+50% Gold or Item Drop.
  9. Can't set different damage floors to have different damage rates; Poison Swamp (-2HP), Spikes (-10HP), Lava (-50HP), etc.
  10. Can't set a variable to display in a map name or change abbreviation based on ground level; Dungeon vF or Dungeon Bv, can't change from B#/#F, B3, B2, B1, 1F, 2F, etc.
At the risk of a little forum necromancy, I wanted to go down this list to write down some thoughts that might inspire newer RM folks to get creative and think outside the box. Ironic coming from someone who made this account like, 3 days ago, but for the record I started with RM2k back when it was brand new.

On that note, I remember seeing RM2k games doing many of these things. It's not really a matter of can or can't most of the time, back then it was far more about 'should' or 'shouldn't'. I'm not saying any of these are good ideas compared to simply scripting/using plugins, but when that wasn't an option you had to get creative!


  • Make a Tactical Strategy RPG (Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, Final Fantasy Tactics, etc.)
1. Definitely possible. Custom battle systems were absolutely a thing as far back as RM2k, and therefore 100% event editing. People oversell the complexity of these tactical battle systems, perhaps because of how much extra legwork needs to be done to script them inside RGSS/MV/MZ. But remember, the event editor is quite powerful compared to the Assembly programming language, and Fire Emblem 1 was a NES game. They had to make it work somehow, no?
  • Keep track of killed monsters
2. Possible. But, you might have to make random encounters the result of a parallel process that tracks player movement. You'd specify the exact troop you're up against in the editor and, if you survive, you can just add the number of enemies in that troop to a running Variable counter. It should even be possible if the enemy can summon reinforcements, since that has to be done through events too.
  • Have an item used in battle run a common event that applies an effect to the User of that item. This also includes not designating a specific target when changing things using certain event commands.
3. Possible. Have the item inflict a State on the target (user, enemy, etc.), use conditional branches to find the target, once you have the target you can remove the state. You'd want to make it a special / dummy state that is very low priority and doesn't have any text or animations associated with it. You can hijack the "%1 is poisoned!" message to have the combat log say whatever you need it to about the target.
  • Make Randomly Generated Maps that change each time you enter them. Also, you can not randomize the positions or placements of events just by using event commands.
4. This is partially true, you can't compose a random map that is itself a single map. You can create a random network of maps using variables though, although it'd be quite an undertaking. The rather famous (at the time) RM2k game "Dragon Destiny" did something like this. Dragon Destiny had an autorun event on every map called "Reset" that controlled the location of everything, because DD was puzzle themed inspired by Lufia II and had a Reset spell - to reset the state of any map, any puzzles, the time (had a day and night cycle), and return to the point that you entered the map, you'd cast the reset spell. Random or not, you can place any event anywhere you want with a system like this.
  • Run a post-battle event (such as Meat Drop from Final Fantasy Legend/SaGa games or Monster Medal drop from Dragon Quest 3)
5. Possible. Again, manipulating parallel processes to create your own random encounter system, you could make any post-battle even you'd like. Another somewhat well known RM2k had post battle events, "Final Fantasy: Endless Nova", to control its Final Fantasy 2 style stat growth system. A turn-0 battle event could set a Switch and Variable to tell the out-of-battle common events to listen and react once the battle was concluded.
  • Can't change the max map size (256x256, used to be 500x500 in VX Ace)
6. This is partially true, there's a maximum map size, but that doesn't mean making relatively seamless transitions between two maps, identical at the boarders, is impossible. Again, "Dragon Destiny" did something like this - it had 2 or 3 massive regions that used this type of trickery. I made something similar in XP to demonstrate to myself that it was possible even with a parallax background.
  • Have an ABS system using just events
7. Definitely possible. There was a sci-fi / cyberpunk type game demo, only about 20 minutes worth of play, that had a very detailed ABS, something like Secret of Mana. I can't remember the name but I remember they used a MIDI remix of Sonic 3's "Flying Battery Zone" theme as the battle music. There was another one I can't remember well at all, but it was samurai themed. Far more rudimentary, but not bad compared to some NES/SNES offerings. Both RM2k games, by the way.
  • Can't set Currency or Item Drop bonuses by %. Only the Party Abilities x2 Gold/Item Drop exist. Can't increase it like +10%/+30%/+50% Gold or Item Drop.
8. True, unless you make all of your battle rewards a result of a post battle event, which is definitely something you can do!
  • Can't set different damage floors to have different damage rates; Poison Swamp (-2HP), Spikes (-10HP), Lava (-50HP), etc.
9. Possible, for the same reason as 2. If you track player location every frame and look for changes to detect movement, you can do whatever you want to them! It's been too long since I've used RM2k to say how you'd do it back then, but in MZ you can track the player's Terrain Tag using "Get Location Info..." and do whatever you want to them.
  • Can't set a variable to display in a map name or change abbreviation based on ground level; Dungeon vF or Dungeon Bv, can't change from B#/#F, B3, B2, B1, 1F, 2F, etc.
10. Possible. Not with the built-in map-name display perhaps, but easy enough to do with Pictures, an autorun Message window, or some other means.


