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Article - 'What maker should I use?' by Quest-Master

An item about Game Design posted on Feb 21, 2004

Blurb

A fairly unbiased look at what maker is right for you.

Body

I've seen a lot of new people around, asking at the GW forums: "So, what maker is the perfect one for me?" Truly, let me tell you that there is NO one solution to this. It's more like a sort of quiz; it all depends on how your interests, ups/downs, likings, and skills are. I've used almost all the widely-known makers at GW, since I met the hard path of trying every maker to see which was best for me :P This guide should hopefully aid you in your search for the "perfect" maker. I'll go through the pros/cons of each maker, its capabilities, difficulty level, and my own opinion on it.

RPGMaker 2000/2003--
-Summary: Most likely the product which spawned the beginning of the amateur game-maker scene, Rm2k/3 is fast, easy, and average. It does have a LOT of power, as shown by a lot of the showcased games at the forums and the site. "CBS"s and "CMS"s are what make the Rm games popular, though there have been a few which still use the default systems and have gained fame. Overall, this is the absolute best maker for newbies to the game-making scene.
-Difficulty: Advanced developers and Rm users, however, really need to move on to one of the following makers, as Rm limits a number of powers the next makers have. If you are however short on time, you might want to stay here since there is not to much to learn or master either.
-Capabilities: Rm2k/3 use MIDIs and WAVs, but Rm2k3 can take MP3s too. PNG, BMP, and XYZ are the image formats, and they must be only 256 color. Speed is not a problem here either, unless you're making massive graphic games, and games such as platformers.
-My Opinion: It's a good maker, I suppose. I don't use it, and probably will never use it again, since the amount of click-and-drag you have to do really put me off, since I could program at the time of learning it.

GameMaker--
-Summary: A very powerful, yet easy to learn drag-and-drop maker, along with its own language, called GML, which is mainly derived from C. Its interface is also user-friendly, and their are a relatively large community for this maker compared to others such as Sphere and RPGTK. This should definitely be the next step for you after Rm2k/3, and you could also continue to make the rest of all your amateur games with GM, since its practically got everything needed for game-making. It also fits into any genre; there's even been a Doom-like 3D engine done with it!
Difficulty: The difficulty level here isn't as high as Sphere's, and you get the majority of good Sphere has in an easier to use package. A little bit harder than Rm2k/3, but nothing mind-blowing.
-Capabilities: Any kind of images can be used. No limits on that. MIDIs, WAVs, and MP3s are also supported for sound. Speed is one of the pickier things on GM, but if perfected, you'll have few problems with it and a solid FPS rate.
-My Opinion: This is personally one of my favorite makers, seeing as how easy and creative you can get with it. Possibilities here are endless, and as I said before, you can always get help from someone of the extremely helpful GM community.

Sphere--
-Summary: Probably the most powerful maker out there with no limits on speed and other things, Sphere is a useful maker for ambitious projects. One of the strongest points of Sphere is actually its speed, flexibility, and drawing power. Unlike GM which can get slow with drawing shapes and colors on its own, Sphere has no problem with things of the sort. I personally like the amount of power there is to this, along with the scripting language being used, Javascript, which is similar to C/C++ and should be pie if you those languages.
-Difficulty: The learning curve here is much steeper than the one of Rm2k/3 to GM. The map editor is decent, but having to script practically everything could annoy some n00bs. There is no drag-and-drop here either, except the mapmaking and bringing in things like sound and graphics.
-Capabilities: With awesome drawing functions packed with speed and power, graphics should be no problem for a Sphere user. Sphere's sound facet is a bit weaker though, since it doesn't support MIDIs, though you could convert them to a tracker format.
-My Opinion: Good, a very good maker for the more advanced. But seeing the amount of work put into a Sphere game, you might want to make a game with C++ and a API instead, with a bit more work.

Clickteam's products: I don't know much about these hardly-used makers, but I do know they are great for making platformers and simple 2D games. There are some online capabilities for some of the products too. Be sure to check them out if you're interested in games similar to the ones made with GM.

RPG Toolkit: Another sometimes used maker, RPG Toolkit has a limited community, but some interesting projects and capabilities. One of the strong points are that it can support outer C++ plugins to expand its power and flexibility.

Adventure Game: This is another good place to make 2D simple games, and has used a few times. It has power suffice to make games like the ones made with Clickteam's products also.
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Bottom Line: Use an easy maker at first, and make your way up. If you've mastered Sphere, you should finally make the step up to C++. I might do an article on it later on ;)
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I hope you learned something most definitely from reading my article, and perhaps have made a choice on which maker you'd like to use. If this guide helped you at all, I'd appreciate comments and suggestions too. I'm also interested in seeing what you creative people out there come up with, with any of these makers. See you later, maybe in another article or tutorial :D