Yoyogames just released Game Maker Studio 1.1. It looks like there are a lot of positive new developments happening with the platform, and I’m really excited about a few of them. Lots of good new features!
YYG has changed the pricing structure again. The exiting news (for those who may have been reluctant to try Studio due to its higher cost) is that there is now a free edition, which gives beginners a way to get in to try things out. Unfortunately, Studio Free is more feature-restricted than the old Game Maker Lite. The 8.x line is still available for download and purchase, at the same prices as before, but the old version is a bit further deprecated now, lacking prominent position on the YYG homepage.
The new Standard Edition is still just $49, no different than Game Maker 8.x Standard. Professional remains at $99, with the same price for the additional modules that you can buy separately. Or, if you want everything all at once, you have the option of spending $499 for Master Edition, which saves you $99 over the cost of Professional + all the additional modules.
I haven’t heard whether they’re planning to allow early adopters of Professional to move to Master Edition at a discounted price yet, but even if they don’t it’s nice to see the price coming down.
Another nice freebie is that Professional allows you to test Android apps, even if you don’t have the license for the Android module. I’m particularly looking forward to finally getting into mobile development. I had not yet spend the money on the mobile app modules, so the free testing on Android is a great thing for me to get my start on Android.
Gone from the site is any mention of a Symbian module. I’m assuming that since even Nokia is giving up Symbian OS and has gotten in bed for better or worse with Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, we may in time see a module to allow Windows Phone as a build target. [Update: on 9/20/2012 YoYoGames announced that Game Maker Studio will target Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 platforms.]
I’d like to voice a desire for a linux build target module. Since Android and OS X are both based on unix, I’d hope that extending support to Linux would be feasible.
The new audio engine and room designer are welcome, and I’m interested to see what they offer. One of the audio limitations in Game Maker that I’ve wished to overcome is generating sounds procedurally. I see a lot of potential in musical games where the game objects can generate different tones and pitches depending on what’s going on in the game. Whether the new audio engine allows this or not remains to be seen — I haven’t had time to play with it yet.
The room editor improvements are always good to see, as well. I’d like to see YYG continue to develop the editor into a more usable level editor, with faster UI access to the different objects and tiles, so that building rooms becomes less tedious.
I’d also really like to see them provide some built-in room templates for “boilerplate” things such as the title screen, configuration screen, achievements and high scores, load/save screens, etc.
The really exciting new feature is the Developer’s Portal, with its analytics and monetization features. This will make it far easier for independent game developers to realize a return on their investment in the more expensive Professional license, and hopefully will help quell criticism of the higher pricing. Reducing the effort needed to make money with Game Maker is huge. I’m really looking forward to delving into these features and learning all about them.
What else could I wish for?
Anytime a new version gets released, I think about features I’d like to see. My current list:
- An interactive GML console. It’d be great to be able to write a line (or block, or function) of GML code and execute it in a console just so you can confirm that it does what you’re expecting quickly, without having to build and run a project. The instant feedback would speed up my development.
- Drag n Drop to GML converter built in to IDE. Drag and Drop actions are the way newbies learn Game Maker. I also use them when I’m trying to throw something together quickly for a proof of concept, because it’s handy. How handy would it be to right-click on my Event and select a “Convert DnD to GML” command, and have it automatically convert those Drag and Drop actions into a single Execute GML Code action?
- Linux built target. I’d really like to see my Game Maker projects running on native linux someday.
- A cross-platform Game Maker IDE. YYG has announced that they’re working on the Mac version of the IDE. I’d like to see a Linux version at some point, too.
- A robust GML pause() function to allow for easy, painless implementation of pause. Or a family of functions that give a variety of approaches to pausing your game. Or maybe even a Pause event, so you can easily define what your objects do when the game is paused (I envision telling objects to stop their collision event handlers, but continue their drawing/sprite animation, stop making sounds but make the background music volume reduce, dimming the whole screen while displaying a pause message or pause menu.) Hmm…
- Room templates (mentioned above) to make all the typical non-game screens (title screen, configuration screen, highscore/achievements screen, etc.) easier and faster to configure.
- User Control Widgets — a set of skinnable, extendible UI widgets to make it easy to make buttons, text boxes, pulldown menus, listboxes and all the other controls that make up a UI. Just wrap up Qt or GTK+ and be done with it:)
- Expanded Object classes. Generic do-everything Objects are great for their flexibility, but it gets tedious re-implementing the same types of objects again and again. Developing generic solutions that you can import into your projects as needed takes time and, while a good way to really learn programming and the Game Maker framework, is hard to get right. It’d be really great if there were some common subclasses of Object built right in to Game Maker, for things like platforms, pickup items, particle systems, object spawners, bullets, and so on, to make game development even faster than it already is.
- HTML5 integration with popular CMS platforms such as WordPress, Drupal, Ruby on Rails, etc. I’d like to be able to present an HTML5 within a wordpress page or article without the need for iframes, and to store the project as assets in my wordpress media library somehow. And possibly other things.
- Better Drag and Drop hover text. If you use DnD actions in your events, you’ll know that when you hover over the action, a tool tip will appear telling you what it is doing. There’s room for improvement here, in principle it should be possible to word the tooltip text in such a way that it isn’t necessary to open up the action to see what it does — only to edit. I’ll have to remember to post an example later to make this clearer.
- Non-modal edit windows on Execute GML Code actions. It’s a pain not to be able to switch window focus when editing a Execute GML Code action. Script windows are not modal, you can freely switch between them and have more than one open at a time, so these should be the same way.
- A pony. Everyone wants a pony.