I want to make sure this doesn't come across as an attack on @Animebryan, if anything I'd like to say thanks for getting me to think about this stuff again, it feels quite nostalgic. To the new folks, don't jump to conclusions about limitations - if there are limitations, you'll find its much more rewarding in the long run to carefully think them out and try to reach your goal in spite of them!
 

ATT_Turan

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Yeah, pretty much everything on that "not possible" list is possible (some of it easily). Even this:
6. This is partially true, there's a maximum map size, but that doesn't mean making relatively seamless transitions between two maps, identical at the boarders, is impossible.
There have been multiple threads about this over the years - you can externally edit the maps to be a larger size and they'll run fine, they just reset down to the max if you ever open it in the editor (if I recall correctly).
 

zzmmorgan

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Basically RPG Maker can be quite flexible even if you want to push beyond a basic RPG style game. The event system is far more powerful than a lot of people realize and you can even add a touch of inline javascript (in MV and MZ) to access variables that the event system can't see. And pretty much anything you want to try to do someone somewhere has probably made a plugin to do something like that even including 3D.........
 

Nolonar

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Things you can't do due to limitations;
Aside from procedurally generated maps, I've seen every single bullet point implemented in RM2k. Most of it in a single game, too (Velsarbor).

In fact, making your own custom menu and custom battle system was incredibly popular back in the days, and there were a couple of tutorials explaining how to do it despite the constraints of the RM2k eventing system.

1. Make a Tactical Strategy RPG (Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, Final Fantasy Tactics, etc.)
Yes you can. Someone did it in RM2k, with the grid rotated 45° no less.
Sadly, I no longer remember the name of the game...

What I do remember, is that one of the playable characters was a child, who starts as your weakest unit, but once trained, easily becomes your strongest unit (especially when compared to units of the same level). She dies at the end of the game, though. The game is also very short, and can be completed in only a couple of hours (without speedrunning or glitching).

2. Keep track of killed monsters
Yes you can, if you don't use the built-in battle system (i.e. you implement an entire battle system using events only)

3. Have an item used in battle run a common event that applies an effect to the User of that item. This also includes not designating a specific target when changing things using certain event commands.
See 2.

4. Make Randomly Generated Maps that change each time you enter them. Also, you can not randomize the positions or placements of events just by using event commands.
Can't speak about procedurally generated maps, but you can absolutely randomize the position of events. Just save random values to 2 variables, then use the "Set Event Location" command and choose "Designation with variables".

5. Run a post-battle event (such as Meat Drop from Final Fantasy Legend/SaGa games or Monster Medal drop from Dragon Quest 3)
See 2.

6. Can't change the max map size (256x256, used to be 500x500 in VX Ace)
I'm pretty sure there isn't a single engine that allows changing any maximum allowed values (otherwise they wouldn't be "maximal"), at least not without coding. These maximum values exist for a reason, and you're free to write your own implementation in order to increase that maximum.

7. Have an ABS system using just events
Velsarbor would like a word with you:

This RM2k game has:
  • side battlers (a feature that was added in RM2k3)
  • an ABS (including a UI for move order, and a preview for how actions might affect it)
  • a counter system (where a character automatically strikes back when attacked)
  • TP (didn't exist in RM2k)
  • special animations when using attacks that consume TP
  • custom death animations for certain enemies (bosses)
  • an analysis skill that opens a window with the results while still in battle
  • a socket system for weapon and shield
  • enemies with shields that only break if you strike the enemy's weakness
  • characters that comment on how easy/difficult the battle was
  • a system that warns about impending random encounters, and a way to avoid them by stopping and waiting for the warning to subside
  • and much, much more...

8. Can't set Currency or Item Drop bonuses by %. Only the Party Abilities x2 Gold/Item Drop exist. Can't increase it like +10%/+30%/+50% Gold or Item Drop.
See 2.

9. Can't set different damage floors to have different damage rates; Poison Swamp (-2HP), Spikes (-10HP), Lava (-50HP), etc.
Perhaps not, but you can use events for that (Beneath Player & Player Touch).

10. Can't set a variable to display in a map name or change abbreviation based on ground level; Dungeon vF or Dungeon Bv, can't change from B#/#F, B3, B2, B1, 1F, 2F, etc.
This is child's play compared to an ABS...
 

HexMozart88

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I'm going to be a little harsh here, but I think it needs to be said. A lot of people whine about limits when they're just not capable of getting anywhere themselves. You can see this in a lot of other things besides game dev.
 

ATT_Turan

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Aside from procedurally generated maps, I've seen every single bullet point implemented in RM2k.
There even exists an MV plugin to procedurally-generate maps, but due to its complexity it was never feature complete. It did make maps, though...another case of not "can't be done" but "difficult to implement solo."
(different damage floors having different damage rates)
Perhaps not, but you can use events for that (Beneath Player & Player Touch).
For MV, there's a Yanfly plugin to do it based on the terrain tag. In fact, that plugin had been out for 4 years when Animebryan wrote his ill-conceived list...so, really, I have no clue what he was thinking with all of that.
 

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