Having properly started out my game development initially using Game Maker, I have been somewhat a fan of Game Maker in general, so with its latest offering of GM Studio I felt it was a good time to take a look at what they have on offer.
I initially bought Game Maker 7 not long after it came out as I felt it was a good idea make a proper investment in the direction where my interests lie (it may only be a small investment, if I remember correctly it cost me $20 at the time), and I made several interesting (to me) games in GM 7. When GM 8 came out I was slightly disappointed that the model of "you own version X, you get version X+1 for free" ended with the jump from 7 to 8, but there wasn't any particular feature that to me felt legitimately worth buying version 8.
GM Studio however has already changed that after only using the beta for a quick prototype challenge for the SA Game Dev Community meet next week. The first hooks that pulled my attention were the cross platform capabilities, namely the fact that GM Studio has the capabilities to deploy to Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and HTML5 from a single IDE, each being available separately so you dont need to fork out for every single component in one go (quite ideal for other students like myself who will likely not have the money to buy it all in one go).
Another thing that caught my attention was the built in source control additions. Simply put you can connect your GM Studio up to an SVN server, and this makes GM Studio usable in teams. This may not sound that amazing, but for GM it is quite an amazing change. A while back when I made Pea Adventures in GM 7, I worked with a friend in Cape Town and any change we made had to be stripped out, merged with the latest "safe copy" and then redistributed between the two of us. Simply put, having the SVN control available means working with someone becomes simple again. GM Studio gains extra points for this in my mind.
On the HTML side of things I have been pleasantly surprised, as the GM Studio built my simple TD into 900~ kB, which is perfectly reasonable size wise for a web based game, but I was disappointed when I found that the Windows EXE files are still large (my TD is an exe file just over 4mB). I took a look at the ".ios" file which I imagine is the iOS build and was pleased to see it was under 500kB.
Performance wise, I tested each possible build that I could run myself (HTML5 and Windows), and all things considered each build felt responsive and seamless across all the platforms. I find this to be a pleasant bonus to the GM Studio as I will only need to do minor changes to versions between platforms. I imagine I will find it similarly suitable on Android and iOS devices when I eventually get around to trying those platforms too.
Something that wasn't clear when getting set up properly was how exactly to set up the Android SDK. Initially I selected and reselected my android-sdk folder to which I got several prompts of "SDK not found", and only aftr I gave up and clicked "Check SDK" did I find that it meant I needed to still install certain SDKs (7, 8, and 11). My download for those SDKs is still running.
In conclusion, when I have the money I will most probably be buying GM Studio and when possible all the addons so that I can finally build for multiple platforms from one environment at an affordable rate!
I will experiment with Unity 3.5 with the Android and iOS "basic" addons when I get a chance and blog about that too.