We are living in unprecedented times. The global coronavirus pandemic has meant that the majority of us have had to live in lockdown for the last few months. With millions of children off school and many adults off work, it’s perhaps unsurprising that demand for video games has recently skyrocketed.
But during this challenging time, people haven’t just been eager to play video games, they’ve also been increasingly keen to start making them.
To understand the increase in activity that we’ve seen, we spoke to a handful of our new users about their experiences of using GameMaker and whether making games during lockdown has helped them cope with the stresses of living through a global pandemic.
For anyone interested in making games, whether they’ve got prior experience or not, the lockdown has provided an ideal opportunity to get involved. Before lockdown, new user Wilsamov used to constantly ponder about becoming a game developer, but college work and his busy schedule always prevented him. “Once lockdown hit I found myself wasting time and not being productive”, he confessed, adding “Picking up GameMaker has given me a chance to stop wasting time and finally start learning how to make games.”
Similarly, AndHeDrew, who had worked on the art for a few game jam games before lockdown but never actually got around to coding, told us how lockdown has changed that: “I've had more time to devote to game development than ever. It's been fantastic, satisfying work”, he said.
Most of our new users agree that making a game has been a welcome distraction during the lockdown. But for many, using GameMaker has been about more than just killing a few spare hours.
Haukur, who has dabbled with making games on other platforms in the past, is a health worker. Because of COVID-19 he said he’s been "really busy" at work. He started using GameMaker during lockdown, either on his day off or when his shift had finished. “Getting to do my game dev hobby work after a long day, or on my day off, has been a mental lifesaver”, he explains. For artist, musician and game developer James Chapp Fillmore, quarantine hasn’t just given him time to work on his own games, he’s also found time to make games with his family. “I get to play with my 10-year-old son making a game together. Inventing the rules of the game, making sprites, so besides being a working tool it is a game that I play with my son”, James told us.
Unfortunately, the lockdown has negatively impacted Germán from Argentina financially, but he has decided to put all of his positive energy into becoming a game developer and has chosen GameMaker as his preferred engine. “I am not having a good financial situation during the lockdown, some of my freelance jobs have been cancelled and that triggered many doubts”, he explained, adding: ”I wondered if I could develop my own video game. After doing some research I decided to make a big effort and buy the GameMaker Studio 2 license, which has given me something to think about on lockdown.”
Paul Alexander already worked from home before lockdown came into effect, but he, like many others, has appreciated the welcome distraction that GameMaker provides. “It's definitely been nice to dive into something like GMS to distract oneself from the ongoing issues for sure. I’ve been devouring YouTube tutorials and Udemy courses daily, and it's definitely helped to get through some of the bad times over the last few months”, said Paul.
One theme that’s come through strongly in the conversations we’ve had with our new users, is how easy GameMaker is to use and how valued the community and developer resources are. “GameMaker Studio 2 has been the perfect start to something I have no intention of stopping" explains Haukur, adding: “I have big plans for the future, but as of now I just want to have fun making and creating. And GameMaker Studio 2 is the perfect tool for me to do just that. It's been the easiest so far for a beginner like myself. GML has been a great introduction into programming, and it's easy to navigate through.”
A sentiment that was echoed by Wilsamov: “The barrier of entry to GameMaker is so low that anyone can pick it up. I was inspired by some indies that were made in GameMaker Studio 2 such as Downwell and Katana ZERO and am still surprised by the results they achieved.”
Paul Alexander cites the GameMaker Community as the thing that’s made the biggest difference for him: “The size of community and amount of information available is like nothing I’ve experienced before in game dev, which makes finding information and inspiration very easy.”
Something AndHeDrew agreed with: “I'm grateful for GameMaker and the community! Shaun Spalding, Pixelated Pope, Friendly Cosmonaut, and HeartBeast are my excellent teachers”, he expressed. Haukur is also a fan of Shaun Spalding’s work: “I got frustrated with other engines and ended up picking up GameMaker Studio 2 after watching a tutorial by Shaun Spalding on YouTube. It was so quick and simple to start something.”
For a self-confessed lover of the NES/SNES era of gaming, Germán soon realised that with GameMaker, his dreams of making his own retro game could be a reality: “After learning a lot of concepts I can play a NES/SNES game and try to figure out how things can be recreated in GML, and that's a good exercise to learn”, he said.
Being extremely easy to use and having an amazingly supportive community are things that we’ve been proud of at YoYo Games for years, not just during the lockdown. But it’s fantastic to hear how these core functions and services have been inspiring even more would-be game developers to start making games during a lockdown.
We’re looking forward to seeing your creations.