How I Make A Living Using GameMaker

on August 27, 2013 - 73729 Views

icon-cross-platformSince early 2012 I’ve been using the popular video game development tool GameMaker Studio full-time to create video games for a living.

I’ve been publishing my experiences over at my personal blog. The most popular series of posts that I publish are my online income reports, each of which is a summary of my monthly online earnings. In those reports, I try to be as transparent as possible and I openly share my digital earnings.

In the last 3 months of 2013 I earned $29,000 online. I’m 21 years old.

My reason for sharing these statistics is not to brag or boast, but to inspire others who dream of making money with GameMaker – it’s absolutely possible. While I’m not the only developer making a career out of GameMaker, few others seem to have the time or will to share. In this post, I want to discuss how I make money with GameMaker, what actions I took along the way, and where this path has led me.

Where Did It All Begin?

Growing up, it was never my goal or even my dream to make a living from video games – it didn’t even cross my mind. I automatically discounted game development as a legitimate career option for myself. I live in Australia where the professional video game industry is basically non-existent, and my family lived in places where the jobs most people ended up with involved retail work or fixing cars.

I never had frequent access to computer games, or a Nintendo, or a Game Boy, but boredom fuels creativity in children, and for me it certainly did.

s01

Wololo!

When I was aged 8 or 9, I opened a box of cereal that included a free copy of the popular game Age of Empires. Since my parents restricted my time spent on our beige-colored Windows 95 computer (also know as a “rock” by today’s standards), I entertained myself by trying to recreate the classic strategy game using cardboard sheets and paper. Instead of playing games for hours on end like many of my friends, I dissected them and tried to recreate them any way I could. I even made a graphical RPG with branching paths in Microsoft PowerPoint. Little did I know these distractions hinted at what my future would hold.

I won’t bore you with my life story, so let’s skip ahead a few years to the end of highschool. I received good scores upon graduating, despite a lack of interest in school, but I was faced with pursuing careers I wasn’t interested in, or attending university/college and racking up debt I didn’t want. I began to consider the possibility of making a career out of game development.

icon-coinI had been using GameMaker for 5 years and my experience with the program had been highly positive so far. I was growing increasingly certain that if I worked hard enough I could generate at least a small income by making games. In fact, I already had. Several of my past projects had produced a small amount of revenue in the form of donations received from players. This early support ignited my commitment to game development as a commercial endeavor, and I’ll be forever grateful to those people who invested in my work. I plan to repay them many times over one day.

Unfortunately, despite all of my progress during the following year, pressure was mounting to get a “real” job and generate a more significant income. My parents are quite traditional and were completely skeptical of the lifestyle I was pursuing. They of course only wanted the best for me, and so I accepted a part-time job at a convenience store to keep them satisfied. I disliked the job, and thankfully it was short-lived work that lasted just a month or two.

I haven’t had another job since.

I don’t plan to ever have one again.

Soon after leaving, GameMaker Studio was released and everything started to change. GameMaker Studio is a product that extends GameMaker’s functionality by allowing developers to create games not just for Windows, but for other platforms too. Today, this includes Mac OS X, HTML5, iOS, Android, Ubuntu, Windows Phone 8, Tizen, and more. It has been a fantastic catalyst.

s02

Still better than the actual UI

I purchased the HTML5 export, which was one of the first offered, when it was in a public beta testing stage. HTML5 is a relatively new web technology that is often compared to Flash. Combining GameMaker Studio and the HTML5 export functionality, I could play GameMaker games in a web browser for the first time without any third-party plugins. I knew that concept in itself was going to be huge, but the more I studied HTML5 technology the more I became convinced that it would be the future of cross-platform gaming. It was “the next big thing” and I wanted a slice of the action.

In December 2011 I released my first HTML5 game, a basic sudoku puzzle. At the time, very few HTML5 games existed, so I wanted to see if anyone was interested in paying money for them. I spent dozens of hours researching the potential of commercial HTML5 game development and networking with the few developers who were a step ahead of me. Very little information about commercial HTML5 game development existed back then, but by stringing together the information I could find I managed to make progress.

When companies started paying me hundreds of dollars for the rights to distribute my simplistic HTML5 games I began to invest all of my time into the niche I had uncovered. With time and effort, I started to make a consistent and growing income from my HTML5 games.

In April 2012 I registered my business and officially became a self-employed, full-time, independent game developer. I have earned between $2,000-$14,000 solely online each month since.

Establishing A Sustainable Business

Importantly, I have not just focused on making games. I quickly realized that I would need to diversify my online income (which is easier said than done). Finding one way to make money online is difficult enough, yet alone several. I decided to improve upon my growing social media and promotional platform and then leverage it to sell a product of some kind. The idea was to create and market my own product without having to rely on a third-party.

s04

I couldn’t find a picture for this section so I searched for cats

My approach to this involved creating a personal blog and using it as a way to establish an audience and extend my platform. I eventually wrote and self-published a book called Making Money With HTML5, which most of my readers are now all too familiar with. This was the first time I had sold a product directly to customers (as opposed to companies) on a significant scale and my attempts at marketing seemed to be effective. The book has received overwhelmingly positive feedback and has sold unexpectedly well. The success of this product paved the way for the sale of other products too, such as the Mobility Engine for GameMaker Studio users.

Seeing the value of the platform I had built, I decided to go bigger and extend my reach within the GameMaker niche. I set out to acquire this website, Game Maker Blog, which at the time was not being updated at all as the owner had just finished his education and was moving forward with his life. I was too, just in a different direction. I spoke to Philip, with whom I had a good relationship, and made him an offer to buy the site. We quickly came to an agreement and I assumed ownership of Game Maker Blog.

icon-communityWhile Game Maker Blog is now a part of my promotional platform, it has always been something more than that to me. As an avid reader myself, I was glad to have the opportunity to breathe fresh life into the dying site. Game Maker Blog isn’t a perfect reflection of what I want it to be yet, but with the help of a few writers we’ve been able to maintain a steady stream of quality content and address some important topics. Being able to shine a sizable spotlight on issues related to GameMaker has allowed me to encourage change, fuel growth, and inform over 100,000 unique visitors along the way.

