How to Play RPG Maker Games on Linux using Wine

And getting Tyranobuilder games working too.

This article aims to chronicle my experiences with getting RPG Maker and Tyranobuilder games made for Windows running successfully on Linux.

First off, these instructions are written with Linux Mint in mind, a popular version of the Linux operating system. This process has been successful on Linux Mint versions 19.x and 20.x in my experience. The steps to perform will probably be very similar for Ubuntu users as well, since Mint is a derivative of Ubuntu. For other Linux variants and distributions where these instructions prove ineffective, hopefully this guide at least serves as a starting point for reference.

To start things off, let’s look at getting Wine installed on your computer.

What is Wine?

If you’re not familiar with Wine, it is a program available for Mac OS and Linux computers that allows you to use software originally intended only for Windows computers. These often have filenames ending in a .exe file extension. Wine allows Windows software to run on these other operating systems to varying degrees of success (or failure) on a case-by-case basis.

If a particular software runs well under Wine, the average user would hardly notice the difference, as it will just run and perform like you would expect it to in a Windows operating system environment. However it doesn’t always go that smoothly for every piece of Windows software.

If you already have Wine installed on your computer, you can skip down to the “Let’s Give It A Try” section of this guide. Otherwise let’s look at how to install Wine on Linux.

Installing Wine via WineHQ

My preferred way to install Wine onto a Linux computer is via the WineHQ website. It offers a simple process to follow and foregoes many of the more complex steps that could otherwise be involved with other methods.

The installation instructions for Mint / Ubuntu can be found on their wiki page at: https://wiki.winehq.org/Ubuntu

Let’s follow the simple steps listed there under the “Installing WineHQ Packages” header.

We’ll need to run the lines of code that we see in the gray boxes one at a time using the Terminal. If you’re familiar with the command line in Windows, the Terminal in Linux is similar. In Mint, you can find the Terminal under the “Administration” section of the main menu, or under the “All Applications” section as well. Or you can open a Terminal window using the default keyboard shortcut: CTRL+ALT+T at any time.

If you don’t have any experience with this sort of thing, that’s okay. All we need to do is replicate what is shown on the WineHQ wiki page exactly and it will work. You could type it out by hand into the Terminal while referencing the webpage, but that method is prone to errors from mistyping.

The more reliable way to do it is using the copy and paste functions on your computer. Normally you can do this using the CTRL+C (copy) and CTRL+V (paste) keyboard commands, but in the Terminal these keyboard shortcuts perform completely different functions, so you’ll want to make use of the right mouse click menu instead for copying and pasting into the Terminal window.

With the WineHQ wiki page open, and a Terminal window ready, we’ll copy and paste the content in the gray boxes, and execute the code one line at a time. You will need to have administrator privileges to make these changes to your computer, so you’ll be asked to enter your password during these steps. You’ll also need internet access to download the necessary files.

So start by copying the line from the first gray box:
sudo dpkg — add-architecture i386

Paste that line into the Terminal using the right click menu, and then press the Enter key to run that line of code. Enter your administrator password at the prompt and press the Enter key to confirm.

When it is done, you will see the same blank prompt again that you saw at the start when first opening the Terminal, and that’s how you know it is ready for the next line to be entered.

Next, copy and paste the following line by itself into the Terminal:
wget -nc https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/winehq.key

And just like before, hit Enter to run it. When that step is finished, repeat the process with the next line down:
sudo apt-key add winehq.key

And again hit the Enter key. If at any point the computer asks you to confirm changes being made by pressing Y/N just press the Y key and press the Enter key again to continue the installation process.

For the next set of boxes, where it says “Add the repository” you only need to run the one line that corresponds to the version of Linux you are using.

For example, if it’s Ubuntu 18.04 or Linux Mint 19.x (x can be 1, 2, or 3 in this case) then you want to run the line in the “Use this command:” box that corresponds to that, which would be: sudo add-apt-repository ‘deb https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/ubuntu/ bionic main’ for those versions of their respective operating systems.

