Everything you need to know about game designers. 3 indie developers share experience on Gamemaker, Construct 2, Clickteam fusion 2.5

    With the release of unity 5 and the free unreal engine 4, many have completely forgotten about such convenient development tools as constructors. You may have only heard of them, but you have never used them. But in vain, this is a very convenient thing for the implementation of many tasks. Undoubtedly, they are not capable of competing with the mammoths of modern game-building, and they are not striving. In this article we will tell how designers can come in handy and reveal all the pros and cons of working in them.



    Game maker

    This is one of the oldest gaming middleware engines. GM was originally developed by Dutch scientist Mark Overmass to teach elementary school children programming skills and worked exclusively under Windows. After the 8th version, Overmass sold GM to YoYo Games, and he focused on training issues. YoYo Games retained the concept and interface, but rewrote the engine so that it became multi-platform. Now a game written in GM can be relatively easily exported to many platforms: iOS, Android, Mac, XBox, PS3, HTML5, etc. Each module can be bought separately for relatively little money (no monthly fees).



    In fact, such a multi-platform, of course, brings problems - for example, I couldn’t immediately launch my game running on iOS and Android on HTML5 - many functions work under one platform and do not work under another. Yes, and just debugging and running, for example, under iOS can be quite painful, so you still need some help and advice from an experienced developer. However, as far as I know, many such engines sin this.

    Nevertheless, the main reason why GM once attracted me was the very low "entry threshold", i.e. Learning how to make GM games is very easy. As I already said, initially GM was designed specifically as a training program for children, so if you are not stupider than an 8-year-old child, you can understand GM. A tutorial of a game like Pacman included in the distribution demo demonstrates how a game is created by simply dragging and dropping building blocks from the current set, then literally from cubes.



    The basic concept of GM is very simple. There is a room - this is a screen where everything happens. In the editor of the room we place game objects - walls, monsters. Objects have a set of events (for example, a collision event with a solid object), and each event has a list of actions that occur when this event is activated. Also, you need to attach a sprite picture to the object.



    But unlike a large number of other engines, GM's primitiveness is only apparent. Action cubes are just the predetermined tip of the iceberg called GML - GameMaker Language. By dragging the “execute code” action cube into the object, you can program the code manually using a large number of powerful functions and very simple syntax.



    Support for scripts, any sound formats, path editor, font editor, texture and sprite set editor, as well as a good resource store and the ability to add your own extensions - GM’s capabilities for creating 2D games are actually very good. I haven’t tried 3D, but I don’t remember successful products in this style made on GM.
    Add here a live forum and good tech support - and it will be clear why I consider GM the best engine for non-programmers. It can also be used to quickly prototype individual ideas.

    For example, being a fairly experienced GM user (but not being a programmer), I made the first episode of Who Is The Killer, working 2-3 hours in the evenings, for 4 months.

    In summary.
    Minuses:
    • Debugging difficulty
    • Unequal work under different platforms (because there are too many of them!);
    • Inability to climb to a "low level" (for example, memory);
    • Unstable behavior of new versions;
    • Delays in updates that support the new functionality of the platforms (for example, I waited a month for the GM update to appear, which supports the creation of versions for iOS 8, which was new at that time).

    Pros:
    • Low learning threshold. Literally everyone can start making games;
    • Simple internal language with powerful features;
    • Support for multiple platforms. And relatively small one-time prices for the corresponding modules;
    • Very high speed of creating a basic gameplay and prototypes.

    Interesting projects can be viewed here: www.yoyogames.com/showcase

    Construct 2

    The first version of the Construct Classic engine was released in 2007 by two brothers from England. Before that, they took part in the development of Multimedia Fusion, but in the end they decided to apply the acquired skills to create their own engine. Construct Classic is currently not officially supported, but many continue to use and develop it.

    Construct 2 was launched in 2011. From an environment for creating HTML5 games, it has grown into a multi-platform engine.



    But, unfortunately, not everything is so smooth and rosy. Export to additional platforms is carried out using third-party programs and packers. Performance suffers from this, especially on mobile devices. Although, with due diligence and knowledge of the program, you can achieve a good result. Examples include the mobile game Mortar Melon:



    As for the development environment itself, it is very convenient. I would even say that this is the most convenient and easy to learn constructor. Programming the game is carried out using an event system.



    In the designer there is a system of particles, as well as OpenGL effects. You can also highlight audio effects (filters, sound positioning), the ability to create multiplayer with WebRTC, built-in “path search”, physics and a full debugger with a profiler. Still happy testing through wi-fi. We press to start the game and see how it already works on your mobile devices. There is support for the program for skeletal animation Spriter.

    As for official support, it is timely. Often they ask for the source code to solve your problem faster. Updating the program occurs quite often, which is very pleasing. As a rule, this is not only error correction, but also the introduction of additional functionality.

    The Construct 2 community is just great. People are always ready to help. Almost always, people solve your problem and apply the source. The forum itself is replete with various examples and a lot of useful information.

    The constructor is suitable for everyone. Both for the full development of games, and for prototyping. It allows you to create a game in any 2D genre. Most often I use Construct 2 for quick development during various game jams.

    The designer helped me focus on other tasks and not waste time writing code.

    A few games made with Construct 2:






    Clickteam fusion 2.5

    Behind Clickteam are projects such as Klik and Play, The Games Factory and Multimedia Fusion. In early 2014, they released Clickteam fusion 2.5 (hereinafter referred to as Cf) and export modules for ios and android. During this period, my first acquaintance with the engine took place. Cf immediately liked its ease of development and promising features. More than a year has passed, during this time I have accumulated a lot of experience that I want to share.



