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Game Maker alternatives
onpon4 Offline
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Posts: 96
Joined: Oct 2011
Post: #1
Game Maker alternatives
There are some serious practical flaws with Game Maker, namely:
- With greedy executives in control of it, you most likely have to keep paying YoYoGames to keep it up-to-date.
- No support for GNU/Linux at all, unless you pay $100 for the HTML5 option.
- You can't change it; you depend on YoYoGames to do this since it is nonfree.

On the other hand, though, there are some obvious advantages to a game engine like Game Maker which can all be simplified to: it's much easier to use than a regular programming language with a graphics library, like C++/SDL.

So, what I wonder is what you guys think about alternatives to Game Maker. I'll list off what I know about from first-hand experience. Please do tell me about other game engines or setups you're familiar with, their advantages, disadvantages, and other quirks, so this list can be expanded (though preferably, only ones that solve at least one of Game Maker's problems). Without further ado:


Game Editor: http://game-editor.com

Game Editor is a game engine much like Game Maker, but different in its interface and also different in that it is free software (GNU GPL) and cross-platform, supporting Windows (all the way back to '95, apparently!), Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, iPhone, iPad, Windows Mobile, Pocket PC, and GP2X. Being free software, support for other systems is perfectly possible if someone compiles it (and, if necessary, tweaks it so it will run correctly).

Advantages:
- Cross-platform (see above).
- Free software (GPL-licensed), which means you can make any changes you like to the source code, and you are not dependent on the Game Editor developers' benevolence.
- Includes several easy to follow interactive tutorials that will get you started.
- Very powerful scripting language, heavily based on C (indistinguishable at a glance and offering some advanced features), but still easy to use.
- Apparently, even true C code can be used, though I have no clue how this works.

Disadvantages:
- Development of it, at least in public, is slow; the current version is a bit old. If you look at the forum, though, it's pretty clear that it has not been abandoned.
- It has automatic built-in collision detection ostensibly meant for walls, but it's pretty terrible since it only stops movement; it doesn't move the actor out of the collision like Game Maker does with "solid" objects. In particular, you can walk through walls if you only use this collision handling feature.
- There are currently no image transformation features (such as rotation and scaling).

Misc:
- Game Editor doesn't have a rooms concept like Game Maker does. Instead, any game has a (theoretically) infinitely-sized grid. Multiple levels can be done by having the levels at different locations in this grid or by combining multiple games into one (if I'm not mistaken, the latter is more popular).
- Game Editor is free to use for GPL-licensed and noncommercial games, no restrictions (the noncommercial license only applies to the binary version, which has a short splash screen but no other disadvantages; of course, you can also just grab the source and use the GPL license to get rid of the splash screen). To distribute nonfree commercial games, you must pay a license fee of either $99 (splash screen) or $1499 (no splash screen) for one year of use. This would not be a problem in the slightest for fangaming, of course, since they are noncommercial anyway.


Python: http://www.python.org

Python is not a game engine, but rather a regular programming language which is easy to use. For game development, it would normally be used with Pygame (http://pygame.org) or Pyglet (http://pyglet.org), depending on exact needs.

Advantages:
- The interpreter is free software (LGPL-licensed), which means you can make any changes you like to the source code (though you really shouldn't as that would cause confusion and is unnecessary), and you are not dependent on the Python developers' benevolence.
- Platform-independent; works on just about any platform, the only exceptions I know of being iOS and Android (directly; you can probably get it to work by using Jython, though library support can vary). Like Java, no recompilation (or compilation at all, in this case) is needed.
- Offers complete control over your game.
- Danamically typed, and uses duck typing, much like GML.
- Can be easily extended with C.

Disadvantages:
- There is currently not a complete game engine for it. There is the Retro Game Library (http://www.pygame.org/project-Retro+Game...1065-.html), which is cool, but essentially limited to NES and Gameboy style games and does not include a graphical level editor of any sort.

Misc:
- Windows is about the only supported platform that doesn't include a Python interpreter, so if you're using Pyglet, supporting all other platforms is a simple matter of bundling your game's code with Pyglet and telling users what to run in a README (Pygame is not that simple since it's actually a wrapper for SDL, which needs to be compiled, but you can just tell users in the README that they need to install Pygame). Then there are programs for packaging Python programs up for Windows, including py2exe and cx_Freeze (cx_Freeze will also work on other platforms).


ENIGMA: http://enigma-dev.org

ENIGMA is a project to replace the Game Maker with a free Game Maker compiler. It is paired with LateralGM, an alternative editor for Game Maker files written in Java.

