enfrdeitptrues

Applications

  • Actual Multiple Monitors (PC)

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    Game Info:

    Actual Multiple Monitors
    Developed by: Actual Tools
    Available on: PC
    Version reviewed: 5.1.1
    Price: $24.95

    Thank you Actual Tools for sending us this program to review!

    A couple of months back we redesigned our office and after the dust settled, I got a bigger desk and hooked up a second monitor.  For the most part it's been great, but gaming with dual monitors has added a few challenges.  For example if I'm playing a game on the left screen and accidentally slide my mouse over to the right one, the game will minimize and stop.  Actual Tools Multiple Monitor program stops incidents like that from happening.

    My desktop's video card is a HIS 7870 and ATI's drivers support merging your desktop (and games) across multiple monitors.  This technology is called Eyefinity.  In order to use Eyefinity you have to set up a display group and if you have different model monitors, you'll be stuck at the lower resolution.  Actual Multiple Monitors allows you to easily stretch your game across multiple monitors without having to setup this group or being at the same resolution.  All you need to do is have your game in windowed mode and click the stretch toolbar icon and there you go.  I have noticed that if the game is running at too low of a resolution, the screen will be cut off.  Given my that my monitors are at different heights and resolutions, I didn't play in multi-monitor mode very often.  If my monitors were the same it would be a different story.  

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Nice tweaks for managing multiple monitors in Windows and gaming. Adding a Start menu back in Windows 8 is a nice touch
    Weak Points: Display drivers can do multiple monitor support natively

    Actual Tools Multiple Monitors adds several enhancements to Windows 8.  I liked the option of having the Start menu back on my second monitor.  I've already adjusted to the new one but having the old one brings back fond memories.  The tool bars have new icons as well and I have already mentioned the stretch icon.  Another added icon is "move" which will send the window to the opposite monitor instead of having to drag it over with your mouse.

    If you're big into screen savers there are a couple of enhancements made here as well.  You can stretch the screen saver to all of the monitors or you can have a different screen saver or slide show on each monitor.  Imagine having a sideshow for each child or pet on different monitors.

    Gamers will be pleased with the screen or window locking that will prevent games from losing focus while doing other activities on the second monitor.  It's nice to be able to be to surf or respond to emails while leaving my game open.  Here's a handy list of hot key commands.  If you don't like them, you can define your own.  

    So far I have talked about features that I have used personally.  I don't change my desktop settings very often, but if you do, you can setup desktop profiles and switch between them easily.    Another neat feature is Mirroring which lets you specify what part of your screen you want to mirror onto another monitor.  

    Even if you don't take advantage of all of the options, Actual Multiple Monitors has a lot to offer.  It's totally worth it to have your games keep focus alone!  If you're a Windows 8 user you may like the added bonus of getting your Start menu back.  There's a demo available that lets you try it for thirty days.

     

  • Aomei Backupper Professional Edition

     

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    Game Info:

    Aomei Backupper Professional Edition
    Version reviewed: 4.6.3
    Developed by: Aomei
    Price: $29.95 (to upgrade from the free version)

    Thank you Aomei for sending us this software to review!

    Earlier this year we reviewed the $29 MiniTool ShadowMaker 3.1 Pro and it performed well for our cloning of a mechanical hard drive to SSD of the same size. Both programs offer similar features at the same price point and have a trial version that lets you backup and restore data free of charge.

    If you want to do a system clone, use boot up utilities, backup to DVDs, schedule/trigger backup events, or sync files and folder in real-time, you’ll want to purchase a professional license. The cheapest option only lets you install it once and you do not get free updates. For an extra $10, you get lifetime updates. If you need to install it on 2-5 computers, prepare to spend $99.95.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Easy to use; free version available to try
    Weak Points: If you want to have lifetime updates or multiple installs you’ll need to pay extra

    For this review, I used Aomei Backupper Professional Edition 4.6.3 to clone one Windows 10 1TB SSD to a similarly sized but faster SSD.  I used two USB docking devices that should be plugged in and detected by Windows before launching Aomei Backupper Professional.  The software has a convenient clone menu which is where I went to begin the hour-long process.  To start the clone you need to specify which drive is the source and which one will be the destination.  Be sure to have the drives selected correctly or you may overwrite your data!  Once the clone was completed, I plugged the new OS drive back into my desktop and it booted up flawlessly.  Before adding my old OS drive back into my system, I formatted it to avoid any confusion within Windows.   

    Since mechanical drives are bigger and cheaper, it’s not uncommon to migrate to a smaller but faster SSD. Aomei Backupper Professional lets you do a system clone from one bigger to a smaller drive. Unfortunately, the drive I wanted to test this out on requires completely disassembling my desktop to access it behind my motherboard. I don’t plan on taking my computer apart until I upgrade it in the fall. I plan on using this software to clone my difficult to reach 500GB mechanical hard drive to my spare 256GB SSD.

    Aomei Backupper Professional Edition

    I rely on cloud storage so I don’t use dedicated backup drives. If I did, this software would make backing up super easy. It can check backup images for errors, combine images, and explore them to retrieve specific files off of them. The file synchronization is nice for real-time backing up of important files and folders. With real time, any mistakes are also copied over so be careful!

    For advanced users there are handy PXE (network) boot tools and options to create bootable media. Although the image deploy menu is visible, it’s only accessible if you have the $449-$799 technician versions.

    For personal use, it’s worth checking out the free version of Aomei Backupper. If you like what you see and can use the advanced features, upgrading is both affordable and worthwhile.

  • Aomei Partition Assistant Professional

     

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    Software Info:

    Aomei Partition Assistant Professional 
    Version reviewed: 8.4
    Price: $49.95

    Thank you Aomei for sending us this software to review!

    Back in the 90s you had to share four IDE connections between CD drives and hard drives. It wasn’t uncommon to split up or partition a hard drive to organize it or share it between two operating systems like Windows and Linux. I often partitioned my Linux drive to have a data partition that was formatted in either FAT32 or NTFS so both operating systems could access the files on it.

    Most operating systems let you partition the drive before installing it, but what if you need to make changes afterward? Back in the day you could pay for the now defunct Partition Magic to adjust your partitions visually. Linux’s Fdisk utility is daunting but free to use if you’re not afraid of using the command line interface. GParted is an excellent GUI program if you have a Windows manager running in Linux. There is also a free bootable version. Windows Disk Manager is pretty easy to use and navigate once you have Windows installed and running.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Lots of great utilities/features; Free version available
    Weak Points: Two computer limit per license

    With so many options, what does Aomei Partition Assistant Professional bring to the table? I was pleasantly surprised to see what was bundled into this software. Not only can you align, backup, create, copy, delete, merge, resize, and split partitions, there are lots of other handy features too! You can scan your discs/partitions for errors, securely format them (with many rewrites), migrate to an SSD, change file systems, recover data, and clone hard drives. One neat feature that the professional version allows you to do is change your Windows serial number. This is handy if you do a lot of hard drive image clones throughout a company/building.

    It’s worth noting that the free version is quite capable of doing most tasks and is worth checking out. The secure wiping and date recovery are professional version features along with the ability to change Master Boot Record (MBR) types. If you want the ability to move free space to another partition, convert partition types, or use the command line, you’ll want to consider buying a professional license. The license key will only work on two computers though.

    I found the software very easy to navigate and use. With it I removed my Ubuntu partition and opted to use Windows 10’s Linux Subsystem by running the Administrator Power Shell command: Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux. After the command is ran, the system will need to be rebooted and you can install a Linux distribution from the Microsoft store. I added Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

    Resizing my Windows partition didn’t take effect until I applied the changes. Again a reboot was necessary and the software booted my system into a Windows PE environment and made the necessary changes without losing any of my precious data. Afterward, my hard drive partition was 100GB bigger.

    If you’re looking for an easy to use disk partition program with some extra bells and whistles, check out Aomei Partition Assistant Professional. It’s free to try and the professional version has some very handy utilities that are work looking into.

  • ArtRage 4

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    Software Info:

    ArtRage 4
    Devloped by: Ambient Design Ltd
    Release Date:  Feb 12, 2013
    Available on: Mac/PC, iOS
    Price: $49.99

    Thank you Ambient Design for sending us this software to review!

    With the rise of touch screen devices, computer art programs are getting more interactive and even easier to use.  ArtRage 4 supports touch screen, graphic drawing tablet, and mouse interfaces.  Since my monitor is not touch enabled, I had to disable the touch and stylus input methods in order to draw with my mouse or graphic drawing tablet.  After that issue was resolved, I found this program feature rich and fun to use.

    There's a wide variety of drawing/painting tools at your disposal.  You can work with crayon, ink, pencil, oil, water color paints, and an air brush too.  Each tool has a customizable width so your strokes can be as thin or wide as you need them to be.  The way they react to the canvas is spot on to their actual counterparts.  It has the look and feel without all of the mess.  There are plenty of color combinations and you can add a metallic look as well.  Another medium I liked working with was the glitter.  Again, you can control how much or little you want to use at a time.  

