[[quoteright:350:[[VideoGame/PinballConstructionSet http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/pcs-box_5400.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:The UrExample and TropeMaker.[[note]]Original pre-Creator/ElectronicArts box art shown.[[/note]]]]

Due to the massive complexity of the majority of major programming languages, and the difficulty of actually ''learning'' them in the first place, a small-but-dedicated subgenre of software has arisen: the "game maker."

Simply put, a "game maker" is a software "toolkit" that usually contains a pre-designed framework for a particular type of game. Often, these toolkits will include art assets, a fairly simple (though robust and versatile) scripting system, and a pre-built "library" of sound effects, visual effects, sprites, and other game-design material.

The intent of the "game-builder's toolkit" concept is to permit even the most inexperienced and computer-unfamiliar person to design, test, and publish a basic game in a matter of minutes (as opposed to days, months, or years).

Such programming toolboxes usually come with some form of tutorial or instruction file, containing a general overview of the toolkit itself, along with some more in-depth (but very casual and easily-followed) instructions that are intended to walk a beginner through creating a very simple "starter" game. A complete, playable version of the tutorial/starter game is most often included with the toolkit, so that the truly-confused first-time user can examine the "finished version" to see how it was put together, and what it's supposed to look like when it's finished.

While it ''is'' possible to construct a commercial-quality game using these toolkits, it's often extremely difficult to do so -- to save space and time, the art and sounds provided are usually a very small, basic collection, aimed at speeding development rather than enhancing the program.

Contrast with GameEngine. The main distinction between a GameEngine and a Game Maker is that Game Makers are very focused on a specific genre or style of game. RPG Maker will [[http://www.hbgames.org/forums/index.php?topic=45267.0 rarely]] make anything other than {{Role Playing Game}}s, whereas a real GameEngine can make a wide variety of styles of game. Game Makers are a step up from [[LevelEditor level editing]], but not enough to be full-fledged {{game engine}}s.

When looking at the games made with these, be warned: SturgeonsLaw is in full force.

The StockSoundEffects used in the RPG Maker programs are commonly heard in fangames, and other videos, because they're easy to get.

[[IThoughtItMeant Not to be confused with]] [[http://www.yoyogames.com Mark Overmars' GameMaker]] which is sufficiently complex to be considered a full-fledged 2D GameEngine, or for that matter [[http://www.gb64.com/game.php?id=3072 Garry Kitchen's GameMaker]], a UsefulNotes/{{Commodore 64}} application released in 1985.


