Friday, August 1, 2008

Game Maker

Game Maker (often abbreviated to GM) is a Windows and Mac IDE originally developed by Mark Overmars in the Delphi programming language. It is currently developed and published by YoYo Games, a software company in which Overmars is involved. Game Maker allows users to easily develop computer games without the requirement of prior computer programming experience, while allowing advanced users to create complex applications with its built-in scripting language.
The latest stable release of Game Maker for Windows is version 8 as of December 2009, and version 7 on Mac as of 11 August 2010. Since its initial release in 1999, Game Maker gained many new features, notably 3D graphics support, as well as a significant user base, with YoYo Games providing free hosting for user-created games.

Development history
Game Maker was originally titled Animo, a program specializing in 2D animation. Overmars released the first public version (version 1.1) on November 15, 1999. While this version of Game Maker had a built-in scripting language, which was not as complex as in more recent versions, it and the next few versions of Game Maker did not have DirectX support, a separate runner to run games independently from Game Maker, or the ability to compile games into executable files.Each major release of Game Maker added substantial new features and improved stability, while gaining steadily in popularity. In 2001, version 3.0 implemented DirectX for the first time, while version 4.0 (released July 2001) was rewritten from scratch, changing the interface significantly. Version 5.0 was released in April 2003, adding support for external data files and time lines. In version 6.0, released October 2004, Game Maker's graphics engine was rewritten using Direct3D as a base, allowing for more complex operations such as easier alpha transparency and sprite rotation, as well as introducing 3D graphics functions. Overmars began work on version 7.0, which introduced the ability to extend its functionality, around the summer of 2006, and released it on February 28, 2007, through YoYo Games. Game Maker 8 was released on December 22, 2009, adding new features such as a revamped script editor window, and the ability to import and export resources from game source files.Starting with Game Maker 7 RC2, game data created with the program was encrypted[citation needed], due to concerns over hacking.

Design and Uses
Game Maker is designed to allow its users to easily develop computer games without having to learn a complex programming language such as C++ or Java.
Game Maker's primary development interface uses a drag-and-drop system, allowing users unfamiliar with traditional programming to intuitively create games by visually organizing icons on the screen. These icons represent actions that would occur in a game, such as movement, basic drawing, and simple control structures. Users also have the ability to create their own "action libraries" using the Library Maker.
For experienced users or those with computer programming experience, Game Maker contains a built-in scripting programming language called the Game Maker Language (GML), allowing more complex games to be made with the program.
Game Maker allows the creation of many types of games, including platform games, first-person shooters, third-person shooters, massively multiplayer online games and construction and management simulation games.

Educational use
As a professor of the University of Utrecht, Mark Overmars developed Game Maker partly as a teaching aid for his students. It is gaining recognition as a useful teaching tool in primary and secondary schools because of its easy entry and sophisticated scripting language.

Lite and Pro editions
Two versions of the Game Maker software are offered on Windows. The Lite version is free to use, while the Pro edition requires purchase. The Lite version displays a small Game Maker advertisement during the loading of the game, while the Pro version removes this. The Lite version contains most of the functionality that allows users to create games and share them either by compiling them into a Windows executable file, or publishing them on YoYo Games' website. The Lite version locks out several advanced features and functions, which are available in the Pro edition. The Pro edition contains functionality and features not available in the free Lite edition. Such features include the ability to use DLLs, particle systems, advanced drawing functions, and 3D graphics. On the Macintosh version of Game Maker, a trial version with all features unlocked can be used for 10 hours before it requires activation.

Graphics capabilities
Game Maker primarily runs games that use 2D graphics. Game Maker's graphics capabilities underwent significant improvements with each major release version, allowing for additional functionality including more efficient alpha adjustments and blending settings for sprites and other shapes. By version 6.0 (Windows), Game Maker incorporated DirectX, allowing more advanced graphics functions. Version 7.0 (Macintosh) uses OpenGL to render sprites.
Additionally in version 6.0 (Windows), Game Maker incorporated Direct3D, allowing the use of limited 3D graphics. Version 7.0 (Macintosh) uses OpenGL for 3D graphics. It also adds limited support for simple 3D models. Converters make it possible to use more popular 3D formats such as .3ds, and .obj for use in a 3D project. It also supports the ability to create particle effects such as rain, snow and clouds. Support for the editing of 32-bit PNG files was added in the 8.0 version of the Game Maker, which has also enabled users to use images with alpha channels.
One such example of a popular three-dimensional game would be Paradox 3D.