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great interface and selection of mediums to work with
    Weak Points: Didn't work with my mouse "out of the box"
    Moral Warnings: Depends on what you draw or trace...

    For drawing aides you can use the built in stencils and rulers.  As you use these guides you have to right click to remove them.  It took me a little while to figure that one out.  Thankfully, there are many helpful posts and youtube tutorials out there.  I really like the tracing feature that overlays the canvas on top of the image you wish to trace.  You can choose the colors manually, or have the program adjust the original image automatically for you.  

    You can have multiple layers so your new layer drawing won't bleed into the other layers.  When it comes to saving you can save your image as a multilayered PSD file or you can flatten the image and save to other popular formats like JPG, BMP, PNG and TIF.  How big you make your artwork is up to you since the resolution is customizable.  

    The menus and tools are easy to navigate and use.  I like how they move out of your way when you're drawing.  You can also click on them to give them a smaller thumb print.    

    ArtRage 4 is simple enough for a child to use and play with (my kids love it!) and it also offers many features that professional artists can use to make spectacular works of art.  This program makes me wish I had a touch screen monitor to make it even easier to use and enjoy.  The asking price is a reasonable $50 and there is an iPad version available for the low price of $5.

  • Daggerfall Unity (PC)

    In 1996, Bethesda Softworks released the most ambitious open-world RPG of its time. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall had a massive, if incredibly buggy experience that was only partially functional in some ways, but for a game meant for DOS, it still was ambitious. Now, in 2019, one can play the game as it was originally intended on modern-day computers.

    However, before we cover the engine, one must make something clear. This is not a source port, as the source code is admitted lost by the developers, so the creator of this Unity-based recreation instead took the original game files from the released version, built a game engine to load them, and rebuilt from scratch the necessary code to make all the intended features of the original game work as they were originally designed.

    This means two things. One, this engine is devoid of the bugs and glitches of the original engine, both good and bad. Two, this engine, while able to run in a "retro" mode for those who want the grainy experience one could get playing on DOS, is intended to provide a higher fidelity experience.

    Daggerfall Unity

    Another good aspect of this engine recreation is a feature later Elder Scrolls games come with: modding. The original could be modded, but only to a limited degree, as modders had to fly blind without the source code and engine tools. This recreation comes with a documented API and developer tools available for free, and while the version at the time of this writing still has some aspects of the modding API not fully completed, it is already possible to modify many aspects of the game engine.

    Daggerfall Unity supports Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux. Android and other portable platforms are not directly supported, but the creator has said they would be willing to bless and assist such efforts. Bethesda Softworks has offered no objections to this project either. Daggerfall was released into the public domain as freeware, and thus there are no known restrictions on the scale and scope of this project. The only thing this project requires is a copy of the original Daggerfall game patched to version 2.13, a copy of which may be found in numerous places, including the DFWorkshop downloads page.

    Daggerfall Unity

    At the time of this writing, the engine is in an alpha state, but that means all features of the original Daggerfall are fully functional, even those that did not work on the original XnGine used in 1996. Daggerfall Unity still requires more polish according to the developer, but in its present state, it is playable from start to finish.

    I have tested this engine on both Linux and Windows, and it scales admirably, though it is recommended one has a dedicated graphics card (anything powerful enough to run the original Skyrim at medium-high at least would be ideal) and 2-4 GB of system RAM, as this engine provides far more advanced graphical capabilities and the potential to provide HD graphics on par with later Elder Scrolls games if one uses some of the currently existing mods for upgrading the original visuals.

    Daggerfall Unity provides a full, completely free engine for enjoying one of the largest attempts at a wide-open world, and it is recommended over trying to run the original game in DOSbox, though that remains an option.

  • GameCaptr

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    Software Info:

    GameCaptr
    Developed by: simplitec GmbH
    Published by: simplitec GmbH
    Release date: October 13, 2016
    Available on: Windows
    Price: $24.99

    Thank you simplitec GmbH for sending us a review code for this software and the video editing DLC. 

    Since we frequently do Twitch streams and YouTube videos, we’re always on the lookout for easy to use software that doesn’t consume a lot of system resources. OBS is free and easy to use and GameShow has some nice features that take a little more tweaking, but look great when finished.   What sets GameCaptr apart from the others is its cell phone app that lets you remotely monitor your system resources and manage your streams/recordings.  That is if you can even get it to record in the first place.

    Every time I launch GameCaptr I get an error stating that the program was already running. Sadly, that annoyance is nothing compared to the bigger issues that this software is plagued with. Proud of my new laptop, I wanted to see how it fared in the built-in benchmarking tool. The benchmark seemed to be running as I saw command windows in the background opening and closing.  Upon completion, each of the categories (processor, graphics, RAM, hard disk) received a 0%.  I decided not to share that score on Facebook or compare it with others online.   The benchmark tool did work on my desktop though.  

    GameCaptr
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Mobile phone integration with real time stats and the option to control game recordings through the app; out of date driver notifications
    Weak Points: Streaming and benchmarking features are broken along with the ability to report the bugs; no updates or fixes in months

    When I first installed this application, I was still in possession of my Asus i7 laptop with a Nvidia 660M graphics chip and I was able to stream once or twice with it.  However, the mobile app connectivity did not work because it timed out before I was able to authorize it on the laptop application.  I was able to get the app to function on my desktop with an AMD R290X, but the streaming would not work. Now that I have my new laptop, I can’t even get GameCaptr to accept my Twitch stream key which I know is valid as it works with several other programs flawlessly.  

    Posting on the Steam discussion forums was fruitless as I was told these issues would be addressed in an upcoming patch and there hasn’t been any updates since October.  I was told to use the report bug tool, but it gave me an SMTP error when trying to report the issue.  

    GameCaptr

    On a positive note, the phone app looks nice and is easy to navigate.  The Steam app has a few quirks of its own though.  The Steam library integration is nice and you can tweak each of the games or apply the changes to all of the games in your library.  The Twitch key input area isn’t easily accessible unless you click in a specific spot and delete the existing text there.  Sometimes the Twitch servers would run off the screen and make it hard to select the one I preferred.

    The video editor seems straightforward and easy to use.  It's a shame that I never got to test it out with videos that I recorded with GameCaptr.  Given that the main features of this application are clearly broken, I recommend steering clear of this software entirely until the issues have been fixed.

  • Gameshow 3.2

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    Game Info:

    Gameshow 3.2
    Developed by: Telestream
    Release date: August 16, 2016
    Available on: Windows, Mac
    Price: $29 with a year’s worth of updates

    Thank you Telestream for giving us a license key!

    We have been recording gameplay videos for a few years and have done many streams on Twitch, Hitbox, and Youtube Gaming.  For just recording videos we’ve reviewed and continue to use Play Claw.  The freely available Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) has served our needs for streaming and has built in support for all of the popular game streaming services plus some that I have never heard of.  So if the free software works well, why pay for another product?

    Gameshow has a lot of advantages over OBS including lower CPU utilization, many handy widgets, and attractive templates. Some of my favorite widgets for Gameshow include the social media icons and a twitch chatbox that required a third party plugin to function.  There is donation status support that integrates imraising.tv, but it had difficulty connecting even though I had the API key in place.

    Gameshow is reasonably priced at $29 for a lifetime license and a year's worth of updates.  If you would like to continue to get updates, you’ll have to pay $29 for another twelve months’ worth.  Updates come about every three weeks and the software will notify you when an update is available.  I did experience a couple of days where I kept getting prompted to update despite running the most recent installer.  When a true update came out, the prompts went away.  

    Gameshow
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Plenty of tutorial videos to get you started; handy widgets for social media, chat, and donation awareness
    Weak Points: Different games may need their own configuration file which means you’ll be spending time setting up, positioning, and tweaking all of the widgets several times over

    There are many nice features in Gameshow and when you set up a profile for a game you can choose between several pre-existing templates for popular games like Minecraft, Destiny, StarCraft II, World of Warcraft, Counter Strike Global, League of Legends, Grand Theft Auto, and several more created by users for free.  If none of those templates strike your fancy you can go with a blank template, just the game, or game plus a camera.  I used the game + cam setup for my streams.  

    Once the template is chosen you’ll get to enter the name of the game you’re playing and what platform (Twitch, Youtube Gaming, Hitbox) you’ll be streaming to.  You’ll also get to choose your encoder and quality settings to determine the resolution and FPS you’re aiming for.  I left this setting at default to reduce stuttering and lag.  

    There are three layers to work with and I generally had the social media widget on the first layer, the game + cam on the second, and the third layer would have my twitch chatbox or donation widget.  You can set some basic settings for the widgets like their dimensions and alignment, but they often need some further refining.  In theory you can drag and drop them into place, but many of them caused the video feed to move instead.  Sometimes I have accidentally moved the widgets into the wrong layer and I couldn’t figure out how to move them back or intentionally in general.   