Where Has It Gotten Me?

This journey has led me to where I am today. I feel like this is only the beginning of a much longer story, but I have importantly got my “start” and I hope things will only go upwards from here.

I still make HTML5 games, just not often. I decided to automate the process by working with partners who provide content for me to publish on their behalf. We share the profits and both parties benefit. I spend a lot of time writing these days, but that’s mostly by choice. My products are still seeing strong sales and I’ve been able to generate enough income from advertising in my games and on my sites (enjoy free online poker games for example!) to pay my sizable server bills. And of course, I’m steadily working on new games for a variety of platforms.

s03

Over 10,000,000 game sessions served to a worldwide audience

I work from home, and I work on what I want, when I want. I realize that the control that I have over my life is exceptional considering my age. I can fly anywhere in the world on a whim, and still make a living. I can sleep until midday and work until midnight. I can take a day or a month off and not have to beg my boss for the privilege (because he doesn’t exist).

I simply can not imagine doing anything else.

I’ve had multiple job offers from companies around the world. I turned most of them down, except for one which is still on the table and one which I received last week. But, I’m not actively looking for a job in the industry. My near-daily commitment to using GameMaker over the past 8+ years, combined with an aggressive focus on marketing, monetization, and networking, has resulted in what I can only describe as a “dream job.”

With more and more people starting to make money with GameMaker Studio, there has never been a better time to turn your hobby into a career, or at least a tidy side-income. You never know where it might take you!

Note: This article is intended as a follow-up to our recent post, 5 GameMaker Success Stories »

103 Responses to How I Make A Living Using GameMaker

  1. Slammin Sam says:

    Thanks for writing this TV.

    The one thing I don’t want in life is a 9 to 5 job that leaves no time for living. I desperately want in on this lifestyle :P

  2. Victoria says:

    Wow! Your story is so inspiring for many starting developers. becuase today even in univerties nobody is actually learned modern development, and HTML5 development being totally new and rising can be learned only by talanted people, and you give such inspiration!

  3. Jimbo83 says:

    The benefit to a “9 to 5″ job in Game Development is that you are surrounded by people who are utterly (and sometimes scary) obsessed with game dev, which only pushes you to do even more. I wouldn’t leave if I was payed to for that reason alone. Also working on gigantic projects no mortal could ever possibly do on their own is freakin awesome too…and so is going on company trips to do whatever!

    The only downside to where I work is actually that they force us to leave after 7 lol

    • Slammin Sam says:

      Curious, where do you work Jimbo?

    • Lazer says:

      Agreed; I’ve done the run-your-own-business-work-from-home-thing and I wouldn’t trade my current “9-5″ job for the world. I think game development is probably the only industry where I’d be comfortable not being my own boss and working at an office.

      (Nevertheless, congratulations on your great success, OP! It’s awesome that there seems to be a niche in game dev for everyone – people who want to do their own thing and those who want to work on larger projects with others)
      Lazer recently posted..Bellmanstafetten relay race – didn’t die!My Profile

    • Nathan says:

      This is a great point. I’m pretty new to game development, I’ve made a few smaller games but never monetized any of them. I’ve more or less been using gamemaker as a stepping stone to get in the door. Though the ‘be your own boss’ thing is pretty appealing, I too am crazy obsessed with game development and would love to be in that environment.

  4. Kevin says:

    Great story. With a wife, kids, and a mortgage, I’m well beyond the opportunity to take a chance like you have. However, I am encouraging my son, who is 16, to pursue his dream while he has the chance. He does well in school, and is passionate about computer art and 3D. He spends a lot of his free time with Maya and Unity, and has even collaborated with others on projects. We’re currently looking at what the best options are for him to continue his studies in his chosen field after he graduates. After that, I told him to go for it! If he doesn’t get what he wants, he’ll always be able to come home to get back on his feet again…

    • Slammin Sam says:

      You guys sound like awesome parents :D

    • Meatsack says:

      I disagree that you are beyond the opportunity to make “the dream” come true. You just have to make time for it if it’s important enough to you.

      I’m 40, working a 9 to 5 (6 if I take a lunch), married, children, and have crushing debt to pay off too. I find an hour or two every week to work on a GameMaker project. If I’m inspired, I’ll put in another 10 hours over a weekend. I’m not neglecting my family or paying bills in the process, either. It’s slow going, but I have a positive attitude that I’ll eventually make it.

      Matthew is showing the possibilities of GameMaker and HTML5 as a path to creative freedom and self-sustainability. I want that too. Since I’m not the trailblazer he is, I’ll be more than happy to follow that trail he blazed for me. Especially since he’s standing there waving his hand to “come along”. I’m going!
      Meatsack recently posted..Super Gunball DEMO 0.2.0 – It’s Almost Ready!My Profile

  5. Matthew N. says:

    Excellent piece. Game Maker certainly has a lot of potential.

  6. hydroxy says:

    This is where I want to be in a few years. I think it’s possible for me to do, I just need to keep perservering through my game’s development and I will have a good product to work with.

  7. Chris Sanyk says:

    You’re really living the dream, man. It’s encouraging to see!
    Chris Sanyk recently posted..If I had a nickel…My Profile

  8. Neil says:

    This is an awesome story.

    I remember as a kid, my parents couldn’t afford a FamiCom so I ended up watching my neighbors play and took note of how Mario walks around pipes, dungeons, etc. Then go back home to draw my own levels and have my friends solve it. I’ll put portals, traps and bonuses at the back of the paper. It was really fun.

    I just started delving into game making just for the fun and to see if I could. (Haven’t finished a game, yet.) I’ve only tried Construct 2, though.

