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The Game Maker's Apprentice: Game Development for Beginners

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If the book has a mention of a CD,please look for its contents in extras.springer.com . The link is included in the copyright page of the book. The Game Makers Apprentice shows you how to create nine exciting games using the wildly popular Game Maker game creation tool. This book covers a range of genres, including action, adventure, and puzzle games complete with professional quality sound effects and visuals. It discusses game design theory and features practical examples of how this can be applied to developing games that are more fun to play. Game Maker allows games to be created using a simple drag-and-drop interface, so you don’t need to have any prior coding experience. It includes an optional programming language for adding advanced features to your games, when you feel ready to do so. You can obtain more information by visiting book.gamemaker.nl. The authors include the creator of the Game Maker tool and a former professional game programmer, so you’ll glean understanding from their expertise. The book also includes supplementary materials (on Apress.com) containing Game Maker software and all of the game projects that are created in the book—plus a host of professional-quality graphics and sound effects that you can use in your own games.

336 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2006

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Jacob Habgood

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Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews
Profile Image for David.
1,045 reviews40 followers
September 8, 2013
Do you have a junior high / high school kid that you want to get interested in programming? Yes? Then stop what you’re doing, download GameMaker (for Windows or Mac), and order this book!

My 13 year old son and I have nearly finished working our way through this book over his summer vacation. All of the examples turn into compelling, fully playable games. While the learning curve will appear to stretch to the horizon, it’s a gentle steady slope, with fun and results at each stage. The majority of the book teaches real programming concepts, but without using traditional code. Code is introduced towards the end of the book, and it used throughout the sequel ‘The Game Maker’s Companion’.

While I wanted him to have immediate success, I also wanted him to encounter and learn to track down bugs, since that’s part of the process. He’s certainly made enough bugs of his own, but we only managed to find two in the book itself (in one case, the book is out of date – p12 shows the old way of handling sprite strips, but a quick check on YouTube showed the new way to do it).

Ready? It's time for my “get off my lawn” rant. :)

I’m 42 now. It was 1984 when I was my son’s age, and 8-bit computers had begun to appear in homes. Back then, writing code was a necessary path to having fun with a computer, where as now, it’s (at least initially) a barrier to fun.

In those days, a nation of code-writing kids helped define the next great industry, and it happened when most adults weren't paying much attention. I was one of ~30 million Commodore 64 owners who knew that the future was somehow tied to the glowing screen before me. My dad spent perhaps more money than he thought justified for a computer that he didn't understand. It didn't help that within minutes of unwrapping, each machine presented a child with merely a blinking prompt. Parents didn’t want toys that generated endless questions.

Some kids wanted their new box to play games, but others wanted to understand it and see what they could create. In the early days, many of the programs (games, budgeting, word processors, etc.) couldn't be "downloaded" or purchased in stores, but rather, were found printed in magazines to be manually typed in. What would be unacceptable tedium today set many of us on the path to programming.

A person could write an entire game by himself, including graphics, sound, joystick input, etc. On a C64, the built-in ROM that handled BASIC was, itself, merely an 8K program (written by Bill Gates in his early 20s). Once you learned machine language, you could read the computer's memory to understand it, and then extend and change its behavior.

The modest graphics, sound, and storage were a playground for boundless, creative novelty. The limitations turned to advantage, since anyone could produce passable sound and graphics for their games. Constraints can inspire greater ingenuity – consider how Bach's two part inventions transcended their dyadic restrictions through divine craftsmanship. It is a maximizing of the expression that can be found in the limited and the discretized, so much so that you forget the limitations. Though the computers were simple, in compensation, the software was all the more clever. Today, those who enjoy chess do so for the engaging possibilities contained in its few rules, not because the latest chess boards could be made to talk or blink.