Pros:
- Free software (GPL-licensed), which means you can make any changes you like to the source code, and you are not dependent on the ENIGMA developers' benevolence.
- Easy to migrate to from Game Maker, being almost exactly the same in syntax and overall how it works.
- Can be extended with C++.

Cons:
- Incomplete, and development is slow.
- If it gets to the point where it is actually able to replace Game Maker, there's no telling what YoYoGames' response will be.


Construct Classic: http://sourceforge.net/projects/construct/

Advantages:
- Free software (GPL-licensed), which means you can make any changes you like to the source code, and you are not dependent on the Construct developers' benevolence.
- Apparently similar to popular Clickteam products.

Disadvantages:
- Windows-only due to dependence on DirectX.
(This post was last modified: 11-16-2012 02:16 PM by onpon4.)
11-16-2012 12:51 AM
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Kesha Offline
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Posts: 165
Joined: Mar 2009
Post: #2
RE: Game Maker alternatives
I don't make games myself, but that doesn't mean I haven't come across other tools for making games.

Aside from Game Maker, other popular tools for making fan games have been Clickteam products. The Games Factory and Multimedia Fusion are what people use (though the older klick n play also exists too). They're proprietary and cost money though so I'm sure they're not what you'd be looking for anyway.

Stencyl is another tool that's actually been featured at NCFC in the past. I don't know much about it but it looks pretty nice at least.

the first version of Construct is available under the GPL, although it's windows only as far as I can tell. Apparently it's similar to the Clickteam products mentioned earlier so it might be something users of those would want to check out.

It'd probably be best to move away from game making tools though. The teams who make these are usually in it just to make money off of people who think programming looks hard- I won't say it's necessarily easy, but it's really not that bad. So it'd be nice to see fangames shift away from these kinds of tools to languages themselves.

HTML5 seems like a good thing to focus on, as the abilities of JavaScript for handling games and applications are really impressive at this point, and by using them you don't have to worry much about platform compatibility either. We have a Fire Emblem game this year done with HTML5 stuff, even! Python seems like a really excellent choice for non-web applications though, I've been learning a bit myself and it just seems like a really nice language overall, and it has so many uses beyond just games.

Of course, I think people should use whatever they're comfortable with. (but should definitely try to move away from Game Maker and such if they have the opportunity)
11-16-2012 03:13 AM
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sylvanelite Offline
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Posts: 6
Joined: Oct 2011
Post: #3
RE: Game Maker alternatives
Quick intro: I'm the guy who wrote FE:WC.

I've used Game Maker a lot. I can't say any bad things about it. In particular, I've found nothing that's easier to use. However, if you do want to look elsewhere, here are just some off the top of my head:


Unity is often spoken about
Pro:
Can use it without every hitting a pay wall. (good for hobbysits)
Runs on just about anything (including web browser)
Powerful enough that professional games have used it.
Good features. Networking and 3D, for example.

Con:
Terrible to learn.
3D focus is a real pain. Especially since Blender is also terrible to learn.
Terrible to learn. (yes, I repeated that on purpose).

GamePlay
Pro:
Open Source and free.
Runs natively everywhere. (Windows, OSX, Linux, iOS, Android, and Blackberry 10)
Developed by RIM (Blackberry) so it is very high-quality.

Con:
It's all-code. If you don't know C++, don't even look here.


FlashDevelop+ flashpunk or flixel:
Pro:
Open source, makes flash games
Cons:
Need to code Actionscript.
No GUI

Any Javascript game engine:
Pro:
Runs in a browser
Con:
Terrible documentation
Feature-incomplete
Not tested
Low-level (most won't do animations without headaches. Forget collision detection.)
Requires knowing Javascript.

(Yes, I've grouped a lot of Javascript game engines together. I've tried nearly everything on this list, they all have the same flaws).

Ultimately making a game comes down to one question:

What do you want to make?

No tool is perfect for every job. I personally stuck with Javascript for FE:WC, because it runs everywhere a browser does. (I'm kinda bummed that the multiplayer died before nintendocfc). I don't know of any other platform where you can distribute the same files, and have them run everywhere. Even things like Python or Java require an interpreter to be installed before the game can be run, which is often more hassle than it's worth. (especially when different versions of Java are thrown into the mix).

I could easily name a dozen engines that are code-centric. (XNA and Unreal being two I haven't mentioned yet). While other GUI-editors exist that are usually catered towards a specific style of game (RPG maker).

I can almost guarantee, there is no engine that'll be able to handle making a clone of these three games without serious coding: Mario, Pokemon, Fire Emblem.

