Most Popular VisuStella MZ Plugins

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Have you ever wondered which plugins are VisuStella MZ's most popular plugins? And possibly, how this popularity changed from Yanfly Engine Plugins? Well, I figured that since it's been years since RPG Maker MZ's and VisuStella MZ's launch, we can do some number comparisons.

These numbers are based off of unique users based off website analytics. There is likely to be some inaccuracies due to the timing of the plugin releases and such potentially skewing numbers. Otherwise, I would find these numbers to be relatively accurate based off what I have seen.

Yanfly.png This is an article written by Yanfly.

The Cores

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It should come off as no surprise that the cores for both Yanfly Engine Plugins and VisuStella MZ are the most frequently downloaded plugins for each library. But by how much? Let's take a look.

Yanfly Engine Plugins
Plugin Ratio
Core Plugins 85.68%
Remaining Library 14.32%
VisuStella MZ
Plugin Ratio
Core Plugins 76.85%
Remaining Library 23.15%

So why am I comparing the Cores to everything first?

Well, I wanted to get them out of the way since they're the "boring" answer. Core plugins are often seen as necessary plugins to have for each project because they bring in essential features that most people want for their games. Other reasons may include that core plugins are also necessary for extension plugins to run.

Either way, I know this isn't what you came here for so let's go onto the "fun" plugins that will exclude the cores.

Top 10 Non-Cores


Now that the cores are excluded, let's take a look at which plugins are the most popular for each library. This is what you most likely came here for: the "fun" plugins.

Yanfly Engine Plugins
Plugin Ratio
Quest Journal System 24.33%
Visual HP Gauges 12.33%
Party System 10.58%
Grid-Free Doodads 9.22%
Weapon Animation 8.64%
Item Synthesis 8.04%
Extended Message Pack 1 7.37%
Victory Aftermath 7.19%
Gab Window 6.47%
Battle Status Window 5.82%
VisuStella MZ
Plugin Ratio
Quest Journal System VisuStella MZ 22.43%
Party System VisuStella MZ 14.84%
Victory Aftermath VisuStella MZ 10.23%
Item Crafting System VisuStella MZ 8.79%
Message Letter Sounds VisuStella MZ 8.30%
Gab Window VisuStella MZ 8.04%
Dragonbones Union VisuStella MZ 7.94%
Weapon Animation VisuStella MZ 7.22%
Lighting Effects VisuStella MZ 6.21%
Sideview Battle UI VisuStella MZ 5.99%

Something interesting that you'll see here is that there are some very similar plugins ranked together here. Some of them are in the same exact spot like the Quest Journal Systems, while some others are close to each rank like Party System and Item Synthesis/Crafting. Even the numeric distribution is very similar, in which they follow a Pareto Distribution Curve assuming that we factor in the cores, too.

So what do these numbers mean? I have some theories. Let's take a closer look.

Quest Journal System

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Yanfly Engine Ranking: #1

VisuStella MZ Ranking: #1

The Quest Journal System for both libraries sit at Rank #1 (after the Cores). This likely means that it's the undisputed biggest want from users across the board when it comes to features for their RPG Maker games. And it's perfectly understandable why:

Quests are a staple in RPGs, providing structure and goals for players. Quest journals are also universally applicable across various game genres. They keep players engaged by tracking quests and objectives, which is critical for maintaining player interest and satisfaction. A quest journal system simplifies the management of multiple quests and objectives, making it easier for players to follow the game's storyline and side tasks. Quest journals can enhance the gaming experience by offering a more organized and accessible way to view quests, often with added details and status updates. The RPG genre, where quest systems are next to essential thus driving the demand for such a plugin.

Visual HP Gauge


Yanfly Engine Ranking: #2

VisuStella MZ Ranking: n/a

The Visual HP Gauge plugin ranks at #2 in the Yanfly Engine Plugins list. It does not appear in the VisuStella MZ list since it's a base feature found in the Battle Core VisuStella MZ plugin. However, what we should focus on here is the number of unique users it has in comparison to everything else. It dwarfs the rest of the list outside of the Quest Journal System.