If you’re not sure which version number of Linux you are using, in Linux Mint you can find this information by going to the main menu, and under “Preferences” selecting the “System Info” application. In the window that appears, the name and version of your operating system will appear. It may not show the .x number after the decimal place in Linux Mint, but just use the corresponding main version number. So Linux Mint 19 would use the 19.x repository, and for Linux Mint 20, 20.x would be the one you want to use.

After you’ve added the repository for your version of operating system, next you’ll want to run the line:
sudo apt update

And when that process has finished, the last step on the WineHQ wiki page is where it says to install “one of the following packages.” I would recommend using the “Stable branch” for the most reliable overall experience.

That’s about all you need for the basic installation steps for Wine. It should be installed at this point if everything went well, and you can safely close the Terminal window. Now you’ll want to get your .exe file that runs the Windows software you are trying to get working. For the purposes of this article we’re looking at games made with RPG Maker or Tyranobuilder, but the principle is basically the same regardless of what Windows software you’re trying to run.

You should now notice that Wine is listed as the default handler for opening these types of files in Linux. The very first time you try to run an .exe file with Wine, you will probably get a prompt or two asking you whether or not you want Wine to automatically handle installing Gecko and/or Mono on your computer. I have had good success allowing Wine to handle this step, by choosing to install both of them at their prompts, so that is what I would recommend. Once Wine has automatically downloaded and installed both Gecko and Mono for you, chances are good you won’t see those prompts again after that.

Let’s Give It A Try

Now you should have Wine all set up and ready to go. You can probably start running a fair number of Windows games and software without having to do anything else at this point.

But I picked these particular types of games for this article because they are ones where I’ve run into some issues personally, and I wasn’t sure how to get them working at first, or if it was even possible. We’ll see how to resolve some of the issues they gave me, so you’ll hopefully have a better experience overall.

Let’s look at games made with each iteration of RPG Maker, and address the individual issues that I came across, and how to resolve them.

RPG Maker XP Games: No Text?

There is an issue I ran into with RPG Maker XP games. Wine ran the games successfully for me from a functional standpoint. They started up okay and everything seemed to be working. That is until the main menu loaded, and there was no text on the screen.

I could interact with menus still, and even start playing a game, but there was literally nothing to read on the screen where words were supposed to be. Fortunately, this one was an easy, one-time install sort of fix.

As it turns out, all you need to do is install font files that RPG Maker XP uses that aren’t necessarily installed by default in Linux. If you’re having this issue with a game made in RPG Maker XP that you’re trying to play, in Mint you’ll want to load up the Software Manager application. You can find it under the “Administration” section of the main menu.

What you’re looking for in the Software Manager are Microsoft core fonts, so if you just type “fonts” into the search bar, you should see in the results a package called “ttf-mscorefonts-installer” or something named very similar to that. That’s the one you need to install. Once you’ve got those fonts installed on your system, try running the RPG Maker XP game again using Wine, and you should see the text appear like you would normally expect.

Once I resolved that font related issue, from then on all RPG Maker XP games that I’ve tried have run great using Wine.

RPG Maker VX and VX Ace Games: They Work!

I have had good success running Windows versions of both RPG Maker VX and VX Ace games under Wine, without having to fiddle with any additional settings or install anything extra. In the event one of them ever didn’t work properly for me though, the first thing I would try is the solution provided in the next section below for RPG Maker MV games.

RPG Maker MV Games: Won’t Run At All! Doesn’t MV Support Linux? What Gives?!

Much to my surprise, when I tried to run an RPG Maker MV game from a Windows .exe file, Wine just failed to do so. It wouldn’t even get to the game’s title screen.

It is true that with the MV release of RPG Maker, they added Linux support for the first time. So it is possible for there to be Linux versions of RPG Maker MV games. With games that do offer those Linux versions I have had zero issues playing on Linux personally, and they run great without needing any additional software.