    Looking forward to more game making stories.
    Neil recently posted..Dungeon Sweep ReviewMy Profile

  9. Jacob says:

    Hey Matthew – thanks for posting this. I am in a similar place, and make around the same amount as you do monthly. I’m 27, and support a wife a two kids. I work from home, and set my own hours doing contract work. My passion is game development, and I get to do that sometimes, but not full time – the bulk of my income is from desktop and mobile applications. My point is, I want to transition into full game development, but my skill set stops at programming. Working with artists has proved difficult in the past, and I can’t do the art myself. Do you wear all the hats yourself, or do you rely on artists? How have you overcome the issue of work that wasn’t up to par, or doesn’t meet deadlines?

  10. Congratulations are in order! It’s always nice to see people do really awesome stuff with Game Maker, I hope all continues to go well for you!
    MetroidMan347 recently posted..FutureShock v1.2 Released!My Profile

  11. Diego says:

    It’s really good to see people who are willing to share their own experiences to inspire another ones to follow those steps.

    You know, I want to follow that path as a indie game developer, and of course I love video games. I acquire a Game Maker:Studio Professional on holidays last year and I don’t regret at all my purchase. Also, I have made some little games and post it on my blog for free. And I want the HTML5 and Android module, but I don’t have enough money for that.

    Also, I have a job: An office job, very different to the environment I desire. I’m only staying there because I have to pay my laptop, my only “working tool” and entertainment device. I plan to quit after that and try to make a living on game development. It’s risky but I hope for the best.

    But lately, I don’t have any motivation to do it. My last example was the Ludum Dare last week, where I didn’t did anything, except to get an idea. I know that the problem is within me and I only need to order myself and my way to develop my games. I just need to find my answer.

    I hope for our own successful future. After all, all the jobs share the same: Those who succeed are made of hard work, discipline, determination and willpower.

  12. When I read that you got Age of Empires in a cereal box IO was a little skeptical, but then I looked it up… Crazy! I have long been an avid gamer and have used game creation to supplement my income. I may decide to go it alone some day but right now I actually enjoy the frenzied pace of the ad agency where I work.

    I have been using Contruct 2 for my HTML5 needs but am curious about how the new GameMaker stacks up. I haven’t tried it in years.

  13. JLu says:

    I love what you discussed, first off I never knew Age of Empires had copies in cereal boxes!

    But I really think that is something that people really need to hear more of. You weren’t looking for a job to just get by or to live paycheck to paycheck (which seems to be more frequent now then when I was younger). Everyone wants to have their dream job and I think people don’t understand the work that goes into it. I know that when you are passionate about something it is way better and more meaningful than a McJob(Yea I used that term!), but it does take work, effort, and a lot of perseverance. You mentioned that you were working in Game Maker for 5+ years, some people don’t have that dedication and I would LOVE to hear more about those 5 years.

    I teach simulation and game development and I see all these people that want to come in and make games, but they quickly run into the wall of having to problem solve, which makes too many of them just walk away from the problems. We try to keep these students motivated and of course now more than ever is a great time to be a developer. Like you said you had to make games from cardboard and scratch, using only what you could find. Now without even looking past a commercial or website you see tons of engines, APIs, platforms, and other developers that want to create something!

    Anyway I know that was a bit of a rant, but I think you did exactly what you set out to do because you were able to stay so vigilant. You wanted to be able to be your own boss and set your own hours, and that didn’t just happen, you made it happen. I think showing that transparency is a beacon to some and will really help motivate people to do what they want. Not even just relating to game development, but any job or way of life.

  14. James says:

    I find your story incredibly inspiring, mostly because it applies directly to myself. I’m 24 and live in Australia, and like you, used to spend a lot of time researching games development as a kid and knowing it was “the one”, the only job for me.

    As per our obsolete country standards at the time, I was mocked and ridiculed when stating I wanted to make money from video games. I heard all the usual “Yeah right, do you want to be a famous hollywood billionaire as well? Get a real job.” statements from friends, family et cetera, but like you, I continued to push on, and it’s amazing seeing others doing it in this country where we have a virtually nonexistent games development scene outside of indie games. Rockstar Bondi? Pandemic? Blue Tongue Studios? All shut down or acquired and gone.

    I started applying online and found myself a path in the online indie scene as well, and whilst I don’t make as much as you do, I have an absolute blast doing it, and I live for it. I think it’s important that people know that you don’t have to work a 9-5 back-breaking office job to be happy and successful with your finances. I make enough to own my own little house in the tropics and am venturing out to find the newest and most creative ways to expand my operations to the untapped industries and un-explored venues of the online gaming scene.

  15. Caitlin Roberts says:

    I am really happy that you would be willing to share your road to success with other people who would like to learn. Just the fact that you are 21, and your own boss, not tied down by anyone; its amazing. I really enjoyed hearing about your childhood and how it inspired you to become what you have today, in a way. I sort of wish my own childhood would unlock what my future should hold (as a 17 year old trying to find my own path) I am also very grateful you were able to take over this site and help it grow.
    Thank you TrueVallhala

  16. Robert D says:

    Im a 17yo aspiring gamedev and soon-to-be CompSci student. I have big dreams and much motivation to put as much effort as I can into what I have discovered is one my greatest passions -game developpment. I dont really have any friends or love in my life and have quite honestly been fairly deppressed about this simple fact. Your blogpost gives me hope that one day I can truly be successful and show everyone that made fun of me, bullied me or and/or told me not to waste my time just how good I can shine :)
    thanks TV

  17. Jason Jarvis says:

    I love your reading your blog. Some day I would like to have your situation of being able to be my own boss, but have a lot of self doubt. I don’t feel confident sharing as it’s substandard. I lack the ability to create art and often feel that the blocks I create I just don’t want to show.

