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 Its WYSIWYG UI is akin to Game Maker's but a bit more powerful, and when it is complete it will utilize Python as a scripting language!
Enigma [also check out Lateral Game Maker; the two will be cooperating once Enigma is complete]

The next generation of Game Maker, this exciting suite not only allows GM to develop in MAC and LINUX as well as WINDOWS, but also allows for the direct inclusion of C++ code right alongside GML! Game Maker will never again have limitations of any kind when this is completed! [It is about 90% done now]
Multimedia Fusion 2

Ah, MMF2 is a great development suite... Clickteam went to great lengths to make sure their design decision to make the entire dev. process WYSIWYG did not limit flexibility, and they did a great job!  Also, Users have made extensions that allow for Lua and .net [c# and] scripting so code-monkeys will still be happy :) Finally, the free SDKs are friendly and well-structured so as to allow easy extensibility through C++, as is evidenced by the plethora of awesome extensions that have already been made. The only downside is that the developer edition is rather expensive, but I assure you it's worth it. There is a book called Going to War available on Amazon which details thoroughly the way to create hex-board turn-based strategy games with MMF2. This genre of game is notoriously hard to make, and it was because of this book that I actually decided to try MMF2 in the first place, lol (VERY glad I did). Anyway, there is a demo if you're squeamish, so try it out today!

--Learning/extension links:

   Book: Going to War: Creating Computer War Games by Jason Darby

        [some other books named on clickteam site]  

Game Maker

Game Maker is awesome! The WYSIWYG UI is powerful, and GML extends that power beyond the sky. The easy inclusion of extensions to further empower the program only makes things better. One click of a toolbar button and you can select GEX files to include (and converting DLLs to GEX files is fairly trivial). Also, it is a very popular program which means a large and highly energetic community, generating lots of forum activity and tutorials to help you along. Game Maker is my current development suite of choice.  Game Maker 8 has been released, and it has benefited from some MAJOR improvements.  Perhaps the most important of these is a vast increase in loading speed...

Books: The Game Maker's Apprentice by Mark Overmars and Jacob Habgood

           Getting Started with Game Maker by Jerry Lee Ford Jr.

    ^ many other gml tutorials around, just google for them.  This is the best I've found.

Specific discussion of GM scripts i.e. custom functions

Another GM extension database

More tutorial goodness from User flexaplex

One of the best of the numerous TBS discussions

Destron Media GM education etc. - great site!
Legendary Tales

A relatively unknown RPG creation suite, this one looks really neat. The ability to create entire RPGs without scripting coupled with the option to include the popular, transferable, and simple VBscript seamelessly is very intriguing indeed!
RPG Toolkit

RPG Toolkit is a neat program that combines the flexibility of the most recent RPG Makers by Enterbrain [XP and VX] with a much friendlier interface. Everything in Toolkit is scriptable [in fact pretty much everything has to be scripted] but RPG Code, their scripting language, is very simple and quick to use, unlike Ruby IMHO.


On the search for visual programing...

I've been on a quest recently, searching for an intuitive but powerful visual programming language.  They are actually quite abundant, but they are usually made for engineers and not particularly suitable for general application [i.e. games] development.  I've found a few that look like they could be extended to general applications, the best of which being Synopsis by CodeMorphis, but I still need to do more digging/testing.  Naturally there are Scratch and StarLogo TNG which are great, but I'm looking for a flowchart/circuit diagram IDE akin to virtools.  Another interesting find I've stumbled across is WireIt; it is a javascript framework designed to help people create their own visual programming language! I'll definitely be looking into that one...     

