GameMaker: Using external version control

Over time, I have witnessed a particular scenario a few too many times:

  1. A person demonstrates complete unwillingness to learn how to use version control, be that due to "lack of need" or delightful claims of their existing approaches (which most often turn out to be manual backups) being sufficient or even superior.
  2. A person loses days, weeks, or even months of work due to human error and/or hardware failure(s).
  3. Noticeably bitter about the situation, a person attempts to continue defending their position.

Having spent far too much time arguing with people and explaining how to use version control, I have decided to make a blog post that would cover a few things on the matter:

  • Explain the advantages of version control over "simpler" backups.
  • Explain (step-by-step) the basics of using a common combination for version control being BitBucket (service) + Git (software) + SourceTree (GUI client).

While this tutorial is oriented on GameMaker: Studio users, it can also be easily applied for other tools.

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Understanding isometric grids

Isometric grid coordinate conversion demo
A GIF of the interactive demo seen later in this post.

Questions about the algorithms related to isometric grids are not uncommon. In fact, they are a little more common than you could expect them to be, given the relative simplicity of things.

So I have decided to write a little blog post on the two things important here:

  1. Converting local isometric grid' coordinates to global screen-space coordinates
  2. Converting global/screen-space coordinates to isometric grid' local coordinates
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Top-down bouncing loot effects

GIF
In action

A little while ago, I was asked about what would be a good approach to creating an effect for a top-down game where coins would fly out of a smashed object. Not recalling any tutorials on the matter, I've made an example of this exact thing, and this is a post detailing everything related to such an effect.

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GameMaker: applying “with” to multiple objects

As you may know, GameMaker Language has a Pascal-like "with" structure:

with (value) { code }

but it's not exactly like the Pascal version. In GameMaker, it can take an instance:

var bullet = instance_create(x, y, obj_bullet);
with (bullet) direction = 180;

or an object type (and will apply the expression to each instance of it):

with (obj_bullet) instance_destroy();

This can be rather handy under the multiple circumstances.

However, initially the same block can not be applied to multiple values, and that's less handy.

Sometimes you can cheat by applying the expression to a shared "parent" type of objects, but that is not always the case (and can have side effects if there are more object types meeting the condition).

So let's consider your options for applying a piece of code to all instances of several types:

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GameMaker: Testing two game instances at once

If you are using GameMaker: Studio to create multi-player games (via not-so-recently added network_ functions or by utilizing existing DLLs) without separate projects for server and client, you might have stumbled upon one annoying limitation - you can't run two instances of game from IDE.

From a glance, this looks like a small issue, but it gets tedious really fast - to run a second instance, you have to either compile the game (takes time and monotonous file dialog actions), or find a compiled .win file in depth of temporary directories (or otherwise retrieve it's location via means of WinAPI), and pass it to the runner via command-line, like

...\AppData\Roaming\GameMaker-Studio\Runner.exe -game (path to *.win file)

But that's no fun, right?
At least I've found so.
So I took a bit of time and made a small GML snippet to lift this unfortunate limitation.

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GameMaker: Click ‘n drag to pan view

vis-view-drag

Today I'm going to tell a bit about implementing "click and drag to scroll" type of effect in GameMaker. This particular thing is useful for strategy games (and normally bound to middle mouse button), applications (where visible area may exceed available window space), and various mobile games and applications (where visible area may be panned by tapping and dragging the finger).
Effect itself looks like this:

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GameMaker: Opening GM5/6/7/8 projects in Studio

Opening GameMaker files with GameMaker: Studio

One of first questions ever when starting with GameMaker: Studio is how does one open pre-Studio GameMaker projects (such as GameMaker 8.1, GameMaker 8.0, 7, 6.x, 5.x...). If you got here from search, you probably already tried opening these by dragging them over the program window or attempting to pick these from "Open" menu which does not allow to switch file types. Thus you are probably thinking something in the lines of this now:

Sad handdrawn character standning. Caption says 'Rewrite all the code?' in italics.

But no, of course it isn't that bad (why would someone do this to you?), and you can get your projects running in GameMaker: Studio by importing them. This posts explains how and why.

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GameMaker: Compacting Studio project files

If you have ever inspected directories of newly created projects for GameMaker: Studio, you may have noticed that even the seemingly empty project does "weight" a bit. 4 megabytes, to be precise (or 2 and half if zipped). Now you could say that it's not a lot nowadays, but it does stack, and those extra megabytes now and then could have came useful somewhere else (especially if keeping multiple backups of same project or periodically sending it over to someone). And, overall, it's a bit more than you'd logically expect from something that doesn't do anything (yet).
Reason of this is that upon creation your project looks roughly like this:

That is, most of space is occupied by Configs folder. It, in turn, mostly contains data and placeholder images for entire variety of platforms that GameMaker: Studio supports.
A thing is that far not many of those are actually needed in most situations, since splash screens and icons are commonly replaced with game-specific ones, and items left unmodified are commonly not used at all.
This post goes a bit into "optimizing" GameMaker: Studio projects a bit to reduce filesize drastically.

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GameMaker: Window sliding effects

Window sliding example for GameMaker

This post is about creating window sliding effect such as seen in my old program called GMConveter. Program itself was a bit of joke actually, since at the moment of it's publication the only actual difference between GM80 and GM81 formats was a version byte in file header, which GMConverter would change, making files compatible again. Not too bad of functional part for something that was downloaded over 4 thousand times over course of two years, right?
Apart from inner simplicity, it also had nice visuals, including a nice window sliding effect used on start and end of program. And that's what this article is about.

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