It was an odd feeling to have technical questions about this new toy that no school teacher or parent could answer. In the early days, most local libraries didn't carry relevant books. The world hadn't caught up with its children yet – an unprecedented phenomenon in human history. Much has changed. There is now, of course, no expectation that end users understand how to program. This is good of course, but the audience has dumbed down. The ingenious puzzles found in games of old have long ceased to be marketable to the increasingly average player. I remember the games -- the dark hallways and where they led, the secrets and how they were concealed. These are real places to me, preserved with the dream-like quality that comes with those memories untouched by an adult outlook.

Children using computers today have an entirely different experience. While the creation of as-of-yet undiscovered computing experiences is unbounded, the barrier to entry is much higher. Modern games are not imagined into being by a single individual, but require a huge development/production staff of specialized skills, and tens of millions to get to market. The ever-increasing sophistication in user experience and the increasing distance from code prevents the kinds of exploratory play that bends a computer to the user's will. In its place are packaged, canned entertainments, designed to be linearly consumed. Through no fault of their own, children understand the 'What', but not the 'How', which means they have to wait on adults to create what is to be 'Next'.

That’s where a book like this can roll back the clock, and bring back the magic that happened in the 80s. On the relatively new indy game scene, the tools (i.e. GameMaker) now exist where a single person can once again handle all of the sound, graphics, and programming. In some ways, it’s even better. Want to add background music? Just add it. No more building assembly language interrupt-based music players. Want to rotate a sprite? Just do it. No more drawing every possible rotation ahead of time. Want to port your games to your iphone or droid? Just do it. With the game making tools and languages that are available, you’re not stuck learning the specifics of each computer and OS type. Where I was learning that POKE 646,0 would turn my C64 cursor black, my son is learning about refactoring code using object hierarchies. That’s a huge improvement in abstraction, no matter what nostalgia whispers into my ear.

The authors don’t really dwell on any of these “get off my lawn” rants, except for a paragraph near the very end of the book: They write, “Twenty years ago every self-respecting computer enthusiast owned a collection of books about programming games for the simple computers of the day. These books usually made the reader type in pages of code, which generally contained a generous helping of typing errors and bugs to work around. If you were lucky, then hours of painstaking labor might eventually be rewarded with the chance to control the letter O as it was chased around the screen by a couple of nasty-looking As. Nonetheless, it was books just like these that inspired us to write this one, because they were responsible for starting us down a path that lead to the game-related careers what we have today.”
Profile Image for ..
339 reviews
May 19, 2020
Okay, but it needed some more detail in some areas. A lot of what it was telling me to do got somewhat confusing, especially towards the end. It was helpful overall, though. At least YouTube exists and helped me figure out what dilemmas I had when the book was unclear.
2 reviews
September 14, 2011
This is a good book to read if you want to get into game development. Game maker 7 is a good program to use if you want to start designing. It could get confusing at times, but this book tells you everything you need to get started.Such as basic codes,sprites,rooms,artificial intelligence,etc.

If you want to learn how to design games without spending a fortune, get this book!
Profile Image for Faisal Alburek.
20 reviews1 follower
May 16, 2014
This book is a must if you wish to learn how to use game maker, as well as understanding some basic concepts of game design. The book is organized so that each three chapters you'll learn how to use game maker program, the forth all be a game design lesson based on what you did in the previous chapters. It is cleverly organized to help you grasp how to make games.
Profile Image for Charles Patterson.
24 reviews4 followers
February 18, 2016
While this book was written with a previous version of GameMaker in mind (version 6.1 comes on the companion disk), most of it works just fine with GameMaker Studio, and with a little adjustment I was able to get everything working fine.

