For the past few days, I’ve been playing around with Game Maker 7 (the pro edition) to see if it would work for a project I’m starting. Before this, my previous experience had been with Flash and Torque Game Builder.
First thing, Game Maker is easy. Really easy. It’s a visual coding experience, meaning that instead of typing up what needs to happen, you simply select options to create a list. Doing the selecting isn’t hard either, as each of the options has a description which tells you exactly what it does. If you have even the slightest bit of programming experience, it’ll be refreshing not to have to memorize or look up special functions, but rather just pick them off the list. Game Maker also allows for scripting by hand, but so far I haven’t found anything in which I’d have to worry about it.
This isn’t to say that everything is cut and dry for the beginner. You’ll still need to look through the help file or go through some tutorials to pick up on certain things, as you would with anything else. I’ll say though that so far the help section and the tutorials for Game Maker have been tons more helpful than those for Torque Game Builder. Working with TGB was a nightmare of trying to find anything useful in the documentation. The Tutorials for TGB mostly ask you to cut and past code instead of explaining what each bit of code does, and then stop before getting to any of the more powerful and useful features in the program. Game Maker walks you through everything nicely, and really lets you know what you’re doing.
As long as I’m comparing Game Maker and Torque Game Builder, I might as well say that Game Maker isn’t as pretty as TGB, and that I missed some of the options when it came to building stages and levels. In TGB, I’d create high-res graphics in Illustrator or Photoshop and then shrink them down into the level to retain some quality. In Game Maker, there’s no ability like that. You have to create art the exact size that you want it, and so far I’ve had some trouble creating small anti-aliased graphics for use in Game Maker.
In the end, this thing is really cool. The pro version cost me 20 bucks, but I’ll prefer that to the amount of scripting I’d have to do in Flash and definitely to the hell of searching through Torque Game Builder documentation.