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Interview with YoYo Games' General Manager James Cox on GameMaker Studio 2 open beta for the Switch

by David Keremes - August 29, 2018, 6:19 pm PDT
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Getting more insight on the newest game engine available for Switch

Nintendo World Report: How did you get into game development and did you ever see yourself being a part of a team that designed an engine that’s been downloaded millions of times?

James Cox: My route into game development was a passion for coding that turned into an interest in games programming, tools, and even compilers.

NWR: Was GameMaker Studio always planned to be solely a 2D development tool?

JC: Yes, it was originally conceived as a learning tool by Professor Mark Overmars back in 1999. Over time GameMaker has evolved into the best way to get into making games, as it’s very easy to learn without knowing code and it can support you through to making great games in a successful studio.

NWR: Since the announcement that GameMaker Studio 2 will launch for the Switch, did any developers reach out to you to request certain features, or was the engine built based on your own development experiences?

JC: Since the announcement, we have lots of developers contacting us for early access, rather than specific features! Our starting point has always been that we want to make all the features available, and we worked with some of our most successful developers at the outset to make sure games like Hyper Light Drifter, Undertale and Nidhogg 2 would pass lot check and work well on the Nintendo Switch.

NWR: Have you run into any obstacles with developing GameMaker Studio 2 for use on the Switch?

JC: In all honesty, there haven’t been obstacles. Like any platform, you have to understand the proprietary approaches it takes, but we’ve worked very closely with Nintendo throughout, so we haven’t had any difficult moments.

NWR: The original GameMaker studio was released back in 2012, have you notice a major shift in how game developers create games and if so, did that influence the creation of GameMaker Studio 2?

JC: GameMaker Studio in 2012 was all about bringing the exports and runners for multiple platforms all into one place and lifting the skill ceiling. Since then hardware has certainly moved on, however the challenges of efficient creativity and design remain. GameMaker Studio 2 gave us the opportunity to completely redesign the IDE and extend functionality to reflect modern game design requirements. All the time while continuing to be an education tool as well.

NWR: GameMaker Studio 2 has been out since March of 2017 with support of other platforms; which is also when the Switch was released; was there always a desire to make it work for Nintendo’s console, or was there more of a “wait and see” approach on if the demand warranted being licensed.

JC: The Nintendo Switch was a big hit from day one. Its success was widely anticipated and the demand from our community to make games for it was instant. We didn’t have to wait and see, it was clear straightaway that we should have a Switch export for GMS2!

NWR: Have you been surprised by any game that used a feature or part of the engine that you didn’t know was possible?

JC: Developers have been pushing GMS2 further and harder on Switch. We encourage you to wait and see what they are creating.

NWR: Does your team get any time to create any of your own games or are they hard at work on the up keep or the engine.

JC: In our own time, lots of us create games, we have also been known to have our own in-office game jams from time to time, where we all make games in a compressed timespan. We also work hard at continuing to develop the GameMaker Studio 2 platform and its new features.

NWR: This maybe a bit too soon to discuss, but, do you have any exciting ideas for GameMaker Studio 3?

JC: All our efforts are focused on the enhancement of GameMaker 2 at the moment.

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