    But evertime I read your article I feel better about my self. You are an inspiration. Lately i’ve been terminiated from work due to lost contract. So a lot of stress is added right now as i will need to find employment shortly. I’m taking confidence in your article that I can do something and I can create a reasonable income.

    Thank you for sharing about your younger days. They remind me of my own to an extent on creating board games. I agree with an important sentiment. Not having the toys is the one of the greatest teachers of imagination. I didn’t have much in the way of computer games. So creating board games was a hobby.

    Fantastic blog.

  18. Krishna Teja says:

    Our stories are kind of similar. I am 20 years old doing my Under Graduate course in Computer Science. You inspired me a lot to get into game development. In the beginning I was trying to learn Java and other cross platform frameworks to make games. But due to lack of proper programming skills it was very hard for me to make games. Then I came across your blog which introduced me to GameMaker and from that moment everything seemed so much easier and achievable.
    Thank you Matthew. :)
    Krishna Teja recently posted..Android Income Report July 2013 Game DevelopmentMy Profile

  19. The Hermit says:

    The really critical thing that seems to distinguish your games compared to e.g., compo games I’ve seen is that you’ve really got the polish aspect of things nailed – your graphics are very clean without looking simplistic. I’m curious about that, mostly since its a big thing I’m still trying to learn – where along the way did you pick up that particular skill? Mastering that seems like it’d be the big barrier between doing this kind of thing as a hobby (where if the UI isn’t great or the graphics are just okay, your friends will forgive you) and doing it professionally.
    The Hermit recently posted..Merchant quest complete!My Profile

  20. signz says:

    Wow, that’s a really nice story. It makes me think and wonder about myself, if that might be THE THING for me. I’ve always been kinda interested in making games (although I only tried the RPG Makers so far, which resulted in something completely different (I started a couple games over those years, all kinda connected to each other, which then turned into a small book I still have to finish), but I really liked that). True, Gamemaker (Studio) is very different, but the funny thing is, whenever I play a game, I imagine the RPG Maker stuff (so, there’s an “on touch” event and stuff like that). Anyway, to come back to the story, if I win something in either raffle (this one or the other one, with prizes of $1200 value), I might start doing this myself. You kinda inspired me, that there isn’t just “job and money or no job no money”, but something inbetween – something great and fulfilling.

  21. Toni Haryanto says:

    I am inspired of this story, I have followed your online income report and I just knew and surprised that you are 21 years old -younger than me hhaha.
    I currently learning Construct 2 for creating HTML5 games. I also interested to learn Game Maker, the tool which I have known since at high school but didn’t tried it yet. But with the short time I have cause of busy work, I must choose between those two application. And I want to know your opinion about that, for me as the newbie in game development.

  22. Lupi says:

    I feel somehow identified with this story, mainly because this is what I want to acomplish in life.
    I have programmed for Game Maker since version 4 to version 6, then I went back to port my old games to GM 8. I made some nice games, mostly Zelda based since I didn’t have any art design skills, only some sprite editing skills :)
    I finished my Engineering in Computer Science, and I have been working as an iPhone/Android developer. A month ago, I quit my job to go back to what I liked, making games.
    Feel free to check some of my games out, you can get a hint on what you can achieve with Game Maker!
    (Clasic 2D top-view) TLOZ: The Rod of Leehna:
    http://www.mediafire.com/download/c9xb059892tb5nb/TLOZ_TROL_LastDemoEver.ziphttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wjZ7tCteGI
    (Platformer made in 4 weeks for a contest) TLOZ: The elements Cave: http://www.mediafire.com/download/gtjuotuzbd8fk7c/TLOZ_The_elements_cave.zip

  23. Nick says:

    Incredibly inspiring story. As a front end developer with a passion for games, why on earth had it never occurred to me to develop my own games? You’ve definitely got me thinking now, thank you!

    You’ve obviously put in an incredible amount of effort to get to where you are today, and I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours.

  24. FatalSleep says:

    Wow, quite the article. I find it amazing how you started getting into game development by trying to recreate Age of Empires. I did something myself around 4 years ago along these lines. Although what I did was create short 1-2 minute movie clips of what I thought could be a game. Out of hand drawn frames in MS Paint. I had to have created at least 10 of these before finding my way into real game development in Game Maker! Thousands of hand drawn / edited frames all together. How much patience did I have!?!?

    I truly do admire how you can be self-sustained, make video games and not have to worry about having a real job. It’s fantastic and is truly my dream job. I find nothing more comfortable than sitting back and enjoying what I enjoy most and being able to make a living off of it. Hopefully I to will be able to do this as well! Thank you for the inspiration. :D

  25. Ian Kahler says:

    It’s an inspiration to read this blog, and this post especially.
    I haven’t been keeping up with your blog for very long, but I’m going to make it a regular part of my web activities from now on.
    I’m a game design student, and an artist with a BFA in Illustration, and you’re living the kind of life I’m striving for. I want to make games, they’ve been my passion for quite some time, and reading about your success and the success of other indie developers has only reinforced that passion.
    I’ve been avoiding a number of social media outlets online out of laziness, but you’ve made me realize that if I’m going to market myself and my products then I’m going to have to extend my web presence as far as I can reach.

  26. What intrigues me the most is how you started to act guided by boredom as a child. I cannot remember being bored a single day in my life, and now I noticed it has been because of I always acted too with something new or improving something I already did (painting in my case, or reading). And I am curious now: are you using nowadays boredom still as creative fuel? Any method to channel that force?

    Thanks!

    Tayete

  27. Chase says:

    This is so inspirational, it really helps me to strive towards my goals as an aspiring game dev. This contest that you are hosting is exactly what I need to really get of the ground and making better games. I really like this competition because of how it really can/does help people and I just want to say thanks you. I also love your article above because it does show that you can make a living out of HTML5 and GameMaker. That article is also a great inspirations. Thanks! – Chase

  28. gnysek says:

    The only money I’ve got with GM was when I was working in YoYoGames… since that no more games came from me, but maybe it’s because I’m not working on casual titles, but on big RPG…

  29. ShaunJS says:

    I find the people who grew up trying to make game games from whatever stuff they could find are almost always the ones destined to later do it for a living.