Most exciting lead EVER! --  Sourcebinder is a flow-chart based programming environment for creating Flash swf files.  Each node you lay out on the field represents a functional snippet of Actionscript, and thus non-programmers can make full use of Flash development!  Unfortunately it is still in private alpha at the moment, but hopefully someday soon it will be made public. The folks behind this project also have a website with a few other projects similar to this that are quite intriguing as well

Eclipse GEMS-- appears to be an eclipse IDE project designed to help java programmers create UML-based visual programming languages of their own; another great lead. 


iPhone/iPod Touch Development Solutions:

Designed to help app developers avoid the Apple-sauced realm of Objective-C, the below development kits all bear the official CCG seal of approval 


Shiva 3D: Shiva is very similar to Unity in its power.  It also has a WYSIWYG editor, and can help you develop any type of 3D and/or 2D game.  It can't build for the Xbox 360, but that is the only functionality 'missing'.  It builds for just about everything else though (windows, mac, linux, web, iphone, android, palm webOS, wii if you have a nintendo sdk, and more thanks to a partnership with Airplay SDK!) and unlike Unity it has only one price tag (a very, very reasonable one at that) for all the cross-platform deployment you want.  The scripting language (just one!) is a variation of Lua, which is quite refreshing and elegant compared to the more complicated scripting situation in Unity.  Additionally, you can export projects with their C++ source [not the full engine source, but your source and the necessary engine runtime sources] so that you can go ahead and program in pure C++ for some or all of the project. You can also hybridize the project by working some with Lua and including C++ sources at build time. All this gives you a wonderful ability to combine the convenience of scripting with the 'under-the-hood' perspective of C++!  Shiva's documentation is excellent, and it has a very comprehensive community Wiki with tutorials, tricks, and tips to help developers break new ground!

Cocos2D-X: An awesome port of the popular objective-c game framework Cocos2D. It is under active and rapid development, and the release builds have helped quite a few commercial games already to the iOS, Android, *fill in the blank platform that supports OpenGL ES 2.0* This framework and Shiva above are my current favorites. It is possible to add 3D graphics to cocos2d-x games of course, but it isn't quite supported by the framework-- the work needs to be done in OpenGL or with the help of another rendering lib like OGRE. Thankfully since it is all open source and freely licensed you can make it do pretty much anything you want [in addition to all the awesome it brings out of the box :)]

Cross Platform GameKit: This one is quite intriguing, as it works hard to integrate 3D graphics into cross-platform-ready C++ and leverages other open source tools like Blender. Unfortunately, development seems a bit slow and documentation is definitely lacking at this point... the most well-defined workflow they have is actually using the game logic bricks from blender and a little lua scripting to achieve effects in blender, then loading the .blend file into their framework and adding anything more you need in C++. I really wish the plain C++ was better documented, but it is all there in open source, so if you've got time you can figure it out. Also this project explicitly only uses libs with highly permissive licenses, so it is a pretty darn safe bet as far as open-source projects potentially subject to license shuffling go!

Flash CS5iPhone app packager: Develop iPhone/iPod Touch apps from your ActionScript 3.0 projects.  No manual conversion required-- just use the packager and you have an app from the same code you can deploy to the web, desktop, etc. already. Has officially been cleared for iDevice development now that Apple has reversed their restrictions.  Adobe is even resuming further development of the app packager tool!  The Android app packager has also been cleared for commercial use by Adobe... :)

Ansca Mobile,Corona SDK: Use Lua to develop for the iPhone/Ipod Touch/iPad/Android.   It uses the same business model as Apple and Gamesalad-- $99/year subscription. It's getting to be very cool, particularly with the Game Edition!

  ^update:Unfortunately, as far as utilities to integrate with or supplement interface builder Corona is rather no-frills.  The code is beautifully simple Lua, but it seems you will have to code everything, including the UI.  Keep in mind it does have its own version of the iPhone simulator so you will be able to see the results of your code instantly, but placing graphics can apparently become rather guess and check on occasion, which is vexing given how GUI-centric iPhone development is.  Ah well, the lure of Lua instead of objective-c is still quite powerful

Unity iPhone: An awesome one-stop-shop for game development.  It has a host of utilities, including a WYSIWYG editor capable of designing 2D and 3D games.  It's affordable (though you need to buy some of the deployment options like iphone and android separately) and it can deploy to all desktops, the web, the iPhone, android, and the xbox 360 as well!  Unfortunately, even though you can use JavaScript, C#, or Boo [no Boo for the iPhone] for writing code, the documentation focuses almost exclusively on JavaScript.  They provide advice for how to adapt the code examples, but most of the API is given in JavaScript so if you want to use C# or Boo things could be confusing... given that the tool is already extremely intricate, this documentation quibble is rather annoying.  Also, their example projects tend to have scripts in both javascript and C#, so if you aren't familiar with BOTH you might have some trouble learning from them.  All in all, the API is a bit of a beast if you aren't a coding polyglot.  However, if you are a JavaScript/C# programmer and have access to decent funds, Unity is a marvelous choice.