However, not every developer puts out a Mac or Linux version of their games even if the software itself allows them to. So it is common to find even RPG Maker MV games that are only available with Windows versions. It’s also worth noting that Linux support came later in the life cycle of RPG Maker MV and was not available when the software first released.

For a long time, I just thought that Windows versions of RPG Maker MV games weren’t going to work right under Wine. But one day I came across an extremely helpful comment on the WineHQ forums that held the solution to getting them up and running for me.

The post in question was at: https://forum.winehq.org/viewtopic.php?t=32470 and the secret magic that makes it all play nice was posted by user qwertymnb, which reads:

Re: Can’t Use TyranoBuilder Game

Post by qwertymnb » Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:43 am
Hi, that`s probably bug https://bugs.winehq.org/show_bug.cgi?id=44985

Things you might try:

WINEPREFIX=~/_prefix32_wine WINEARCH=win32 WINEDLLOVERRIDES=libglesv2.dll=d wine TeachingFeeling.exe

WINEPREFIX=~/_prefix32_wine WINEARCH=win32 wine TeachingFeeling.exe — disable-gpu

WINEPREFIX=~/_prefix32_wine WINEARCH=win32 wine TeachingFeeling.exe — no-sandbox

WINEPREFIX=~/_prefix32_wine WINEARCH=win32 wine TeachingFeeling.exe — single-process

Or any combination of the above, use trial and error! Could you let us know if it works?

Now an important thing to note here is the part at the end where it says “Or any combination of the above” because depending on your computer, you may have to use different options. In my case for example, I have to use a slightly different set of parameters on my desktop computer than I do on my laptop in order to get them working right, so just keep that in mind.

Now let’s look at the steps necessary to do this successfully.

First you want to go to the folder on your computer where your game’s .exe file is located. In Linux Mint, you want to right click somewhere in the empty space of that folder, and choose the “Open in Terminal” option. What this does is open a Terminal window that is pointed at the folder location you were just in.

You can also accomplish this using the “cd” command in a normal Terminal window (cd is short for “change directory”) followed by the path to the .exe file (for example: cd /home/yourusernamehere/Downloads). For me, using the right click option from inside the folder I want to access is much simpler to remember how to do. Either method will work though.

Once you have the Terminal open, and it’s pointed to the directory that has your game’s .exe file, copy that first line from qwertymnb’s comment, and paste it into the terminal.

So in the example they provided it would be:
WINEPREFIX=~/_prefix32_wine WINEARCH=win32 WINEDLLOVERRIDES=libglesv2.dll=d wine TeachingFeeling.exe

Now before you press Enter to run it, you need to change the part before the .exe to match the name of your game’s .exe file. “TeachingFeeling.exe” was the name of the person’s .exe file they were trying to run in the example. For many RPG Maker MV games it will simply be called “Game.exe” so you would replace it with that.

If your game’s filename has a space anywhere in it, then you need to have a “\” character placed in front of the space in order for the terminal to understand there is a space there.

So for example if your game’s .exe file is named “My Awesome Game.exe” in order to run it, you would have to add a \ character in front of the spaces, and type something like this into the Terminal:
WINEPREFIX=~/_prefix32_wine WINEARCH=win32 WINEDLLOVERRIDES=libglesv2.dll=d wine My\ Awesome\ Game.exe

Now when you press the Enter key, with any luck the game you are trying to run should function as you would expect it to when it is working normally. You may have to try one of the other options however.

Just to give you some examples of the differences I have personally experienced with getting things to run on various computers, I discovered that on my desktop, I can remove the prefix of the first option, and just run games successfully with a shorter version of the command like so:
WINEDLLOVERRIDES=libglesv2.dll=d wine Game.exe

And in the case of my laptop, I have to append the “- -no-sandbox” parameter at the end in order for games to work. So for example:
WINEDLLOVERRIDES=libglesv2.dll=d wine Game.exe- -no-sandbox

In your particular case, these changes that work for me may not work, or you might even need to use some of the other options on the list. Again, as qwertymnb suggested, use trial and error until you find a combination of options that will work for your individual computer.

