GameMaker Studio

GameMaker Studio (formerly Animo until 1999, Game Maker until 2011, GameMaker until 2012, and GameMaker: Studio until 2017) is a cross-platform game engine developed by YoYo Games.

GameMaker Studio
Original author(s)Mark Overmars
Developer(s)YoYo Games
Initial release15 November 1999 (1999-11-15)
Stable release
v2.2.4 / 8 October 2019 (2019-10-08)
Written inC++ (Runtime), C# (IDE)
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
Available inEnglish, French, Spanish, German
TypeGame creation system

GameMaker accommodates the creation of cross-platform and multi-genre video games using a custom drag-and-drop visual programming language or a scripting language known as Game Maker Language, which can be used to develop more advanced games that could not be created just by using the drag and drop features. GameMaker was originally designed to allow novice computer programmers to be able to make computer games without much programming knowledge by use of these actions. Recent versions of software also focus on appealing to advanced developers.[1]


GameMaker is primarily intended for making games with 2D graphics, allowing out-of-box use of raster graphics, vector graphics (via SWF),[2] and 2D skeletal animations (via Esoteric Software's Spine)[3][4] along with a large standard library for drawing graphics and 2D primitives.[5] While the software allows for limited use of 3D graphics, this is in form of vertex buffer[6] and matrix functions, and as such not intended for novice users.

The engine uses Direct3D on Windows, UWP, and Xbox One; OpenGL on macOS and Linux; OpenGL ES on Android and iOS, WebGL or 2d canvas on HTML5, and proprietary APIs on consoles.

The engine's primary element is an IDE with built-in editors for raster graphics, level design, scripting, paths, and shaders (GLSL or HLSL).[7] Additional functionality can be implemented in software's scripting language or platform-specific native extensions.[8] In GameMaker Studio 2, you can choose whether to export the game as an NSIS installer, or a .zip file containing the game, the file, and any files added under the "Included Files" tab in the editor.[9]

Supported platforms

GameMaker supports building for Microsoft Windows, macOS, Ubuntu, HTML5, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Microsoft UWP, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One;[10][11][12] support for the Nintendo Switch was announced in March 2018, with Undertale to be the first such title to be brought to the Switch.[13]

In past, GameMaker supported building for Windows Phone (deprecated in favor of UWP), Tizen, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita (not supported in GMS2 "largely for business reasons").[14]

PlayStation Portable support was demonstrated in May 2010,[15] but never made publicly available (with only a small selection of titles using it).[16]

Raspberry Pi support was demonstrated in February 2016,[17] but as of May 2018 not released.

Between 2007 and 2011, YoYo Games maintained a custom web player plugin for GameMaker games[18] before releasing it as open-source mid-2011[19] and finally deprecating in favor of HTML5 export.

Drag and Drop

Drag and Drop (DnD) is GameMaker's visual scripting tool.

DnD allows developers to perform common tasks (like instantiating objects, calling functions, or working with files and data structures) without having to write a single line of code. It remains to be largely aimed at novice users.[20]

While historically DnD remained fairly limited in what can be comfortably done with it,[21][22] GameMaker Studio 2 had seen an overhaul to the system, allowing more tasks to be done with DnD, and having it translate directly to code[23] (with an in-IDE preview for users interested in migrating to code).

GameMaker Language

GameMaker Language is GameMaker's scripting language. It is an imperative, dynamically typed language commonly likened to JavaScript and C-like languages.[24][25][26]

The language's default mode of operation on native platforms is via a stack machine; it can also be source-to-source compiled to C++ via LLVM for higher performance.[27] On HTML5, GML is source-to-source compiled to JavaScript with optimizations and minification applied in non-debug builds.[28]


GameMaker was originally developed by Mark Overmars. The program was first released on 15 November 1999 under the name of Animo (at the time, it was just a graphics tool with limited visual scripting capabilities).[29] The first versions of the program were being developed in Delphi.[30]

Subsequent releases seen the name changed to Game Maker and software moving towards more general-purpose 2d game development.

Versions 5.0 and below have been freeware; version 5.1 introduced an optional registration fee; version 5.3 (January 2004) introduced a number of new features for registered users, including particle systems, networking, and possibility to extend games using DLLs.[31]

Version 6.0 (October 2004) introduced limited functionality for use of 3D graphics, as well as migrating the runtime's drawing pipeline from VCL to DirectX.[32]

Growing public interest led Overmars to seek help in expanding the program, which led to partnership with YoYo Games in 2007.[33] From this point onward, development was handled by YoYo Games while Overmars retained a position as one of company's directors.[34] Version 7.0 was the first to emerge under this partnership.

The first macOS compatible version of program was released in 2009,[35] allowing games to be made for two operating systems with minimal changes.

Version 8.1 (April 2011) sees the name changed to GameMaker (lacking a space) to avoid any confusion[36] with the 1991 software Game-Maker. This version also had the runtime rewritten in C++ to address performance concerns[37] with previous versions.

