New dev looking to create short 2D adventure game.



Hi, I just got GameMaker, loving it, and I'm looking to create a short, 2-dimensional side scrolling adventure game with a puzzle element in it. It's basically an "escape the room" concept in which the main character is wandering around picking up puzzle pieces and keys to reach the exit. There'll be some backtracking and stuff, to keep it interesting.

I'm new at game design and development, so any advice more experienced devs have would be really helpful. I have a few puzzle ideas, but nothing cohesive as of yet. Also, I don't want to bite off more than I can chew for my first game ever, so any advice on keeping it simple would be great too.

Paolo Mazzon

There are several generic things you will hear, so I'll just drop my $0.02 on all of them
  • Read the documentation on GML -- not very helpful to someone who has no idea how to program
  • Look at other game's source code -- If you don't understand the code, you aren't going to be learning very much
  • Youtube tutorials -- Very good if you find ones that explain everything well
  • Get some GML books/written tutorial -- If you're alright with reading, it will do well
  • Use the tutorial things that come with studio -- Don't
In my opinion, it is best to follow some Youtube tutorials on how to code in GML, then keep learning and eventually you'll be ready to make that game.


šŸ§ *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
There'll be some backtracking and stuff, to keep it interesting.
I'm not sure that claiming backtracking keeps things interesting is correct, and you should be careful about introducing unnecessary padding in your game... people will notice, and if there's too much backtracking it will give them a worse impression of your game.

I personally have a lot of trouble with making my projects feature creep, so I've lately tried to narrow down my list of gameplay elements as much as possible before starting development, then if something is too much of a chore to implement, just cut it or repurpose it to something more manageable. For instance, in Bushido Panda, the power ring was originally supposed to let you push boulders around. Then I ended up making large parts of the world map without introducing boulders, figured it would be too much work for a very underused feature implementing the boulder pushing functionality, and scrapped the idea altogether. But I couldn't just remove the item, so I gave it an effect that boosted your sword attack power instead.

To TLDR the lesson: plan consciously to work effectively - and don't forget that overthinking is better than overworking.

I guess you also want some practical advice, so here's a list of some stuff you might want to look up in tutorials or in the manual:
  • Global variables - the easiest way to make inventories and keep stuff between rooms.
  • Persistent rooms - might be even easier than global variables to keep changes when revisiting rooms.
  • Basic collisions and movement could be useful for the puzzles, as well as how the Step Event works so you can check if a solution is reached.
  • The Draw Event for GUI, and also font resources.
  • Creating new object instances on the fly, changing an object into another and deleting objects - all very important for inventory management and object-based (key/lock mechanic) puzzles.


aka fel666
For your first game i wouldnt try to follow a specificgame idea you have. Afterall, you have no udea what you can do, right?

I would recomend you just randomly add elements to a project until it becomes a game. Afte that, you can thnk about actually designing a game.
For example, for my first game, i first decided to hve a moving player. It then made sense to add walls that stop the player. An easy game objective was to add an exit ro each level. There, i had a maze game. All i had to do next was design dangers and i had already learnt everything i needed to start my first designed game.

Making a short game like this should only take an afternoon. After which you should have a much better idea of what to start next.

Oh, and you can alwys check out my youtube channel. Lots of usefull stuff there!


šŸ§ *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
Fei has a good point there - you can't really make your first game be amazing until you've gotten comfortable with the tools you are using. Over the 10 years I've been using GM, I've noticed it takes longer and longer for me to make games... but it's because I make bigger games and spend a lot more time making robust systems and polishing the games graphically and things like that. It's fast to make 'any' game in GM, but making a good game takes time. I guess it's important to keep your goals in mind - right now, you should focus more on learning game design and programming instead of making something marketable. You could always revisit the game later when you've gotten more confident and experienced and brush it up to a viable standard.


Oh wow, thanks for the advice, especially on watching my step with backtracking.

I also definitely like the idea of objects changing. I used to like in the original Resident Evil how items discovered could be combined or changed upon examination. I wouldn't mind including that aspect.