YoYo Games launches GameMaker: Studio today, a fast and easy to use 2D games development tool that provides for cross-platform output. GameMaker: Studio allows developers to create games in a single code base and then export and run them natively on multiple formats including HTML5, Facebook, Android, iOS, Symbian, Windows and OSX. The software has a drag-and-drop integrated development environment with a built-in games-oriented scripting language that considerably increases games development productivity.
"GameMaker: Studio is the next evolution of GameMaker technology," said Russell Kay, chief technology officer at YoYo Games. "An impressive seven thousand developers participated in the GameMaker: Studio beta and have been instrumental in helping us deliver a tool that is ideal for independents and professional development teams."
"Users of GameMaker: Studio can realize productivity gains of 80 percent or more compared with native coding," said Michael Dailly, head of development at YoYo Games. "Fully functional prototypes can be created in just a few hours while full games can be "app store" ready in just a matter of weeks. Multiple outputs make deployment across all popular formats simultaneous and seamless."
GameMaker: Studio features include the ability to export native iOS and Android packages, produce ready-to-run HTML5 web code for Facebook or web publishing, and export native executables for Windows and Mac. The program includes a powerful scripting language and internal customizable code editor, along with native physics support and an advanced IDE that includes path and timeline editors.
GamesIndustry International spoke with YoYo Games' CEO Sandy Duncan about GameMaker: Studio, and what it's capable of. "Someone said virality doesn't exist any more, I can't accept this... it's so not true," said Duncan. "We publish games as well as publish GameMaker; we essentially use the games as a showcase for what GameMaker can do. Our most successful game is Reflexions, it hit #3 on Android Market worldwide as a paid app, and as a free app it suddenly went viral about a week ago. Not everywhere in the world, but it went #1 free download in Germany, Spain, Italy, and #4 in France. People say it can't happen any more, but it happens all the time."
"Someone said virality doesn't exist any more, I can't accept this... it's so not true"
GameMaker: Studio is the evolution of the well-known GameMaker software, which has been in use worldwide for years. "GameMaker is ubiquitous," noted Duncan. "Well over a million people a year try GameMaker, and something like 5000+ schools every day using GameMaker to teach kids." YoYo Games has taken GameMaker into the realm of a professional tool by adding many features, and important cross-platform support. As evidence of this, YoYo Games has been using GameMaker themselves to create the games they publish, and their games have been popular.
"Reflexions is one of about four or five titles that have done incredibly well," said Duncan. "In the 20 months that we've been publishing games ourselves, we've published almost 25 IPs. One of the reasons we're able to do all this is GameMaker. The work we've put in over the last 20 months is coming out in GameMaker Studio."
It's not just the pace of development that GameMaker provides, it's the reduced cost. "We control the cost end of things; we haven't had a game yet that cost us more than $10,000 to develop," Duncan siad with some justifiable pride. "And yet we've topped the charts on iPad, we're a launch title for Google Play Pocket Gamer gave Karoshi Android Game of the Year. We've had some success. Commercially? Done OK, and at $10K a game, we've made profits."
Game development can be done on a very small scale with an efficient tool, Duncan pointed out. "Two people is a studio for us, an artist and a programmer. If anything, the crunch point in getting a game together is more likely to be art and design than it is programming."
Duncan believes that GameMaker: Studio is unique. "There are lots of tools; there are tools that are dedicated to games, there are tools for mobile, tools for desktop, tools for HTML 5. There is nothing that does it all except GameMaker. Here's one tool where you have all the benefits of drag-and-drop and a games-dedicated language in there that also allows you to target Facebook, iTunes, and Google Android Market all in one play, with almost no changes in code. It's a big claim, but that's what the tool can do."
The power of the tool is its extensibility. "There's a drag-and-drop UI, but it's not restricted to drag-and-drop. The real strength is in the scripting language, and the fact that the whole tool is extensible. If you stick to the world of 2.5 D, there's really little that GameMaker can't do," Duncan said.
"We haven't had a game yet that cost us more than $10,000 to develop"
"There's no replacement for writing a game in C++," Duncan admitted. "But if you want to do a game cost-effectively, with great performance across multiple platforms, you really can't do any better than building something with GameMaker: Studio. If game developers want to get some idea that this tool is a serious tool, then we've got well over 5 million games downloaded and created 25 IPs in 20 months. I think there's a lot of proof in that."
GameMaker: Studio is being licensed by award-winning German games development studio HandyGames. HandyGames has licensed GameMaker: Studio to create high-quality games in a single code base and then export and run them natively on multiple formats including HTML5, Facebook, Android, iOS, Symbian, Windows and OSX.
HandyGames developers participated in the recent GameMaker: Studio beta program and already have one major project underway - a role playing game that introduces an innovative new approach to the genre on mobile.
"We have known about GameMaker for years, but once we heard about a cross platform GameMaker product, we knew we needed to be involved right away," said Markus Kassulke, chief executive officer of HandyGames. "Our experience with the beta convinced us the tool was extremely efficient, yet powerful. We also met with the team at YoYo Games to discuss GameMaker: Studio and the future product vision and we very much like where it's headed."
The base price for GameMaker: Studio is $99 (includes Windows and OSX exports). HTML5 export is an additional $99. iOs and Android exports are $199 each. An upgrade to GameMaker: Studio (including HTML5 export) for existing GameMaker: HTML5 customers is free. License fees are per version, no subscriptions required. GameMaker: Studio is available for download now at www.yoyogames.com.