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PSX RPG Maker Hack with Custom Assets

Started by ponlork, May 26, 2019, 04:55:49 AM

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Hello, I've been working on a RPG Maker hack for the PS1. My idea is to hack the game so we can use custom images, backgrounds, sound effects, bgm music and FMV video. I'm pretty new to the whole rom hacking scene so I'm learning a lot of things on the fly. So far I've figured out how to replace character, monster, item sprites, sound effects, Title art, and .str video.

At the moment I'm mainly trying to dissect the game to see what's possible first before I get started on creating a story. I also plan on making tutorial videos to show how to execute each hack.

Here's a brief video tutorial I made demonstrating how to use a keyboard to edit the text dialogue.

I'm doing tutorial videos mainly for my own recordkeeping though because if I stop working on a project for more than 2 weeks I am going to forget all the steps so making tutorial vids no matter how embarrassing it is helps me retrace my steps and refreshen my memory just in case I go inactive for long periods. And it may help others too. However I must say that I'm not very good at verbal communication so you may have to excuse my socially awkward way of enunciating.

Next on my goal list is figuring out how use the background images to create a visual novel cut scene, using large animated sprites, and last on my list is replacing the music which is the one I'm most intimidated by. Anything musically like with instruments, midi, producing, composing notes, bobbing my head, that stuff terrifies the hell out of me because I'm not really a rhythmic or hipster type of guy.

But maybe speaking on these topics will help guide me in the right direction as hearing input from experienced users, reading comments, advice and technical information may give me enough context clues to figure it out. So any tips, ideas or comments would be greatly appreciated because as I said, I'm fairly new to all this.

May 27, 2019, 08:51:47 AM - (Auto Merged - Double Posts are not allowed before 7 days.)

Interesting discovery with the PSX version of RPG Maker. today I was attempting to create a animated cut scene with a large sprite and I just realized that the game comes included with over 160 Dungeon Samples. i haven't played much of the game yet, I've just been trying to hack it and see what's possible and I assumed that it was like other RPG makers where we have to create our own towns from scratch using different tiles, but these sample dungeons are 240x240 scale bitmap images that you can manipulate and create full frames with. So technically, someone could create a full scale visual novel with it if they want.

Here's a screenshot of one of the sample dungeons I manipulated:

and here's how they look like when ripped to PC

It may require a bit of work to position the tiles so they line up correctly, its like pieces to a puzzle. and adjusting the color palette is rather difficult but its not too hard. I'm thinking we can also create character walking animations to simulate the mouth movement.

Prior to that i was trying to join Character sprites to make big sprites but unfortunately there's a 1px divider between characters so it wouldn't look right. We can join object sprites together but object tiles are limited. I will use about 16 object titles to create a animation of the wind blowing her hair and sash


I was able to successfully add a animated sprite, custom BGM, and I manipulated a Dungeon Sample to form a big character sprite which would be useful for Visual Novel type cut scenes.

Here's a video showcasing all the hacks.

Now that I got all the hacks that I would like to apply, it's finally time for me to construct a story. Because the PS1 version is so limited, I'm most likely going to create something short and absurd. Maybe a story about a guy who travels around trying to score with hot anime waifus lol and along the way you'll recruit characters and catch Pokemon I don't know.

I would like to save some of my better ideas for Rpg Tsukuru 4 which appears to be vastly superior. The US version of RPG Maker is actually RPG Tsukuru 3 in Japan, the sequel Rpg Tsukuru 4 was never released in the US. There is a fan-translated version though.

Grimoire LD

Rpg Maker for the PSX gives me many fond memories and I am glad to see some hacking is being done with it as its systems, while primitive, could be improved. I did find RPG Maker 4 as... interesting. On first glance it seems much better than the the other one, but some of the systems are outright broken and the creation element seems more... limited in some respects. I did really like they had a fully working and beautiful looking FF-style battle system.

The original RPG Maker, with a bit of hacking could be a Dragon Quest-Maker (which shocks me that someone has never really made). These limitations actually force creators to think about how they want to develop characters, story, and battle systems.

Still, truly wonderful work. While I'm not a fan of the scantily-clad approach you've gone for, I appreciate the efforts you've put into this.


