News for January 2021

Game Engine Research

GameMaker Studio 2 (GMS2)

I personally had zero experience with game engine/ game design prior to GMS2, therefore I’m not able to evaluate GMS2 based on comparison with other game engines. This review is entirely based on my (very) limited experience creating a simple game using GMS2 with the aid of online tutorials.

Overview

GMS2 is a great game engine for pros as well as self-learners/beginners. Its well-designed interfaces allow users to easily create and organize assets with. There are a lot of supporting resources for game makers and gamers, both in software and on YoYo Games’ official website. The Marketplace exists as a community space for resource sharing and game publishing. It not only is a great learning centre but also a possible starting point for the development of emerging/independent game designers.

There are limitations. So far, I have seen many games produced using GMS2 during my research online, most of which are pixel games. I assume GMS2 is genre-specific and probably not an ideal engine for those who want to create games that have high-resolution images. However, this does not prevent game designers from expressing amazing concepts and ideas using GMS2. Users can still create various types of games such as action games, adventure games, role-playing games, puzzle games, Simulation games and so on.

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GameMakerStudio (GMS2)

Download:

  • Quick download
  • Offers free trial for 30 days. You will need to register a YoYo account first with your email, username and password. It was a fairly quick registration. You’ll need that later to access the software as well
  • Works on both windows and mac systems.
  • Follow the steps and install the downloaded package. Took less than 1 min to install on my mac. Mono Framework will be automatically installed when you are first signing into the GMS2. It took me 2 minutes to install.

 

Tutorial:

You need your YOYO account info to sign in. As soon as I signed in, I realized that I knew nothing about game making… Luckily there is a ‘Tutorial’ icon on the start page. The tutorials there are mainly non-video ones that walk you through the interfaces and functions. It is quite informative and convenient to refer to whenever you got questions.

Besides the ones in the software, you can also find tutorials on their official website. I recommend accessing tutorials through their website because there are more options including written tutorials and video tutorials. Some tutorials are provided by YoYo Official; others are created by independent content creators. Both can be very useful for learning GMS2 as well as game making. Videos are rated as beginner or intermediate for users to choose accordingly.

As someone with zero experience, I decided to follow My First Game – DnD – Space Rocks (Part 1- Part 5). This series of tutorials caught my eye because the game looks very retro, similar to the one that I used to play on my grandpa’s cellphone (long before smartphones were born!). It is great that each video is around 13 to 15 minutes long. I always get overwhelmed watching long tutorials because I would easily forget lots of things by the end.

I learned in Part 1 about the three essential elements in game making, which are sprite, object and room. When creating a new game project, we can choose from DnD Drag And Drop (using visual scripting language) and GML – GameMaker Language (using coding language).  I chose to continue with DnD version of the tutorial since DnD might be easier for those who don’t have coding experiences. For viewers who want to learn more about DnD and GML, the video creator also provides an insightful comparison of the two in the comment. I appreciate that the creator explained everything in a simple and straightforward way, which makes the tutorials a lot more beginner-friendly.  The tutorial went on quite fast. I found it easier to play the tutorial on my tablet while working on my laptop so that I could follow step-by-step without constantly pausing and switching screens. Also, the video creator was operating GMS2 on windows, keep in mind that the interfaces are slightly different (but mostly identical) on mac.

Part 2 to Part 5 of the tutorial focus on making the Space Rocks game step by step. So far, I have watched and followed part 2. In part 2, I was able to set up all the objects needed and create movements for each of them. When you create your sprites, you will be able to create images for them. It was similar to how you create images with photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. As simple as I made my sprite, I imagine you can also make it quite detailed and fancy.

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Everything went extremely smoothly, but I realize that was because all correct statistics and pre-sets were given to us by the creator. Events are important because they create corresponding actions that you want for your games. Creating the right events on your own can be a lot more difficult if you are not familiar with the functions. That also reminds me that game design is never a linear process, there are always stats to experiment with and bugs to fix. Even when I was following step by step, I could forget to switch sprite and ended up resetting the size of the canvas three times for the same sprite… but that was just me lol, might not happen to you:) Even though I don’t necessarily know what functions/values to type in myself, the video explains the logic behind every input. It helps me learn about some of the basic functions and values involved in this simple game. So next time I will be having some sense of how to achieve the effects I want using those functions. By the end of Part 2, I have a moveable ship (the arrow) and various floating asteroids.

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I haven’t been able to finish the tutorial series, but Part3 to Part 5 will introduce attacking & collisions, lives & effects, effects & polish. By the end of part 5, you will be able to accomplish your very first game!

 

Software-Using Experience

One thing I really like about this game engine is that the layout is clean and organized. For example, Under Create Asset, there are both words and graphics indicating what you are going to create with each button. Designs like that create less confusion than just words.

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As your game design progresses, there will be more open windows in your workspace, and it might start to seem like a lot. However, everything is organized under Asset Browser where you can either look for the one you want by category or type in its name and search for it.

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There are two buttons that I found convenient: Run and Debug (located on the top menu bar). Run button is for testing your game at every stage; Debug button is for finding out the errors. Because GMS2 is the first game engine I get to learn about, I am not sure if every other game engine has the same functions. I can imagine they can be quite useful, especially in more complex game designs.

You can also access YoYo Marketplace from the top menu, which will lead you to open a webpage https://marketplace.yoyogames.com/ where you will find tons of purchasable resources including colour effects, templates, tools, scripts and so on. You can also purchase and play games that are designed by other GMS2 users. The idea of forming a community within the marketplace is good for learning as a beginner as well as developing as a game designer.

Overall, GameMaker Studio 2 is a user-friendly, genre-specific game engine that has a well-designed user interface and some helpful features. I will continue learning it and hopefully be able to make my own game one day.

Posted: January 28th, 2021
Categories: DIGF6018
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