This is not surprising given how battles play a major part of most RPGs. Simply letting the player know how much HP an ally or enemy has, even with incomplete information, is massively important. They provide instant feedback on a character's health status, improving the player's tactical decision-making.

Party System

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Yanfly Engine Ranking: #3

VisuStella MZ Ranking: #2

RPG Maker MV and RPG Maker MZ both come equipped with the ability for the player to change party positions. However, the way both iterations handle it is ultra clunky at best and is far from the ideal way of doing so.

Why is it clunky?

Because it hinges on the default main menu setup, which only displays so many party members at the same time. Not all RPG Maker games will have 4 battle members. Some might have less, some might have more. And not being able to see all of them at the same time is not ideal for the player's decision making process.

Furthermore, there's a lot of lacking information about various actors to pick from on the main menu. All you typically see is the name, the class, HP, MP, level, and that's it. This makes it inefficient for the player to figure out which actor will best fill in what slots for the rest of the party.

The Party System plugins remedy this by moving the player to a different scene altogether. There, the whole group of battle members is seen lined across the top while information about the various actors to fill in the slots are displayed at the bottom. Something as simple as this is enough to fulfill the needs of many RPG Maker game devs.

Victory Aftermath

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Yanfly Engine Ranking: #8

VisuStella MZ Ranking: #3

Just like the Party System, RPG Maker MV and RPG Maker MZ both have victory sequences by default. However, those victory sequences are extremely lazily made and are just nothing but ongoing text that players are very likely to be impressed by. They lack information given at first glance and require a lot of button presses to get through.

The plugins provided by Yanfly Engine Plugins and VisuStella MZ consolidate the victory aftermath data into a few screens. For Yanfly Engine Plugins, where the Victory Aftermath plugin is designed by Yanfly, the information is split into a few screens displaying the EXP gained, level ups, and items gained. This is already miles above having to mash Z to get through potentially 10+ lines of text on a massively eventful battle. In the VisuStella MZ library, where the Victory Aftermath plugin is designed by Olivia, the information is consolidated even further onto even less screens.

What does this tell us? That game devs and players both value more compact information in less screens with less button mashing required to navigate through them. In RPGs where there's a battle system involved, players will frequently see the victory sequence. This makes it very important to streamline, make aesthetically pleasing, condensing information, and reducing button presses.

The Yanfly Engine Plugins version reduces a lot of the clutter, allowing it to reach the top 10 plugins outside of the cores. The VisuStella MZ version upgraded by Olivia, further improves upon this by making it more condensed, better looking, and more streamlined, bumping it to rank #3 outside of the cores.

Grid-Free Doodads

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Yanfly Engine Ranking: #4

VisuStella MZ Ranking: #12

Grid-Free Doodads didn't make it to the top #10 list for VisuStella MZ, but it came close at #12. The plugin allows game devs to freely place graphics across the map on different layers without being constrained by the tile grid. This is a pretty big deal for most game devs since it allows them to break free of RPG Maker's limits and have more freedom of expression.

Grid-Free Doodads also fixes another problem found in RPG Maker MV. RPG Maker MV has an inherent problem with the ability to let game devs place graphics in the layer where they want them, which is what Grid-Free Doodads allows. RPG Maker MZ does allow some bit of layer control (though not much), which is a very possible explanation to why Grid-Free Doodads ranks lower on the top used plugins list in VisuStella MZ than for Yanfly Engine Plugins.

Either way, Grid-Free Doodads popularity goes to show that what RPG Maker needs is the ability to let game devs place graphics where they want them. This can be in the form of lifting the tile-grid restrictions or letting them place the graphics onto various layers.

Item Crafting

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Yanfly Engine Ranking: #6

VisuStella MZ Ranking: #4

Say what you will about crafting being added to every game in an unnecessary way, game devs and players eat it up. And why shouldn't they? Item Crafting gives players a feeling of agency by allowing them to scale their item progress the way they want. There's also the feeling of progression, too. Item Crafting allows players to transform useless items into something useful. Items that were less potent before become more potent after crafting.

While Item Crafting is not a necessary part of every RPG, it's definitely a feature that enhances them. It's also a great way for game devs to balance out the importance of gold versus other items. Not everything can be or should be bought in a shop. Some powerful items, weapons, or armors are better off unlocked through hard work, and that's where Item Crafting comes into play.