    Gameshow

    The widgets have preview and live modes and you can see what the final product looks like in preview, preview plus live, or just the live mode.  Once you have it set to your liking you can stream and/or record your gaming session. 

    My first couple of recordings had the gaming audio over-powering my microphone input.  OBS is easy when it comes to adjusting the speaker versus microphone volume levels.  There are two slider bars on the main screen.  In Gameshow I had to double click on my game + cam widget and then select the game + cam layer and then go to the audio tab to lower the volume.  I then repeated the process for the microphone to verify that it remained at 100%.  Tweaking the audio is totally possible, but it takes several more steps.  

    Gameshow’s website claims that you can be streaming in seconds but to get everything just right it took several minutes to set everything up.  The final product certainly does look nice and it is worth the effort.  If you’re unsure of parting with $29 you can check out the free demo and take it for a spin.  Be sure to watch the helpful videos and you’ll be streaming like a pro.

  • Magic DVD Copier


    Magic DVD Copier System Requirements: · Windows XP/2000/2003 · Pentium III 733 MHz · 128 MB of RAM · 8 GB of Free Hard Disk Space · A DVD Writer Drive I have a toddler at home who loves her Baby Einstein DVD’s. So much so that she often ejects and inserts them into the DVD player by herself. This can result in fingerprints, smudges and worst of all, scratches on these DVDs. Magic DVD Copier is a $35 program that allows me to make backups of my DVDs. It doesn’t matter what size the DVD is because it can compress it to fit onto one DVD disc at the cost of image quality. If you don’t want to lose picture quality you can burn one DVD to 2 discs or better yet just burn the movie without the previews or special features etc.

    Do I need a PHD to run this program?

    This program is so easy I think my grandma can operate it. It automatically detects your burner and your source drive for you. It even detected a good drive to use for temp space for me. All you need to do is insert the DVDs and click on Go, and the program will do the rest. There is even a check box to have it shut down your machine when it’s done. I tested that feature out and it works.

    What can this program do?

    Here is the list of features mentioned on their site: · Copy DVD movie to blank DVD in 1:1 mode · Compress a DVD9 movie to a 4.7 GB blank DVD · Split a DVD9 movie to two 4.7 GB blank DVDs without any loss of quality · Copy main movie only · Copy DVD movie to hard drive and burn DVD movie from hard drive · Remove all the restrictions of DVD (CSS, Region, RCE, Sony ARccOS, PuppetLock) · High speed, copy a full DVD disc in 1:1 mode within 20-40 minutes · Very easy to use, just by one click This program works as advertised. It allowed me to copy DVDs that Nero did not let me copy. I now have backups of Baby Einstein Wordsworth (just copied the movie file) and The Incredibles (over 7GB to 4.7GB disc). This program is very easy yet powerful. I ran into no problems using it.

    Advanced Features

    There are many areas you can tweak in the configuration menu. I set it to automatically compress to fit onto one disc. There are more advanced features such as setting the read error tolerance, removing prohibited user operations, and always keeping the DVD menu while splitting. By default the programs will clear the temp space it uses upon finishing.

    Final Thoughts

    If you’re looking for a good DVD backup program I highly recommend looking into this software. There’s a free demo and the price is very reasonable, as I have seen comparable programs for close to $100. Upgrades are free for a year and you get lifetime support. You can buy the software by either getting a digital registration code or by purchasing a CD-Rom for an additional $9.95. Like many programs this software can be used to make illegal copies of movies. I only endorse it for making legit copies of DVDs you already own.

  • MiniTool Partition Wizard Pro 11.5

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    Software Info:

    MiniTool Partition Wizard Pro 11.5
    Developed by: MiniTool
    Version reviewed: 11.5
    Price: $39 for one year of updates, $59 for lifetime upgrades

    Thank you MiniTool for sending us a Pro license code to review!

    We recently reviewed Aomei’s Partition Assistant Professional and were pleasantly surprised with all of the features it offered. Both Aomei and MiniTool have free versions of their utilities, but some of the advanced features require a Professional license to use them. Though both programs allow you to recover data from a partition level, in order to use Partition Wizard’s data recovery feature, you need to have the $99 Ultimate license.

    The Professional version has lots of great utilities that go above and beyond partition creating, resizing, deleting, and copying. If you’re concerned about the integrity of your drive, you can run a surface test on it to detect bad blocks. As long as the drive has been initialized in Windows, you can run a customizable speed test on it. You can change the sizes of the files and the length of the cooldown time between tests.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Lots of handy utilities along with easy partition management
    Weak Points: Data recovery support is $99 with lifetime upgrades

    If you’re switching out your hard drive/SSD you can easily copy the partitions or the entire drive using this software. There is a wizard for cloning a hard drive to SSD which is handy since many people upgrading to SSD are migrating over to a smaller drive.

    When you want to securely erase your drive there are many methods available in this software. You can quickly fill the sectors with zeros or ones. Filling the sectors with ones and zeroes takes a little more time. The drive can also be erased three or seven times over using Department of Defense (DoD) standards.

    There are several master boot record (MBR) utilities including the ability to rebuild it or convert it to Globally Unique Identifier (GUID) partition table (GPT). GPT is the newer standard that supports UEFI. One nice benefit of GPT is the support for more than four primary partitions. In fact, GPT can support up to 128 primary partitions. With that many partitions, this program will be invaluable when it comes to keeping track of them all!

    This application is pretty straightforward and easy to use. The Windows 10-like interface has all of the main features one click away at the launch screen. When creating or changing partitions, the changes will not take effect until you apply them. You’ll get a standard disclaimer that overwriting partitions will delete any data that is there. Make sure you know what you're doing or else you’ll have to put your faith in the recovery tools!

    If you’re in the market for swapping, changing, or upgrading your drives MiniTool Partition Wizard is worth looking into. The free version can do many of the important features with the exception of changing the cluster size and going from NTFS to FAT. The data recovery mode lets you see what files can be recovered before spending the $99 on the license to actually restore them. You have nothing to lose and lots of cool utilities to gain with MiniTool Partition Wizard Pro 11.5.

  • OpenMW

    OpenMW

    Sometimes the classics never fall out of fashion, and when it comes to gaming, The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind is considered a timeless classic.

    However, the developers behind the project this review discusses feared the game engine would eventually be unable to keep parity with the advance of technology, and even now it still needs supplementary programs to fix issues dating back to 2002, so they decided to create an open-source re-implementation of the TES3 engine called OpenMW.

    OpenMW is a cross-platform re-implementation of the TES3 executable code and game editor written from scratch that supports Microsoft Windows, MacOS, and Linux based desktop/laptop PCs of multiple processor architectures. It requires a legal copy of the original assets of TES3 (though it is also possible to load original assets for original projects and some experimental tests prove compatibility with assets from later Elder Scrolls games), after which one can use this to run Morrowind without the original game executable, which was a 32-bit only Microsoft Windows exclusive application.

    OpenMW is currently in beta, Version - 0.45 is the current stable release at the time of this writing, but even at this early date it is possible to complete the main game campaign of the original Morrowind without any major issues, and already have fixed many issues that were impossible to fix in the original engine code.

    OpenMW

    Graphical enhancements are theoretically unlimited, and while the engine is still hobbled by the animation engine of Morrowind being fairly primitive (and they had to design to accommodate this for now), the current progress of OpenMW allows for many modern shader-based features that the original engine could never support. It's includes distant land generation as a stock engine feature, and in it's 64-bit state has no theoretical cap on memory save the limits of the user's computer, which allows for a lot more graphical assets to be displayed while maintaining a high framerate.

    Sound and video support are fully implemented using open source alternatives for the original middleware needed to render both, and while the engine is unable to resolve some issues that plagued the original engine regarding certain sound scripting, all sound and video from the original data plays more or less perfectly.

    Controls are much the same as the original game, though OpenMW provides easier movement via the field of view alterations and much more easily remappable controls. Stability is also greatly improved, and while it still has issues relating to their engine that is still being actively worked on, many engine stability issues from the original executable code have been dealt with and are no longer a problem, and the game crashes due to problems that plagued the original engine is nigh nonexistent.

    OpenMW

    However, the project does have some limitations and concerns. Legally, Bethesda Softworks has given the project their blessing, but have expressed strong disapproval of porting the engine to run commercial assets on non-desktop/laptop PCs. Legal arrangements have been made to assure Bethesda this is not the intentions of the developers. While they cannot prevent their code from being open-source and thus complied to do so by third parties, legally the OpenMW developers do not support or sanction such matters as a "first-class" citizen, meaning, this is not their primary goal (at least for rendering any commercial assets owned by Bethseda themselves). Original content that does not rely on commercial assets owned by Bethseda is completely acceptable for use in any non-computer port, a condition the OpenMW developers have agreed to support.

    From the standpoint of the modding community there is no built-in support for certain scripting programs that have made the original game far more extensible. Support for many of the most common features is already part of the OpenMW engine and plans to port the functionality of many popular third-party tools and coding extensions have been discussed and such would not be overly hard to do in many cases. In short, modders may possibly see many third party extensions integrated into later builds at some point.