A good introduction text for getting you started with GameMaker.
January 1, 2016
This is a great book for Game Maker, it is very outdated, but the GML structure and examples are amazing. I wish they would update the references to fit GMS, but it is easy enough to find solutions on the internet.
Profile Image for John Orman.
685 reviews31 followers
March 27, 2012
Really useful book for those using Game Maker to develop computer games. Lots of script examples that I was able to use in the game development class that I recently completed.
Profile Image for Dan.
9 reviews
February 7, 2013
Well, I was able to make a crappy game out of this~! Anyone who wants to program videogames should defiantly take a gander at this descriptive book. It makes making games a walk through the park.
Profile Image for Sam.
205 reviews22 followers
August 5, 2013
I give it a big 4 outta 5 stars. It would have got 5 but the program version is out dated so the book doesn't work without a lot of help on the most recent versions of GameMaker.
Profile Image for Bilgehan.
33 reviews19 followers
July 22, 2014
Examples are not compatible with GM:Studio, so you need to download GM 8.1.
Profile Image for Tim Heard.
25 reviews3 followers
April 14, 2017
So you want to make video games and have a few ideas on what sort of games you want to make. You don’t know where to start since you have yet to learn the basics of design and programming. At some point, you have learned about game development software (available for free with paid additional features in a Professional edition) that specializes in making 2D games called GameMaker: Studio. If you found yourself thinking this would be the best software for making the sort of games you have in mind, you decided to download it via the official website or the Steam page. After trying out a few built-in beginner tutorials, you decided to look for more beginner tutorials in order to get more comfortable with the tools that GameMaker: Studio has to offer. The tutorials found throughout YouTube have been good so far, but suppose you wanted a resource that’s a bit more concrete in structure, a set of lessons that do not require an Internet connection. In other words, you thought you could use an offline resource like a textbook to learn more ways to use GameMaker: Studio. That’s where The Game Maker’s Apprentice comes in.

Divided into five parts, much of the book is dedicated to various methods of using GameMaker’s drag-and-drop programming feature designed to enable beginner’s to make various basic games without having to know programming from prior experience or formal training. What this means is that he or she can drag icons representing various functions into any number of event lists added to game objects, like for when an object representing a player character or an enemy is first created upon running a game. Assuming the reader bought it with the accompanying CD, he or she can use the built-in resources consisting of pre-made sprites, sounds, and music while following along each chapter to make games such as a Breakout-clone, a vertical scrolling shoot-‘em-up (shmup, for short), a maze game, or a basic competitive 2-player game. From chapter 2 to chapter 10, the reader is shown how some simple yet fun games can be created using drag-and-drop while going over some basic fundamentals in game design that would be applicable to other games made with other software besides GameMaker.

Upon reaching Part 5 (chapters 12 through 14), readers get introduced to the basics of traditional programming in a manageable learning curve. This is done in the form of GameMaker’s own programming language appropriately called Game Maker Language (GML) which shares similarities to other more common programming languages such as C# and C++. By guiding readers through programming with GML, they get introduced to some methods that extend the use of drag-and-drop in order to make more complex games such as using different sets of scripts to define the playfield and rules of Tic-Tac-Toe and giving an enemy a bit of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) so that it would wander slowly around the maze, chase the player upon spotting him/her at a higher speed, go into alert mode upon losing said player, and resume wandering.

While it’s all well and good for those looking for a solid start in using the software, The Game Maker’s Apprentice was written over 10 years ago for the Game Maker 8 series (aka GM: Legacy) which was retired just a few years earlier by YoYo Games, the company behind the software, in favor of the more advanced GameMaker: Studio. So some of the actions and programming functions that worked in GM: Legacy would no longer work with GM: Studio because they have been either replaced (a GML function called sound_play was replaced by audio_play_sound) or rendered obsolete (the Sleep action in GM: Legacy would briefly pause a game for a number of milliseconds upon completing a goal before restarting or moving on to the next level). In my attempts to make the games featured in this book using GM: Studio, I had to figure out ways to work around obstacles such as those by consulting the GameMaker Community forums in conjunction with my own understanding of the software. But this should not discourage readers who would be using this book in order get familiar with the basics of GM: Studio since most of the content is still applicable with the modern software.

In conclusion, The Game Maker’s Apprentice is a solid introduction to those looking to start making games using GM: Studio that could use a more advanced 2nd edition. While some of the procedures to make the games featured in this book are obsolete by today’s standard software, a good number of them still apply to the process. So I would recommend it to any beginner wanting to experiment with GM: Studio in conjunction with other tutorials available on the Internet.
Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews

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