    It’s mostly a similar tale for me, only for a while most people around me convinced me that a ‘job making games’ wasn’t ‘realistic’ because most of those people I now realize were pretty dull and unambitious. I eventually worked towards a job in AAA which I got straight out of University, but too have found was not the thing I was really after. In a sense reading this story makes me regret some of my past choices, but without making those choices I don’t know how I would be able to see now what it is I really want to strive for.

    Keep it up!

    -S
    ShaunJS recently posted..Two Months LaterMy Profile

  30. Yozzik says:

    Matthew, i’ve read your book and still wonder: “Yoz, why can’t you do the same?!”, and there is no answer. That’s why i stopped my big-game-of-my-life-project and developed few little games for sale. Now a have money and much more free time to keep making Edgeina, that big game. What you gave to me is not some special knowledge, but just impression, a will to continue. Thanks a lot.

  31. Tomaz says:

    Is it still possible to make money with small apps that take 1 week ~ to make? If so how do you go about to find people who buy them?

  32. John L says:

    thanks for the insight man, ive had a real problem trying to get myself motivated to make games since i finished the course i was taking (advanced game design). reading stuff like this pushes me a bit closer to getting back into it.

  33. mancvandal says:

    I read this the other day and I’ve been thinking about it since. I originally got GameMaker as a hobby, in fact, it still is just a hobby for me and not a means to make money. However reading this and your monthly income reports really opened my eyes to the potential for generating cash.

    I’m not expecting to make anywhere near the amounts you make but to get some return for the work you put into a game would be nice and you’ve shown that it is possible with a bit of hard work and knowledge. The main advantage I can see from being payed is the ability to hire someone to do music and graphics for me should I need it for a future project. I’m crap at both of those so hiring someone better would benefit my games AND help them too, it’s win-win.

    I might have to buy your e-book after all! ;)

  34. Sima Adrian says:

    Matthew, I have to say that each post on your blog is an inspiration. I am looking forward to HTML5 game development, but I am still not sure that Game Maker is offering me enough freedom in this area. I’ve used GM 6 and 7 in the past and I am trying to start using it again to see how it progressed.

    It’s quite hard to find the necessary time when you have to work 8 hours a day.

  35. Peter says:

    It’s a great article, but It would be nice if you had included more plans about your future (games you want to make etc.)

  36. I started to follow you on your last giveaway (I had just bought Construct 2 for a half commision half own game), and I was a bit shocked when I noticed that you where so young! It’s great to know someone that really know what to do with his life in such an early stage. I mean, I’m thinking exactly what you talk about on this post regarding the kind of work and lifestyle that you want to pursuit (and already catch) … and I’m 29! with already an experience in an office everyday.

    You truly Inspire people! At least you inspire me on trying to focus on this kind of path.
    Have a blast dude!

  37. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, I always knew I wanted to get into game design, at least as early as middle-school. I was lucky enough to get my Simulation and Game Development degree with little to no student debt, and I actually learned a good portion of that via earlier versions of Game Maker. While I more actively pursue the 3D engines of UDK, and Unity3D (I am mostly a 3D animator), I certainly feel that in the world of mobile and browser-based gaming that Game Maker has the development market on lock. They’ve managed to make an intuitive engine/editor that can be learned without an expansive amount of programming or development knowledge, and it has opened this market to people with fantastic ideas and imagination, but whom might otherwise not have had the resources to make those dreams a reality.

    As a colleague attempting to make game development into a living as well, and found a business around it, I salute you for being able to accomplish what you have.

    Well done,
    -Patrick

  38. Nathan Kerr says:

    TV, I’ve been reading your stuff for a long time and I have to say that I’m in awe of what you have accomplished.

    I’m 32, have a family and have a steady, well-paying 9-5 job. And I’m jealous.
    I don’t think I have the motivation, guts or dedication that you do.

    After a recent discussion with my wife, we decided that I needed to spend more time on “me” and so I’m working on making games with Gamemaker and publishing them. I’ve done two so far and the rush you get when you see that what you’ve made is actually published is incredible.

    I’d love to see more in-depth articles like this one. Keep up the good work!
    Nathan Kerr recently posted..Silly 3-n-a-RowMy Profile

  39. Ryan H. says:

    That was a good read. It is nice to see more proof over the past few years that game maker can do quite a bit more than people thinks it can. Every time I mention it people are like ‘huh’ which confuses me since I’ve known about it for so long, or I receive the skepticism that game maker isn’t good enough. They only have experience with the large pool of half finished games from the sandbox and are surprised when I mention popular games like Hotline Miami and others.

    Best of luck!

  40. Slammin Sam says:

    I too remember eating that CD in the morning ;) What a great game! (and a waste of time)

    My biggest fear in life is that I’ll work a 9-5 job till I’m 60.
    I want to make games full time like I want to keep my ability to breath and eat.

  41. I’m 33 working the 9-5 job as a computer programmer for the past 9 years for the same company and have been working on liberating myself and making my own games for a living.

    This article proves that it is possible and inspires me to push forward to reach my goals! Great stuff TrueVallhala and keep them coming! Have been enjoying your articles/blogs for sometime now!!!

  42. HayManMarc says:

    Thanks, TV! Your story is truly an inspiration. I must say, I’m a bit jealous. Haha. I hope to have at least half the success you are enjoying. I’ve liked programming since the 80′s, but have never been in a position to persue it. I hope to be able to find the time away from my day job to learn what I need to and create some likable/sellable games.

    Congratulations to you and your success and be forewarned to not take it lightly and to not take it for granted!