    Overall, this project is still very much a work in progress at the time of this writing. Regardless, it shows a considerable amount of promise in achieving complete parity with the TES3 executable and game editor code. It already can serve as a quite well featured (if still incomplete in some areas) open-source replacement of the original Morrowind engine, meaning those other than people who have 32-bit compatible Microsoft Windows operating systems will have a viable way to enjoy Morrowind and other games made using the tools provided by this project's engine for many years to come.

  • OpenRA

    OpenRA

    In the world of real-time strategy games, one of the undisputed masters of this craft is Westwood Studios. Their creation of Dune II and later Command and Conquer: Tiberian Dawn put them on the map for pioneering a new game genre. Command and Conquer: Red Alert only burnished their image as RTS pioneers and added more laurels to their crown. Except for Dune II and it's remade update Dune 2000, the aforementioned C&C TD/RA games are now freeware, and with the advent of the OpenRA engine, easily enjoyable on modern computers.

    OpenRA is a cross-platform engine recreation for the games Dune 2000 and the first generation of Command and Conquer games. This engine will work on all modern-day operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. However, before the engine is discussed, the games it supports are another matter.

    Dune 2000: While supported, this game is NOT in the public domain as freeware, it must be legally acquired (in its original CD format or copied to digital ISO equivalent) so its files can be used as a basis for the engine to play them. Dune II is not supported and is also not freeware.

    Command and Conquer: Tiberian Dawn: (also called C&C1) was legally made freeware in 2007, and that includes the Covert Operations expansion. The Sole Survivor spinoff is not covered by this engine (either legally or with support for it) and is not required.

    Command and Conquer: Red Alert: This was legally made freeware in 2008, alongside its expansion packs Counterstrike and Aftermath. The Retaliation PSX game is not supported, nor any of its content, and remains a commercial product.

    All the freeware game CD images needed for OpenRA are available in multiple places on the internet, though it is highly advised to obtain them from the places recommended in the OpenRA official help documentation, some versions are poorly dumped and cannot have their content imported by OpenRA. OpenRA can work without the freeware files, installing a barebones version needed to play basic singleplayer and multiplayer.

    OpenRA is not an exact source port, it is a reverse-engineered engine that is supposed to emulate the first-generation of Westwood's RTS games (which all used the same code), and while accurate for the most part, it also comes with many quality of life features like higher resolutions, improved UI, and other enhancements to improve fidelity and keep networked gaming stable. Modding support is also fully supported, both for the engine (which is open-source) and for the game content, so the engine and the content it can support by modders are fully open to modification. While it's code is currently adapted for the 1st-gen Westwood games, it's creators intend to make it support the second generation of Westwood games, especially since Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun and it's Firestorm expansion are now also freeware, but this support remains a work in progress at the time of this writing.

    The only significant criticisms of OpenRA are its multi-player bias and its lack of improvements to the base game files in terms of quality and fidelity. As to the first criticism, while the single-player component is generally stable and the levels playable as originally intended, OpenRA's feature set is set towards making multi-player long-term viable, with the single-player seemingly playing second-fiddle. Admittedly, this could also have been said of the original games, but it is more pronounced for this engine given the feature set is heavily focused on the multiplayer enhancement side of things.

    As to the other complaint, EA Games (the current holders of Westwood's properties) have confirmed they are working with Petroglyph (which has many former Westwood alumni) on complete remasters of the C&C games OpenRA covers, only they will be upgrading the visual assets and basing their remaster on the original (as in, not reverse-engineered from scratch) source code used when the games in question were first released. The time of the release of this remastering is yet to be announced at the time of this writing, but the OpenRA project does not compete with it and there have been no objections from EA to OpenRA in any form.

    If one wants to experience the games covered by OpenRA at present and wants to do so without complicated and often difficult workarounds to make them work on modern computers that poorly run them in this day and age, you could do a lot worse than OpenRA. And more importantly, if one is a Dune 2000 or first-generation Command and Conquer fan, this engine is a free, open-source way to relive some RTS nostalgia for games that defined an entire genre for all time.

  • Play Claw

    Many reviewers and gamers like to capture multiple screenshots and even videos of their game play. Play Claw can capture video, screenshots, display the frames per second, and it can even display TeamSpeak information so you know who is talking to you in multiplayer games. You can have PlayClaw launch with Windows, and it can run minimized or in your system tray. I prefer the latter.

    As a Vista 64 user I have often taken many black screenshots and with Play Claw I get good screenshots every time. It sure beats having to do a print screen, end my game, and paste it in paint and then restart my game again and repeat. You can bind whatever key you want for taking screenshots and you can choose the format to save it in (BMP, JPG, PNG, TGA). The quality and saving location can be adjusted as well.

    The screenshot and video capturing didn\'t make the system take too horrible of a performance hit on my system, but it was noticeable. If you\'re playing a game like TrackMania where every 100th of a second can count, DON\'T capture screenshots and expect to win the race. In all fairness, Fraps has the same performance hit.

    If you want to benchmark, you can see your frame rate and even overlay the value onto your screenshots. The location of the FPS counter can be customized or disabled altogether.

    There\'s a lot of options when it comes to capturing video. If you have a multi-core system you can choose how many cores to dedicate to PlayClaw. The size of the video will be determined by how compressed it will be, and there\'s low and high compression as well as no compression options available. Capturing full or half of the frame size will affect the file size as well. You can set the capture frame rate to 15, 30, or 60.

    Sound can be captured as well, but it may take a few tries to get it configured right. The sound options will vary with the different sound drivers out there. The video is saved in .avi format and it uses its own codec which is problematic if you want to upload the video to youtube. If you want to upload and share your video on a site like tangle or youtube you\'ll have to convert the file first. There are some free utilities out there that can do it but the ones I tried either didn\'t recognize the video or I lost the sound afterward. According to the developers, future versions will have more codecs/software supported. When I record video using FRAPS I can edit and upload the video to youtube with no problems. For this review I hoped to post a comparative video, but only FRAPS gave me something that I could easily share. I gave up on my Play Claw captured video.

    I didn\'t have any problems running Play Claw, but while it was running some of my media programs were not closing gracefully. It\'s not the end of the world, but a little annoying.

    Play Claw has a 30 day demo that will watermark your screenshots and limit your video recording to 30 seconds. The FRAPS demo has the same limitations. Play Claw costs $30, which is $7 cheaper than FRAPS.

    Interface 10/10
    Stability 8/10
    Value 16/20
    Usability 40/60
     
    Overall 74%
  • RPG Maker 2000 (PC)

     

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    Game Info:

    RPG Maker 2000
    Developed By: KADOKAWA
    Published By: Degica
    Released: July 13, 2015
    Available On: Microsoft Windows
    Genre: Game Development, RPG
    ESRB Rating: None specified
    Number of Players: Singleplayer
    Price: $24.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Piracy is generally bad, and RPG Maker 2000 was widely pirated when it came out, unofficially translated to English, and English speakers made lots of games with their illegal copies of RPG Maker 2000 that nurtured a community that the developers officially legitimized with the official English translation of RPG Maker XP. Now, enhanced with backported features from later makers and given an official translation, RPG Maker 2000 is a blast from the past.

    RPG Maker 2000 is one of the earlier makers in the series, and as such was made when 64-bit systems were not common and when graphics, audio, and overall expectations were much cruder. As a result, despite being enhanced with UI changes like in later makers, this lacks custom scripting extensions with languages like Ruby or Javascript.

    Like every other maker in the series, this is a top-down, 2D tile-based RPG creation engine. Control is done with the keyboard and mouse to change database objects and create maps. There are two layers on maps, an upper and lower layer, which allows some illusion of height mapping or placing some map areas above others. For example, being able to walk under certain overhanging objects. Aside from maps, customization of your game is limited to whatever tweaks you make in the database and whatever resources you use, either the default ones or those provided from other sources.

    RPG Maker 2000
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Ideal for creation of retro RPGs
    Weak Points: Poor full-screen scaling
    Moral Warnings: Optional turn-based RPG violence, if the combat subsystems are used in a game project

    Graphically, the style is quite simple, very early NES style fantasy graphics, very reminiscent of the Dragon Quest series. Character sprites are tall, not super-deformed like in later makers, and they also fit the high fantasy NES style. Enemy battler graphics have a bright and cartoony motif, as the color palette is limited as was standard on early, Windows-based computers. Resource graphics are limited to BMP, PNG, and the now nearly extinct XYZ format, retained for compatibility reasons with older projects from the original release era.

    Sound is rendered in chiptune style MIDI, though WAV and MP3 formats can be used and uploaded for one's projects if they prefer. The sound effects and music again fit the high fantasy RPG aesthetic perfectly. Controls are limited to the keyboard when playtesting or playing games made with the engine, though the mouse is available when using the editor itself.