Thank you. My first introduction to these creator games was when I purchase Fighter Maker for the PS1. I devoted a lot of hours into it but at the time, it was like creating animation, you want to do it but it was so tedious and time consuming. Then later I got a copy of RPG Maker and although I didn't play it extensively I would often fantasize about creating something worthwhile with it.

Back in the 90s and early 00s there weren't really a lot of avenues and resources one could go to in order to create their own games. There was only like one school out in Florida that was devoted primarily for game design and there weren't really a lot of free options. Today there's a wealth of tools, engines, tutorials, and online courses that a hobbyist like me can take which makes things much easier.

Some people may not understand why a person would want to go back and develop a game for a defunct system but there are many people who grew up daydreaming about concepts for NES and SNES game and later in life they may go back and try to fulfill some of these childhood dreams. Then I also look at the fact that PSX emulation is widely accessible on a lot of devices and consoles so that's also great to know that it can be run on different platforms.

And I agree about the limitations aspect, it forces people to be more imaginative and creative, and on top of that, constraints allow a person to experiment with every feature more thoroughly. With limitations they may feel more motivated to thoroughly try every tool and combination. When there's a vast unlimited amount of options, some people get overwhelmed, they may get decisions fatigue, or they may only sample some of options whereas with a limited palette you may feel more motivated to try it all. 

Then another part of the thrill is seeing something that wasn't supposed to work. I know it sound silly but an example I can make is how when ebay first launched in the 90s, their listings index was more similar to craigslist but one day someone discovered that you can input HTML in the title and a user put a gallery thumbnail next to his listing title. Now normally a person seeing a tiny thumbnail isn't anything profound but when they see it in ebay's search listing at the time, they were in disbelief and the listing generated a lot of visits.

Then ebay would eventually enable that feature where users can pay extra for a thumbnail image but that thrill is gone if it's allowed. Kinda like when I remember a hacker discovered a way to display animated gifs in their status post, this was before FB had stickers, live video feeds, cover photos, it was very basic. But at the time when someone did that it garnered a lot of comments and shares. Now that FB has the features its no longer interesting lol

Me displaying a animated sprite in RPG Maker MV probably isn't anything groundbreaking, but seeing it on the PS1 version where it hasn't been seen before, that's part of that magic I'm trying to capture when someone play it where they see something they didn't expect. But of course only those who are familiar with the original game may be able to appreciate it fully.

I do think that a lot of creators, game designers, musicians, artists and creative people in general, they strive to be innovative whether it be visually, storytelling, musically, they try to do things a little different to separate themselves. So if I do eventually move up to RPG Tsukuru 4, VX Ace, MV or whatever else I'll research and evaluate it first to see what hasn't been done before, and I'll try to be unique but of course I'm just daydreaming. The problem with us hobbyists are we procrastinate and daydream too much.

Sorry for the longwinded post lol there's just a lot on my mind that I have a hard time trying to convey. I remember seeing Demakes for the Atari 2600 where someone created a Super Mario side scroller for the Atari 2600. I remember reading comments for the project and people were saying that they would have weeped if they seen that in 80s. And I imagine when they were kids they would dream of seeing something like that on their Atari 2600, and these little things motivate people to attempt the impossible. There's even people who made Raycaster demos for the NES and when I see that I'm already envisioning how great it'll be if we could create a FPS style RPG that is more similar to a JRPG.

I've seen FP RPG dungeon crawlers before but I never seen one with the way I would have wanted it for DOS or the SNES where it'll showcase that effect in a town rather than a dungeon atmosphere. I'm not too familiar with the Dragon Quest series however I did play a little of Dragon Warrior 7. My first Enix game is probably 7th Saga, which btw the Mode 7 effect on that also got me inspired too.

I wish I could create something that could utilize all those elements that I've always wanted in a RPG. And it's those wild ideas that people have that motivate them to someday attempt it even if it seems unfeasible.

Thanks again, and it's cool I understand that there are companies who use fan service because they're lazy lol It's something that can easily entice people and developers wont really have to devote much effort into creating anything profound when they can simply add scantily clad women and slap together an absurd storyline.

I'm unsure what I'll eventually write but I just want to create something that can be enjoyed by someone out there

Oh and another thing that came to my mind, I was thinking about asking some of the members here if it would be possible to include the Memory Card save data on the game disc and rebuild the ISO with custom code so that it can load up the game directly from the disc. That would really be awesome. If not then I guess I'll just have to settle for memory card saves and a IPA patch. I was also wondering if it's possible if I can somehow make it to where if they try to play the game on the original unmodded game, it'll display a message that this game requires the modified version.

