Cheat Sheet

GameMaker: Studio For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From GameMaker: Studio For Dummies

By Michael Rohde

GameMaker: Studio has its own set of terms and vocabulary that may sound familiar to experienced game developers, but if you’re just breaking into the field, it helps to know what all those terms mean. The software also features a coding window that color-codes the code (say that five times fast!), which makes it easier for developers to find functions, variables, and the like — as long as you know what the colors mean. Finally, keyboard commands are a great way to save time and energy.

Glossary of Terms Used in GameMaker: Studio

Want to speak the language of GameMaker: Studio, but don’t know where to start? Here’s a short list of some of the most-used terms in the game development world of GameMaker: Studio.

  • Actions: For each Event, you should assign an Action. An Action is what actually happens within an Event that is associated with an Object. For example, if you add a Keyboard Event for the spacebar, you can add a Create Instance Action, which is triggered when the player presses the spacebar. The Create Instance Action could then trigger another Object to appear in the game, such as a bullet Object. In this way, you can create a fighter plane that fires bullets.

  • Events: An Event sets the table for what you want to happen in the game, which is further defined by Actions. Different Events include, Create, Step, Draw, and so on. Some Events are triggered for every step of a game, while other Events are triggered only when something specific happens.

  • Instances: An Instance is an Object that you’ve placed in the Room. You can have many Instances of a single Object within a Room. For example, say you created an Object of an enemy plane. You can place many Instances of the enemy plane Object in the Room so that the player has several enemy planes to shoot at instead of just one.

  • Objects: You use Objects to create things in a game, such as characters and atmosphere. For each Object, you add Events and Actions, which define the Object with different properties. You can add Events and Actions to an Object from the Object Properties window. If you’re an experienced developer, you may find it interesting to learn that GameMaker Language is not a true object-oriented programming (OOP) language and that Objects in GameMaker are not quite the same as they are in C++.

  • Rooms: Rooms are where you assemble and define the different parts of your game. You can add Instances of your Objects to the Room so that they become part of the game. Rooms have many properties with many features, including the background and the speed of the Room. In a sense, you can use the Room as a preview to get an idea of how your game will look when it first starts. The Room Properties window also enables you to set the number of steps in your game, which then permits you to control the frames per second (FPS).

  • Sprites: Use Sprites to create graphical representations of your Objects. Sprites tend to be bitmap images, but in GameMaker: Studio, you can also use vector-based images and Adobe SWF files made with Flash. Sprites can be a single image or a series of sub-images.

    When a Sprite consists of sub-images, you can tell GameMaker which sub-image to display, or to play each sub-image as a type of mini-animation within a game. For example, say you have a plane with propellers. The Sprite for the plane could consist of several sub-images, each sub-image has the propellers in a slightly different position so that when the sub-images are played continuously, it provides the effect of moving propellers on a flying plane.

Color-Coding for the GameMaker: Studio Coding Window

GameMaker: Studio features a robust coding window in which developers can type code. This coding window color-codes the code, which makes it easier for developers to find functions, variables, and the like. Here’s a guide to the various colors GamerMaker: Studio uses in the code window:

Color Type of Code
Black Background
Dark gray Current line, line number background
Light gray Normal text, selection
Red Error line
Orange Keywords, functions, script names
Green Comments
Pink Values, constants, built-in variables, resource names
Light pink Selected line, changed line
Purple Line number text

You can update this color scheme if you want. Just follow these steps:

  1. From the Main menu, choose FilePreferences.

    The Preferences window appears.

  2. Click the Scripts and Code tab.

  3. In the Colors section on the right, select the code type, and then choose Change.

    A color graph appears from which you can choose a new color for the type of code you selected.

  4. Click OK from the color graph to save and close.

  5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 with all the types of code you want to change.

  6. When you’re done updating your color scheme, click OK.

    Your updates are saved and the Preferences window closes.

GameMaker: Studio Keyboard Commands

Here are the best keyboard commands GameMaker: Studio has to offer. These time- and energy-saving keyboard combinations are available from the GameMaker: Studio main Project window.

Keyboard commands are a great way to get things done quickly. They provide a shortcut to accessing menus and different features. So, instead of clicking around on menus, you can use a keyboard command to get what you want.

Action Keyboard Command
Open a new project Ctrl+N
Open an existing project Ctrl+O
Import a project Ctrl+I
Exit GameMaker: Studio Alt+F4
Create a duplicate Alt+Ins
Create a group Shift+Ins
Delete something Shift+Del
Rename something F2
Open the Properties window Alt+Enter
Create a shader Shift+Ctrl+A
Create a clean build F7
Access the in-software manual F1
Open GameMaker: Studio in Explorer Ctrl+Alt+O
Open project in Explorer Ctrl+Alt+P

The following keyboard commands are available from a Script Editor window:

Action Keyboard Command
Opens the code snippet pop-up window F2
Makes the size of the font smaller F7
Makes the size of the font bigger F8
Toggles the color coding for the code F10
Search, find, and replace Ctrl+F
Undo the last action Ctrl+Z
Redo the last action Ctrl+Shift+Z
Select text Shift+arrow keys
Force the auto-complete to appear (if you have it turned off in
the Scripts preferences)
Ctrl+Spacebar