I know nothing about programming, but I really want to make my own simple, generic platformer.
Should I go back to pen and paper to complete my idea first? Do I need to take a programming turorial online? Is Game Maker the easiest alternative for a complete n00b? I'm completely lost. Some advice would be appreciated
Yes, GM is perhaps the most user friendly thing out there for folks new to the indie dev scene (ie you and me)
If you're using GM, search the forums for the Grandma Engine. It's REALLY useful and a good starting point for any platformer. You can edit things like player gravity, player speed- all the basic necessities with little to no effort. And if you have any questions, just read the online manual(s). Remember that all things take time, and you just need to keep at it. Understand that GM is an event oriented engine- things happen when the proper conditions are fulfilled.
To clarify some of the basic things:
Sprites are the pictures. They don't hold any information aside from masks (used for collision detection).
Objects are the things sprites are attached to. Without a sprite, an object is an invisible machine. They are where code is stored. A piece of code you write will only happen when the proper event takes place- if you put a piece of code in the Create event, it will only happen once, at the very beginning of the object's existence. If you put it in the step event, the code will happen every single frame of the game (1 step=1 frame; if your game runs at 30 fps, the code will happen 30 times a second).
You keep track of whatever information you need via variables. A variable is a number used in your game, like hp or speed. However, variables must be instantiated before they can be used. Instantiate a variable by putting it in the create event.
But variables donít do anything on their own. If the variable you created, say, player_hp, equals zero, the game doesnít know what that means. You need to write that code yourself:
You should look up how to write GML (what the language Game Maker uses is called) on your own; thereís too much of that for me to explain here.
Scripts are only pieces of code that you write. However, if you put your code into a script, you can have multiple objects access that code at once. And because the code is in one single script, place, itís really easy to edit.
When writing code, itís really easy to lose track of what a certain line does. To keep things organized, use Comments by typing // in front of whatever you have to say to yourself.
//these are the playerís statistics
And those are some of the basics. If you ever have any questions, just look/post in the tutorial section. From experience, the people here are really helpful (itís easily the friendliest forum Iíve been a part of).