GameMaker Studio 2 Review: Features

So, GameMaker Studio 2 was finally released on March 8, 2017 after being in a beta state for four months. The question that arises now is, should you upgrade or not? Is it worth it? What are the new features, and how is it different from the old GameMaker: Studio 1.x? I’m hopeful that this review will help you decide.

You may also watch this video, but it shows just a few features – so make sure you read this article as well.

Pricing

GameMaker is not a free tool anymore. You have to purchase it to be able to produce games. See the prices.

Note that there is a free demo version that you can use to test the software, however it can’t produce games and has restrictions on the number of resources you can make. Get it here.

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However, if you own any paid version of the previous GameMaker: Studio 1.x, you get special discounts which are available until 9th April.

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Also, check it out on Steam. For some countries, the Steam price is lower than the upgrade price.

GameMaker Studio 2

System Requirements:

MINIMUM SPEC

  • 64bit Intel compatible Dual Core CPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • DX11 compliant graphics card
  • Microsoft 64bit Windows 7
  • HDD with at least 3GB free disk space

RECOMMENDED SPEC

  • 64bit Intel compatible Quad Core CPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • DX11 based graphics card
  • Microsoft 64bit Windows 10
  • SSD with at least 3GB free disk space

So, GMS2 won’t work on 32-bit systems. Although the games created by the engine do work on them.


Projects

On creating a new project, you can choose between GML(coding) and Drag & Drop. So, your project is either D&D or GML. Nice change for GML users who didn’t require all those D&D actions sitting around there.

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The D&D actions look a lot better now. There are also a lot of new actions, like loops, switch, data structures, buffers, ini files, etc. So, now you can do a lot more in D&D than you could before.

In GML mode, your events are all code – so you no more have to drag that “Execute a Code…” action every time you want to use GML!

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The Interface

The GUI looks a lot more beautiful, as you can already see from the screenshots above. It is also more customizable, as you can move the panels and docks around and place them wherever you like.

Under Preferences -> General Settings -> Workspace, you can change the skin to either Dark or Light.

Performance

The performance is not bad at all. I’ve used it on a PC that is almost the same as the lowest required spec; and it works perfectly fine. It also opens up more quickly than the previous GMS 1.

Resource Panel

The resource panel functions the same way as the previous one. You can now create new views with your own folders for arranging assets in a customized way.

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One change is the removal of the Backgrounds folder. Now you have to make them as normal sprites.

There’s a new folder called Notes where you can create text files.

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Sprite Editor

Now this is something I absolutely love about GMS2. The new sprite editor is a heck of an advancement over the previous one. It’s improved and more feature-rich than ever. This is what I was most excited about when I decided to upgrade.

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The image editor and the animation editor aren’t different things anymore; now they’re all in one window.

A new toolset with new tools like Magic Wand tool, Arc tool, and a few more.

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Arc tool

Another addition is the layer system. Now you can easily edit each element of your image without affecting the others.

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Layers!

You can also change the animation speed which, unlike GMS 1, isn’t there only for the preview – it also affects its animation speed in the game.

There’s no quick way to duplicate a sprite frame. Every time you have to use copy -> paste (or Ctrl + C -> Ctrl + V) which gets pretty annoying.

Another new feature is that you can draw while the sprite animation is being played.

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Drawing while animating. Useful? You tell.

There are more color controls now, but not readily available in a panel like GMS 1. Now they open in a new window when you click on a color box. This isn’t convenient for changing the opacity, which I do very often.

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If you select a part of your image (using one of the selection tools) and press Ctrl + C (copy), a new brush will be created with your selection.

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Another new feature is split-screen editing:

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There aren’t much image effects right now (at the time of this post, there’s only one) but more are to be added.

Objects & GML

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As you can see, the objects now take more space on the workspace – which doesn’t really serve a purpose. It could’ve been more compact.

To assign a sprite to an object, you can just drag the sprite resource and drop it onto the object.

