Game Revamp

Quoted from their website, “Game is a service run by Johannes Stoop and Simon Donkers. This service aims to provide information to Game Maker users and save them the time to find all this information manually.” It is essentially the ultimate place to find Game Maker related news, events, nifty tools and a lot more from an easy to access customizable homepage.

Game Maker News is pleased to have an affiliation with Simon Donkers and the Game website, and encourages users to try out the new Game Maker News Theme. This allows you to browse the Game website whilst maintaining an integrated look and feel across both websites. Themes are not the only reason to try out the new feature-packed version of the information portal, and the Game Maker News team highly suggests testing out the features available.

Monday Update

Today Sandy posted an update to the Yoyo Games GLOG, where he gives details about the new “instant play” plugin, an article that gave very favorable coverage to, and the porting of Game Maker to other platforms.

He also said that the Beta II of the YYG site is nearing completion, and is currently in closed testing. It is interesting to note that the plugin has been made for Firefox as well as IE, although there is no Opera support yet. The plugin will apparently be part of the Beta II release.

Yoyo Games now has a Delphi programmer on staff, and plans to forge ahead on Game Maker’s development. Sandy also hinted that there might be a possibility of porting GM games to other devices, such as consoles.

Interview: Offline Activation

GMNews asked Game Maker users about their experiences with Game Maker 7’s offline activation. We asked: “What was your experience with Yoyo Games’ offline activation?”

Our only successful contact was correojon, who was also the first user to test the phone activation.

“I was the first one to use the offline activation system and so, I had to go through some problems until YoYo Games managed to get the system to work correctly.
As I was told by Sandy at the Glog, I emailed YoYo Games asking them for offline activation. They sent me the offline version of GM7 (which is now available on the YoYo Games website) and told me to uninstall GM7 if I had already installed it. Then, they gave me a phone number to contact them. I live in Spain and YoYo Games offices are in the UK, so we didn’t have much problem in finding a good schedule for both of us. When I called them I was greeted by Sophie. First thing I noticed is she had a sweet voice smile.gif. She told me step by step what to do. Basically you install the program, open it, select offline activation and tell her the code the program outputs. Then, she will tell you a code to enter and the Pro version of Game Maker will become activated.

However, it didn’t work. We made some more attempts but there was clearly some sort of bug in the system, so we decided to postpone the test. Sophie told me they will email me when it was solved. Just the next day I received their email and we tried again… but failed once again. Sophie thought that she may be misunderstanding the code I was telling her, so she told me her personal phone number so I could send her a text message. This didn’t work either…sad.gif
But later the same day she called me and we finally got it to work.

Since then it seems the offline activation system is working correctly and you can activate your GM copy with just one phone call. However, I want to empathize the great support YoYo Games provided: especially “sweet voice” Sophie. She showed a lot of interest in helping me to the point of even telling me her personal number…this is something that you won’t get when calling the average software company.

Overall, I am very satisfied with the offline activation system, I understand that all the problems I had were because YoYo Games were rushing to provide a solution for their customers and the interest they showed makes me think that, contrary to what many people on the GMC say, GM is in good hands smile.gif

YoYo further explains

Over the past few days, YoYo Games has further explained and added additional information to their previous blog article giving more insight on the inner-happenings of the organization.

As suspected, the highly anticipated “Instant Play” feature for launching Game Maker does not in fact embed Game Maker games into the current browser window nor does it open them up in a new browser window. The games are instead launched by in an entirely separate window controlled by the browser plug-in.

Sandy, chairperson of YoYo Games has also let us know the company has a budget of $2 Million for the development of the Game Maker software, and one key area of focus right now is re-writing the entire runtime engine in C++. This will lead to potentially faster games with possibilities expand further than the current system allows such as making Game Maker compatible with other platforms (e.g. Mac OSX). The opportunities YoYo Games plans to take advantage of once the runner is re-built in C++ are still kept confidential for the time being, but Sandy did confirm that multi-platform development is being considered as a serious possibility at this time.

Weekly Update

Lately, many of the third party Game Maker communities have not been having the best of times. In particular, 64Digits has struggled to keep their site both operational and accessible, only recently being able to restore it.

Perhaps even more interesting is the return of the Games Showcase. For those of you who don’t know, Games Showcase was a popular community much like 64Digits and YoYo Games whereby users could submit and promote their creations on the community website. YoYo Games later made a deal with the administration of the site to add the Games Showcase games to the YoYo Games. Since then, the community hasn’t been the same, the site was eventually taken down and users had to seek alternative websites for game submission and promotion. By no means is the temporary URL a complete return of the site we once knew, but it is a step towards a possible future for the organization. See for more details. At the moment, the forum is rather new and empty.

Stats, stats and more stats!

We have been privileged to have received some very interesting statistics given by Mark Overmars during a presentation not too long ago.

> YoYo Games since opening in April ’07

– Well over 5,000 submitted games

– About 50 new games added each day

– A large sum of approximately 200,000 page views a day

> The Game Maker Community and Game Maker software

– Game Maker now has approximately 3,000 downloads per day

– The forums now have some 40,000 members

– Approximately 1,500 topics are posted each day

– The community has an average of 200-250 users online at any given moment

Over at the YoYo blog, there has finally been some activity. Sandy has announced that the YoYo Game site is undergoing testing for the “Beta 2” version, expected to be released sometime in the near future (probably end of August or early September) after they take into account all the feedback they’ve received.

There is also some excitement leading up to a new feature called “Instant Play” whereby users will have the option to (with an installed browser plugin) click a button when browsing a game on the website and have the game instantly popup in a window to play. However, Sandy also pointed out that this feature would be available after the game had already been downloaded onto your computer.

Mark Overmars is also expected to have his own blog on the YoYo Games website after the Beta 2 release for discussing various programming techniques and game design concepts.

GMC Forum Changes

The Game Maker Community has undergone some (minor) forum changes in the last 24 hours.

The most noticeable of these changes is the addition of a new sub-forum called the Spam Box. Contrary to what the title implies, you do not want to get caught posting rubbish there or you may have your member account permanently deleted. Instead, the sub-forum is intended to be used as a mechanism to catch spam-bots who are unable to read the warning signs clearly indicating the no-posting zone. Hopefully spam bots will post topics in this sub-forum first (as it is the first forum on the list) and end up immediately flagging down moderators to delete their account. A simple, but rather effective spam blocker.

Another visible change is the re-location of the (newly reinstated) Team Requests forum. This forum used to be in the place of the current Spam Box sub-forum, and has now been promoted to independent forum status, separate from the community forum.

GMK File Format Cracked

Scorptek has confirmed that hackers have been busy cracking the key to unlocking Game Maker 7’s infamous file format, GMK.

Not only can GMK files be decrypted, but they can also be converted to the older more familiar GM6 format.

IsmAvatar has provided full documentation on the inner workings of the GMK file here.

A basic GMK converter can be found on this forum post on the G-Java website.

Basically this means there is full backwards/forwards computability between the two versions now, and any of the following can be accomplished:
– Publishing a game in GM6 and GM7
– Converting a project file from GM6 to GM7
– Converting a project file from GM7 to GM6
– Converting a GM6 executable to “GM7 executable” (Vista compatibility)