I'm not very confident with programming but it's something I plan on looking into. My idea was to maybe rewrite the code that points to one of the dungeons, so with the modified version it'll point to a different address which plays the game but with the original game it'll load up a dungeon with a message saying that it needs the special modified version to run. Hmm these are just ideas, I have little knowledge of assembly but it's probably going to be the last thing I try to do.

If anyone here knows anything about it, please clue me in


I started to use this rpg maker before I had the pc with rpg maker 2000.

The editor list: only 2D

Rpg maker / tsukuru 3 (this one)
Rpg maker 2 / tsukuru 4
Rpg maker 2000
Rpg maker 2003

later with script function
Rpg maker XP
Rpg maker VX
Rpg maker VX ace
Rpg maker MV

The main editor have some interesting things.

Autotiles with shadow (not sure)
Appear on rpg maker vx

Dungeon templates
Appear on rpg maker vx

Selfswitches (not sure)
Appear later on rpg maker xp

The editor use a lot of memory and the memory card can be full and you make a short game.
Template maps go fine to use less memory and looks very well I think.

I remember Anime maker... weird.
I made an sprite for pre battle sequence.

I had no limits later on pc,
so this was a begin to know events and switches.

I use rpg makers since 2001-2002 if you wanna know something.


Thank you. If I hit a snag I'll be sure to ask you some questions. Right now I'm just trying to come up with a story. I've been tinkering around with the asset replacement hacks that I haven't actually spent much time familiarizing myself with the actual engine itself. One thing I didn't anticipate was that once a dialogue text is displayed, everything on screen gets halted. I was hoping that characters would still be able to move so I could use the Step animation to simulate mouth movements.

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't RPG maker 2 in the US RPG Tsukuru 5 in Japan? I assume it was like what Square did with the Final Fantasy 3 where III was actually 6, and 2 was actually 4. And I imagine Enterbrain started to re-title the series as XP, VX and MV to avoid confusion.

It took me a minute to wrap my head around the Switching concept but I think I get it now for the PS1 version. The Take-Over event still confuses me lol I'm planning on replacing all the monster and character sprites in the game opposed to importing from memory card data, that way I will be able to have a lot of original content. I have a friend who's going to help me out with the artwork, the game will be a mixture of visual novel and JRPG elements.

Once I complete this, I am moving up the ladder to RPG Tsukuru 4, then RPG Maker 2003, and I'm going to skip XP and VX Ace and jump to MV lol I've dabbled with XP and VX Ace many years ago. I didn't delve too deep into it but I experimented with a few battle engine scripts and that's about it.


Yes, rpg maker 3 and 4 was released for ps2 in 3D.

But in PC they continues with 2D.

Rpg maker 2000&2003 have a cool project called Easyrpg.
With Easyrpg player you can play the games nearly in all systems, there is a retroarch core too.
And a editor in progress too.

The messages usually stop all, I don't remember if the psx version support special codes to close message, make waits, etc as 2003.

I usually use the Picture function with all the image with text or in parts.
Adding that and using
Start event as: paralell process, so another things like characters can walk without be stopped.

The main thing to know to make a game with rpg maker is use switches to change events and they can't repeat over and over.
The event pages with big number will be the priority to run if it can.


Now that I've finished my NBA Jam 21 project, I have a sudden urge to jump back into my RPG maker project. haven't touched it in 6 months. Going to have to re-learn a bunch of stuff all over again. I did put in more work since I last posted, here are some screenshots:

I've learned a lot since I last left off. Previously I didn't even know what indexed color palettes were. What I did before was I would use the built in Anime Maker to adjust those RGB values. a 256 color title image would literally take me 18 hours lol Here's a video timelapse of my previous method:

i feel like a idiot, it didnt occur to me that i could make a timelapse video. i deleted most of my screenshots. i took them because i would open it in photoshop to use the color picker tool. man i wish i had the snapshots for the Sorcerer Hunter Title screen art i did before.

