BEST AUDIO FORMAT WHEN USING MUSIC IN RPG MAKER GAMES

I have made a small table so that we can see what the music file format is more suitable for your project.

I've been working with many RPG Maker developers helping with the music and I have noticed that many of them still don't know what is the most appropriate audio format.

And that depends on the RM version that you are using and the platform (or operative system) that the game is going to be exported to.

So, I would like to create this post telling what I know when using music in RPG Maker, and please, since I am not an expert game developer, if you know anything else you would like to add, I'll appreciate if you let us know in the comments.

Personally, Ogg Vorbis is my favorite. But not all RPG Maker versions support it, and not all OS support it either. Also, we cannot talk about background music only since, in some RM versions, an audio format can be played as BGM but may not be played as a sound effect, for example.

But for now, I consider talking specifically about background music (let's leave SE/BGS/ME for future posts).

So, keeping in mind the pros and cons of every audio format, like if it is loopable or not, its file size optimization and some other features, I have made a small table so that we can see what the music file format is more suitable for your project.

Note that I am including the MIDI format as if it were an audio format in the list, but we all know that it is not.

The table:

FeaturesMP3OggWAVMIDI
Loop OKNOYESYESYES
Loop Inside (Tags)NOYESNOYES
File Size Optimiz.YESYESNOOMG YES
Realistic SoundYESYESYESNO
RMMV CompatibleNOYESNONO
RMVX/Ace CompatibleYESYESYESYES
RMXP CompatibleYESYESYESYES
RM2003 CompatibleYESNOYESYES


The first row of the table refers to a 'normal' loop. This is, song playback ends and then starts from the beginning again. I emphasize this because the MP3 format may stop the playback for some milliseconds when starts the loop, which makes it a bit annoying. This happens because MP3 files used to save metadata at the beginning of the file as if it were part of the sampling rate (don't know the real reasons, so if someone can help us understand would be good).

The second row refers to the tagged loop. You can prevent the song loop from starts from the beginning so that it starts from wherever you want instead.

The third row is file size optimization. Like all video game resources, the smaller, the better.

And the fourth row is basically to say that MIDI files are not an audio format. Of course, if a game engine contains a special plugin with its own instruments or effects, and can play MIDI as if it were the most realistic thing, then nice (actually this is what video games used to do, although not exactly with MIDI but some similar file). But RPG Makers don't do this, so a MIDI file played in these game engines won't make the music to be similar to the sound quality of the audio formats.

The rest of the rows shows the compatibility of the RPG Maker versions (from 2k3 to MV) with these audio formats.

If you want me to add any feature to the list, or a new audio format (I plan to add M4A also), let me know in the comments.

And let me know if I'm wrong with anything I said so I can edit it. As I said, I'm not an expert, just a music composer. You can learn more about me on my website Patrick de Arteaga, where I also have free royalty-free music to download and use in your projects for free.

Feel free to add a comment and May the Music be with you!