Game Maker

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Game Maker
Image:Game Maker 7.0 About.jpg

The Game Maker user interface. An example of the sprite properties, object properties and path editor are visible.
Developed by YoYo Games, Mark Overmars
Initial release November 15, 1999
Stable release 7.0 [+/−]
Preview release 7.0 Mac [+/−]
Written in Delphi
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Available in English
Type Game development/program development
License Proprietary
Website YoYo Games

Game Maker, often refered to as GM, is a proprietary software application written by Mark Overmars in the Delphi programming language. Overmars released the first public version on November 15, 1999. It is currently at version 7.

Originally, Game Maker was named Animo, as a graphics creation tool, and eventually was programmed into an easy development tool for programming specifically for inexperienced programmers.

Game Maker's primary development interface uses a drag-and-drop system, allowing users unfamiliar with traditional programming to intuitively create games by visually organizing icons on the screen. Game Maker comes with a set of standard action libraries, covering such things as movement, basic drawing, and simple control structures. To extend the drag-and-drop functionality of Game Maker, users can use custom-built action libraries to add new actions (drag-and-drop command icons) to their games. These can be created (generally by more advanced users) using the official special library builder tool.

This program is designed to allow its users to easily develop computer games without having to learn a complex programming language such as C++ or Java, while at the same time teaching the user basic syntax and OOP. For experienced users, Game Maker contains a built-in scripting programming language called the Game Maker Language (GML), allowing the user to further customize their game and expand features. Games can be distributed under any license subject to the terms of Game Maker's EULA, in non-editable executable .exe files or as .gmk (Version 7.x), .gm6 (Version 6.x), .gmd (Version 5.x and 4.x), and .gmf (Version 3 and below) source files. Users of Game Maker are allowed to distribute and even sell their creations as long as they comply with the terms of the Game Maker EULA, which prohibits a number of illicit programs such as those which involve unauthorized use of copyrighted material or those which are unlawful in general.

Game Maker is becoming more widely known and used. It has attracted many users, mainly because of the program's accessibility to beginners while allowing complex tasks to be done by more advanced users. It is not as narrow in game creation as some other programs, as it allows the creation of many types of games, including platform games, first-person shooters, third-person shooters, massively multiplayer online games and construction and management simulation games. It is also possible to create standard applications with Game Maker.


[edit] Features

As of April 2009, Game Maker is at version 7, released on February 28, 2007. It still incorporates the use of Direct3D, allowing the use of limited 3D graphics, and adds limited support for simple 3D models. Converters make it possible to use more popular 3D formats such as .3ds, and .obj for use in a 3D project. It also supports the ability to create particle effects such as rain, snow and clouds.

Game Maker is available as an unregistered version ("Lite") free of charge and a registered version ("Pro"). The registered version, which costs 20, $25, or £20, extends the features available, such as the ability to incorporate DLLs, and use Direct3D, particles and advanced drawing functions. The free version displays a small Game Maker advertisement during the loading of the game, while the registered version removes this.

The new website from which Game Maker can be downloaded is Game Maker's runner program has improved over the years and gained wider functionality, particularly in the graphics area, allowing for easy alpha adjustments and blending settings for sprites and other shapes. Starting with version 6, Game Maker has adapted to use DirectX 8, making some of these effects possible, though it has led to an increase in the system requirements.

Game Maker itself is not limited to the functions and abilities included in the Game Maker Language. Game Maker games can load and use DLLs for additional functionality. The community has developed a variety of DLLs to extend Game Maker with things such as socket support and MySQL connectivity. As of version 7, the new extension mechanism allows users to include DLLs, GML scripts and action libraries in pre-built extension packages.

There are many tools for Game Maker including the Library Maker, a program to create libraries of drag-and-drop functions, and the Extension Maker, which allows for the creation of scripts and functions in GML. Several resource packs can be downloaded on the website. The older versions are also available for download.

[edit] Lite and Pro editions

When downloading the software, only the Lite Edition is free of charge. In the Lite Edition of the software, fewer functions are available and some demo games, such as Asteroids, do not work as they use functions that are only available in the Pro Edition of the software. The Lite Edition is free but displays the logo of Game Maker and gives a limited availability to all the functions written on the Game Maker software. The Lite Edition of the software lacks some functions, such as basic 3D game making, playing music from a CD in the CD drive, extended graphic options, such as transforming the image to a new size/shape, and creating a particle system which gives the option to create some effects such as rain, explosions, fireworks and sparks without downloading third-party extensions and scripts.

Upgrading to the Pro Edition costs $25 USD. One license works on three user accounts on one or different computers, but an extra $9.95 can be paid to get a backup CD for running the Pro Edition on any computer with the CD in the drive. There are a number of known problems with the upgrade, including a tendency for the Pro mode to revert to Lite mode. This problem seems to happen frequently, yet to a very small number of users. One moderator on the GMC announced that in version 8, they will be using a different digital rights management system than Softwrap, which has been blamed for these errors.

[edit] Game Maker Language

The Game Maker Language (GML) is a scripting language in Game Maker which allows for users to further enhance and control the design of their game through conventional programming as opposed to the drag-and-drop system. The syntax of GML borrows aspects from other languages such as C, C++ and Pascal. This has led to some confusion and caused some to believe such languages can be used directly in Game Maker.