September 2011 sees the initial release of "GameMaker: HTML5" - a new version of software with capability to export games for web browsers alongside with desktop.[38]

GameMaker: Studio entered public beta in March 2012[38] and enjoyed a full release in May 2012.[39] Initial supported platforms included Windows, Mac, HTML5, Android, and iOS. Additional platforms and features were introduced over the years following;[40][41][42][43] Late 2012 there was an accident with anti-piracy measures misfiring for some legitimate users.

In February 2015, GameMaker was acquired by Playtech together with YoYo Games. Announcement reassured that GameMaker will be further improved and states plans to appeal to broader demographic, including more advanced developers.[1][44]

November 2016 sees the initial release of GameMaker Studio 2 beta,[45] with full release in March 2017.[46] This version spots a completely redesigned IDE (rewritten in C#[47]) and a number of new editor and runtime features.


The program currently holds a rating of 8.5/10 on Mod DB based on 223 user reviews; many cite its flexibility and ease of use as positives and instability, crashes, project corruption and outdated features as negatives.[48] Douglas Clements of Indie Game Magazine wrote that the program "[s]implifies and streamlines game development" and is "easy for beginners yet powerful enough to grow as you develop", though noting that "resource objects have to be gathered if unable to create" and that licensing between Steam and the YoYo Games website is "convoluted".[49]


  1. Vinciguerra, David; Howell, Andrew (16 October 2015). The GameMaker Standard. CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-317-51469-5.
  2. Kerr, Chris. "GameMaker Studio 2 gets new low-cost 'Creators Edition'". Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  3. "GDC17: GameMaker Studios 2.0 Takes On Industry Titans | Broken Joysticks". Broken Joysticks. 12 March 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  4. "Skeletal Animation Sprites Using Spine | Blog | YoYo Games". Yoyo Games. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  5. "Drawing". Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  6. "Drawing And Creating Primitives". Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  7. "2D Game Development Engine 'GameMaker Studio 2' Debuts on macOS". Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  8. "GameMaker Studio 2 gets an education edition". VentureBeat. 23 May 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
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  11. "This will let you say 'Happy Birthday,' 'Get Well Soon' with a video game". Alexa Ray Corriea. 22 January 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  12. "No coding required: How new designers are using GameMaker to create indie smash hits". PC Gamer. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  13. Good, Owen (9 March 2018). "Undertale coming to Switch brings indie games' GameMaker Studio engine with it". Polygon. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
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  17. "Three great GameMaker games for Raspberry Pi - Raspberry Pi". Raspberry Pi. 15 February 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  18. "GMking's MarkUp Magazine - Issue 12".
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  20. "Interview: James Cox of YoYo Games about GameMaker Studio 2 | This Is Xbox". This Is Xbox. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
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  23. "GameMaker Studio creators look back at 17 years of development". VentureBeat. 4 September 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  24. Christian, Brian; Isaacs, Steven (28 December 2015). GameMaker Programming By Example. Packt Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-78588-847-2.
  25. Jr, Jerry Lee Ford (1 June 2009). Getting Started with Game Maker. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1435455214.
  26. Habgood, Jacob; Overmars, Mark (31 December 2006). The Game Maker's Apprentice: Game Development for Beginners. Apress. ISBN 978-1-4302-0159-5.
  27. "GameMaker: Studio introduces YoYo Compiler and cross-platform Shader support". Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  28. Elliott, Jason Lee (22 April 2013). HTML5 Game Development with GameMaker. Packt Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84969-411-7.
  29. Jr, Jerry Lee Ford (1 June 2009). Getting Started with Game Maker. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1435455214.
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  31. "Game Maker Pages". 10 January 2004. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  32. Ford, Jerry (2010). Getting Started with Game Maker. Course Technology, a part of Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1-59863-882-0.
  33. Stanton, Rich (23 July 2015). A Brief History Of Video Games: From Atari to Virtual Reality. Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN 9781472118813.
  34. Habgood, Jacob; Overmars, Mark (31 December 2006). The Game Maker's Apprentice: Game Development for Beginners. Apress. ISBN 978-1-4302-0159-5.
  35. Jr, Jerry Lee Ford (1 June 2009). Getting Started with Game Maker. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1435455214.
  36. Eric-Jon Rössel, Tairne (30 April 2010). "The Original Game-Maker". Archived from the original on 1 March 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  37. Ford, Jerry (2009). Getting Started with Game Maker. Cengage Learning. p. 333. ISBN 978-1133168966.
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  39. "YoYo Games unveils GameMaker: Studio for cross-platform development". VentureBeat. 22 May 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
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  41. "YoYo Games updates GameMaker: Studio to speed development time". VentureBeat. 27 August 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  42. "GameMaker est disponible en version 1.3 et apporte un nouveau débogueur et le support des consoles de Sony". (in French). Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  43. "Welcome to GameMaker: Studio 1.4 | GameMaker Blog". 18 June 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  44. "YoYo Games is Acquired by Playtech plc | YoYo Games". 26 March 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
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  46., Copyright. "GameMaker Studio 2 Released". Retrieved 8 May 2018.
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