Game Development

No coding required: How new designers are using GameMaker to create indie smash hits

PC Gamer at

In May 2013, Tom Francis opened preorders for his 2D stealth hacking game Gunpoint. By the time Gunpoint actually went on sale, a week later, Francis had already made enough money to quit his job at PC Gamer and focus on game development full-time. But for many people, the biggest surprise came not from the game's amazing performance three days after release, but rather the way it was made—that it was developed using a tool called GameMaker.

GameMaker: Studio, the latest version of the tool, has been developed by YoYoGames since 2006. Its goal is to break down the game development process into something approachable and easy to learn, shifting the main challenge facing game designers from technical knowledge to creative ability. But in part because of this ease-of-use, GameMaker has carried a stigma that it wasn't capable or worthy of powering high-quality, "professional" games. ("I can't believe you made this in GameMaker!" Francis recalls people saying. "That's so impressive!")

MechWarrior Online team reveals its map-making process and devotion to detail

Ian Birnbaum at

We enjoy MechWarrior Online enough to declare mechs the greatest targets a shooter could ask for. But one of the other keys of the game's appeal are the design of its wide maps, which will soon accommodate 12--on-12 multiplayer. To detail just how much work goes into creating those new maps, the MWO team wrote an article for PAR to run us through the process.

#1ReasonWhy highlights sexism in the games industry

Phil Savage at

Since the early hours of this morning, developers have been using the Twitter hashtag #1ReasonWhy to explain why there aren't more women working in the games industry; sharing examples of the continued discrimination they face. The stories makes for an uncomfortable, sobering reminder of just how pervasive sexism is in gaming.

Mafia's lead dev on the perils of project funding: "I know people who got their bones broken"

Tom Senior at

Dan Vavra was the lead designer on Mafia and Mafia 2. He's started work on a new project with a new studio called Warhorse. While the new project is closely under wraps for now, Vavra has started a frank development blog which promises to deliver an honest account of the trials and tribulations of a new studio trying to bring a game to market.

In the first post published on the new Warhorse site, Vavra describes the studio's struggles to secure financial backing in a difficult market unwilling to make big investment risks and, incredibly, hints at a darker side to the business. Vavra explains that the team pitched their game at every studio and publisher they could think of, except for "loan sharks and some strange underworld types."

"I wrote a game about the Mafia and I don’t want to deal with those types of “businessmen"." he writes. "The game industry is a risky business and nobody wants to end up under the boardwalk. I personally know people who got their bones broken or were kidnapped during game development. No kidding."

Skill, abstraction, and the complications of mainstreaming

Rob Zacny at

Gamasutra puts the shotgun-marriage of action games and RPGs underneath the microscope, and tracks how gameplay changes as games adjust the ratio of action elements to RPG elements. Author Josh Bycer also demonstrates some of the issues that arise as games approach the balance point between the genres, like Mass Effect 3 promises to do.

Defining "skill abstraction" as "the degree to which player skill (or input) has an effect on gameplay", Bycer then goes on to argue that action games and RPGs traditionally existed on opposite ends of the spectrum. For the sake of this argument, non-abstracted games (think Asteroids) are at -100, and hardcore RPGs are at 100. Most games in either genre tend to hover between 75 and 50, but as publishers and developer seek wider audiences, they increasingly approach 0.

"As we move to 0 percent on the chart, the lines between the genres begin to blur. Games like The Witcher 2 or the ultimate direction of the Mass Effect trilogy are examples of this. At this point, the traditional description of the genre is not enough to describe these games."

Words of cynical game development wisdom

Rob Zacny at

Joe Walmart - n. - "The lowest common denominator consumer that many publishers must cater to in order to mitigate financial risk. Coined to describe the powerful force that allowed Deer Hunter to become a market success. Can also be referred to as 'Walmartian.'"

If there is a phenomenon in gaming that drives you crazy, someone has probably coined a term for it. Gamasutra compiled a list of semi-common slang terms from industry professionals, a list that reveals a lot about why games are the way they are.

UK developer survey: 42 percent believe PC gaming's in "regression"

Nathan Grayson at

Well now, this is fairly upsetting. It's not, however, as upsetting as it should be. Develop's posted the results of a "comprehensive" 80-studio survey, and among other things, 42 percent believe PC gaming's going downhill. That, in case you forgot the title of this website, is the bad news.