Question: What are the best practices for GameMaker?

Answer

Game development in GameMaker Studio requires a mix of creativity and discipline. Best practices ensure that your project is maintainable, efficient, and scalable. Here's a comprehensive list:

Organizing Your Project:

  • Use Folders: Group related assets together into folders to keep the workspace tidy.
  • Naming Conventions: Choose a consistent naming scheme for objects, scripts, sprites, etc. For example, prefix sprites with spr_, objects with obj_, and scripts with scr_.
// Example of naming convention var playerSprite = spr_player; var enemyObject = obj_enemy;

Writing Code:

  • Commenting: Clearly comment your code to explain what each section does, which is invaluable when returning to or sharing your work.
// This script moves the player at a defined speed var spd = 4; x += spd * keyboard_check(vk_right) - spd * keyboard_check(vk_left);
  • Consistent Formatting: Consistently format your code with proper indentation and spacing for better readability.
  • Modularize: Use scripts for common tasks to avoid repetition, making it much easier to update code later.
// A reusable movement script function move_object(spd) { x += spd * keyboard_check(vk_right) - spd * keyboard_check(vk_left); }

Optimization:

  • Avoid Step Event Overuse: The Step event runs every frame and can quickly become a bottleneck. Use alarms, timelines, or custom events for non-continuous checks.
  • Data Structures Wisely: Use data structures appropriately; ds_lists and ds_maps have different performance characteristics suitable for different scenarios.

Graphics and Animation:

  • Power of Two: Use sprite dimensions that are powers of two (e.g., 32x32, 64x64) for performance benefits on most hardware.
  • Clean Up: Always remove unused sprites, objects, and other resources to reduce the game's memory footprint.

Testing and Debugging:

  • Debug Mode: Use GameMaker's debug mode to track down bugs and performance issues.
  • Console Logging: Output messages to the console during runtime for debugging purposes.
// Printing a debug message debug_log("Player health is now " + string(playerHealth));

Version Control:

  • Use Version Control: Systems like Git help manage changes and collaborate more effectively.

Performance:

  • Object Instances: Keep the number of instances as low as possible for performance reasons.
  • Profiling Tools: Use GameMaker's profiling tools to identify bottlenecks in your games' performance.

General Tips:

  • Start Small: When learning, begin with small projects to reinforce understanding and gradually tackle more complexity.
  • Backup Regularly: Regularly save and backup your project to avoid data loss.

By adhering to these best practices, you'll improve the quality of your games and make your development process in GameMaker Studio smoother and more efficient.

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