  43. Joseph Shui says:

    Certainly an inspiring article, I wish my parents were more open to the idea of actually letting me use a computer when I was your age, things might have turned out differently for me XD

  44. Pijus says:

    I can’t say much else but to add to the notion that this is very inspirational. It’s pretty hard to strive to be a game maker when you’re not even sure if it’s a viable way of living, but again and again I come over your site or blog, or posts on GameMaker forums and it really helps to clearly see that the goals that you set yourself are attainable :)
    Thanks man, Keep it up

  45. Adam Bahr says:

    Your story is incredibly inspiring, as a student about to go to college I have a lot of things to start thinking about. What do I want to do? What path in life do I want to take? Should I follow my heart or follow the money? I’ve had the incredible privilege in my last year of high school to do a project that I have full control over. It’s part of getting you ready for the real world, you get to pick a subject you like, something you want to do per say in the future, spend all semester doing it and share you experience. It’s become a tradition at my school, and being very intelligent all my life with technology has swayed my choice to game development. Specifically I must develop a game and publish it. Having started this project close to a month ago I’ve come across many hurdles along the way. I have to learn so many things all at once, and often times it can be overwhelming. In the end I know it will be worth it, the personal satisfaction of seeing a project through to the end is more than anything I am thinking about right now. However I do often think about the plausibility of turning this into a career, I enjoy every second I spend working on it, solving the problems and seeing what dream of on screen is an incredible experience. Unfortunately you don’t often times see people talking about their success and this can be worrisome to aspiring indie developers. After reading your article I have a new perspective on things, and I’ve decided I will to the fullest extent of my abilities pursue this dream. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story, it’s been one of the most motivating and thought provoking articles I’ve read in quite sometime. I look forward to future stories.

  46. bmoney389 says:

    Reading this has been incredibly motivating.

    Unlike you, I had always wanted to create my own video games, since the age of eight or so? But I always wanted to either start my own company, or work for Nintendo. That dream from the age of 8 shaped my school years, taking programming and physics classes just to prepare myself.

    Sadly, college didn’t work out as planned and I started to lose motivation. I’ve been toying with programs like RPG Maker, Game Maker, Construct 2, etc… but didn’t really put any thought or weight behind the ideas. This blog is a stepping stone to refueling my old desire of being a game developer.

    Thanks :)

  47. Alexander says:

    >>>My near-daily commitment to using GameMaker over the past 8+ years, combined with an aggressive focus on marketing, monetization, and networking, has resulted in what I can only describe as a “dream job.”

    Too much people reading succesfull stories, but pay attention mainly to $$$, and not to amount of efforts needed to achive this result. I remember ZX-Spectrum times (1991) … no Internet, even no dial-up, only a few ZX-book photocopies. And you can ask for advice only in offline from a few friends who also learn all on their own errors. But people who was 12-16 y.o. make good games in Basic and Assembler =) For free, as hobby of course.
    Now we have software like GM, we have huge community and even can monetize our results. But in same time barrier to entry into the industry is too low, and now many people try to be a gamedesigners/programmers and gome away forever in a few months even not learning “How To Ask Questions The Smart Way” on forums.
    Сonstancy plus perseverance and interest in what you doing needed to success.

  48. Kevin says:

    Does my earlier comment count as meaningful? I hope so… I enjoy living vicariously through your work! :-)

    Kevin

  49. Ben says:

    I am 14 years old,Aussie, and like many of the previous comments I too am trying to find a way to lean away from the traditional all day everyday at work. Gamemaker is easy, and it works. I may be only 14 but with a program like Gamemaker,and the web as my tutor there is no reason i cannot make a fun, entertaining game, and be able to spend my life doing what every person should be, living.

  50. xYorYx says:

    Over the past 2 years I have started and gave up on this dream many times. At some point I thought its not worth it to spend so much of your heart for someone that will just ignore it. But after reading your story I have noticed some parts that I have missed and will try to improve them, maybe that will give me a boost to continue.

  51. John says:

    As an 18 year old, being fresh meat for this big scary world is something we all must face at one point in our lives. I am attending college, taking classes locally to save money on tuition and campus living. Also, I am faced with the responsibility of maintaining a decent income, to support myself financially as I mature and expand. I just purchased my first car, a refurbished laptop, and a neat glass desk. I am living quite comfortably, for now of course. But am I living the way I want to?

    You, Matthew Bowden, are living my dream. You work from home as an independent game developer. Your hours, your pay, and your workplace are all decided by you. You control everything, because you are the boss. Nobody can tell you what to do (except the IRS and your mom). That said, you live the most fulfilling and envious life. Everyone wants to be their own boss and come into work in their pajamas whenever they want. Not exactly when you want, as sometimes you probably just want to relax or travel the world. However there is work to do and money to be made, and this blog is the home of your career and your source of income. You encourage people and teach them how to become self-sustainable; you are a role model. And that’s your job.

    That’s what I’m most envious of. Not the pajamas, or the power to control your workday. I’m envious of your ability to empower and motivate people for a living. It’s not always easy, I’m sure, but you do it so well that it has evolved from a hobby into a full time job. That is a feat, and I am inspired by you every day. It lets me know that I could one day too become self employed, live more freely, and change the lives of others, like that guy Matthew. You give others hope and assurance that the goal of being a successful developer is in reach, that your fantasy can be your reality, and that dedication can pay off. There are many more aspiring ‘indie-developers’ who need that spark. What you do is important, and I hope that you continue to be as helpful and generous as you have been, and that you don’t give up on inspiring others just like you inspired me!
    John recently posted..Web OptimizationsMy Profile

  52. Malakim says:

    Hey Matthew,

    This story is truly inspiring, I graduated from University last year with a Games Software Development degree and currently in a decently paid job which enables me to make games. It’s good, but the main reason I work there is for steady income to pay my bills and debts from being a student.

    I’ve always wanted to do the indie company thing, I make games in my own time and attend as many Game Jams as possible.

    Reading your article and your book has given me true motivation and drive to dedicate more of my spare time to my person game development and for that, I thank you.