Once you do find the combination that works for your computer, you’ll need to run the game from the Terminal in this manner each time you want to play it in the future, but other than that minor inconvenience, it should be relatively smooth sailing from there on in.

Tyranobuilder Games: They Fail to Start, They Start but then Crash, The Audio Plays but it’s a Black Screen … Yikes!

Fortunately, Tyranobuilder games in my experience will work very well using the same method described in the previous section for RPG Maker MV games. In fact, it was a Tyranobuilder game that I found that solution for online originally and applied it to with great success. It just so happened to also work when I tried it on RPG Maker MV games, much to my pleasant surprise.

What About Older RPG Maker Versions? Like 2000 or 2003?

For games made with the older RPG Maker 2000 and 2003 engines, these have been functional for me using Wine without modifying anything else, but I can’t exactly call the experience “ideal.” One common problem I’ve run into in trying to play these earlier RPG Maker games on Linux is the text ends up being very difficult to read.

There’s a font patch floating around on the internet that fixes this problem fairly easily for Windows computers, but I haven’t had the same sort of success trying to run that .exe file on Linux under Wine personally.

That said, the games do tend to at least be more or less playable, but I’ve run into poor resolution/display issues as well as audio not playing properly in addition to the difficult-to-read text problem. If you can stand the potentially subpar experience, Wine technically plays the games in most cases if you had no other alternative available to you.

There is however a much more elegant solution in the form of the free EasyRPG software, which you can find here: https://easyrpg.org/

EasyRPG was essentially designed to make running RPG Maker 2000 and 2003 games much simpler, and it seems to alleviate all font, audio, and display issues for these games in my experience. It’s definitely my preferred way to go about it personally for these older games. There’s even a core for EasyRPG in RetroArch, for those of you who are users of that program.

And since it is freely available on other operating systems and not just a Linux exclusive, it may also help improve the experience for those of you on Mac OS or even Windows users, who might be having some issues with older RPG Maker 2000 and 2003 games.

Bonus Section: Creating a Custom Launcher file in Linux (so you don’t have to keep running games via the Terminal)

I’m fairly lazy at times, and I quickly grew impatient with having to open up the Terminal and run a line of code every time I wanted to play an RPG Maker MV or Tyranobuilder game.

Fortunately, there is a fairly simple way to create a file that can essentially launch the game for you using the necessary specified parameters. It saves you from having to copy and paste or type the code into the Terminal each time, and is especially helpful if you have multiple games or software with their own unique filenames for their .exe files.

The basic directions for creating this type of file are as follows for Linux Mint:

  • Go to the folder where your game’s .exe file is saved.
  • Right click on an empty space in the folder, and choose “Create New Document” then choose “Empty Document”
  • Name the file whatever you want, and give it a .sh file extension at the end. Example: Game Launcher.sh
  • Right click on the new .sh file and choose “Open with Text Editor”
  • Add the appropriate line(s) into the text editor that let you run the game, just like you did using the Terminal in the RPG Maker MV section of this article.
  • Save the changes to the file and close the text editor.
  • Right click on the .sh file again and choose “Properties.” Under “Permissions” check the box next to “Allow executing file as program” and then save changes and close the Properties window.
  • Finally just double click the .sh file, and when it asks you what you would like to do, choose “Run in Terminal” and that should be it. Whenever you want to run that game in the future, you just have to repeat this final step.

That’s a wrap! Happy gaming!

And that’s about it for this how-to guide. If you found it helpful, or discovered any other interesting things during this process, feel free to discuss it further in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading!

I’ve a knack for tutorials & how-to’s, unusual perspectives that express themselves thru words, and I love writing about video games, especially wholesome ones.

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