Glossary of Terms Used in GameMaker: Studio

By Michael Rohde

Part of GameMaker: Studio For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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.