The Genesis and Syntax of GameMaker Language (GML)

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In the realm of game development, there are a plethora of tools and languages that developers can utilize to bring their creative visions to life. One such tool that has garnered significant attention over the years is GameMaker Studio, and its accompanying scripting language, GameMaker Language (GML). This article will delve into the history of GML, its creation, and provide an overview of its syntax.

The Birth of GameMaker Language (GML)

GameMaker Language (GML) is the native scripting language used in GameMaker Studio, a cross-platform game engine developed by YoYo Games. The genesis of GML can be traced back to the creation of GameMaker itself, which was originally developed by Mark Overmars and first released on November 15, 1999, under the name of Animo. At the time, it was merely a graphics tool with limited visual scripting capabilities. The first versions of the program were developed in Delphi.

Overmars’ initial vision for GameMaker was to create a platform that would allow novice computer programmers to make computer games without much programming knowledge. This vision was realized through the development of a custom drag-and-drop visual programming language that was included in the GameMaker software. However, as the software evolved and grew in complexity, there was a need for a more advanced scripting language that could handle more complex game development tasks. This led to the creation of GameMaker Language (GML).

The Evolution of GML

GML has evolved significantly since its inception. It started as a simple scripting language designed to complement the drag-and-drop visual programming features of GameMaker. However, as GameMaker grew in popularity and its user base expanded, there was a demand for more advanced features and capabilities. This led to the continuous development and enhancement of GML.

GML is an imperative, dynamically typed language that is commonly likened to JavaScript and C-like languages. The language’s default mode of operation on native platforms is via a stack machine. However, it can also be source-to-source compiled to C++ via LLVM for higher performance. On HTML5, GML is source-to-source compiled to JavaScript with optimizations and minification applied in non-debug builds.

Understanding GML Syntax

Understanding the syntax of GML is crucial for anyone looking to develop games using GameMaker Studio. The syntax of GML is designed to be simple and intuitive, making it accessible to beginners while still being powerful enough for more advanced users.

GML syntax is similar to that of other C-like languages. It uses semicolons to terminate statements, curly braces to group code blocks, and it supports common programming constructs like variables, arrays, loops, conditionals, and functions. Here’s a simple example of GML syntax:

// Declare a variable and assign a value
var score;
score = 0;

// Use a conditional statement
if (score > 100) {
    show_message("You won!");
} else {
    show_message("You lost!");

// Define a function
function addPoints(points) {
    score += points;

// Call a function

In this example, we declare a variable score and assign it a value of 0. We then use an if statement to check the score and display a message based on the score. We also define a function addPoints that adds a specified number of points to the score, and then we call this function to add 50 points to the score.

This is just a basic example, but GML supports a wide range of programming constructs and features that allow you to create complex and interactive games.

In the next part of this series, we’ll delve deeper into GML, exploring its various features and capabilities in more detail. We’ll also provide more complex code examples to help you get a better understanding of how to use GML to develop your own games. Stay tuned!

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