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Russell Kay Interviewed On Microsoft Development Radio

Following a recent interview with CEO Sandy Duncan, YoYo Games CTO Russell Kay has also been interviewed on Microsoft Development Radio, using the time to explain his view on the differences between using ‘Drag & Drop’ and code in GameMaker.

You can watch the video below.

Kay, based in Scotland, is responsible for overlooking the engineering of GameMaker. He believes the reason many people start off with Drag & Drop is because the thought of avoiding coding is attractive. As time passes, amateur GameMaker users split into two main groups as they mature; those who adopt coding using ‘GameMaker Language’ to fully realize the software’s capabilities, and those who remain with Drag & Drop as a preference. Kay estimated that at any given time around 60% of GameMaker’s millions of users relied on code while the other 40% used Drag & Drop.

Kay responded to questions on GameMaker Language’s similarities to Javascript, noting that GameMaker came out in 1999 – before Javascript was popular. He admitted similarities between the two languages, saying that although GameMaker Language has inherited some JS ideas, it is a different language. A measure of their similarity can be seen with the fact that a large part of the HTML5 engine in GameMaker Studio relies on the conversion of GameMaker Language into JS code.

Kay mentioned that GameMaker Studio is closing the gap between Drag & Drop and GameMaker Language in regard to functionality. In particular, he noted that Drag & Drop actions are now converted into GameMaker Language when packaging a completed project. The implication of this is that all code has a Drag & Drop equivalent, and both methods will result in the same game with the same performance. It is worth remembering that this level of compatibility between the two methods does not exist in previous GameMaker 7 and GameMaker 8 versions; Drag & Drop cannot fully match the abilities of GameMaker Language in those releases.

Having said this, Kay did note the limitations of the Drag & Drop interface; in particular, GameMaker Language is a better solution for more complicated concepts, such as loops. Another minor limitation is that Drag & Drop does not fully cover OS-specific functions (for example, only GameMaker Language can fully harness the power of Windows 8 Live Tiles and Charms).

Touching on upcoming engine improvements, including the addition of shaders and an increase in CPU performance (as mentioned by YoYo Games CEO Sandy Duncan), Kay made an assurance that Drag & Drop users will not be left behind as GameMaker develops, suggesting that “you don’t have to make a choice between Drag & Drop and code”.

What do you think?

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