Weapon Animation

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Yanfly Engine Ranking: #5

VisuStella MZ Ranking: #8

Weapon Animation has always ranked pretty high in both libraries. The plugin is very popular for RPGs that have battles and for good reason. If there's one thing that RPG Maker tends to lack, it's the ability to fully customize database objects and this includes weapons. Weapon Animation essentially provides the ability to give weapons a custom skin. Custom skins for weapons introduce visual variety, making each weapon distinct and memorable. Game devs can create weapon skins that match certain themes, match the weapon name, and contribute to a cohesive visual design.

Message Letter Sounds

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Yanfly Engine Ranking: #7

VisuStella MZ Ranking: #5

The majority of the features found in Extended Message Pack 1 are already a part of the VisuStella MZ Message Core, with only the message letter sounds remaining. And amongst the many features, the message letter sounds are especially popular across users. This is precisely what the Message Letter Sounds plugin is specialized to do.

So why is this feature so popular? Don't most players find these blips and bleeps from characters to be rather annoying? Well, regardless of their annoyance, Message Letter Sounds give immediate auditory feedback as text appears on the screen, which can enhance player engagement and immersion. Different sounds can be assigned to different characters, adding to their personality and making dialogue more memorable. Sound effects can be tailored to match the mood of the dialogue or the setting, reinforcing the game's atmosphere. You see this put into effect across various AAA games like some Zelda games and Animal Crossing.

Gab Window

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Yanfly Engine Ranking: #9

VisuStella MZ Ranking: #6

The Gab Window allows text and/or dialogue to occur without having to stop player movement. Such a concept seems really simple mechanically but is actually super useful and flexible in practice. They can be used for open treasure chests messages. They can be used for banter between party members. They can be used for quick notifications.

Allowing dialogue to occur while players maintain control over movement can create a seamless experience, reducing gameplay interruptions. In real life, conversations happen on the go, and this feature mimics that reality, enhancing immersion.

The potential is there for it to do a lot. But the most important thing is that it does not interrupt gameplay by stopping player movement. When players traverse from one point to another, stopping them really drains a lot of the momentum. This adds to feelings of annoyance and makes it feel like the game is wasting the player's time. Players who prefer a faster-paced game can progress through dialogue without being held back by static conversation screens. Some players may find constant stopping for dialogue to be a barrier to enjoyment or flow, and this feature can make the game more accessible to them.


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Yanfly Engine Ranking: #16

VisuStella MZ Ranking: #7

Dragonbones integration is one of those weird plugins that get used en masse when you least expect it to. While it doesn't appear in the Yanfly Engine Plugins' top 10 list, it is ranked at #16 after the cores, which is real good considering the plugin library is 200 plugins large. Even so, it taking the 7th rank in VisuStella MZ should also be a testament to its power.

You see, one of the things that people have always wanted more of for RPG Maker is the ability to add more frames or to animate their sprites more vividly. Plugin requests asking for more frames are dime a dozen. However, there is a massive problem with those plugins and it has nothing to do with their code. It's the fact that as sprite sheets get larger, their file sizes also expand considerably. This is the very reason why RPG Maker MZ ditched spritesheet based battle animations from RPG Maker MV in favor of Effekseer. After all, some of those battle animations reach a few megabytes in size.

Dragonbones satiates that demand and solves the problem by providing unlimited animation potential for taking up much less file space. There is more freedom involved, too. Dragonbones does not have a sprite frame limit, which means animations can extend way past out of what sprites normally could. And after learning how to use it, Dragonbones takes considerably less to work create animations with considering keyframes and animation control becomes the name of the game rather than creating individual pixels to transition between keyframes.

The VisuStella MZ variant of the plugin is also more popular considerably compared to the Yanfly Engine Plugins counterpart. A very likely reason for this is because the VisuStella MZ version also integrates Irina's Dragonbones Event Pictures and Dragonbones Map Sprites, which further expand Dragonbones' potential.

Lighting Effects


Yanfly Engine Ranking: n/a

VisuStella MZ Ranking: #8

Yanfly Engine Plugins does not have a Lighting Effects plugin.