* The UrExample and TropeMaker is Bill Budge's ''VideoGame/PinballConstructionSet,'' which came out for the Apple II in 1982. It used a drag-and-drop interface to allow users to make their own DigitalPinballTables, controlling everything from the layout and colors, to the game logic and physics. It soon became one of Creator/ElectronicArts' launch titles, and its success led to several other titles in EA's ''Construction Set'' series.
** A SpiritualSuccessor, ''VideoGame/MacadamBumper,'' was released three years later for the UsefulNotes/AmstradCPC, UsefulNotes/ZXSpectrum, UsefulNotes/{{MSX}}, and UsefulNotes/{{Commodore 64}}. It was later renamed ''Pinball Wizard'' and released for the UsefulNotes/AtariST and UsefulNotes/IBMPersonalComputer.
* [[http://www.apgardner.karoo.net/retrib/index.html Retribution Engine]] is an FPS Game Maker program that you could create old style FPS games like Doom and Quake without any need of coding. You can easily make interactive stages by using its trigger system in the map editor as well as making custom models for guns and characters. It's very easy to use and really unheard of.
* [[http://www.momorprods.com/rgd2/us/index.htm Ray Game Designer II]] as well as the first one can make old-gen 3D games without much coding knowledge, good for amateurs.
* VideoGame/RPGMaker is, obviously, for {{Role Playing Game}}s. The latest version is [=RPG Maker=] MV. For the Japanese, a demo of RPG Maker VX Ace with caps on how many items of each type you can use is available, and it is assumed that they can be changed into fully-featured "registered versions" after the actual release. The English version has full functionality for 30 days before it expires and you'd have to buy it. The previous versions, RPG Maker VX and RPG Maker XP, were released similarly. Prior versions, including RPG Maker 95 (97?) were never officially translated into English. RPG Maker 2000 and 2003 weren't officially released in English until ''2015''.
** One important thing to note with RPG Maker, at least with earlier versions, is that level-ups and stat growth have much less effect in RPG Maker than in many real [=RPG=]s. It would be extremely difficult and require a great deal of trickery to make a game with the very dramatic power escalation of a ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' title, for instance.
** The three most recent entries in the series; XP, VX and VX Ace; come equipped with Ruby scripting that allows people making a game in the maker to drastically alter the in-game engine, which allows for numerous different types of games (a common alteration being changing the front-view turn-based battle system the three of them share and making it a side-view active-time battle system à la the ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' franchise). The most recent entry in the series, MV, come with Javascript and has the ability to have either side or front view battle.
** There is now a free version, known as [[http://tryace.rpgmakerweb.com/download-lite/ RPGMaker VX Ace Lite]], which has no time limit (previous trials locked you out 30 days after downloading them). The major changes are that it puts a cap on how many characters and items you can have, but there's still enough for a good game.
* [[http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/ Adventure Game Studio]] is a fairly robust toolkit for making Creator/{{Sierra}}- and Creator/LucasArts-style point-and-click adventure games. The Web site features listings of games made with AGS; some good, some bad. It's actually pretty impressive how far someone can push the engine (e.g., [[Creator/BenCroshaw Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw]]'s platform action games).
* [[http://hamsterrepublic.com/ohrrpgce/index.php/Main_Page.html OHRRPGCE]] (''[[OverlyLongName Official Hamster Republic Role-Playing Game Construction Engine]]'') is a freeware, open-source editor that was originally a DOS application, but has now been ported to [=FreeBASIC=] for support with new Operating Systems. It boasts flexibility and a powerful scripting engine, though has strict limitations that still exist from the DOS versions. The games made use a ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV''-style or turn-by-turn battle engine, with potential for complex attacks. Graphics must be drawn by the user, but this has encouraged creativity. The engine is suited for any style of game, though as it's name suggests it was originally developed for creating {{Eastern RPG}}s. It has a library of both high quality titles and quick fun distractions.
* [[http://www.sawbladesoftware.com/ Power Game Factory]] is the premier game creation program for Mac OS X, best suited for {{platformer}}s such as ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros.'' or ''VideoGame/{{Contra}}''. Sprites, sounds, enemy behavior and more can be customized, and parallax scrolling is supported for backgrounds. The latest version, 1.1, allows two sizes for background tiles: 64×64 and 32×32 pixels. It also includes ''two'' complete games: ''Greenland Invasion'' and ''Zombie Holiday''.
* ''{{VideoGame/MUGEN}}'' is the most robust engine for 2D {{Fighting Game}}s out there, sporting a huge variety of features that enable makers to do damn near anything with it. There are a few full games out there, mostly fan games like ''Brutal Paws of Fury Remix'' and ''Franchise/MortalKombat: Integral'', but far more common are stand-alone characters that can simply be plugged into the engine and used against each other in an [[UltimateShowdownOfUltimateDestiny anything-goes slugfest]].
** As far as commercial software goes, Agetec released the ''Fighter Maker'' games for the [=PlayStation=] and [=PS2=]. They didn't necessarily allow you to create a full game from scratch, the fighting engine you're given to work with is pretty basic, and creating fluid, realistic animations for moves was an extremely long and often tedious process, with the tradeoff being that if you could think it up, you could put it in the game.
* ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SEUCK Shoot-Em-Up Construction Kit]]'', or ''SEUCK'' for short, was the starting point for quite a few Amiga, Commodore 64 and Atari ST public domain games.
