First Impressions - GameMaker: Studio

GameMaker: Studio's tutorial game: Catch the Clown

Yes I'm a big sucker for Steam sales but if there's something I get even more excited about when it's on sale it would have to be game development tools. Somehow I'm always lulled into thinking that if I happen to own all these resources maybe the awesome game ideas in my head will magically become reality! Of course, you've got to actually work hard to make your games come reality yet here I am with several programs for game creation and nothing to show for it - at least not yet. Which tools am I taking about? Namely Multimedia Fusion 2, RPG Maker VX Ace (stay tuned for my first impressions on this one) and GameMaker: Studio. I've also dabbled a bit with Ren'Py and Adventure Game Studio but thankfully these tools are free, unlike the first three I mentioned. Why does that matter? Because I'd like to make some money from these game development tools so I can recoup their costs :P!

Admittedly I didn't spend much on the tools and I in fact managed to get GameMaker: Studio on sale for under $50 - actually I think it was more like $25 but I can't recall the exact price - whatever the case, still a bargain in my eyes, especially when you consider some pretty awesome and commercially successful games were made with GameMaker: Studio such as Gunpoint, Hotline Miami, Cook Serve, Delicious! and Spelunky to name a few. Also like Multimedia Fusion 2 and RPG Maker, GameMaker has been around for quite some time now with the first version of it being released in 1999, making all of these tools well established in the gaming community.

Like Clickteam's Fusion series, there are actually several versions of GameMaker: Studio available with differing levels of functionality (depending on how much moolah you're willing to spend). Also like Clickteam, YoYo Games (the developer of GameMaker) charge a pretty penny for any export modules you wish to add (i.e. software used to export your game onto other platforms besides Microsoft Windows). It's actually a bit confusing since apparently GameMaker: Studio is free on Steam at the moment but it says I only have that version, even though I purchased what I believe to be GameMaker: Studio Standard.

I've had a quick dabble with GameMaker: Studio's first tutorial, checked out some of the games developed by it and had a look at some of their community help pages. This is what I've gathered.

What I like

  • Quick and easy to make basic games: I spent a couple of hours with the tutorial and that was all I needed to get a basic game. True all the art and audio assets were already there for me to use but this means you can make a basic game very quickly.
  • Price: Apparently you can now get GameMaker: Studio free but you're required to show the GameMaker splash screen at the beginning - so not bad if you want to give it a shot but you'll have to invest some cash in purchasing the real deal if you want to create games professionally
  • Potential for many genres of games: Just like Multimedia Fusion 2, it seems like you can make many sorts of games with GameMaker although the predominant genre by far is platformers (followed by SHMUPs and puzzle games)
  • GameMaker games have already done very well commercially: In fact I believe they've probably done even better than commercial Multimedia Fusion 2 games (as mentioned, Gunpoint, Hotline Miami, Cook, Serve, Delicious! and Spelunky were all made with GameMaker) - I'm not sure why this is because both seem very similar in their capabilities and Clickteam has been around slightly longer.
  • Can export to Mac OS X and Windows 8 too: I think this is the advantage of the version I bought over Steam which is the GameMaker: Studio Standard Edition. Can't be sure though since it technically says I can still buy a copy of it! From what I've read on the GameMaker: Studio site though, the free version only has export to Microsoft Windows
  • More options when importing audio files: Importing audio files allows you to specify whether it's compressed or uncompressed and gives you a couple of other options too. If this is the case when importing other files too this is definitely a welcome feature. Note that GameMaker: Studio appears to prefer MP3s over OGGs (which is what Multimedia Fusion 2 uses).
  • Professional User Interface: Multimedia Fusion 2's interface looks like something knocked up in the 90s while GameMaker: Studio's looks more professional and has a more-or-less logical placement of various tools and windows. However, to be fair I haven't used Clickteam Fusion 2.5 which is the latest tool to be distributed by Clickteam.

What I don't like

  • Expensive to continue development: If you want to export games into other platforms it's going to cost you a pretty penny, so you'd better be damn sure you'll recoup your costs :).
  • Tutorial isn't idiot-proof: I actually made some mistakes in the tutorial and it took quite awhile to find the reason why. It was also hard to read at parts due to several typos (not very professional). While on the topic of tutorials, I found it difficult to discover good tutorials or well-organised repositories of them with GameMaker when compared to Mutimedia Fusion 2. Perhaps Clickteam have a more cohesive community or are just more active in the community, but that's only a very early speculation.
  • Seems more reliant on coding than dragging-and-dropping: When using Multimedia Fusion 2 I could accomplish everything I wanted to do in the early tutorials without needing to do any coding/scripting. In the very first tutorial for GameMaker: Studio I had to use a keyword that represented an in-built GameMaker variable in order to turn the sprite in the correct direction. Not a biggie but from what I've also read online it seems that GameMaker is a lot more reliant on in its native scripting language GML for more powerful functionality. Moreso than Multimedia Fusion 2. This is fine if you're prepared to learn a whole new scripting language but not good for those who dislike scripting or are quite happy with the 20 programming languages they already have stored in their head.


Just like Multimedia Fusion 2, GameMaker: Studio seems ideal in making small, 2D, action/arcade indie games for Windows (and Mac OS X) quickly. It's already got several commercially successful examples to prove its abilities. Creating anything more complex though may require some investment in learning its native scripting language GML.

Oh and for those of you asking if it's better than Multimedia Fusion 2? Unfortunately, I have to sit on the fence. They are both, at first glance, very similar in what they're capable of although I think it may boil down to whether you're comfortable with scripting to expand the functionality of your game or not. If the answer is yes, GameMaker may be your best bet otherwise stick with Multimedia Fusion 2.

[LINK: Official GameMaker: Studio website]