Garry Kitchen's GameMaker
|Original author(s)||Garry Kitchen|
|Type||Game creation system|
Garry Kitchen's GameMaker is an IDE for the Commodore 64, Apple II, and IBM PCs, created by Garry Kitchen and released by Activision in 1985. The software is notable as the first high-level all-in-one game design product aimed at the general consumer.
Of the three supported platforms the Commodore 64 version is arguably the most feature-rich, as it takes advantage of the advanced sound and color capabilities lacking in the Apple II and early PC hardware. The difference is especially noteworthy in the Sound Maker module. Two add-on disks are also available for the Commodore 64 version — Sports, and Science Fiction. These include sprites, music, and background elements for loading into GameMaker.
To demonstrate the versatility of the program, the package includes several demonstration files. Among them are a demo sequence featuring animated sprites and music, a recreation of the David Crane classic Pitfall!, and a birthday greeting.
GameMaker is divided into five tools, each of which consists of a graphical interface controlled with the joystick:
- SceneMaker - for creating background graphics
- SpriteMaker - for creating movable objects (i.e., sprites)
- MusicMaker - for composing musical scores
- SoundMaker - for creating sound effects
- The Editor - for programming the actual game
The programming language used by GameMaker is reminiscent of other early programming languages like BASIC, but with several proprietary and tightly integrated graphics and sound facilities.
Rather than enter the language via keyboard, GameMaker uses a novel contextual menu-based system. The user selects possible instructions, and then customizes the active objects of the instruction, such as variable names or numbers.
GameMaker is distinguished by some notable boundaries; some imposed by the Commodore 64 architecture, some by the software itself — presumably in part because of the large memory footprint of the user interface.
- Only eight sprites may be displayed at once (a C64 limit)
- Each sprite and background may have a maximum of four colors, out of a palette of sixteen (a C64 limit)
- Only two stationary background screens may be employed per game (a GameMaker limit)
- Only 3553 total bytes are available for game resources — including sounds, music, sprites, and code (a GameMaker limit)
- The games themselves may not access the disk (a GameMaker limit)
Despite the limitations, GameMaker proves to be a formidable game development environment for its time and platform. As a demonstration of its power, the package includes an in-engine remake of David Crane's Pitfall!, one of Activision's most renowned and familiar games.
Computer Gaming World called GameMaker "excellent". Compute! Gazette called it "a thorough, complete package that makes it relatively easy to design arcade games that actually work."
- Arcade Game Construction Kit - Another game development platform for the C64.
- Shoot'Em-Up Construction Kit - A high-grade development platform for C64, with ports to the Amiga, Atari ST, and modern PC hardware. Primarily designed for shooter-style games.
- Pinball Construction Set - A contemporary title from Electronic Arts focused on created pinball games.
- Official GameMaker site
- Gamemaker Fan Site, including a user-created game archive
- The GameBase64 Collection, a compendium of user-created games