    Hopefully sometime in the future, I’ll be able to write an article like this and inspire people just like you.

    Regards,

    Malakim

  53. Mitchell says:

    You would not know how many times i have read this article!! :D It has got to be my inspiration that gets me through everyday and pulling me closer and closer to my dream!! I dont know what i would have done had you not write this Matthew!! :D My dream will one day come true of living a life like yours! <3 Where i can go on holiday and my games still make income every month as well as the joy of having a huge fan base to be looking forward to your games!! And this article will be the only and most powerful inspiration to make me reach my goal!! Thank you so much Matthew!! :D <3

  54. BNic says:

    Hey Matthew,

    Add me to the list of people you’ve inspired to get off my butt and get in to making my own html5 games. I really appreciate how much you are willing to share the good and bad and what has worked for you. It really says a lot seeing you always willing to help people out in various forums and share so much of your hard earned knowledge.

    Have you given any thought to doing a twitch.tv talk or possible demo of tips and tricks in GameMaker?

    cheers
    Brian

  55. jason says:

    Hey Matthew,

    First off great article, I’ve been playing around with gamemaker for several years but have never finished a project. In the last few months I have been wanting to find my way back into the development scene and reading your article has really encouraged me. With the three day weekend here I think I will forgo the bbqs and beer and instead try to get motivated and start and finish a project!

  56. Met Programmer says:

    Incredible article! I have been struggling in the web and mobile and been able to make as money as i hoped to make,after reading this and your blogposts i managed to almost double my income from programming. Thank You! :)

  57. Daymond says:

    Matthew, thanks for what you’re doing.

    I’m 21 like you, and I spent last two years to flash development which just brings me something around 2k$. Now I understand that I could make much more, if I won’t afraid to explore new gamedev directions, like you do. Your blogs gave me the power and inspiration to “start over with a clean slate”. Today I released my first HTML5-game, and this is like a turning point to me.
    This is gamedev, like you said, “you never know where it might take you”!

    Best Regards, TY for something more than just an inspiration,
    Dmitry Daymond :)
    Daymond recently posted..Start!My Profile

  58. Leandro Saccoletto says:

    Your article is very motivating and see that Game Maker can be used as a real job. So I want share a bit of of my experience. I’m bachelor in physics , 25 years old and live in Brazil. I was attending a master degree. But due some technical problems, my Master’s program scholarship finshied before in conclude my degree (in this year’s begin). Without luck to find a job (even the simple ones) and little depressed , I gave a shoot in turn my hobby with Game Maker in a freelancer service.(I have 12 yeras of experience with this tool).
    Posting in tigsource and yoyoforums, it took 3 weeks to show up my first client. I decided charge to lower prices, using the fact that 1 dollar ==2,2 reais in that time), so I worked hard to showing my skills. One month late, when he just vanished without motive (later I discovered that his paid job in Croatia was delayed), by luck, appear a second client (I will called him ryan) that I tag with him until now.
    My first obstacle was not having a tablet. Due the praise of my GML code skills, ryan decided give me a extra mony to me buy a a good tablet. After experimenting the Android, my mund was opened new possibilities to develop games. From this services resulted a endless jumper named Takeshi’s Tower (that have hard time to find a publish), a mix of Snake and Match-3 named Color Rush, a WIP simple game of match card, and WIP bee killer simulator.
    During it appears customers that talk me by disappears without notice, some with much lower prices that I almost accept due my unstable financial condition.
    But in the last week and the next weeks, I achieved 3 projects of games at same time, which income can be around 375 dollars weekly, that look 893,51 reais, a good value to help me pay my bills and invest more in my PC, my life and my studies.
    I know that I can do more, and with my increasing portfolio, improves the chances to have better offers.
    I’m still need learning how much I need charge my services (because I never see a value price to a GML coder yet), which game style or interest has the market, and how to find a publisher.
    Anyway, it is my first year of GML coder freelancer, so with the time I will get wiser.
    Sorry if the text is a little confuse or have too much misprints.

  59. Myles Scott says:

    I am a 13 year-old kid and I have started my own company for making games with Game Maker. So far I have 2 people that work with me to make games. I started last year in a computer animation class at my school. Then in the last semester he decided to let us use Game Maker. I then started on my first game ,and by the time that I finished the game there were 2 days left in the school year. So I showed my game to the class and they were amazed. On the last day of school 2 kids asked me how I made it and I showed them and ever since then we were a company. Your article has inspired me to continue doing what I love. Thank You.

    P.S I follow you on twitter.@pocketarcadeapp

  60. GothSeiDank says:

    Inspiring Article.

    I am 34 and I am currently trying to get somehow a foothold in the Gaming Industry. Being unemployed makes this harder, since I cannot invest into graphics or audio from professional artists. But I keep buying small scale assets to advance my library and maybe one day I can go bigger. Currently, I am publishing my game via Game Jolt, since it allows for ad revenue and I am working on a new game that is better than my first one. I think the most important thing is to keep trying and not to give up. I do this at the moment, but it is still disheartening sometimes when I see the awesome stuff others make and compare it to mine, but I tend to have a low opinion of myself anyway. I am aware of this though, so I learned to take my doubts with a grain of salt and rely more on the opinions of friends, which I always ask to be honest. But then I think they are just nice to me :D .

    Anyway, my new game is in production and I hope it will be more enjoyable than my first one and earn me a little bit of money that I can invest into new assets. I know a site where I can get them relatively cheap, but they don’t always have everything I need. So I also train my GIMP Skills, but I am really not an arts person.
    GothSeiDank recently posted..Hello Game Jolt!My Profile

  61. Abigail says:

    This is pretty much where I want to be in a few years. I’ve wanted to make games all my life, and, just like you, always found some sort of way to try to. I picked up Game Maker several years ago back when it was in version 7 and I’ve been constantly working at mastering it since.
    It makes me so happy to know that it’s actually a worthwhile thing to do. Video games- especially dissecting them- have always been my passion, even if people tend to avoid me for being such a nerd.
    Currently I’m trying to squeeze everything I can out of the free version of studio (which is annoying since I’m used to working with 7 pro) and make a little game and try to scrounge up money to buy Standard or Pro so that I can make something really awesome and worthwhile for my senior project for highschool. I’ve already pretty much decided exactly what I want for it and I simply can’t wait to get to work on it, so your giveaway has me with really high hopes. Hey, maybe you can even help me with it some!