    Stability is a mixed topic. While the source code was cleaned up as best as possible and made compatible with modern computers and many small tweaks from later makers to update the user interface, full-screen mode looks terrible. RPG Maker 2000 can only play games at a very small-windowed resolution, and it's not recommended to play in low contrast settings due to the art style of the UI not handling color shifts well. This does work well in Wine/Proton on Linux as well as it does on Windows with no discernable differences to my knowledge.

    RPG Maker 2000
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    There is an interesting "amnesty" built into the program for those who used the pirated version of 2000. It is possible to import a project made used the pirated version and update key files in it to work with the modern fixes so they will function properly. It's not perfect, some graphics files in the pirated and legitimate versions were named differently, meaning some improperly referenced graphics will need to be fixed manually. Some database information may not port completely intact as well. Otherwise, this allows those who used the pirated version to legitimize their games for distribution with modern-day updates.

    Morally, there is very little to complain about.

    Violence is of the turn-based RPG variety, should the creator of a game choose to include any combat. Language is entirely up to the creator to decide if they want to remain clean or profane as well.

    Sexual content is practically nonexistent. The incredibly limited colors and art style do not lend well to anything other than simple, cartoony sprites and pictures, even the enemy sprites are tame. There are no occult references like pentagrams in the stock art files, and any references to anything of an occult nature are purely up to game designers. Any degree of unethical behavior is also up to the developer, should they wish to include it.

    Overall, since buying this fairly cheap program gives you a license to use its assets in other RPG Maker programs, it's worth buying if that is your goal or you want to make an RPG game on a very retro-based engine. The latter can be done with custom art and music on the later engines, so you may not find this ideal if you intend to go that route. Morally, this is about the tamest engine in the entire franchise, suitable for all ages. While not my personal favorite from the franchise by any means, I'm still pleased to say it's a worthy purchase for diehard RPG Maker fans.

  • RPG Maker 2003 (PC)

     

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    Software Info:

    RPG Maker 2003
    Developed By: KADOKAWA
    Published By: Degica
    Released: April 24, 2015
    Available On: Microsoft Windows
    Genre: Game Development, RPG
    ESRB Rating: None specified
    Number of Players: Singleplayer
    Price: $19.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Sometimes something is updated in a way it's not a "sequel", more of a "sidequel" if you will. RPG Maker 2003 is largely based on its predecessor RPG Maker 2000, but does not depart from its basic concepts and largely reuses the same systems and ideas. Instead, it provides some different features that its predecessor did not.

    RPG Maker 2003's largest change is the default "side-view" battle system, much like the Final Fantasy games on the NES/SNES, as opposed to the "front-view" battle mode seen in games like Dragon Quest. There are some improvements to some 2000 features, but this is quite minor compared to the change in the battle system, as the two are otherwise nigh identical under the hood.

    Like every other maker in the series, this is a top-down, 2D tile-based RPG creation engine. Control is done with the keyboard and mouse to change database objects and create maps. There are two layers on maps, an upper and lower layer, which allows some illusion of height mapping or placing some map areas above others. For example, being able to walk under certain overhanging objects. Aside from maps, customization of your game is limited to whatever tweaks you make in the database and whatever resources you use, either the default ones or those provided from other sources.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Built-in support for side-view battle engines
    Weak Points: Not much original to offer as opposed to RPG Maker 2000
    Moral Warnings: Partial nudity in some female battler sprites; references to necromancers and demons with some of the enemy names and graphics provided by default

    Graphically, the style is quite simple, very early NES style fantasy graphics. very reminiscent of the Dragon Quest series. Character sprites are tall, not super-deformed like in later makers, and they also fit the high fantasy NES style. Enemy battler graphics have a bright and cartoony motif, as the color palette is limited as was standard on early, Windows-based computers. Resource graphics are limited to BMP, PNG, and the now nearly extinct XYZ format, retained for compatibility reasons with older projects from the original release era.

    Sound is rendered in chiptune style MIDI, though WAV and MP3 formats can be used and uploaded for one's projects if they prefer. The sound effects and music again fit the high fantasy RPG aesthetic perfectly. Controls are limited to the keyboard when playtesting or playing games made with the engine, though the mouse is available when using the editor itself.

    While a lot of the above is true for RPG Maker 2000, there are some changes. Due to supporting side-view battle modes, there are now options for character animations in combat you can modify and import new graphics for. The enemy battlers take a lot of inspiration from the Shin Megami Tensei games, having a pronounced "mythological potpourri" theme. The engine still has no custom scripting, but the eventing engine has been improved to the point one could greatly modify the battles to have features only scripting would make possible in later makers.

    The stability is slightly better than in 2000. Full-screen mode scales better and with much more fidelity than in 2000. The color palette is slightly less washed out in this mode as well, so the overall quality is far less impacted even on very wide monitors. This program also runs with a decent degree of success using Wine/Proton in Linux.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 78%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 6/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 3/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    There is an interesting "amnesty" built into the program for those who used the pirated version of 2003. It is possible to import a project made used the pirated version and update key files in it to work with the modern fixes so they will function properly. It's not perfect, some graphics files in the pirated and legitimate versions were named differently, meaning some improperly referenced graphics will need to be fixed manually. Some database information may not port completely intact as well. Otherwise, this allows those who used the pirated version to legitimize their games for distribution with modern-day updates.

    Morally, we have a bit more to be concerned about compared to RPG Maker 2000.

    Violence is of the turn-based RPG variety, should the creator of a game choose to include any combat. Language is entirely up to the creator to decide if they want to remain clean or profane as well.

    Sexual content is somewhat more prevalent in the enemy battler graphics. Even though it is in very low resolution, there is some partial female nudity for some of the female monsters. Some enemy battlers in the stock content reference necromancers and demons in terms of names and depictions. There are no occult references like pentagrams in the stock art files, and any references to anything of an occult nature are purely up to game designers otherwise. Any degree of unethical behavior is also up to the developer, should they wish to include it.

    Overall, since buying this fairly cheap program gives you a license to use its assets in other RPG Maker programs, it worth buying if that is your goal or you want to make an RPG game on a very retro-based engine. The latter can be done with custom art and music on the later engines, so you may not find this ideal if you intend to go that route. Morally, this is somewhat less tame than its predecessor if you stick with the stock resources, though otherwise suitable for all ages. While not my personal favorite from the franchise by any means, I'm still pleased to say it is a worthy purchase for diehard RPG Maker fans.

  • RPG Maker MV (PC)

     

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    Game Info:

    RPG Maker MV
    Developed By: KADOKAWA, Yoji Ojima
    Published By: Degica
    Released: October 23, 2015
    Available On: macOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux
    Genre: RPG, Game Creation
    ESRB Rating: None specified
    Number of Players: Singleplayer
    Price: $79.99

    Note: This covers the PC release of RPG Maker MV. There is an upcoming port to the Switch at the time of this writing, but it is a console oriented port with some key differences and thus is not a direct port of the PC version despite similar appearances.

    Sometimes long-running franchises decide to run what looks like the same vehicle, but they switch out a new engine under the hood in the hopes of better long-term performance after an attempt to upgrade the overall franchise model. Sometimes this, while generally successful, is a mixed blessing in terms of performance and usability, as has proven to be the case with RPG Maker MV.

    RPG Maker MV is the sequel to RPG Maker VX Ace, which was the pinnacle of the series prior in terms of potential and community support. MV went in several different new directions from VX Ace, including switching to a multi-platform capable engine and using Javascript instead of Ruby as its extensible scripting codebase. Some limited compatibility between the preceding makers is retained, such as the ability to use VX Ace sized tiles (32 x 32) as opposed to MV's (48 x 48), but otherwise, MV is not directly compatible with prior makers.

    Like all RPG Makers, it is a top-down, 2D-based, roleplaying game creation program, specifically for turn-based RPGs by default. It uses a tile-based format as well, though the backend is now powered by a variant of the open-source Chromium web browser, meaning games created with this game creator can be made to run on multiple platforms, whereas previous makers were limited to Microsoft Windows, with varying levels of unofficial support for Linux and macOS. This engine supports all platforms mentioned officially, even having a considerable degree of support for official Android and iPhone ports of finished games.

    RPG Maker MV
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Provides an easy to understand GUI for creation of RPG style games; Javascript-based scripting engine enables lots of flexibility in the hands of a skilled coder
    Weak Points: Poorly optimized web-based backend that can lead to bad performance; resource-hungry engine not suited for weaker computers
    Moral Warnings: Optional RPG style violence; stock enemy battlers include references to demons, necromancy, and occult themes; some stock female monster art are a bit on the risque and scantily clad side

    Graphically, not much has changed since RPG Maker VX Ace, as both engines have a colorful palette that tends towards high fantasy in PNG format. MV does include some default modern/sci-fi tiles and characters with some cyberpunk and grunge influences as well. The basic enemy battlers are far less generic "high fantasy" compared to VX Ace, though they tend towards the cartoony and even bizarre in theme, though they tend to be less "adaptable" for redrawing and remixing into alternative resources due to looking more unique. Animations, battle backgrounds, and a lot of other art assets are highly similar if not identical to RPG Maker VX Ace's stock resources, though in some cases are resized and upscaled since MV has a higher default resolution for rendering. There is a LOT of official DLC and community resources for any other theme one wishes, so the stock resources are by no means all that is available.