* ''UsefulNotes/RenPy'' is a UsefulNotes/{{Python}}-based engine designed with {{Visual Novel}}s in mind. It doesn't come with many resources; you have to provide your own art and music. However, the engine is very flexible, and its functions can be expanded if one is handy with Python. There are just over 300 games already made for the engine.
* ''VideoGame/ZeldaClassic'' started life as simply a faithful reverse-engineered version of the original ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaI Legend of Zelda]]'', but quickly grew into an engine for creating one's own Zelda-style games based on the ''Zelda 1'' engine. The current development versions add scripting to the mix of features.
* ''Open Zelda'' is based on the ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast A Link To The Past]]'' engine and used scripting from the start.
* [[http://www.graalonline.com/ Graal Online]] started as an online ''Zelda 3'' clone; now it's hosting servers for anyone who can make about $100 a year. Hypothetically free if you bring in enough subscribers -- sadly, last check they frown on their developers letting people play for free...
* While on the subject of Zelda, there's also the ''[[http://www.solarus-games.org/ Solarus Engine]]'', originally created specifically for the remake of a fangame, ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMysteryOfSolarus'', by the author of the said game, but has since then evolved into a full fledged Game Maker with focus on [=ARPGs=]. And it's open source, too.
* ''[[http://www.scirra.com/ Construct Classic]]'' (formerly known as simply ''Construct'') is a point-and-click system with some very deep systems for performing events and actions. Can get simple games up in as little as five minutes. Somewhat buggy due to its continual development state. Though the official developers are no longer working on it, members of the community are making new updates for it, probably until its successor catches up in terms of functionality. Speaking of which...
** ''[[http://www.scirra.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=35 Construct 2]]'', while effectively in primitive, bare-bones state, is basically a complete re-do of the original, but with a much better codebase thanks to the developers learning tons from their experiences with developing the original Construct. A licencing system is planned, though the fact that it won't be free is offset by the fact that its developers will be able to work on it full-time, resulting in faster and better updates. Designed with a modular exporting system which has the potential to allow exporting games to every platform under the sun, the first and current exporter is [=HTML5=], as it is a reasonable multi-platform starting point, effectively making Construct 2 the first native [=HTML5=] game maker. Despite its current development state, the Construct community has [[SerialEscalation demonstrated its usual habit of defying limitations]] and [[http://www.scirra.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=8476 made some neat stuff anyway.]]
* [[http://www.adrift.org.uk/cgi/new/adrift.cgi ADRIFT]], [[http://www.tads.org/ TADS]], and [[http://inform7.com Inform 7]] are currently the most popular entry points for InteractiveFiction designers. ADRIFT is perhaps slightly easier for the novice, as its environment simply slots all game elements into various nested menus without scripting, but older versions hits their limits fairly quickly when the designer tries something out of the ordinary (a problem that Adrift 5 is supposed to address). Inform 7 is really more of a language than a game maker, but it's one of the friendliest languages out there (natural language statements! Playable rooms within a minute!) and it scales very nicely with the programmer's experience. TADS is the most complex of the three, allowing for full object-oriented programming of game logic. All three handle very sophisticated levels of grammar parsing of commands.
** For those who want something even easier, there's the [[http://www.ragsgame.com/Downloads.aspx RAGS suite]], which is basically point and click!
** This is not a new idea either. There were at least two products released for the UsefulNotes/ColorComputer which allowed a user to specify vocabulary, rooms, items, and characters and then generated a BASIC program that implemented the game.
* [[http://www.stencyl.com/ Stencyl]] is a finished after years of waiting product that is sort of a Game Engine for Game Makers. It has some of the functionality of a Game Engine, but rather than making a game, you use it to make a "Kit". Kits define the basic behavior of the style of game, like {{Shoot Em Up}}s or {{Platform Game}}s. Then, it becomes a Game Maker for that particular style of game.
* OlderThanTheNES: Quicksilva released a program called ''Games Designer'' for the ZX Spectrum in 1983. It was fairly rudimentary, and rubbish, and it could only make four different types of shoot-em-ups, meaning that it may well have inspired ''SEUCK'', but it was a designer and it did the job.
* ''The Quill'', and its later upgrade ''PAWS'', were Text Adventure (British for InteractiveFiction) creators of similar vintage.
* Another of the earliest was ''Adventure Construction Set'', released by Electronic Arts for UsefulNotes/{{Commodore 64}} and UsefulNotes/AppleII in 1985.
* [[http://sudslore.org/ SUDS]] [Single User Dungeon System] is a text adventure maker for Windows.
* [[http://www.bladeengine.com/ Blade]] is another VisualNovel engine.
* There are a veritable ton of ''Franchise/PhoenixWright'' case makers on various fansites around the Internet; some complex, some not-so complex.
** One of the most prominent is [[http://www.pywright.com/wordpress/ PyWright]], which is the engine used for, among other fangames, ''[[VisualNovel/ApolloJusticeAceAttorneyCase5TurnaboutSubstitution Turnabout Substitution]]'', ''[[VideoGame/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyConflictOfInterest Conflict of Interest]]'', and ''[[VideoGame/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyTheContemptOfCourt The Contempt of Court]]''.
* World Builder was a popular graphic adventure game maker in the black-and-white [[UsefulNotes/AppleMacintosh Macintosh]] era, and was best known for the commercial game ''VideoGame/EnchantedScepters'' (among amateur authors, Ray Dunakin and Louise Hope are probably the most noted). Its creator went on to found Cyberflix Interactive and develop an [[FullMotionVideo FMV Game]] engine called Dream Factory.
