10 Tips about GameMaker: Studio for Game Developers - dummies

10 Tips about GameMaker: Studio for Game Developers

By Michael Rohde

Here, members of the YoYo Games team answer the question, “If you had an opportunity to speak with a large audience of people who wanted to make games for a living, what would you tell them?”

Know your audience

Who do you expect to play your game? Are you making a crossword game that you want people to play on Facebook, or are you making a shooter for the PS4? Do you want to make a hardcore game with a high difficulty level, or do you want to make a creative game that allows casual fans to use their imaginations?

When you know who your audience is, you’ll be able to decide how you want to develop your different levels, if you want a tutorial section, or if you just want players to figure out how to play on their own.

Monetize your games

Making money with your games eventually becomes one of those necessary evils that all developers must face. It would be nice to live in a world in which we could all make and play games for free, but that’s not the reality. Companies have salaries to pay and indies have their own bills to pay.

So, monetizing your games becomes an important facet that you must incorporate into your games, unless you’re independently wealthy and don’t care about money.

How you monetize your game is something you want to think about from the beginning. Are you going to charge users to download and install the game? Do you want advertising within the game itself? Or do you want to make a freemium game, where the players can buy extras to enhance their game play experience?

Many options are available, and you have many advertising services to choose from. Take your time and learn about as many as you can, and then decide for yourself the best option for you and your game.

Make your game user-friendly

Usability is a concept that goes beyond just platforms and audiences — it dives deep on how the players are to play, and whether you need to teach them how the controls work. For example, if you’re making a game for the PC, and you decide to use the letters O, K, and L to move the character around, you may confuse your audience, especially if 99 percent of PC games use W, A, and D to move the character.

Think of it this way: If all the other games used the spacebar to fire a gun, and you use the Esc key to fire a gun, you’re potentially confusing your audience from the get-go.

Make your game as intuitive as possible, so there’s as little guessing as possible for the player to figure out how to play. Another idea is to include an introductory, tutorial level that teaches the player how to play as the game progresses.

Test your game

Testing your game is probably one of the most important things you can do. Quality assurance is what can make the difference between a buggy game that constantly crashes and a bug-free game that you can play without a hitch.

So, test your game, then test it again, and then before the end of the day, test it again. Test all aspects of the game as you’re developing it. See what happens when you introduce something else to the game — how does it affect aspects of the game that you added before?

Apple and Google won’t test your games for you when you submit them to their stores. Those two behemoths are purely interested in having a quantity of games available for sale and they let the best games rise to the top. If your game is full of bugs, it won’t rise to the top and your sales rankings will be in the basement with a billion other broken games.

On the other hand, if you want to submit your game for sale on the PS4, Sony will test your games. But don’t use Sony for your quality assurance — you don’t want your game to be rejected based on bugs and game crashes.

Consider limitations for mobile devices

In the early days of mobile devices, there were many limitations as to what you could develop. These days, those limitations are quickly disappearing. However, it’s still good to know what will crash your game on an iOS device as compared to playing on a PC.

Running out of video memory is the most common reason a game will crash on a mobile device. To decrease the processing power necessary to run your game, there are several things you can do. This includes compressing your images, making use of Texture Pages and Texture Groups, and optimizing your game as much as possible.

Think big

YoYo Games wants you thinking big. Like real big. Like Minecraft meets Grand Theft Auto big. YoYo Games is actually making a game that takes elements from Minecraft, such as building structures, and includes aspects from another huge game like Grand Theft Auto, in which you can get in a vehicle to move about.

If you’re interested in participating in this project, head to the Your World for this ambitious project.

Try taking the best features of your favorite games and combine them into one. Then add in that little something extra to give the game your own personal touch. If you can create something new that people already enjoy, making it a unique game that you can call your own, you may have a hit game on your hands.

With all that said, though, you should start off slow and simple. Make some silly games to get familiar with the GameMaker: Studio software and then keep adding to it as you go.

Expand your opportunities

While making your game, always be thinking about the future. How could you improve this game later? How can you get the community involved? Gamers are a vocal group — they’ll let you know in no uncertain terms how much they love or hate your game.

If you can get your audience involved and make them a part of the game development process, you’re that much further ahead. If possible, set a up a way to receive feedback from your audience. You could also make your game open source, so that people can contribute to it.

Expanding your game could also mean allowing the community to test it. Allow users access to beta versions of the game so they can try to break it for you. That way, you can learn a lot about how people play your game and what works and what doesn’t.

Go indie with your game

Last, but certainly not least, these days the video game industry is all about going independent. Some of the biggest games from the past years have been made by small or independent game developers. Games such as Spelunky, Journey, and Minecraft were all made by indie developers.

You may not think of Minecraft as an indie game because of its enormous popularity, but once upon a time, it was just a single developer who wanted to make a game. Now, that indie developer has started his own studio with a staff of employees.

You no longer have to work for companies like Activision, Electronic Arts, or Bethesda to earn a living as a game developer. There are lots of happy developers working for those large companies, but the fact is, you don’t have to limit yourself to a few big companies.

New indie game companies are springing up all the time. And if you’re good enough, there’s no reason why you can’t be among them!