While by no means the only game creation platform out there, GameMaker has powered a good few commercial indie games. Our own former Section Editor Tom 'Moneybags' Francis made his game, Gunpoint, using an older version of the tool. Now he spends his days circling the office in a Golden Helicopter, flicking spoonfuls of caviare at the windows. If flinging fish eggs at your former place of employment sounds appealing, maybe you should take advantage of GameMaker Studio's current deal, which lets you grab a free copy of the commercial Standard Edition.
It's a great tool for beginners, whether to act as the base of your early projects, or to empower you on to trying more flexible game engines. Even if you've no desire to make a proper, fully featured game, it's worth taking advantage of this offer, just to play about with its options. Who knows, your freeform tinkering could lead to something pretty great. The GameMaker engine is already behind games like Hotline Miami, Stealth Bastard and the original Spelunky.
To get your free copy of the Standard Edition, download the Free version of GameMaker Studio from this page . Once installed, a dialogue box will pop up, asking which update stream you want to draw from. Choose the Beta channel, and let the game install the latest beta release. From there, you can pick the option to register the Standard Edition. Enter you email address, and you'll be sent an activation code.
If you'd like to go a step further, the Professional Edition is currently available for $50. You can see a comparison chart of each version's features at the GameMaker website . According to the GameMakerBlog news site , "it's likely that this is a time-limited offer, so if you're using the free version of GameMaker Studio be sure to act quickly."
For more on GameMaker's potential as an engine, check out Tom F's feature on making games .