    The musical styling is still high fantasy-oriented like VX Ace, though the quality is somewhat better and both OGG and M4A are offered by default, though MP3 is still viable for use. Both music and sound effects tend towards the orchestral as opposed to being almost entirely synthesized, which may not be the best fit for all games, though MV has a wide range of resources and official DLC for whatever genre you prefer. Controls are the same as any other RPG Maker. Keyboard and mouse are used to navigate the editor portion, while games can make use of a variety of control schemes, include gamepads and even touch supported controls.

    Stability is a checkered topic because of the Javascript scripting and the move towards a Chromium-based engine. On the positive side of the ledger, Javascript is in many ways a quicker language than Ruby in some cases and much more widely adaptable to certain cases, leaving MV free to perform custom tasks even VX Ace could not do. On the less positive side, due to retaining PNG style animation style sheets (which can load slowly in some games), music trying to load all at once instead of streaming on-demand, and MV being surprisingly resource-heavy due to the Chromium-based engine demanding a LOT of processor power, this engine, and games made for it tend to sputter and die on low-end PCs.

    Both editor and games, in general, can run quite well on multiple platforms, though it is heavily advised to build released games for specific platforms, like making one build tailored for Windows and another for Linux. On a sufficiently resource-heavy computer (anything with a reasonably fast multi-core processor and some form of a dedicated graphics card), only the most poorly optimized games will register slowdown, but much weaker computers may find this program runs rather poorly for playtesting and releasing finished games.

    RPG Maker MV
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 75%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 6.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 4/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Morally, we have some potential issues.

    Violence is of the "give orders and watch it happen" RPG style, either in a front-view or side-view combat engine (assuming you include combat in your games), otherwise violence is not a factor. Language can be as clean or depraved as the creator intends, this is entirely up to the discretion of the game programmer.

    The stock enemy graphics do reference things like demons, the undead, and various other stock trappings of fantasy RPGs, and there is a rather generic "God" enemy, though not identified with any particular faith or real-world religion by default. There is also some skimpy clothing and the requisite "Succubus" stock enemy included, but this is still nothing more than skimpy yet covered up in appearance. There aren't too many other red flags in the stock provided art save the usual, hexagram shaped generic "magic circles", should you wish to add a mystical or occult flavor to your game world, but this remains optional. Morally and ethically, all content is dependent on the intent of the designer.

    At the time of this writing, RPG Maker MZ is now an option, and while it's recommended as a much improved and enhanced successor to MV, MV is still well worth acquiring if possible, as it provides a license to use MV assets in other engines and a lot of MZ improvements can be backported to MV projects. MV projects can also be transferred to MZ as well, making it worth having both since they share a lot of engine similarities under the hood.

    For the purchase price, MV is a fairly reasonable product, and has some features MZ dropped that may make it attractive on its own despite some noted performance issues. Morally, aside from the above-mentioned notes on the stock resources, this is a product otherwise suited to all ages old enough to understand the basics of using a game creation program and is strongly recommended for those who want to make their own RPGs.

  • RPG Maker MV (Switch)

     

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    Game Info:

    RPG Maker MV
    Developed By: KADOKAWA CORPORATION
    Published By: NIS America
    Released: September 08, 2020
    Available On: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
    Genre: RPG, Game Creation
    ESRB Rating: E10+ (Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco)
    Number of Players: Singleplayer, Multiplayer (users can share created games)
    Price: $49.99

    Note: This concerns the Switch console port of RPG Maker MV. While sharing many resources and features with the PC version, it has many key differences that make it a separate product.

    I'd like to thank NIS America for the review key for this game.

    Console ports of game creation software typically have two problems. Not only do they have to adapt it for use on consoles, but they also have to modify those creation tools to work with and around console limitations. RPG Maker MV for the Nintendo Switch does an admirable job in this regard.

    Based on the PC version, RPG Maker MV for consoles is much the same. It's a top-down, tile-based game engine for the creation of RPG games. It lacks the custom scripting features of the PC version and is not compatible with MV PC in any way due to various technical and legal issues. To compensate for this, the console version has a lot of extra content and custom online interactivity features unique to the console port.

    Graphically, the stock graphics draw from the same well as MV, except the console port ships with over double the stock MV resources, including some content that had to be purchased as separate DLC in the PC version. There is a very mild bit of aliasing seen in the game editor in some windows, but this doesn't appear to show up in the playtesting and finished games. On top of fantasy and modern/sci-fi graphical assets, the console version ships with material for Japanese, Chinese, Steampunk, and Dark Fantasy style games. All the graphics have a vibrant if slightly cartoony style for the most part. Finally, more DLC has been promised to become available as in-app purchases, with some as free bonuses.

    RPG Maker MV
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Excellent port of PC version to consoles; lots of base content included for custom game creation
    Weak Points: Controls require practice to get used to
    Moral Warnings: Optional RPG style violence; some mildly suggestive female character art; depiction of demons and mythical beings in a generic fantasy context; some optional generic magic circle art usable by game creators

    Music and sounds are much the same as in MV PC, except there is a LOT more of it, and MV PC's love of orchestral music/sound effects abounds alongside music to fit the various graphical themes mentioned above. Like the graphics, more will become available as in-app purchased DLC and free bonuses over time. There are also voiced lines for characters to use in games and voiced music for different events, the former provided by Japanese voice actors, the latter is in quite good English.

    Controls are the big game-changer, as the constraints of the console forced the developers to ditch the keyboard/mouse controls of the PC for something entirely different. Instead, it makes heavy use of toggling through menus via the directional pad and various buttons. For the parts that require text, an in-app keyboard is displayed and the engine includes a parser for common English words to make long displays of text easier to type. There is an unskippable tutorial where you are walked through the basics the first time around, and it's quite useful with that in mind. If you migrated from the PC MV to the console MV, this control scheme change will likely throw you for a loop, but it can be adjusted to with a bit of practice.

    Stability is generally improved from the PC version, albeit with some caveats. Load times are generally not unreasonable, being a few seconds at worst, though there are some very rare issues with maps not loading properly. This can be easily fixed by simply reloading the map. Another issue is that the sound manager can have a similar issue, which is also fixable by reloading the sound-select screen. Otherwise, this is a quite stable product.

    As for the online features, not all of them could be tested fully since this review was written before release. I can confirm the game posting and submission forum is functional, offering free login bonuses of extra resources daily for doing so. Interaction is generally limited to the sharing of games created with the editor for players of the game itself and they can also be played by downloading a free "MV Player" (which would be the Run Time Package for PC) that allows even those who don't own the game editor to play games made by it via Nintendo Online. Connection times are reasonable, and cloud saves are supported for saving valuable space on your Switch.

    RPG Maker MV
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 84%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 82%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 8/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 6/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Morally, while similar to the PC port of MV, there are some additional resources included that will be covered in more detail.

    Violence is RPG style "give orders and watch it happen", of the bloodless and goreless variety. This is true for both front and side-view combat modes, should a game have combat included. Language can be as crass or clean as the creator desires, there is no inbuilt censorship of anyone being able to add any sort of profanity by default. Parents can restrict that by using the Parental Control features provided by an external downloadable app, should they be concerned about the sharing of foul language via the in-game text parser.

    Sexual content is on par with the stock version of MV for PC, with some female enemy battlers and artwork being a bit revealing, but no worse generally than exposed midriffs and mild cleavage. Overall, nothing worse than could be seen on a PG-rated daytime TV show.

    There are the usual references to demons, gods, and Hell in a few names of enemy characters, used in a generic fantasy sense. The "magic circle" artwork typical to most games varies depending on the theme. The Fantasy/Modern set uses the classic hexagram look, the Arabian set uses a generic stylized "eye", the Japanese/Chinese sets opt for a generic "yin-yang" symbol, and the Dark Fantasy set has a generic eight-pointed runic circle. None of the above are further complimented by real-world religious or occult symbology, merely being available for adding a mystical element to map set pieces.

    Morals and ethics are entirely at the discretion of the game creator, games can be as clean or perverse as the game designer intends. The online features do have a rating system, so it's possible to avoid objectionable created games to some extent if the need arises.

    On the whole, for the asking price, this is a recommended product if you want a portable RPG Maker, though I heavily recommend the PC version should you desire the use of custom resources and scripting features. Morally, this is suitable for most children, and parents can opt for further filtering of some online and language features if that is a concern.

  • RPG Maker MZ (PC)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    RPG Maker MZ
    Developed By: KADOKAWA, Yoji Ojima
    Published By: Degica
    Released: August 20, 2020
    Available On: macOS, Microsoft Windows
    Genre: RPG, Game Development
    ESRB Rating None specified
    Number of Players: Singleplayer
    Price: $79.99

    Note: Soon after publication, an error was pointed out via a Disqus commenter on this article in that I referred to a feature for changing tile sizes as if it were a removed stock feature when it was never a stock feature of the previous RPG Maker MV. I have since fixed the error and regret the misinformation included prior to this retraction.

