Tag: Game Maker Studio

GameMaker Studio 1.2.1146 update greatly expands tutorials

From the release notes:

  • Tutorials and Demos are now downloaded from our servers, reduces installer size – allows us to add many more tutorials and demos
    • Uses an RSS feed to get the information, allows other feeds to be added
    • Users can create their own RSS feed for their own Tutorials and Demos
    • 16 New Tutorials added that cover a variety of subjects from getting started, through touch controls to ads and facebook integration.

This is a very cool feature indeed! The ability to add third party RSS feeds to the Tutorials and Demos promises to make the GameMaker developer community even tighter, by accelerating the sharing of knowledge and techniques. While there is a great deal of information on how to do things in GameMaker at the GMC Forums, on various websites, and on YouTube, now users will be able put everything into a nicely aggregated channel accessible directly through the GameMaker: Studio IDE.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what the community of developers, which likely numbers in the thousands or tens of thousands, comes up with.

Game Maker Studio 1.1 released

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!

New Pricing

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.

Target platforms

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.

Developer Features

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. Linux built target. I’d really like to see my Game Maker projects running on native linux someday.
  4. 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.
  5. 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…
  6. 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.
  7. 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:)
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. A pony. Everyone wants a pony.

D’oh! Game Maker Studio requires a Mac to build an OS X game

So, last night, for the first time I tried building a Game Maker Studio project to OS X. I was a little surprised to discover that apparently GM:Studio needs to connect to a Mac OS X system in order to complete its build process. This makes it a little bit of a problem to build OS X projects.

I guess the upshot of that is that it means that it is impossible to create OS X builds in a dev environment where there is no means to test them. On the other hand, I guess the true cost of Studio is around $2500 since I have to buy a Mac. But hey, I suppose that could be a tax deductible expense if I’m buying it for business purposes. I know they make them cheaper, but I probably wouldn’t buy a mini. Eh, maybe. I’ll have to kick it around and decide, but I’m more into the idea of getting a MacBook Pro.

Game Maker HTML5 and WordPress

Site traffic on the WordPress portion of csanyk.com is up due to Ludum Dare. According to my Jetpack stats counter, got about double my usual visits on Saturday, mostly as a result of posting my alpha build of Karyote. Traffic yesterday was about at the same level. It’s too early to know whether the increase in traffic will be sustained or not, but I’d expect there might be a small bump with a long tail.

This does not include hits of the actual Karyote game url, which is not hosted within my WordPress site. I haven’t looked at the awstats numbers yet, but I’m kindof curious to know many people are playing the game now.

I’d like to get my Game Maker HTML5 games better integrated to WordPress, but (as of the last time I played with doing that, during the GM:HTML5 beta, at least) it is tricky, and I haven’t gotten it working right yet.

Game Maker Studio auto-generates a basic HTML5 page for your game when you build it, but it’s not a simple matter to cut and paste the necessary code from that page into a WordPress page.

YoYoGames should probably think about providing CMS integrators so that people can have an easier time packaging their games in a way that allows them to integrate with WordPress, Blogger, Drupal, Django, and other CMS frameworks.

While I’m wishing, it’d also be cool if Studio has a feature allowing you to modify the template used to generate their HTML5 page. That feature could exist for all I know, I need to get more familiar with the HTML5 features of Studio.

Hopefully if they don’t, at least the dev community will step forward and address it.

Game Maker beta license expiration cuts off access to tools

This past weekend was the Game Maker Community Jam, a 72-hr game development competition sponsored by Yoyogames. I didn’t participate in this one, unfortunately, due to my license for Game Maker Studio being revoked. Here’s what happened:

Back in January, I participated in Global Game Jam, at which I obtained a free, time-limited license for Game Maker: HTML5, then in beta Due to bugs that I encountered with Game Maker HTML5, I had to start over twice after my project became corrupted, for reasons still unknown but hopefully long since fixed by Yoyogames. I ended up completing my project that weekend with my old standby, Game Maker 8.0 Professional. I just barely got it done, but had to sacrifice a lot of sleep and many features that I’d hoped to include as a result of the time/work lost due to the project corruption bug.

A few months later, in April, Yoyogames released Game Maker: Studio beta, which I downloaded, and I began using it. I played with the Studio beta a bit during Ludum Dare 23, but quickly realized that a 48-hr competition is no time to be discovering a new version of a tool, so again I fell back to a stable release, this time Game Maker 8.1. After LD23, I began porting my project, Bactarium, to Studio, refining it along the way.