Real-time things like Game Maker are great for Mario games. Terrible for Pokemon or Fire Emblem which are turn-based. Engines great at handling Fire Emblem style games, often fall over when trying to deal with Pokemon-style overworld. An engine good at Pokemon games, will likewise fail to make the other two. Most game engine cater towards Mario, Zelda or other single-player, real-time games.

That being said, you can make Fire Emblem style games in Game Maker. The biggest limitation is how much coding people know.

As two random asides:
That link to GNU is not about free costing software. I personally don't like the GNU licenses, that's why FE:WC is opened under a MIT license. (in retrospect, I kinda feel like BSD is better, they are virtually the same, but BSD is more readable).

FE:WC was written using HTML4, I haven't used any real HTML5 features. (although it does have a HTML5 doctype). I did this to make it work on IE7/8.
11-16-2012 07:23 AM
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onpon4 Offline
Member

Posts: 96
Joined: Oct 2011
Post: #4
RE: Game Maker alternatives
(11-16-2012 03:13 AM)Kesha Wrote:  the first version of Construct is available under the GPL, although it's windows only as far as I can tell. Apparently it's similar to the Clickteam products mentioned earlier so it might be something users of those would want to check out.

Alright, I'll add Construct Classic to the list, at least. The reason it's Windows-only, by the way, seems to be that it needs DirectX, which is not cross-platform (unlike, say, SDL).

(11-16-2012 03:13 AM)Kesha Wrote:  It'd probably be best to move away from game making tools though. The teams who make these are usually in it just to make money off of people who think programming looks hard- I won't say it's necessarily easy, but it's really not that bad. So it'd be nice to see fangames shift away from these kinds of tools to languages themselves.

I personally prefer programming in normal languages, with Python being my current favorite and C++ being my second favorite, partly because I prefer to have a high degree of control over how my game works. But I can see the use in simple game engines or even game makers, at least for beginners. More importantly, if the program is free software, like Game Editor is, then it doesn't much matter if they decide to stop supporting it as free software and start being greedy, because the free program can just be forked by a community.

(11-16-2012 03:13 AM)Kesha Wrote:  Of course, I think people should use whatever they're comfortable with. (but should definitely try to move away from Game Maker and such if they have the opportunity)

Agreed on both points.

Quote:That link to GNU is not about free costing software.

I know. I put the link there to make it clear that I'm talking about freedom when I say "free", not price.

I'll get to reading the rest of your post in about an hour. What's FE:WC?

EDIT: Ah, I get it, a Fire Emblem fangame.

Quote:FlashDevelop+ flashpunk or flixel:
Pro:
Open source, makes flash games
Cons:
Need to code Actionscript.
No GUI

I should mention that Adobe Flash itself is nonfree software. It also doesn't work on non-x86 platforms and is dying, because Adobe has pretty much given up on it.

You seem to be cynical about most of the things you mentioned. Do you actually recommend trying them?
(This post was last modified: 11-16-2012 09:46 AM by onpon4.)
11-16-2012 07:25 AM
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sylvanelite Offline
Member

Posts: 6
Joined: Oct 2011
Post: #5
RE: Game Maker alternatives
Quote:You seem to be cynical about most of the things you mentioned. Do you actually recommend trying them?
It depends on what you want to do.

If you want to make a 3D game, then yes, I would highly recommend Unity or GamePlay. If you are trying to make a 2D game, then no I wouldn't.

Quote:I should mention that Adobe Flash itself is nonfree software. It also doesn't work on non-x86 platforms and is dying, because Adobe has pretty much given up on it.
Flashdevelop uses Flex, which is free software (Apache 2.0). It can run on ARM devices.

The only suitable replacement for Flash would be Javascript. But, IMO, there aren't any good engines out there that target HTML 5. You would be better off sticking to a minimal library and coding most of it by hand.

Again, it depends on what you want to do. Targeting a browser is something that Game Maker can do, I've not seen any open-source alternatives able to replicate this to a reasonable degree.
11-16-2012 07:34 PM
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onpon4 Offline
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Posts: 96
Joined: Oct 2011
Post: #6
RE: Game Maker alternatives
Ah, I didn't know about Flex.

Well, since you don't think any of the things you mentioned are worth it for 2D games, I don't see much use in listing them (best to keep the list to things some of us think are worth at least trying). As for the 3D stuff, maybe those are worth a mention, since Game Maker does have some 3D support, but I'm not so sure, what with Game Maker's focus being 2D.
11-16-2012 10:57 PM
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onpon4 Offline
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Posts: 96
Joined: Oct 2011
Post: #7
RE: Game Maker alternatives
Continuing the discussion here: http://forums.mfgg.net/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=13659
11-18-2012 04:20 PM
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