Tech

GameMaker Studio 2 Customisation And Accessibility

Blog accessibility

Posted by Mark Alexander on 5 August 2020

In this article we're going to discuss some of the ways that you can customise GameMaker Studio 2 to suit your own particular needs and general workflow when creating your game projects. Most of what we'll discuss are the different settings available in the Preferences, which you can open from the File menu on Windows and from the GameMaker Studio 2 menu on macOS. Now, there are a lot of preferences available and we're not going to cover them all or even the majority of them, but we are going to point out the ones that we consider the most important, as they can make GameMaker Studio more accessible or "flow" better according to your needs.

NOTE: Most of the preferences mentioned in this article will require you to click the Apply button and then restart the IDE, so keep this in mind when changing things.


Accessibility Preferences

To start with, let's talk about the main options available to improve accessibility. The most obvious one is probably the IDE "skin". By default, the IDE uses a dark colour-scheme with a light grey on dark-grey palette. However, this may be problematic for some people and so in the General Settings part of the Preferences, there is an option to change the IDE skin to use a lighter colour-scheme with more contrast:

IDE Skin Preferences

You can see the difference that this makes in the image below:

IDE Skins Example

Another accessibility option available from this section of the Preferences is the DPi Override option:

DPi Override Preferences

Enabling this means that you can scale up (or down) the size of the text, icons and other IDE elements to suit your own specific needs, and you can set either the Raw DPi Override value or set the Percentage of the native DPi (they both affect the same thing and are just different methods of expressing the DPi value).

NOTE: This is also useful when working with high DPi monitors, for example on a 4K monitor you may want to set the DPi Override to make things less spread out and more legible.

Once applied and the IDE has been restarted you should notice the change. The image below shows the difference between the default setting and a scale of 167%:

DPi Override Example

It's worth mentioning that you can also change the scale at which assets are displayed in the Asset Browser independently of everything else by using the slider at the bottom, which will affect both the image/icon used to represent the assets as well as the text name of the assets:

Scaling The Asset Browser

You can also independently scale the size of the different Action Icons when using Drag and Drop™, from the Drag and Drop™ Preferences:

DnD™ Icon Scaling Prefs

The next thing we'll mention when it comes to accessibility is the Slow Double Click Time. You can find this option from the Input Preferences:

Slow Double Click Preference

Many areas of the IDE permit you to use a slow double click on the left mouse button to change things, for example renaming an asset. However the timing may be awkward for some people and so you can adjust this setting here making it easier to achieve the double click. It's worth noting that some of the other options in the Input section may also be helpful in terms of accessibility so you should check them out too.

The final thing we want to mention for the different accessibility preferences is the ability to change the colour, font, and font size of the different window texts in the IDE. You can change the font details and the way code is coloured from the Text Editor > Code Editor preferences, you can change the way text id displayed and coloured in the different Output Windows from the General > Output Window preferences, and you can also change the font and colour of Drag and Drop™ comments from the Drag and Drop™ > Comments preferences.


Quality Of Life Preferences

These next preferences are what we would consider "quality of life" prefs, as changing them will not dramatically alter the ID, but they will adapt areas of it to your own preferred form of working and hopefully improve your workflow. To start with you should be aware of the different "fullscreen" options for some of the windows in GameMaker Studio 2. These can be found from the Text Editor Preferences:

Open Fullscreen Preferences

By default, when you open an object event, a shader asset or a script asset, these will be opened up as windows within the current workspace. However, this is not to everyone's liking and many people would prefer that these code editors were opened on the fullscreen and not inside a workspace or chained to an object. Checking these prefernces does just that, and once you have applied the changes, opening any of the before-mentioned assets will open them in a new workspace tab that is a fullscreen text editor.

When using multiple windows in the GameMaker workspace, you'll find that by default they cannot overlap and that trying to put one window on top of another results in the window being shifted up or down to accommodate the change in position. However, this is another minor issue that is not to everyone's liking and so you have a Workspace preference to permit chains to overlap:

Permit Workspace Chains To Overlap Pref

Another preference that you may want to change is the one that sets the different Directory Paths that GameMaker uses for temp files and cache files and other things. It may be that the drive you have installed GameMaker Studio 2 on has little space, or you want to use a different default path for your projects or something, and so you can change the General > Paths preferences to different locations on your computer, as shown in the image below:

Change IDE Default Directory Paths

This next preference in is one that I know get's overlooked a lot, but it can save a some users getting frustrated when programming in GML. By default, all code functions will use UK spelling when being shown in the code completion window - the most obvious example being "colour" but there are others, for example:

draw_set_colour()
dot_product_normalised()
randomise()

However, there is an option to have code complete functions default to the American English way of writing them, for example:

draw_set_color()
dot_product_normalized()
randomize()

You can find this option from the Languages > GML preferences:

Change Default GML Language


Summary

GameMaker Studio 2 is highly customisable and as such the sheer amount of preferences available can make editing them a little overwhelming. We hope that with this article we've shown you some of the most essential and useful of the prefs that you can edit to get the best workflow experience possible, but we do suggest that you take some time and explore the preferences fully, as there will certainly be things in there that we haven't covered that you'll find very useful!

One final thing to note is that preferences are linked to the user that is signed in to the program, and so if you log out and another user logs in, they can set their preferences how they wish without affecting the ones you have set previously. So, the next time you log in to GameMaker, your preferences will be maintained. However, if you wish to save them somewhere safe - if you need to do a clean install or are installing GameMaker Studio 2 on a new computer - then you can find them in the following location:

C:\Users\<USERNAME>\AppData\Roaming\GameMakerStudio2-Dev\<username.number>\local_settings.json

This file can be saved elsewhere then copied over to the same location after installing GameMaker Studio 2 and logging in for the first time.

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