    This constructor was chosen for the following reasons:

    • Ability to quickly create prototypes;
    • No need for complicated programming;
    • Low price, in steam with all modules about 10,000 rubles will be released (in famous places you can download for free);
    • You can create a full-fledged commercial product for ios, android.


    I had doubts about the last point, since there are very few high-quality games released on Cf and many familiar developers spoke very critically about creating full-fledged games in the constructor. With experience, doubts have been dispelled. So, what is the Cf constructor like?

    Interface

    Compared to Unity or Cryengine, it looks outdated, but in terms of usability and speed of development, it wins noticeably. Only 8 working windows, and the main work takes place in 4. Despite the simplicity of the structure, some advanced options are hard to find.





    Supported platforms

    At the moment, you can release the game on ios, android, pc, html 5, Flash, Ouya.



    Genre Preferences

    Cf developers claim that the constructor allows you to make any game in 2-d. I would say that it is best suited for games whose action takes place with a static camera (match-3, puzzles, flappie boards, quests, card games, etc.). The built-in 2d-box physics engine makes it possible to play with physics. For example, the well-known cut the rope used a 2d-box. Many indie developers make platformers on cf, but for this genre, I would prefer Unity, because it’s faster.



    Mobile Development Opportunities

    When releasing a game under ios, using the functions inside the constructor, you can integrate geolocation into the game, use accelerometer, built-in purchases, banner ads iad and Chartboost, zoom, multitouch, joystick simulation. The built-in admob setting is available only for android, and Unity ads will have to be added through xcode. For ios, the Game Center is also supported with leaderboards and achievements, as well as multiplayer with matchmaking. I can’t say anything about the latter. On Cf, mostly single games are made.



    Game testing

    Press f8 and the game starts in a separate window. For testing on devices, you need to export to xcode or apk. This hides the inconvenience of working with xcode. Cf works only on Windows, the engine cannot be run on a Mac without a virtual machine. Since I work on Windows, I also had to install a virtual machine to test games on real devices. I recommend VMware Player, it is freely available on the Internet. You also need to download the latest version of the operating system emulator for Mac. For completed games, compilation in apk and xcode files takes no more than a minute. For prototypes, these are seconds.



    Optimization for different devices

    When compiling the game, you need to select the type of display on the display. There are several good optimization options for portrait and landscape orientation. I will not go into much detail, a large article can be found on the Cf forum, I can only say that if you do not think over this item at the beginning of development, you will have problems. Some tips for understanding the big picture:

    • Keep all the elements away from the edge of the screen, so as not to lose them due to different aspect ratios on different devices.
    • Typically, when developing an interface in Cf, the following formulas are used: At the beginning of the frame, set the “start” button to the coordinate Y = “top edge of the screen + N pixels”, where N is set based on our tasks. Thus, the interface is always on the screen and is not eaten on different devices.
    • For different devices in Cf, you can make one version of the game, which will be full-screen on all ios devices. On android, it’s more difficult, but also real.




    Technical Support

    I experienced the warmest emotions when contacting Cf for help. Quickly, on business, they can even send a ready-made piece of code to explain something. During the day, the answer always came. True, the weekend does not work. I would also like to highlight the forum. Visually, it is not very (reminiscent of www.gamedev.ru , sorry for frankness), but very informative. Many ready-made solutions and useful blogs. Extractor support for ios is done by people from Apple. Very competent guys.



    Engine Update and Extensions

    Inside the program there is an extension manager that contains many free objects that facilitate the work of the developer. Periodically, something new appears there. In general, the engine is not developing as fast as I would like. When ios 8 came out, Cf didn’t have time to release the exporter update, because of which the developers who updated their devices lost the opportunity to test games on them. It took about two weeks to resolve this problem. At what it turned out that only the owners of the steam version of the engine were unlucky. Cf also has its own store, which is still very small. I needed to buy a “share for facebook” asset in it, but it turned out to be not so simple. Payment in the store is done through google wallet. I dutifully tied my card to this service, agreed to all the conditions, but it all hung. Repeated repetition of the procedure was unsuccessful.



    Who develops games on Cf

    The main audience of the engine are fans, for whom the creation of games is a hobby. Therefore, the quality of most games is poor. Compared with last year, the number of developers who want to earn money and make good games in the designer has increased. Typically, these are indie singles or small teams. I hope that this influx will give an incentive to the Cf team to actively develop in the direction of business. Also, the engine is often used in prototyping mechanics for large games.

    Popular games developed on Cf

    Five nights at Freddy's - IOS, PC
    Slayin - IOS
    Fort Meow - PC
    Pitiri 1977 - PC
    OddPlanet Lite - IOS
    Pocket Ninjas - IOS
    Megacity - IOS
    Atomic Santa: Christmas Omega - PC
    Silence of the sleep - PC
    Concrete jungle - PC
    Six o'clock high - Android

    Full list here - steamcommunity.com/app/248170/discussions/0/666828126951531546

    Summary

    At the moment, I have two games assembled on Cf, the last of them is the design puzzle My Maze for ios. The big minus was that having started negotiations with the publisher, there was a need to build some sdk responsible for analytics. And here cf let me down a lot, the publisher has ready-made solutions for unity, and integration through my constructor is either very complicated or impossible at all. Therefore, you have to redo the whole game on unity or abandon the publisher. Try not to make my mistake and think in advance which sdk you may need and if there is an opportunity to build them into the game. Nevertheless, in my opinion, every game designer should be able to work in designers. This allows you to depend less on other team members, primarily on programmers. Also, not all games need 3D, and tools for creating 2D games Cf provides enough. The most important plus of the designer is the speed of work and ease of development.

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    Which constructor do you like best?

    • 11.4% Gamemaker 64
    • 17% Construct 2 95
    • 9.1% Clickteam fusion 2.5 51
    • 66.3% I want to see the result 370

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