LESEDAUER:5 Minuten, 20 Sekunden

Jugendliche in den 2000ern lernten ihn spätestens durch die Bravo Screenfun kennen. Die Rede ist vom RPG Maker 2000 mit dem es ohne jegliche Programmierkenntnisse möglich ist, eigene Spiele zu erstellen. Obwohl jenes Tool erst im Jahre 2015 einen offiziellen Release im Westen spendiert bekam, hatte sich bereits Anfang der 2000er eine beachtliche Szene rund um den RPG Maker gebildet. Ein Verdienst der auf einen Mann zurückzuführen ist – Mikhail „Don Miguel“ Bratus.

Seine englische Übersetzung des Programms war für mehrere Jahre Standard in der westlichen Maker-Szene.
Sprechen wir mit Don über jene Zeit, in der er den Grundstein für eine Szene legte, die selbst nach über 20 Jahren noch aktiv ist.

Arwin Urban: How did you find out about RPG Maker back then? As it was initially available in Japan only.

Mikhail Bratus: Back then I was surfing the internet for SNES emulators and non
official translations of unreleased worldwide Japanese games. On that
day I bumped into an english translation of RPG Tsukuru for SNES. The
translation was made by a group of people named KanjHack.
Right on their site I found their dropped translation of RPG Tsukuru
(school/maker) 95 for Windows. I was very excited because I create
games all the time. And I wanted to help some unskilled people to make
their own games. KanjiHack has dropped their work, left
the tool translated by 70%.
The big problem was untranslated texts inbuilt into the source code.

When was it clear that you would like to translate the RPG Maker
2000 into English? What was your intention behind it?

My full translation of RM95 was used by many non Japanese users. They
liked the product and my translation. Some people wanted to pay to the
author of the RPG Maker 95.
Ok. Back to RPG Maker 2000 or RM2k. I created many tools and
cooperated to some commercial firms in Czech Republic. I’m not naming
them. But anyway, my tool chain let me to Re-translate any patch or
updated runtime of RM95 roughly in 2 hours. Nobody knew it that I’ve
automatized the process. You know we had not Google Translate back
My intentions to translate RPG Maker 2000 in English (or in Russian)
was simple. I wanted a tool to let many people play and learn
programming at the same time. Before RM95 managed to release one game
of mine commercially. It had a good game editor that could be named as
„Platformer maker“. So I saw the similarity of the tools and I did not
want to invent a wheel. Also I made a RM95 game NVS (Niggaz vs. Satan) and wanted to make a sequel. There are some comics about my game. I’ve attached a strip in English.

Do you still have an eye on today’s RPG Maker scene?

Yes, I do. Every year I congratulate some local RPG Makers
communities. I follow some RPG Maker people in twitter. They are from
different countries. I watch the Russian RPG Makers community mostly.

Are there any RPG Maker projects that have left a lasting impression on you?

I was impressed by a few German games back then. I think I used to
list them in my old interviews. Now I do not remember the titles.
Anyway, the German RPG Maker community was the biggest and probably more
active than the one from USA. I judge it only by the number of the
good finished games. I’ve met so many cool artists and coders who
started with RPG Maker.
The biggest impression was Mike that used to play with my
translation of RPG Maker and ended up with a great RPG Maker tool (001 Game Creator) which can export your game into many modern platforms.

How long did it take to translate the RPG Maker 2000?

It took me 2 hours. I had a fully working RPG Maker without an
install package and with broken sample games. The problems were
because of the code pages and file naming. Nowadays we have no such
problems, thanks to UTF-8 and such.

Did you have support? In fact japanese language is not that easy.

I had a huge paper Japanese -> Russian dictionary. It was my main
support. As I said, I did it alone. I had some special commercial
translation tools later.

How did ACII / Enterbrain approach you back then? How was the contact?

They ignored me all the time.
And after 2 or 3 releases of my translation I got a email from
Enterbrain. They asked me to remove RPG Maker runtime downloads from my site. So I immediately did. I left tutorials, forums and not copyrighted
resources on the site though.
I’ve attached one of the emails as a screenshot.

How did your community feel when you took the RPG Maker 2000 download offline?

Well. The community was angry on me. Some other people wanted to have RPG Maker in their game shops, so they were Ok with it.
And some active members of non Japanese RPG Maker community have started
their own translations of upcoming RPG Makers. Looking on my work, I
think it was pretty easy.

How did you deal with the fact that not all maker communities took the download offline?

Well. I spent a lot of time on my site to maintain new tutorials and
resources. Then the email from Enterbrain was like a gift. I switched to my own
game project.

How did you react to the official release of RPG Maker 2000 on Steam after so many years?

I was VERY happy to see it on Steam. I think I bought them all and
never run them. Some guys found an easter egg in the Steam ads of
RPG Makers. They have included my Don’s Adventures into the time line
of the RPG Maker history. It was very nice.

Will there be a sequel to Don’s Adventure?

There is one on Steam. Don’s Adventures 2 or so. I had plans for my another RPG game but I’m busy with the current
project. It is free and open source game. Stifu and me are making Zabuyaki. It is a cool old school beat ‚em up game made from scratch. Everybody could help us in the developement.

An dieser Stelle nochmals ein großes Dankeschön an Mikhail „Don Miguel“ Bratus, dass er sich die Zeit für dieses Interview genommen hat. Es war mir eine große Freude.

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