Game Development for Beginners
When I first decided to start making my own games, I spent a lot of time looking into different platforms. I wanted something easy to use, but also expandable to more complex development. As you know, I chose Game Maker and one of the reasons was this book. I wanted something that would quickly get me into the software and have completed examples to refer from. The fact that the book was co-written by Mark Overmars, the man who developed the program, made me confident that it was probably useful.
Coming in at around 300 pages, the Game Maker’s Apprentice takes the reader though the majority of tools available, starting with the basics all the way into actual coding. This book comes with a CD that includes a copy of the software (GameMaker 7, but you can download the latest version off the website for free) and all the resources and example files needed. Each chapter (for the most part) focuses on a different game type and introduces new elements in a clear and concise manner. In addition to the tutorials, they splice in some general game design theory and a good dose of humour. In total, you create roughly 10 games and by the end, every reader should be able to start making their own.
If you read the user reviews, you might be dissuaded as it seems aimed towards younger readers. I know many aspiring designers might shy away from a book that people are saying is great for 10 year olds, thinking that they are beyond that. I, however, believe that more books should be like this. Easy to read, plenty of pictures, and all the examples work perfectly. Throw in all the high quality assets and you have something worth buying.
This isn’t to say this book couldn’t be better. The vast majority of the examples use the Drag and Drop method, which is great at first, but it would have been nice to have the corresponding scripting calls so that the reader could go back and redo the exercises. Also, while the book has a wide variety of game genres, it doesn’t have the one most people are going to want to know how to build: platforming. I know that is exactly what I wanted to do when I finished the book.
Overall, this is a great book for beginners. If you have never built a game before and have decided on using Game Maker as your initial software solution, this book is absolutely essential. The few issues that it does have will hopefully be remedied by a sequel meant for more advanced users.