    I would like to thank Degica for the review key for this game.

    In 2015, RPG Maker MV was released. It dared to be different and innovative with a multi-platform engine, Javascript as a scripting extension base, and tried to shake-up the RPG Maker brand with several new features. It had some performance issues and undershot some expectations, so the creators took the lessons learned and made RPG Maker MZ.

    Like all RPG Makers, MZ is a top-down, 2D tile-based engine for creating RPG games. And, like in MV, it still uses a Chromium web backend for cross-compatibility with more than just Windows, though the editor is limited to just Windows and macOS support for now. Linux support is likely to follow since MZ shares a lot in common with MV, though ETA on that is unknown at this time. It still retains compatibility with all MV formatted resources. Resizing and modifying assets from VX Ace and other RPG Maker engines are still possible to convert to MV/MZ format, if the creator wishes to exercise that option, according to the terms of the RPG Maker EULA.

    MZ also brings a few more things to the table aside from being an improved MV. The animations forego the usual animated PNG files and instead incorporate the Effekseer animation middleware, which allows for more dynamic particle effects and is optimized to run well with MZ's improved backend code. Since VX Ace, the typical if quite underwhelming face generator for characters has gotten a huge overhaul. Prior, VX Ace and MV featured a very basic generator entirely dependent on limited stock templates, proving vastly inferior to customized art tools and manual creations that were done by independent artists. Now, the included character generator ships with many features that allow for creating much more varied character designs. While custom artists won't be out of a job, MZ is much closer to giving the novice their own full-fledged character art engine along with the main editor.

    A few features from earlier Makers also make a proud return alongside a few new ones. The multiple layers feature beloved of RPG Maker XP is back, only it's togglable for those who do not need of its features. The core files of the game engine can now be automatically updated for game projects to keep them current with the latest core script code. Also, the plugin interface of MV now has many quality of life improvements, including the integration of many well-beloved MV plugins into the stock engine via the database, and the custom plugins are now easier to toggle on and off.

    RPG Maker MZ
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Greatly improved stability; many more features and stock content compared to preceding Makers; lots of quality of life enhancements to the editor
    Weak Points: Some features from MV excised that make compatibility with older makers easier
    Moral Warnings: RPG style violence if combat is enabled; References to demons and the undead in stock enemy graphics; some female enemy stock graphics are partially nude (though without explicit details)

    Graphically, I'd call MZ a massive improvement over MV in several regards. MV was in many ways merely a tweaked VX Ace in terms of tilesets, but MZ features many new tiles, all of which are textured in loving detail for both fantasy and modern/sci-fi games. The character art is a refined, vibrant improvement on the already good if flawed MV style. Enemy battler art is MUCH better than in MV, being incredibly detailed, far less cartoony, and the designs are no longer niche and silly looking. The new particle effects provided by Effekseer integration look beautiful and load much faster than the old PNG animations as well. Tweaking the animations in the game editor is also much less complicated.

    Sound and music effects aren't too different from MV, though they do include far more of them by default, and the tracks included even have some techno and ambient aural infusion to go with the MV orchestral emphasis, so they have more variety. Backend improvements to the engine compared to MV means the sounds and music stream on-demand instead of trying to load the whole files all at once, saving valuable processor cycles for other things, and using much less memory. Support for M4A was cut from MV, returning to OGG format by default for reasons of compatibility.

    Controls have not greatly changed since MV. The editor is still driven primarily by mouse and keyboard, though the game interface has been improved to include much more integration for touch support, including clickable drop-down menu integration by default. Like in MV, there is support for controllers and PC gamepads as well.

    Stability across the board is a massive step up from MV. The developers freely admitted on the RPG Maker forums that MV made a lot of mistakes in using a web-based backend, and they have striven to optimize the code in all regimes. Given how the sound and graphics now load much faster when playtesting, I would contend they did a much better job. They also provided finer-grained control over many aspects of the game engine from the game editor, integrating many things that required custom plugins like disabling certain menus, and I'm pleased to report these options work very well.

    I did get reports from some friends of some crashing issues with importing files and some movie playback issues soon after release, though I was unable to replicate these issues.

    RPG Maker MZ
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 92%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 70%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 4/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 4/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Morally, there are a few concerns.

    Violence is the typical RPG style "give commands and watch it happen" variety, should the creator opt to include combat, which can be front-view, side-view, turn-based, action-based, or some combination of all of them. Blood and gore are absent by default.

    Language is again only as foul as the creator wishes, much like in all other Makers. Sexual content is a bit more pronounced compared to MV, as some enemy battlers do show some partial nudity thanks to much higher fidelity in detail in the stock art.

    There are the usual stock references to demons, the undead, and minor occult references in the enemy battler art, though using the stock art is entirely optional. The tilesets curiously now use generic "magic circles" in a snowflake pattern as opposed to the former hexagram/Star of David look they had in earlier makers. This is entirely generic and references no real-world religion or occult symbology to my knowledge.

    Morals and ethics in created games are entirely at the discretion of the game creator, any depravity or glory depicted is limited only to the intentions and game concept of the designer.

    Like all Makers, I highly recommend having more than one Maker; doing so allows the designer to use resources from that Maker in any other RPG Maker engine as specified in the RPG Maker EULA. I especially recommend having both MV and MZ at least, their resources are directly cross-compatible, and this will provide MZ users a vast wealth of resources to use from day one.

    Overall, given RPG Maker MZ costs the same as MV did and provides a lot more by default, I can more than safely say it''s worth the purchase price. Morally, aside from the content noted in the stock resources, it is otherwise suitable for all ages as a game creation tool. As the latest member of the computer-based RPG Makers, as both a fan of the series and as someone who was a bit underwhelmed by MV, this is a refined successor well worth it for the aspiring RPG game creator.

  • RPG Maker VX (PC)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    RPG Maker VX
    Developed By: KADOKAWA
    Published By: Degica
    Released: February 29, 2008
    Available On: Microsoft Windows
    Genre: Game Development, RPG
    ESRB Rating: None specified (games made with this could range from E-AO)
    Number of Players: Singleplayer
    Price: $39.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    RPG Maker VX is an odd duck. In many ways, it seems pointless compared to it's more advanced successor VX Ace, and in some ways is a step back from RPG Maker XP. Regardless, it is available both from the official developers and on Steam, and it still has some utility for game design.

    RPG Maker VX is a top-down, 2D RPG game creation engine. It uses an older variant of the Ruby code from VX Ace, and in many ways feels like a stripped-down "lite" version of VX Ace. It lacks many features from VX Ace like multiple tilesets and the database options are far simpler for tweaking characters and other items in the game.

    Graphically, it has a similar set of stock resources as VX Ace, except with some minor variations, and the art style of the graphics lends itself towards a rougher cartoony style for the enemy graphics especially compared to VX Ace. Since you are limited to a single tileset, options are far more limited for adding new content, so in this regard, VX has much less to offer for designers unless they replace the stock tileset with a different one. Most other elements like character sprites have the super-deformed look as in VX Ace, and many other resources are quite similar to those VX Ace would also use later.

     

    RPG Maker VX
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Has a perfectly arranged engine for easy creation of 2D, top-down, tile-based RPGs
    Weak Points: Limited tilesets; fewer customization features than many other makers
    Moral Warnings: Some cleavage-baring enemy graphics in stock resources; RPG-based violence if the battle engine components are utilized; some occult like imagery available in the stock tilesets and animation files

    Sound in VX defaults to MIDI, albeit high-quality midi appropriate for a high fantasy game, though like VX has support for MP3 and OGG. Sound effects are also in the same vein.

    The controls in VX are nigh identical to VX Ace, being mouse and keyboard-driven, primarily the former. Stability is quite good and while this program is intended for Microsoft Windows, it can run quite well in Wine/Proton on Linux. There is an option to extend the game with custom scripting, but options made by fans tend to be more limited than for other versions of RPG Maker.

    Morally, it's much like VX Ace.

    The violence of the turn-based RPG style is possible if you have combat in your created game. Language is absent unless you choose to add profanity or crude slurs and epithets. The female enemy battlers have some cleavage showing at worst but are otherwise fairly tame, but can be ignored if you don't intend to use them.

    RPG Maker VX
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 84%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 8/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    There are some magic circle graphics (in a hexagram pattern) included by default, should you wish to use them for the atmosphere, but this is not required. Games can be as family-friendly or adult as you design them, so ethical content is entirely up to the creator in terms of how appropriate.

    In essence, this is a stripped-down RPG Maker VX Ace. While not worthwhile on its own, it's still worth getting because RPG Maker resources made ONLY for VX can not be used with other RPG Makers unless you own VX, and since they are perfectly compatible with VX Ace, buying VX is like buying a license to use more fan-created resources than you could before, which I recommend to any RPG Maker fan.