While working on NBA Jam i was forced to learn about CLUT (color lookup table) as that was the only way i could mod it properly. It just goes to show that it's good to work on completely new projects because you learn new things that you can apply on older projects. Cuz i dont think i would have changed my old method if i had continuously worked on it without branching out because i'm stubborn and i stay stuck in my old ways sometimes haha

Now what used to take me hours only take me a few seconds. I used to take a screenshot with epsxe, then open it in photoshop and use the color picker tool to find out the RGB values. so tedious.

Also my Sample Dungeon Map idea worked. As you can see I'm able to insert my own image. That last Pokemon map at the bottom is really just a 480x360 image. here's a clip of it:

That map with pikachu on it is also just a 480x360 image. I can also manipulate the sample maps via hex editing where i believe i can create a very detailed town just like the newer RPG maker games. Basically each 24x24 tile on the map grid i can customize with my own tiles. The only difficult part is i gotta specify where i want to use those tiles with a Hex editor and it may be painstaking to construct but it's definitely do-able.

I also came up with a idea on how to create FMV style animations, or just sprite animations in general. Basically i just need to figure out a way to have the screen move location from one area on a map to another instantly. There's a move location function but sadly it has transition effects and it isn't instant.

if there's a way to somehow reverse engineer it to add this feature, then i can edit the Dungeon sample bitmap to have frames of animation like a sprite sheet, then i can position the frames off screen so that it only display one frame on the map, then when i want to jump to the next frame i just have it teleport to the next frame that is positioned elsewhere on the map.

previously what i did before was i edit the Object sprites as we can join the objects together and it wont have a spacer in between each object. And i could build a big sprite that way. here's a old video showing it in action:

That animation above would take up an half of the objects if i make her hair move too. So hopefully this new idea will work because there's a lot of dungeon samples i can modify. i think over 150 if i recall.

Oh and i just found out the Japanese version of the game, RPG Tsukuru 3 can import custom BGM. It works in conjunction with a game called Ongaku Tsukuru Kanaderu 2. Here's a clip:

I haven't tried this yet but it might be possible to compose a track with that software, then export the save file and inject the seq file into the US version and i assume it'll utilize the RPG Maker sound samples. I really hope it works because having original composition would be awesome. I tried inserting my own seq/vab before but it didnt sound right because it used samples not meant for the game


i was able to insert a custom BGM track in and it works. here's a video:

it's a bit difficult though as the filesizes for the samples need to be equal or less than the original. In this clip i used a small BGM that only contains one instrument sample so it was pretty easy. The game uses seq/vab for the BGM which is similar to midi.

wish i knew how to compose music but i dont know anything about midi controllers and all that. may need to find a music composer/programmer who can work within these constraints. or i may have to just take some lessons on music theory and figure it out myself.

I also tried the Ongaku Tsukuru Kanaderu 2 and exported a sample BGM to a memory card and import it into RPG tsukuru 3 and it works. However i couldnt get it to work properly on the USA version. there's no hidden BGM import option sadly, i was able to import the seq but then it use the wrong sample sounds and i would have to use the same method above to replace the instrument samples and match the filesize so it's rather pointless to use Ongaku Tsukuru Kanaderu 2.

I also dug up my old memory cards and i discovered a old RPG Maker project from 2000 called Street Fighter RPG. i only worked on it for a few weeks:

well after playing it again for the first time in 20 years I've decided to revisit the idea i had in high school and resume the project! so my RPG Maker project will be a Street Fighter themed RPG game. Fulfilling my childhood dreams lol

Another cool thing i discovered is that we can replace the sample game with our own. It's extremely difficult to do but it's possible. Basically what i did was import the sample game into the Editor and then save the project onto a memory card, then export the save files and analyze it with a hex editor and the file on the memory card is nearly identical to the sample included on the disc. only thing is some variable ids i need to change. I did a little test where i edited a scene with my own content and inject it into the disc and it works. But again i believe the file sizes need to match up so it's gonna be like a puzzle to make all the scenes in the scenario data lineup.

my goal is to mod it so it'll be a standalone game that doesn't require any memory cards to load assets. simply turn it on like any PS1 game and play.


I modified the engine to do this Hadoken animation:

Normally we cant shift the screen from one area on the map to another, but i got it somewhat working. At the moment it can only go from top to bottom. If i can teleport to anywhere on the map then i could make some very elaborate animations