My thoughts on Game Maker

Game-Maker-Studio-Logo

if YouWantToMakeAGame = true && SteamInstalled = true
{
open(Game Maker);
make(shit right now);
}
else
{
YouFail = true;
}

Game Maker is a game engine with a very matter of fact name. No nonsense here.

If you own a PC and have ever played a video game on said PC, you probably already own the basic version of Game Maker. It comes installed by default on your Steam account. Chances are, you’ve looked at it a few times, maybe even opened it once or twice. According to Steam, I’ve used it for 110 hours in the past two months. That’s about the same amount of time the average non-gamer spends on Netflix in the same period.

Let’s establish some of Game Maker’s (from here on in to be referred to as GM) credentials. Hotline Miami? Gunpoint? Spelunky? All critically acclaimed, commercially successful games – all made in GM. It’s a powerful tool – provided you’re making a 2D game. You can make 3D games in GM, but your time and effort would be better spent learning Unity or Unreal Engine instead.

There are two ways to work in GM – writing code, and using the ‘drag and drop’ system. If writing code is the equivalent of builder building a house brick by brick with cement and a spirit level, drag and drop is the equivalent of a builder building a house by hitting a bag of gravel with an inflatable whale.

DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO USE DRAG AND DROP

LEARN TO CODE

Or you will never make anything that works the way you want it to.

Coding in GM is done via GM’s own language – GML (guess what that stands for). It’s pretty easy to get to grips with, especially if you have a solid grounding in any commonly used language such as JavaScript or Python. I started learning GML with only a rudimentary knowledge of JavaScript and within a week I was comfortable. Two months on and I the limit to what I can do with GML is really only hampered by my knowledge of maths (I recently went through most of the secondary school trigonometry syllabus just to make a turret in a top down shooter behave properly).

Since GM is so popular, there is a fantastic online community dedicated to it. Yoyo games (the creators of GM) have an official forum that I’ve used several times. Post a coding-related question and you’ll normally get a helpful answer within minutes.

If you’re interested in game development, but a bit unsure as to where to start, GM is an absolutely fantastic place to start. Fire it up, watch a few basic tutorials on Youtube, and then just play around. Within a few weeks, you’ll actually be making things. Impressive things!

Just please, for the love of all that is holy, stay away from the drag and drop stuff and learn to code.

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