Some time later, Game Maker Studio concluded its beta testing, and released 1.0. My beta license stopped working, so I had to buy Studio. Yoyogames had made an offer with their Global Game Jam that participants who tried out the HTML5 beta, which they had offered to GGJ participants for free, would be able to get 50% off when it was finally released. So, when I went to their web site to purchase my license, I was expecting to have to pay something. However, when I entered my old HTML5 license, the store allowed me to download the core Studio 1.0, as well as the HTML5 add-on license, for free.

Apparently this was in error, but at the time I had no way to know this, no way to claim the 50% discount that I should have been entitled to. I assumed that Yoyogames was being really gracious to people who participated in the HTML5 and Studio beta program — maybe I was getting two discounts and they stacked? In any case, I would have been willing to pay for the product if the site had been set up to take my money, but it wasn’t, and it didn’t require me to pay anything. The HTML5 license I received at GGJ apparently entitled me to download the GM:Studio 1.0 core, plus the HTML5 module, all for free. I was of course thrilled.

So I downloaded Studio 1.0 and used it, working on bringing Bactarium into Studio so that I could port it to Mac OS X and HTML5, and worked on a few other tech demos as well to familiarize myself with the new features. Things have worked fine up until last week, when I went to download and install the latest update. After installing, when Studio launched it told me that no license was detected and I needed to enter it. Figuring the license data had gotten blown away by the upgrade for some reason, I went through the license recovery process and re-entered my license key. However, Studio refused to accept my key.

I opened a ticket with Yoyogames helpdesk, and promptly received a response within 24 hours, informing me that my license key was no longer valid, as the HTML5 license that I had from Global Game Jam had expired. OK, I can accept that, no big deal. The communication from Yoyogames helpdesk further explained that they would be sending out coupon codes within about a week to people who participated in the beta, so they could get their discount. So, basically, I could choose to wait up to a week for the coupon code, or pay full price now. I would have thought that the old license key itself would have been the discount code, but oh well. I’m electing to wait.

Waiting put me out of participating in the GMC Jam this weekend. Oh, I suppose I could have worked in 8.1 again, but by the time I received the notification from the Yoyogames helpdesk, I’d lost enough time that it didn’t seem like a good idea to try to throw something together. I had other things to do this weekend, so I did them. No regrets about any of it, but it would have been better if the logistics had worked out a little better. I don’t mind the license expiring, since I’d expected it to anyway, and I don’t mind paying for my license, but not being able to purchase with the discount because Yoyogames didn’t think to distribute the discount codes prior to expiring the beta licenses is a bit disappointing.

So, today’s Monday. I still have not received my coupon code, but as they had said it would be happening sometime in the next week, I’ll try to be patient and wait for it to come by Friday, hopefully. I’m really hoping it’ll come through soon.

Darker Implications

One concern I now have is that, in reading up on the way Game Maker currently works, apparently you need to connect to Yoyogames server at least monthly to re-validate your license. This anti-piracy measure goes a bit too far in my opinion, and potentially hurts legitimate users. Copy protection crackers will always find ways to defeat such measures, while legitimate users will always be at risk of having their license killed in error, thereby denying them access to software on their own hard drive, that they paid for.

I can understand why Yoyogames feels they need to control licenses with a phone-home system tied to a remote killswitch, however the potential exists for legitimate users to be left in the cold if Yoyogames decides to kill an old version in order to force everyone to upgrade to their latest. If Yoyogames ever decided to stop supporting this version of Game Maker, or discontinue Game Maker entirely, or go out of business, all the paid-for licenses of the product potentially go bye bye.

It’s one thing to stop supporting an old version of a product, quite another to shut down license servers, effectively killing off the old version so that users are forced to upgrade. To be clear, I’ve seen no indication from Yoyogames that they plan to ever do this to their customers, only that they now have the mechanism available to them that allows them to do so. I sincerely hope that they never do this, as the backlash from the community would be substantial.

I would hope that as a last measure that they’d release some patch that permanently unlocks all licenses so as to prevent this from happening, and if they don’t then I’m sure the cracker community likely will, although this would technically violate the EULA as well as laws such as the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.


It’s Thursday, and I’ve woken up to find the coupon code from Yoyogames waiting for me in my inbox. They’ve changed things up a bit from the original offer, and it’s about the same although I think it works out better from a certain standpoint.