    If possible, I'd get this on sale or as part of something like a Humble Bundle, it's not recommended for use strictly on its own when much better options are available. Regardless, it is still technically sound and worth acquiring if only for the resource licensing benefits, and morally any games made with it are essentially up to you to decide.

  • RPG Maker VX Ace (PC)

     

    boxart
    Software Info:

    RPG Maker VX Ace
    Developed By: KADOKAWA
    Published By: Degica
    Released: December 10, 2012
    Available On: Microsoft Windows
    Genre: Game Development, RPG
    ESRB Rating: None specified (games made with this could range from E-AO)
    Number of Players: Singleplayer
    Price: $69.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Role-playing games hold a specific allure for gamers because they allow the player to feel a direct connection to the world they are in, including having a direct impact on their avatar in terms of growth and the world in terms of their involvement. RPG Maker VX Ace takes this to another level by letting you make the worlds you want to feel a connection to.

    RPG Maker VX Ace is the last in the line of the RPG Maker franchise to use the Ruby scripting language to power the engine and is also the last engine in the franchise to be limited to Microsoft Windows operating systems. As a game creation tool, it comes pre-made with all the basics needed to make a top-down, tile-based RPG game like was in vogue in the late '80s and '90s.

    The engine is a simple one, and while it does not come with a guided tutorial, it has easy to understand documentation for how to make your own game and the database comes preloaded with basic data and templates for making your own game. More content can be found on the official forums and blogs providing further instruction and resources. There is also Steam Workshop integration, allowing fans to share content, including resources and entire games made with the engine.

    RPG Maker VX Ace
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Has a perfectly arranged engine for easy creation of 2D, top-down, tile-based RPGs
    Weak Points: Lots of potential in the engine requires advanced knowledge of the Ruby scripting language
    Moral Warnings: Some cleavage-baring enemy graphics in stock resources; RPG-based violence if the battle engine components are utilized; some occult like imagery available in the stock tilesets and animation files

    Graphically, RPG Maker VX Ace uses 32 x 32-pixel tiles that have a high fantasy focus in the stock resources provided with the game engine. The character sprites are typical "chibi" or super-deformed looking as opposed to realistic, though resources for more realistic looking sprites can be used. Animations are essentially a series of PNG files with sound effects that the database arranges in a looped pattern, which the user can further customize to the limits of their skill. Battle scenes can be mixed and matched for different foregrounds and backgrounds. There is also a "parallax" background for maps with transparent areas that can be added to give a feeling of depth and animation, like moving clouds or stars. Battler graphics for battle scenes are shown in a front-view default engine with a high fantasy style like the other art.

    Musically, the provided resources have a classical fantasy sound to them, provided in the OGG sound format. Sound effects also follow this theme, and the engine allows assigning sounds and music when and where the player deems appropriate. All of them sound pleasant on the ear, and there are built-in options to control volume and pitch for all audio files.

    Control is largely mouse and keyboard-driven, though the created games have a degree of compatibility with common PC gamepads and related accessories. Stability is excellent in the base engine, and while the creation engine and games made for it were intended for Microsoft Windows, both can run quite well via Wine/Proton in Linux.

    RPG Maker VX Ace
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 84%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 88%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 9/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The game provides a basic character sprite and face maker, which is adequate but limited and does not make faces in profile view like the stock resources, but forward-facing only. The Ruby powered engine allows players to add their custom scripting to the engine if they so choose, and even if the user is no scripting expert, there are a massive amount of resources available at this time all over the Internet. Some basic knowledge of how to edit Ruby scripts is recommended if one needs to tweak these scripts for your specific needs, and tutorials in Ruby can be found in multiple fora if one needs some instruction on this.

    Morally, RPG Maker games can be as clean or depraved as the player wants them to be, the engine stock resources can be discarded entirely and others can be used if the creator desires.

    As for the stock resources, aside from a few battler sprites showing a bit of cleavage for some of the female characters, the vast majority are tame, generic fantasy stock character drawings. A few of the animations have generic-looking magic circles, and a few generic hexagram "magic circle" tiles exist for those wanting to add an evil or mystical look in some maps, but that's about it for anything of moral concern. Again, their usage remains entirely up to the game creator; they can be ignored or discarded entirely. The battle engine, if used, provides for turn-based RPG style violence, but one can make a game with no combat if they choose.

    RPG Maker VX Ace is definitely worth the purchase price, but given it's often available via massive discounts and on sites like Humble Bundle, it's worth snapping up in those locations, where resources can also be gotten very cheaply often at the same time. Morally, games made with RPG Maker are only as concerning as the creator wants them to be, and while it not an ideal engine for making more than a certain genre of games, it's a worthy one for those wanting to specialize in 2D, top-down RPG game creation.

  • RPG Maker XP (PC)

     

    boxart
    Software Info:

    RPG Maker XP
    Developed By: KADOKAWA
    Published By: Degica
    Released: September 16, 2005
    Available On: Microsoft Windows
    Genre: Game Development, RPG
    ESRB Rating: None specified (games made with this could range from E-AO)
    Number of Players: Singleplayer
    Price: $24.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    It is said classics never die. RPG Maker XP, the first of the series to be legally translated for English, is one of the older RPG creation engines available, but it still has lots of utility even in the modern-day.

    For example, RPG Maker XP is THE engine of choice for the hordes of Pokemon fan games one can find all over the internet. The Pokemon Essentials project (now defunct thanks to a Nintendo C&D) was the base used by XP developers to make strikingly accurate Pokemon fangames to the point you could barely tell you weren't playing the actual games. With this in mind, it's easy to see why this engine's age is no strike against its popularity.

    Like all others in the series, RPG Maker XP is a top-down, 2d based RPG creation engine. It was the first to implement Ruby-based scripting support, and while done in a far cruder way than VX/VX Ace, is still capable of greatly extending the engine's limits. XP also holds the distinction of having several features built-in later makers removed, which are only available if players re-enabled them via custom scripting code.

    RPG Maker XP
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Incredibly well featured RPG Maker program
    Weak Points: Crude scripting potential; higher learning curve than most other RPG Maker programs
    Moral Warnings: RPG-based violence if the battle engine components are utilized; some occult like imagery available in the stock tilesets and animation files

    Graphically, it's better than the previous RPG Maker engines, which had even cruder graphics, though its tileset style leans more towards a low-fantasy, somewhat realistic look. Later entries would be more colorful and with a bias for high and urban fantasy. The character sprites are also much taller in XP, leaning for a more realistic look. Later engines could implement the same but at the cost of foregoing the standard "chibi" or super-deformed stock art. Enemy battler art is a bit disappointing, however, as while some is quite good, some looks quite amateurish.

    Sounds and music are MIDI-based, and while the stock sounds and music are perfectly acceptable for a fantasy-based game and sound quite good for MIDI synthesized tracks, the engine does have the option for even higher quality OGG or MP3.

    Controls for the editor are keyboard and mouse-driven and are not at all complicated. Controls aren't nearly as nice in the stock engine, with the animation being somewhat stiffer than in most other RPG Maker programs, resulting in some walking controls that feel a bit stilted.

    Stability is an interesting topic, as this engine supports several features that had the potential to bring the engine to its knees if optimized poorly. Tilesets could be of infinite size, which could drastically increase loading times. The engine allowed for multiple tile layers, which could make for much more map detail and allow multi-tiered movement, such as making a bridge on an upper map layer you could walk under on the lower one on the same map. They had support for "fog" overlays, like a shadowy tree canopy overlay for forested areas, which gave the illusion of added realism. Finally, some of the database limits for XP were quite high, which later makers cut down by a profound degree.

    RPG Maker XP
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 90%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Many of the above mentioned features were cut or greatly constrained in later makers in the series, and the playable frames per second were incredibly low by default as a consequence of attempting to keep the engine frame rate smooth. While custom scripting could extend the engine further, the already wobbly stock engine could be made much more unstable if said scripting was poorly optimized. Stock stability is acceptable for both editor and games made with it by contrast, even if the frame rates felt constrained.

    Morally, this is not all that terrible an engine by default. Violence is possible if the combat engine is used, though generally in the turn-based RPG-style way. The language is entirely up to the creator; games can be as clean or perverse as they wish it to be.

    Sexual content is pretty low to nil with the stock assets. Even the enemy battler graphics are restrained in the stock graphics, though this is partially due to most of them having low quality and a cartoonish, even garish look. There is some magic circle (with a hexagram pattern) like imagery available in the tiles and animations, but this remains strictly optional for use. Since games can be as wholesome or depraved as the creator intends, any ethical considerations are entirely at their discretion in terms of displayed morals.

    Overall, RPG Maker XP is fairly cheap and worth the price, if only as a "license" so it's assets can be used in other RPG Maker engines if you are so inclined. It's also quite worthwhile on its own if you want an engine with more creative capability than some of its successors if you can accept its flaws and cruder scripting support.

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About Us:

Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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