GameMaker: Studio is a great choice for a unit on game design. Faster game-making tools (like Flowlab or Sploder) are available for teachers who want to do just one or two lessons on game design, but after a few hours, both teachers and students would likely become pretty frustrated with how limited those tools are. One option would be to use Sploder for an introductory lesson and then transition into GameMaker: Studio. Alternatively, teachers may want students to first create tabletop games to start thinking about game objects and mechanics before immersing them in the digital realm with GameMaker: Studio.
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GameMaker: Studio is the real deal; its drag-and-drop programming system allows new designers to jump right in. When they want access to more flexible or nuanced behavior for game objects, these would-be designers can switch over to the built-in scripting language. An additional program may be necessary to create art assets, but GameMaker also includes a basic sprite editor.
Working with GameMaker: Studio is easy; its user interface for game creation is consistent and clear. Making a game is a straightforward process of assembling all the game pieces into a common library, shown through an expandable hierarchy tree, and then setting up various “objects” using those art or sound pieces. This is followed by adding different behaviors to the objects (such as what to do when a player pushes the left arrow key or when one object collides with another), creating a new “room,” and placing the objects in the room.Continue reading Show less
Learning the creation process is easy since GameMaker includes a series of step-by-step tutorial projects. These have a logical flow to them and could easily be used to scaffold students into game design. Aspiring game designers can supplement these tutorials by watching a good pool of amazingly well-done third-party YouTube videos. Both resources also introduce students to basic concepts of game design that will work even outside GameMaker.
Additionally, GameMaker: Studio is one of the most popular game-creation tools, meaning it comes with active support forums and numerous opportunities to participate in a learning community that extends outside the classroom. Its community has grown significantly in the last few years, partly due to being available on the digital-distribution site Steam. Through Steam, designers have an easy way to share their games and access other people’s games, as well as an alternative support community to participate in.Continue reading Show less