GLBasic: A very neat Basic dialect with the ability to work with 2d and 3d graphics through OpenGL.  Its best feature is its ability to deploy to many different platforms, including all desktops, GP2X, Windows Mobile, and iPhone/iPod Touch.  Unfortunately, it is a German-based language and thus the English documentation/tutorials are somewhat lacking.  The in-IDE manual is fairly extensive however, so understanding how to use it shouldn't be a problem.  The main issue I have is that it it not easy to build eye-pleasing GUIs in it, and GUIs are obviously extremely important for iPhone apps.  There are several utilities for making GUIs in GLBasic, none of them especially friendly or fully visual as far as I can tell, and the one featured by the main devs [DDGui] is just an exe designed to showcase the abilities of the UI building keywords.  Also, the keyword FILLRECT needs to be replaced in the source files with DRAWRECT for it to compile.  Once this is done DDgui is nice enough, but a simple visual GUI builder would be cool... Other than the GUI 'complaint', GLBasic is quite cool, and fairly cheap.

Gamesalad: This is the best of the best.  It is a totally visual drag n' drop development system which make it quite easy to develop great UIs and easily integrate complex game mechanics.  By combining rules/conditions, drag n' drop behaviors, and an advanced attribute expression editor into the design paradigm you can make some very cool and unique stuff.  Best of all, it is growing more powerful literally everyday.

LiveCode: RunRev has completely revamped their development tools, making all the functionality available and separating the packages based on deployment capabilities.  They've renamed the whole product line LiveCode, and you can purchase either pre-arranged deployment packs (e.g. deployment to Mac, Windows, and iOS) or you can build your own package with each deployment option having its individual price.  This set up allows you to build some very attractive packages for a very reasonable price.  Anyway, one of the deployment options is the iOS platform, and with the impressive features set (like WYSIWYG development for visual elements, compile-free coding, and the wonderful RevTalk scripting language) iPhone app development has never been more rewarding!

MonoTouch: Use C# and the .NET framework to develop for the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad.  Evidently, and most interestingly, you can also integrate XCode utilities such as Interface Builder!  It is expensive, but not terribly so, and seems to use a one-time payment [barring potential new payments for major updates etc.] business model.

A few more interesting contenders can be found at the iPhone Dev Explorationsblog.  Most intriguing to me from this list are the Java iPhone dev solutions and the non-adobe actionscript 3 [via Flex] project to iPhone app alternative Elips Studio 3.

Also of note is a project I recently ran across that looks very promising indeed called Objective-Basic.  The name really says it all: the language, complete with a nice IDE and thorough documentation, is a BASIC dialect that grants access to the cocoa (and soon but not yet) cocoa touch frameworks.  The compiler translates the objective-basic code into pure objective-c, which can then run at comparable speed.  Given its dedication to the native Mac framework, this could become a superior BASIC OS X/iDevice development solution to GLBasic.  Eventually you will even be able to embed objective-c code in your objective-basic programs [I believe you can already sort of do it, but not perfectly or with friendly ease], which is perfect for those of us interested in learning both languages.... The project is young, but definitely out of infancy so it is an exciting one to watch! 

XMLVM looks like an interesting cross-compilation project; it claims to be able to cross-compile languages like Java, even Android Java, into Objective-C ready for the iPhone.  It is young yet, but the developers seem pretty committed, so this is definitely one to watch.

The Game-Creator is somewhat magical and mad with its ambition, but you never know-- if enough people show interest perhaps this open-source Game Maker clone designed to create games for "iPhone, Zune, Xbox 360, as well as the development platforms [windows, linux, and mac] themselves" can actually become a reality... 



Basking Ridge, NJ