Originally, participants in Global Game Jam were going to get Game Maker HTML5 1.0 (when it was released) for 50% off the originally announced price of $199. Yoyogames was selling beta licenses for half off, so essentially GGJ12 participants were getting access to the beta for free, and paying the same price for the finished product that the beta testers were paying anyway. This was nice because A) you didn’t actually have to pay anything for a beta, and B) you could try before you buy for a few months.

Somewhere along the line, Yoyogames changed their mind about their products and pricing. Game Maker HTML5 1.0 was never released; instead, it was folded into Game Maker Studio, becoming an optional $99 add-on.

As a result, the original deal no longer made any sense. So instead, Yoyogames has substituted Studio. With the coupon, you get the $99 Studio core for free; and if you want the HTML5 module, you pay full price for it.

Comparing to the old deal, this is better in two ways:

  1. You get Studio, which can build to Windows and OS X for free, and you can stop there if you want to.
  2. For the same cost as the original deal, you can buy the HTML5 module and have three build targets instead of two.

My old complaint still stands, that they should have issued the coupons and given developers a week or two to use thembeforedisabling the temporary licenses. On the other hand, apparently those licenses were only supposed to have been good for two months, and I think I got about 6 or 7 months out of mine, and I’m definitely not complaining about that. All in all, a week’s worth of inconvenience is still a week’s worth of inconvenience, but I’m glad that in the end, they’ve given developers who worked with the beta something worthwhile.

Game Maker Studio Automatic Updates Failures (and workaround)

YoYoGames has been releasing updates to Game Maker Studio at a very fast pace lately. For a while now, new builds have been released every few days now, and it seems like every time I fire up the development environment, it’s got another update for me.

The last two or three of these have been extremely problematic, with very slow downloads, and repeated silent failures of the updater to run when the download shows that it is completed and the update is ready to install.

In the past, I have found that (on Windows 7, at least) one or two things might make the update process a little more reliable: launch Game Maker using “Run as administrator”, and exit the main Game Maker program while running the updater app. I’m not sure if these really do make a difference or not, but in the past when I tried these measures it seemed to help. But last night none of this made a bit of difference.

Yesterday, I spent many hours patiently waiting for the latest update to download. Each attempt took an hour or more, and when the updater indicated that the update was complete and ready to install, nothing would happen — it would fail silently, and on next launch, prompt me to re-download the same update again.

I tried looking for an alternate way to download the update, and it was difficult to find a direct link to the file — the only way to obtain it seems to be through the YoYoGames store. Eventually, I found a link that someone provided in the Game Maker Community forums, and began downloading it with Google Chrome.

About an hour later, I saw the download terminate as though it had completed successfully, but when I checked the file size, only about 50MB of the 93MB I was expecting was there. Obviously, an incomplete installer won’t work, so that appears to have been the culprit all along.

It’s clear that auto update fails due to heavy server load causing the download connection to fail, resulting in an incomplete download. When the program tries to run the update, it fails silently when it detects that the downloaded file is incomplete. When it tries to re-download the file, it starts over from 0% rather than resume from where it left off. These re-try attempts only add to the server load, and users re-trying but never succeeding only end up exacerbating the problem.

Even with the direct download link, if YoYo’s server is under heavy load, the download would fail when I tried to initiate download using Chrome. At times that I’ve had problems running the update, I’d get speeds of ~14kbps, which is terribly slow considering I’m on a cable modem that routinely tests at 20mbps. Under normal circumstances, this download should take a minute or two, not an hour.

Game Maker Studio seems to be a victim of its own popularity. YoYoGames needs to add server capacity to address this issue. Some mirrors or a CDN (content delivery network) would alleviate the problem. But the updater is to blame as well: It should not fail silently when the download fails and it has an incomplete file. By telling the user that the download is complete and the installer is ready to run, the user is mislead and does not have any way to know what the problem really is.

It would also help a great deal if the Auto Updater supported resuming partial downloads, rather than discarding a failed download. That way, users could complete the update after several attempts, rather than continue re-trying and starting over, and continuing to place a high demand on the server. After they complete the update process successfully, they’ll no longer place demand on the server, and it will become more available to others who need the download.

When the server was under heavy load, the only way I was able to complete the download was by using Orbit Downloader to handle the download. Orbit is a specialized download tool for Windows with robust capability to resume downloads. With it, I was able to successfully complete the download where Google Chrome and the Game Maker auto update feature both failed. Once downloaded, I ran the update manually, and everything worked as it normally should.