  62. Willomo says:

    I’m currently in the process of teaming up with an artist friend and another programmer friend to found a small indie games studio. We made a project with GML for the Ludum Dare just passed, and it’s really lit our fires on working with Game Maker more. It’s so weird seeing it go to the fairly “kiddy” program it used to be into the behemoth of possibilities it is today.

    It’s fantastic to see it creating so many jobs, I just hope that we can be among them!

  63. KJS says:

    I first read about this blog on Reddit and since then I’ve been constantly working to improve my art skills. I am a computer science major and working on GameMaker games have not only allowed me to stay sharp on my coding skills but really vent my creative side. This blog and the TrueVahalla website have really motivated me to get started with pursuing my dream of being a game designer. Thanks Matt

  64. newkill says:

    Great story Matthew. I wanna do a living out of creating games too, it’s my dream and where I think I belong! I am 23, I have studied and worked briefly in 3D Art, and now I am working as a game tester. These are fun jobs and are related to my passion which is the creation of video games, but what I really want is to fully use my creativity as an independant developper like you do. I believe Gamemaker is a great tool, success is definitely possible with it and you are one of the proof.

    I wish you continue being successful with your projects and I hope I get the courage soon to start following a similar path than you.

  65. vinay says:

    Lucky man,Whenever want to work or not.
    Your story Inspirational to others who want to become Game Maker.

  66. Ross H. says:

    The idea of making games has always crossed my mind, and after reading through your blogs and watching some videos about GameMaker Studio, I realize that making games is so much easier than expected! The chance to earn some income from releasing games that I’ve made is a wonderful thought.

  67. Cory says:

    Thanks for the continued transparency, TV. It’s very inspirational. Knowing full well I’m on a GameMaker-centric site right now, can you please comment on how imperative it is that GameMaker be the tool of choice when it comes to your success? Thank you!

  68. Nenad Ristic says:

    I kind of started like you, although I ended up going the wrong way at one point. I had always been interested in Games, and specifically computer games, but I ended up going into a more “serious” direction with programming, and now I write enterprise systems.

    You r post has inspired me, and I am going to start writing some games on my own time… All that programming experience has to be good for something!
    Nenad Ristic recently posted..Refining DirectionMy Profile

  69. Fredy Caballero says:

    A very inspiring story, I congratulate you for the passion you reflect in this post Matthew besides work and your age, I did remember the hours and hours on the pc with Age of Empires :) .

    Disappointed by the cost of the license as unity, far my chances I decided to seek alternative and found GM Studio, in my opinion an excellent tool at a great price.

    Just start studying on my own and see the potential of GM Studio which surprised me.

    Thank you for this blog, go ahead :)

  70. Jim says:

    Very cool story. I’ll have to check out some more of your posts…

  71. Aaron says:

    Hi from another Aussie :P
    Great article! Thanks for sharing – I was inspired by reading this.
    I thought that, until recently (with the closure of Krome and a few other studios), Australia actually had decent game developer presence? Can you comment on this?
    Aaron recently posted..aaronsnoswell starred paultcochrane/uqthesisMy Profile

  72. Ramsay says:

    This is a very inspiring and uplifting article!
    I am sure many Game Maker enthusiasts (including myself) wonder how we can turn our passion into a money maker. This article does give us a lot of insight into what it takes to make a living out of Game Development.
    Keep up the good work!
    Ramsay recently posted..Operation Furball Developer RoadmapMy Profile

  73. Dan Long says:

    Making games is hard and a lot of work! Your post is really inspiring to a lot of people. I do hope that people realize that working for yourself is harder than a 9-5 job, its a way of life.
    It is rough to balance your home life with your work life, but it can be done.
    Congrats on your success and please keep busting out great articles like this!
    Dan Long recently posted..Welcome to Indie Animation StudiosMy Profile

    • You touched an interesting point, being indie is a lot more work than an 8 hours job, because the job gets away of your life as soon as you leave the office, but being independent is a full time job that never leaves you. If you have any tips for keeping the balance I’ll be glad to hear them out, cause I think I’m spending a lot of time developing my games.

  74. Your story seems a lot like mine, my parents also restricted the time I spent on computer. I discovered Game Maker (Version 6) when I was 13 (I’m 24 now and married, no kids yet) I’m struggling really hard right now to make a living out of game development, I had the chance in the past to monetize a lot of my work but that didn’t crossed my mind. Now that I’m older I have a little advice to all the guys out there thinking in being game developers: Follow your dreams and don’t waste your time, the time is limited and it runs out really fast, keep working and do not give away your work for free ever.

    Thanks for reading :)

  75. Will Stowell says:

    I can’t believe I started using this program in middle school. Now I’m out of high school. I’ve always been off and on with GM. My other friends made me feel like it was never a great program and I should always move up to a “big boy” program like flash or Unity. I wanted to work on video games for a living for the longest time. I still do. Did programing all throughout high school and used GM when I was allowed for projects.

    What GM did teach me throughout the years, I guess in a way, changed my life. I learned I’m not a programmer. That gave me an idea of what I am good at. I have graduated recording tech school and now am looking to getting into game audio as a sound designer. I can’t wait to make that become my main job. I’m doing everything I can to go towards this goal.

    Thanks for this article! I upgraded my GM license and have been jumping back into it. Alway great to be encouraged to follow one’s goals and show it is possible.

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