It should come off as no surprise to why Lighting Effects is a popular plugin and one that made it to top #10 outside of the cores. There's no such feature for both RPG Maker MV and RPG Maker MZ, and lighting scripts and plugins have been popular downloads in the RPG Maker community ever since RPG Maker XP.

Why is that? Lighting effects are crucial for setting the right mood and atmosphere in different game environments. They add a layer of polish and sophistication to the game's graphics without needing to add completely new custom graphics, enhancing overall visual appeal. The majority of lighting effects are created through in-game renders. Proper lighting can give depth to the game world, making it feel more three-dimensional and realistic. Lighting can guide players to objectives or points of interest, subtly influencing navigation and exploration. Simulating natural light cycles can add immersion and impact how players interact with the game world.

RPG Maker MV and RPG Maker MZ not adding their own lighting systems is just pure missed opportunity. Lighting is a staple in modern game development across the board, not just for RPGs.

Battle Status

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Yanfly Engine Ranking: #10

VisuStella MZ Ranking: #10

We'll end this section with the Battle Status-related plugins. As we know, battles are a major part of most RPGs. As game devs and players, we want information delivered to us fast and legible. When presented well, players can make informed strategic decisions fast, too.

A well-designed status window contributes to the overall user interface aesthetic, making the game more visually appealing. This is why the Battle Status plugins are in the #10 spot after the cores for each library. The default list format used in RPG Maker MV presents data that is hard to read and is difficult on the eyes. While this is improved in RPG Maker MZ, the next step forward is to make the battle scene more aesthetically pleasing. The Sideview Battle UI accomplishes this. This is also one of Olivia's most popular plugins in RPG Maker MV as Side Battle Status UI.

Conclusions to Draw

So what can we learn from this information? Quite a few things depending on who you are.

To Game Developers

It gives game devs a hint as to what other game devs find as necessary components to developing a RPG Maker game. While each game is different, many of them contain overlapping similarities, and these similarities are things to consider. A Quest Journal System can help out with many game genres. While most battle plugins might not fit some horror games made with RPG Maker, Lighting Effects might. And when it comes to dialogue, the Gab Window is also a strong contender.

Sometimes just knowing what other game devs use in their games can help you consider different ways to tackle your own game development. This is important to prevent your creation and game design from going stiff. Maybe this can help you overcome a wall or break out of those annoying periods of procrastination.

The list can also help game developers recognizes popular mechanics and features like the Item Crafting System favored by the gaming community. Also, the list can help guide game developers to figure out what enables more player engagement like with ala Gab Window. And if a game developer is on a budget, they can figure out which plugins to prioritize more than others based off of what other game developers might prioritize.

To RPG Maker's Developers

The list also details the kinds of things that game devs look for that the RPG Maker developers don't know or don't consider. If a new iteration of RPG Maker is to be made, I would say to strongly consider these top 10 lists. These features are highly sought after and for good reason. They're things that RPG Maker inherently lacked for ages and it'd greatly benefit game devs as a whole if they were natively included.

Native inclusion of these features would streamline the development process, as creators would not need to spend time searching for third-party plugins. They are more accessible to new users who might find searching for, understanding, and implementing plugins daunting. Features integrated into the core engine would be updated alongside it, ensuring consistency and compatibility with new versions, which might not happen with plugins. Furthermore, the ease of use with native features could attract more users to RPG Maker, increasing its popularity and user base.

Also, with common features standard, plugin developers could focus on developing more innovative plugins rather than reinventing the wheel. A lot of Yanfly Engine Plugins and VisuStella MZ's plugins focus around reinventing the wheel and this would allow us plugin developers to develop more fun things that the community might enjoy rather than need.

Ending Statements

I thought that this was a neat exercise in seeing that trends from the past typically roll over to the future. Even though the year difference between RPG Maker MV and RPG Maker MZ is only a mere 4-5 years, game dev meta typically shifts a lot in that amount of time. Yet, for RPG Maker, this meta doesn't really change all that much based off of what people want. And it's also these features that RPG Maker as a whole need the most as they will also help the most users.

I hope you had fun reading this article.

Happy RPG Making!

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