If you've always wondered what it would be like to create your own video game but lacked the necessary coding skills, you can use GameMaker Studio to give it a try, although we're willing to bet you would immediately immerse yourself into it (we know we did).
Dedicated to 2D games only, the tool can help you design games from scratch for any platform when it comes to desktops (Windows, Mac, Ubuntu), web (HTML5), Microsoft UWP, mobiles (Android, iOS), Playstation 4, and Xbox One. The unregistered edition can be used for free (non-commercial purposes), without time limit and with reasonable feature limitations. It offers everything required to get familiarized with the IDE.
Because getting started can be confusing, you can explore demo projects made available by the developer as well as watch YouTube tutorials that show every step, accompanied by descriptions and explanations for users who don't have the slightest clue about programming languages.
For example, to create a copy of the original "Asteroids" game, you have to create the room that contain the player and asteroids, wrap it to make sure you can "go through walls" and come back on the other side, and draw or import images (sprites) to represent your player and asteroids.
You can also make the ship gain speed by going up, rotate to left and right by creating events (the trigger) and associated actions, keep track of the score, destroy the ship when it collides with an asteroid or destroy the asteroid when it gets hit by a bullet, and so on. The game can have sound effects (shooting, explosion on asteroid destruction), along with a "Game Over!" screen.
GameMaker Studio has a proprietary language named GameMaker Language (GML). It's similar to C and has predefined functions that can be easily called from the code editor. The help manual has all the necessary definitions and examples for each line of code, and there's also code completion standing by for assistance. In addition to GML, you can drag and drop (DnD) functions from boxes, which particularly comes in handy when you can't remember functions but don't need to customize them (e.g. room wrapping).
Rooms can have multiple layers, such as the background and instances. You can load custom fonts and tile sets, design timelines, and learn about object inheritance. All opened resources can be effortlessly explored in the workspace by dragging with the mouse wheel. The game can be compiled, run and built every step of the way to see if you've made any mistakes with the code (popup errors) or game's logic (e.g. asteroids not exploding on bullet hits).
GameMaker Studio is very easy to use and becomes really addictive (from our experience). Of course, it helps if you have basic understanding of how programming languages work. Once you get the hang of it, 2D game designing can even step outside the hobby box and become an actual job.
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