The Graphical User Interface (GUI)

This page outlines the options available to you from the GameMaker: Studio GUI.

On starting GameMaker: Studio the following form is normally shown which presents you with a selection of options to choose from (unless you use the Steam Client, see below):

If you have bought GameMaker: Studio through Steam, then on startup you will be presented with an options screen (shown below) from which you can select to Play games from the Steam Workshop, or to Make games with the program. If you select Play then GameMaker: Studio will close and the Steam Player will open, however if you choose Make then you will be presented with the standard GameMaker: Studio start-up screen.

At the top of the general start-up screen you can see that there are nine tabs: Welcome (always the initial start-up screen), Open, New, Import, Release Notes, Demos, Tutorials, News and Licences. Here is a brief overview of the function of each of those tabs:

Beneath the tabs, there is a section with hints, tips and offers related to GameMaker: Studio, which you can scroll through using the arrow icons on either side, and beneath that you will see listed any projects that you have previously opened so that you can quickly get back to work where you left off previously.

Creating Your First Project

To begin creating your first game project, you can click on either the New Project tab, where you can select to either load a previous project, or start a new one. When starting a new one, you can provide the directory to save the project files to (which will be saved using the *.GMX format), as well as assign a name to your new project. Clicking Create will then create and save the initial project files.


Once you've loaded or created your project in GameMaker: Studio the main GUI is shown and looks something like this:

This is the main interface for GameMaker: Studio and it's here that you control every aspect of your current project. On the left, you can see the different resources mentioned in other sections of the manual: Sprites, Sounds, Backgrounds, Paths, Scripts, Fonts, Time Lines, Objects, Global Game Settings and finally, Extensions. At the top of the window there is the menu and a handy toolbar to access some of the most used commands when creating a game. We will briefly discuss the various menu items, buttons, etc... below, but they will be covered far more in-depth in the later sections of the manual. One thing you should realise at this point is that many of the same things can be achieved in various different ways when working with GameMaker: Studio, either by choosing a command from the menu, by clicking a toolbar button, or by right clicking on a resource. This redundancy is there so that you can get working with GameMaker: Studio in the easiest and most natural way, using whatever system you feel most comfortable with.

Steam users have three additional buttons on the toolbar:

This first button will open the Steam Player where you can play any games you have subscribed to or uploaded to the Steam Workshop.
This second button will open up the page of the GameMaker: Studio Steam Workshop in the Steam client window on your PC.
The final button available to you will open another version of the GameMaker: Studio IDE so you can have two (or more) projects open at one time.

The Resource Tree

At the left of the main form you find the resource tree. Here you will see a "tree" view of all the resources in your game. It works in the same way as Windows Explorer, and you are most likely familiar with how it should work. If an item has a + sign in front of it you can click on the sign to see the resources inside it (expand it). By clicking on the - sign these disappear again (collapse it). You can change the name of a resource (except the top level ones that show the type of resource contained within) by selecting it once with a single click, and then giving another single click on the name once again. Double clicking on a resource in quick succession will automatically open its properties form where you can edit and change things related to it. Use the right mouse button to call up a context specific window that contains most of the same commands as found in the Edit Menu where you can add, copy, remove or view the selected resource. You can find a full list of the resource tree right-click menus from the following section:

  1. Right Click Menus

You can change the order of the resources by clicking on a specific resource and then dragging it to the appropriate place within its resource group. You can also filter the resource tree to only show those things that are of interest to you using the search and filter options at the bottom:

The Toolbar

The toolbar in GameMaker: Studio contains buttons to create each of the resources you see present as well as a selection of additional buttons to create a new project, open an existing project, save a project, create an executable (export a final project), open the Global Game Settings and Extension Packages as well as opening the Help file. All these commands can also be accessed through the drop-down menus or by using certain "hot key" combinations.

There are two buttons of note here however, as they are not present anywhere else in the GameMaker: Studio GUI:

Stop Web Server

This button can be used to cancel the compilation of your games to the target module, or (on certain targets only) to stop the game while it is running after it has been compiled.

Clear Project Asset Compile Cache

Pressing this button will clear the current asset compiler cache. GameMaker: Studio stores images, sounds, scripts etc... between use in a cache so as to save time when testing your game as it will only re-compile those things that have been changed before testing. However, this cache may become corrupted over time, or you may wish to do a full test with no caching being done previously, in which case you can clear the cache by pressing this button.

The Compile Target

This drop-down menu allows you to choose which device to target when compiling and testing your game. In this way you can quickly change between the different modules that you have installed on GameMaker: Studio and make sure that your project works as it should on all of them. The available target modules are:

Windows included in all versions
Steam WORKSHOP included in all versions of GameMaker: Studio bought through Steam
MacOSX additional module for the Professional Version
Windows 8 (Native) additional module for the Professional Version
HTML5 additional module for the Professional Version
Ubuntu additional module for the Professional Version
iOS additional module for the Professional Version
Android additional module for the Professional Version
Windows Phone additional module for the Professional Version

Please note that the additional modules can only be bought for the Professional Version of GameMaker: Studio, and if you have bought GameMaker: Studio through Steam, you will also have another target platform for your game which is the Steam Workshop. This target will permit you to publish your Windows games straight to Steam for others to download and play. For more information on this target please see here.


Here you can find a drop-down menu that permits you to select the current configuration of GameMaker: Studio and beside this there is a button labelled "Manage". By clicking this you can open the Configurations Window which permits you to add, remove and rename configurations. For more information on configurations see this section:

  1. Advanced Use - Configurations

NOTE: This functionality is limited to the Professional Version of GameMaker: Studio.

The Workspace

This is the area where you will be editing your resources, setting up rooms and working with your objects, code and all other resources.

The Main Menus

At the very top of the GUI you will find the drop-down menus. As there are a number of them and each has its own selection of options, you can find out more about them from the pages listed below:

  1. The File Menu
  2. The Edit Menu
  3. The Windows Menu
  4. The Resources Menu
  5. The Scripts Menu
  6. The Run Menu
  7. The Help Menu

Searching The Knowledge Base

There is one final feature of the GameMaker: Studio GUI which is worth noting, and that is the search box that can be found to the top right of the IDE: If you are looking for more detailed information on a subject and the manual doesn't cover it (there are many things outside of the scope of this document) or you think there may be a bug, then you can type a few keywords here and it will search the YoYo Games Knowledge Base then open a tab in your browser showing you a list of the topics that are available. For example, if you require further information on advertising, simply typing "ads" into this search box and hitting "Enter" will take you to the following page: List Of Ads Tutorials.

Back: Using GameMaker: Studio
Next: Loading Sprites
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