Making The Switch To Game Maker

I’ve been quiet the last two weeks. “Too quiet.” There has been stuff going on behind the scenes and it’s finally time to write about it.

A few weeks ago we were pondering switching to something other than Torque to make the game with. Things were discussed, a class was canceled which disrupted the discussions, and some mild drama happened, but eventually two things happened:

1) The Tech Team completed the Tech Demo in Torque. It took us five weeks to make something barely functional.

2) The Tech Team completed a second Tech Demo in Game Maker. It took us less than a week to put more stuff in it than was in the Torque version.

The bottom line is that the Tech Team discovered something we’ve suspected for a while: Torque sucks for entry-level game development if you don’t somehow already know how to use it. It has plenty of good points, which you can easily see from the GG website and the games that have been made with it, but it does have some serious flaws:

1) There is no book for Torque Game Builder. Every book for Torque covers Torque Game Engine instead. This is like trying to teach people how to swim in a pool by demanding that they swim in the ocean first. Even Torque for Teens, which really should cover TGB, starts with TGE instead.

2) Torque is structured to make it very easy to develop games if you’ve been through Comp Sci I, or an equivalent object-oriented language class such as Java. We haven’t done CS1 yet, though this is entirely the fault of the way the Game Design program is currently structured rather than Garage Games’ fault. What is Garage Games’ fault is this fact combined with #1 above, because this wouldn’t be as big of an issue if there was simply a frakking book on Builder.

3) The Torque Developer Network is under renovation and we can’t wait that long. Our project is due at the end of the semester.

4) The tutorials leave a lot to be desired. I think the real problem with them is that they’re written by people who know what they’re doing, so they’re failing to explain things in a way that can be easily understood by people who don’t know what they’re doing. The Fish Tutorial teaches you how to make The Fish Game easily. It says little about how to make Your Game. Too much copying & pasting of code and too little explanation of what the code does.

Game Maker has none of these issues, and lots of “easy things” that just make things easier which I’ll be explaining in another post. Game Maker does have it’s own issues, which I’ll also be explaining later. There are lots of things that Torque can do that Game Maker can’t, but it’s a better entry-level game development environment.

Also, Game Maker is WAY cheaper.

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4 Responses to Making The Switch To Game Maker

  1. deborahm says:

    Hey Mad Tinkerer,I've been following your blog for sometime. It's great to see your progress on your school project. I did want to let you know that a book was released for TGB in the last few months:'ve seen a lot of beginning game developers start out with Game Maker and upgrade to TGB later when they want to add functionality that GM doesn't provide out-of-box. (That's the power of source; you don't have to rely on the makers of the engine to anticipate what you might need since you can integrate functionality by yourself.) I hope that after you take a few programming courses you reconsider Torque. As I said, I've been following your progress, and your enthusiasm is catching. :)Cheers, and good luck on your game project! \

  2. Well we’re definitely looking at TGB for next semester. I’ll check out that book and if it’s helpful then it’ll definitely ease the transition.

  3. jhample says:

    when we made dragonspire we had a lot of the same problems. the biggest help to me (not the 1000 page book i bought…grrrr) but in the tgb documentation. if you go through a tutorial and then look up the functions in the docs it gives very detailed descriptions of all the parameters and such for the built in functions (collision, movement, keybindings, etc). but getting through tgb set you up for tgea next year. tgea is even more object oriented so it could get tough

  4. Well several of us (in the Mission 9 team) are planning to take Comp Sci I next semester, so that should help us be able to get our heads around the object-oriented side of Torque.

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