Originally, GML was designed to supplement the drag-and-drop interface, allowing more advanced users to add additional functionality to their games or programs. Newer versions of Game Maker actually use GML as their base, with all of the drag-and-drop functions coming as pre-written GML scripts.

GML is an interpreted programming language instead of a compiled language. When Game Maker creates a stand alone game, all GML (including drag and drop functions) is packed into the game executable. Every time the generated program is executed, an included interpreter carries out the commands indicated by the GML code. Being an interpreted language, GML is generally slower than compiled languages such as C++.

GML also includes support for loading and using DLLs. This allows functions and routines to be written in other programming languages such as C++, Delphi, Pascal and others.

[edit] Extension packages

Game Maker supports the use of both specially programmed DLLs and specialized Game Maker extension files created with a separate editor which can contain DLLs, Libraries, GML scripts and any other desired resource. This allows users of Game Maker to add new features and functions to the program using GML or a compiled language such as C++ or Delphi. Several websites have been created since the addition of extensions in version 7.0 of the program to let users upload and share their extensions including a dedicated section of the GMC and also a section of YoYo Games.

[edit] YoYo Games

On January 26, 2007, Mark Overmars announced he would be working with a UK company named YoYo Games.[1] The company, headed by CEO Sandy Duncan (ex Vice President of Xbox Europe),[2] was founded to support future development of Game Maker, and develop a community for developers and casual gamers. The motive behind the cooperation is it would bring faster and better development to Game Maker and provide a better website for its users. The website is a community where users can upload, share, and play their created games and those made by others, while being able to review and discuss them, and games in development on the website. It will also provide an extended help system and support for sharing resources. YoYo Games has redesigned the Game Maker Community (GMC) and has published Game Maker 7. As of April 28, 2007, the YoYo Games website has been officially released to the public.[3] Their involvement provoked mixed views within the community, causing many users not to move to Game Maker 7.[citation needed]

YoYo Games provide a free hosting service for Game Maker games. By early October 2008, approximately 24,000 user generated games had been uploaded. The website also has an Instant Play feature to play games online, as well as downloads on all content (unless the game designer specifies otherwise). As of April 2008, the Instant Play feature became the primary method for playing games from the website, due to fear of the Game Maker Decompiler. Downloading games is still possible, through a "Play Offline" feature.

On January 10, 2008, YoYo Games concluded its first Game Maker competition,[4] awarding $1750 in prizes to the three winning developers, and promised similar contests in the near future. On 1 February, 2008, YoYoGames announced a second competition, based on the theme of "ancient civilizations", with prize money of $1750. The third competition is based on a cooperation theme with, again, $1750 in prize money. The fourth contest is based on a Save The Earth theme and has ended just recently.

[edit] System requirements

The following specifications reflect the system requirements of Game Maker's exported executable files. The Game Maker tool has unspecified, but significantly lower requirements.[5]

System requirements for Game Maker 7.x:

System requirements for Game Maker 6.x:

  • DirectX 8 or later
  • DirectX 8 compatible graphics card with at least 16MB of video memory (32MB or more recommended)
  • Pentium or equivalent processor
  • DirectX 8 compatible sound card
  • 64 MB of memory or greater (noted only in official Game Maker help file documentation)
  • 800×600 or greater screen resolution with 16-bit or 32-bit colors

System requirements for Game Maker 5.x:

Versions 6.x and the .exe files from those versions do not work with the Microsoft Windows Vista or the Windows 7 operating system, due to an incompatible compression implementation in its creation of executable files. Version 7 of the program, however, works correctly with Vista, as well as most supported functions in versions 5.x and prior. As of June 24, 2007, Mark Overmars made a program to convert .exe files created with version 6 to work on Windows Vista.[6]

[edit] Educational use

Game Maker was written by Mark Overmars, a professor of the University of Utrecht, partly as a teaching aid for his students. It is gaining recognition as a useful teaching tool in primary and secondary schools because of its easy entry and sophisticated scripting language.[citation needed]

[edit] Game Maker Community

The Game Maker Community is an online forum with over 80,000 members, made to discuss Game Maker. The current forum was created by Mark Overmars on September 18, 2003, a month after the first release and is now a subdomain of the official YoYo Games website.

[edit] Macintosh version

Last year, Sandy Duncan announced a port of Game Maker for Mac OS X was being developed. A beta version should have been running by the end of March 2008, but was delayed until sometime in late April, then again until November, when it was released in a private beta. The reasons for the delays were mostly due to a lack of some required functionality in the development suite being used.

YoYo has announced in their "glog" that they are currently fixing some bugs and putting on the final touches.[7] To start with, the runner was released without the editor. This rendered the runner unusable, but soon after the fault was corrected and the editor was made available to those in the private beta. The beta is full of bugs; however, most of the issues are minor. The YoYoGames team is currently working on the beta and will eventually release the second beta.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Public announcement from Mark Overmars, Game Maker Community
  2. ^ YoYo Games on
  3. ^ GMC post by Mark Overmars officially announcing the renewed opening of the YoYo Games website
  4. ^ YoYo Games Winter Competition on the YoYo Games website
  5. ^ The official Game Maker documentation
  6. ^ The topic where Mark Overmars released the converter
  7. ^ YoYo Games. "Game Maker 4 Apple Mac Update". YoYoGames Glog. Retrieved on 2008-11-10. 

[edit] External links

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