A bit of warning, I consider Orbit to be an annoying application, borderline malware. The installer wants to change your web browser’s default homepage, which it has no business doing, and it wants to install a toolbar. It is somewhat intrusive in the way it tries to integrate itself with the operating system and any browsers it detects. It’s nice that it has those capabilities, if you want to completely replace your normal downloading with Orbit, but if you don’t, it still wants to insinuate itself so that it always downloads anything you ever want to download.

It also has various social network integrators which have no point (what, am I supposed to Share with my friends on Twitter and Facebook everytime I download something, what it was, and let them know the link? Get real!) Also, it will — without asking — scan your computer to check for out of date applications, and notify you of available updates. Unfortunately, while it sounds like this would be a useful feature, it does not actually make downloading the updates any easier, and is frequently error prone as to what the latest version number is, leading to some false positives.

However, Orbit’s core feature of downloading anything faster and more reliably than just about anything else is good, as long as you can keep the rest of the junk that they’ve built around it tamed. Just be careful when installing the program to say no to most of the stuff it wants to offer you.

Otherwise, try to download updates during off-peak times. Early morning (6-7AM) if you’re in UTC-05 (Eastern US) seems to be good currently.

Currently, the form of the direct download link is:


(I’ve been informed that this url will always contain the most recent build.)

Hopefully if users start using the advice above, it will help reduce the load on YoYoGames’ server, making the experience of updating better for everyone.

Game Maker Studio 1.0 Launched

Today YoYoGames announced the launch of Game Maker Studio 1.0. This long-awaited release finally gives Game Maker developers the ability to build games that run natively on Windows, OS X, iOS, Android, and HTML5. I’d heard some time ago that there was a Symbian module in the works as well, but I don’t see any mention of it in their releases — I doubt that it will be missed. Also announced today is that Game Maker HTML5 is no longer a standalone product, and has been folded into Studio.

I participated in the HTML5 beta as well as the Studio beta, and reported a fair number of bugs. While I’m enthusiastic, I think it remains to be seen how successful the new Studio will be — the impression I’ve gotten from my limited work in HTML5 is that the differences of each platform impose constraints on a unified project, and often during the beta I found that stuff that worked in a Windows build didn’t in HTML5. Hopefully that’s all just part of the beta. I definitely like the direction YoYoGames has been headed in, and as long as they execute, it should be a good time to be a Game Maker developer.

The highlights of Studio:

  1. Multi-platform build targeting
  2. Source Control
  3. new built-in Physics features

Game Maker’s proprietary language, GML, is going through some redesign as well, but we probably won’t see the full vision for a time, until Game Maker 9 is released. With Studio 1.0, it seems that YoYoGames has started deprecating certain functions, in order to drop Windows-specific stuff and embrace a more platform-agnostic approach, which should mean that developers won’t have to worry about whether a given instruction makes is supported or makes sense on the OS they’re targeting. Hopefully this will encourage cross-platform application releases and make them the norm rather than the exception.

With the launch, YoYoGames announced pricing, and it’s a little different from what I expected. The base Studio Core (giving you Windows and OS X build capability) is $99. Considering that Game Maker Standard was $40, roughly doubling the price to give you access to OS X seems reasonable.

The HTML5 module is an additional $99. $199 was the original price of HTML5, so for $198 you get Studio with the HTML5 extension. I think a lot of Game Maker users were shocked at the price jump, but when you consider how cool it is to have the capability of distributing your games through the web with no extra plug in or extension needed to run, it’s awfully nice.

The mobile platform modules are another $199 each for OS X and Android. This means the full Studio suite will run a developer almost $600, or 15 times what it costs for Standard. YoYoGames justifies this by saying that these are optional modules for professional developers, and I’m sure it costs them lots of money to develop the runner for these platforms. It’s a bit odd to think that for just $200 you can reach 3 major platforms, but to get another two platforms it triples the price. In any case, the idea seems to be that the ease of selling on the mobile markets makes it worth the cost of the tools, and I’m glad they tiered their pricing rather than force everyone to pay full price all or nothing. Starting out at $99 or $200 is a lot more reasonable, and buying the mobile modules later takes a bit of the sting out of the price. Compared with Unity Pro, which is $1500 for its base, and an additional $400 each for iOS and Android, it’s still quite inexpensive as a professional developer tool.