There are some new events:

The GML is inherently the same, with a few additions and some changes here and there (like the new Camera system and the new instance_create functions). Variables you create are now recognized and will be shown in auto-complete while typing.

The instance_destroy() function is now better than ever. Previously when it just destroyed the instance running the code without any other functionality, GMS2 adds two new optional arguments for the function:

instance_destroy(id, destroy_event);

In the id argument you can specify the instance/object you want to destroy (if different than the instance running the code) and in the destroy_event argument you can specify if you want the Destroy event of the instance(s) being destroyed to run or not (using true or false).

The new variable functions are very useful as well. They can be used to check if a global/instance variable exists, return the names of all the variables in an instance or use the variable names as strings to get/set a value.

Text you type at the start of your code after /// @description shows up after the event name.

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You can also drag your event tabs away from the object and open them as new windows or new tabs.

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The two comment lines event code editors aren’t needed every time you create a new one. As trivial as it might seem, it definitely starts to get annoying at some point. Fortunately, you can disable them by going to Preferences -> Object Editor.

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Workspaces

The new workspaces change the way GameMaker works. They are more flexible than ever.

Previously when you had just a single place for all of your windows, it could get pretty tedious…

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So cluttered – no place to keep all those windows at…

This problem has been solved by GMS2’s workspaces. They have a lot of space where you can open resources, zoom out, pan, zoom in.

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A lot of space for you.

Not only that, but you can have many more workspaces like that in new tabs, and name them whatever you like.

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See the Samus background? Yes, that’s a new feature. You can change your workspace background by going to Preferences -> General Settings -> Background.

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You can hold Ctrl + Tab to show the Workspace Overview window. This window shows the open workspaces and the windows inside them, so that you can quickly switch over.

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The right click menu in the workspace has quick options for creating new resources or searching for one. The latter (also accessible by using ctrl+T) shows you the recently accessed resources and allows you to search for one.

However, the new workspace system is not perfect. Compared to GMS1, where you could see many windows at once, here you’ll just be seeing one at a time, unless you’re on a big screen.

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You do have the option to enable overlapping of windows, but it isn’t very useful with those big and clumsy windows.

Room Editor

The room editor has really improved and has a lot of new features.

There’s this new layer system. All of your instances, backgrounds and tiles are arranged in layers. So the function instance_create() has been removed and two functions have been added: instance_create_layer() and instance_create_depth().

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To place an instance in the room, you can either drag it straight from the resource tree or select it in the resource tree and use alt+click to place it.

The room editor panel becomes annoying because it stays when you switch to other workspaces. You have to manually close it every time you switch over to another tab.

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You have to close it manually every time you switch over to another workspace.

The Creation Code window opens up inside the room area itself, which is not very convenient. It’s better to drag it away into a new tab.

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There’s no option in the room settings to change the room speed, but the room_speed variable is there. Though there is a new Game FPS option in the Main options:

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There’s a new Play button in the room editor which allows you to preview the room in an animating state. The backgrounds also animate if you have set their speeds in the room settings.

Tiles

Working with tiles is a lot better now as well.

There’s this new auto-tiling feature where you don’t need to worry about placing each tile yourself. Have a look:

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You can also create animated tiles and your different kinds of brushes for your tiles.

In the room editor, there’s a new tile toolset with new tools like Fill Bucket, Rectangle, Line, Flip, Rotate, etc.

Conclusion

So, what do you think? With all these new & amazing features, is GameMaker Studio 2 still worth upgrading to, for you? Discuss & share your thoughts in the comment section below. If this review helped you, please share it to show support and help others.


I am writing a book on GML, which would be perfect for people who want to learn making games using it, from simple things like movement and collisions to advanced things like data structures and shaders. Want to know when it’s out, and receive a special discount? Sign up here.


Did I miss something? Or is there something that requires correction? Please do notify me, via either the comments below or mail (gurpreetsingh793@gmail.com).

Happy GameMaking!

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4 thoughts on “GameMaker Studio 2 Review: Features

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