* ''VideoGame/{{Stepmania}}'' is a vanilla build of VideoGame/DanceDanceRevolution, allowing people to make their own rhythm games from it. Hell, it's what ''VideoGame/InTheGroove'' and ''VideoGame/{{Mungyodance}}'' were built off of.
* In the same vein as Stepmania, ''VideoGame/{{Osu}}'' is a game engine for VideoGame/EliteBeatAgents tap-style games, but has since been extended to also support Taiko Drum Master and other minigame-style gameplay. Anyone can write their own tap charts to go with any song they desire, and if they're extra-creative, create custom backdrops and animations for the song. The latest build can also support story branching and can change the story outcome based on how well you're playing, just like the real games- so if you're ultra-creative, you can code up something like [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYHCceCQnj8 this]].
* There's also "Taiko-san Jiro" for creating VideoGame/TaikoNoTatsujin-style games, but it's only available in Japanese.
* ''VideoGame/WarioWare DIY'' is a Game Maker that offers an easy-but-effective game making engine, though the games are limited to the four- to eight-second duration the series is known for. A [[GameMod hack]], however, can be used to create "boss-type" games, which have no time limit.
* ''VideoGame/UnlimitedAdventures'' allows to create VideoGame/GoldBox-style RPG games.
* The [[http://www.rpgtoolkit.com/ RPG Toolkit]]. You can make other types of games with it, but it's pretty hard. The learning curve for the programming language is steep, too, since (as of Version 3.0) it's now based entirely on C++.
* ''Captain Gamemaker'' was an early example, which made a list of 30 bad titles in PC Gamer UK circa 1997. A quick glance at Google turns up no results for it, but it was definitely there.
* The Mission Architect in ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'' can be considered to be one of these. It allows a player to create a story arc with up to five missions, and for each mission chose from a list of maps, populate them with enemies and [[VideoGameSetpiece setpieces]], set player objectives, write dialog for [=NPCs=], mission briefings and debriefings, and such. The author can even use the same character creator that was used for making his own player character to create custom [=NPCs=] for use in his missions.
* ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights'' came bundled with a toolkit from which sprang a large modding community, supported by Bioware completely. Many module series were pretty clearly superior to the original game.
* Also on the UsefulNotes/AppleII were ''ArcadeMachine'', which used a positively Byzantine system to create shoot-em-up games.
** And then there was ''MazeCraze,'' which essentially just allowed you to create new boards and sprites for ''PacMan.''
* Any Bethesda game based on the Gamebryo GameEngine ([[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind Morrowind]], [[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]] and VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}) have editing tools released by Bethesda that have full functionality with which they created the game, allowing Total Conversion [[GameMod Mods]] to be created. (In addition, VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas can be edited with the VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}} version of the editor.) ''VideoGame/{{Nehrim}}'' is one such example of a mod (in this case, using the Oblivion Engine)
* ''Atmosphir'' is a game maker that as of this writing includes platforming, multiplayer coop, multiplayer battle, and racing. Despite all these genres, it is not yet a full-fledged ''GameEngine''.
* ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}} Danmakufu'', a tool for making ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}''-like [[ShootEmUp Shoot 'Em Ups]].
* VideoGame/{{BYOND}} is a 2-D online game engine [[http://www.byond.com/ available for free]]. It's a hybrid between a full-service GameMaker and a programming IDE. Gameplay customization is achieved through writing Python-like code, but you can build a graphical map and wander through it with your friends before you write a single line of code.
* The level editor that comes with ''VideoGame/KnyttStories'' could be considered a tool for making {{Metroidvania}} games (among other things). Download it [[http://nifflas.ni2.se/index.php?page=Knytt+Stories here]].
* ''VideoGame/WarcraftIII'' has a map designer that can be considered this, why? it's a RTS map maker that was used to create things as varied as a Freak'n ''racing game'' and ''VideoGame/DefenseOfTheAncients''. a MOBA.
** ''VideoGame/StarcraftII''s map editor is a much more flexible version. For instance, while in ''Warcraft III'' you'd always be stuck with its regular interface, ''Starcraft II'''s map editor lets you forgo even that, letting you create games that have nothing in common with said game.
* ''[[http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/dezaemon/dezaemon.htm Dezaemon]]'', a series of ShootEmUp creators by Athena for various platforms in the 1990s.
* ''[[http://www.yolkfolk.com/dizzyage/ DizzyAGE]]'' is an editor for the ''VideoGame/{{Dizzy}}'' adventure games.
* [[http://www.engine001.com/ Engine 001]]. It exists, but someone else will have to add its features.
* [[http://www.game-editor.com Game Editor]] is an open-source, user-friendly tool for creating videogames for various Microsoft and Apple systems (Windows, Pocket PC, Windows Mobile, iPhone, iPad and Mac OS X; also compatible with Linux-based systems). It also has C-based scripting implemented for the more advanced programmers.
* The freeware program ''VideoGame/{{Fraxy}}'' mainly focuses on shmup bosses but does have capabilty to make much more complex senarios.
* [[http://flowlab.io Flowlab]] is a hybrid game maker/game engine that runs in your web browser and creates games that run on Flash, iPhones, and iPads.
* [[http://twinery.org/ Twine]] is a program for making ChooseYourOwnAdventure-style InteractiveFiction games. It's probably the simplest game maker in existence; as one review puts it, "if you can type words and occasionally put brackets around some of those words, you can make a Twine game." No coding skills necessary, although HTML/CSS knowledge will help with making more complex games.
* [[http://www.headcannon.com/HCGE/ HCGE (Headcannon Game Engine)]] is a game engine developed by Simon "Stealth" Thomley, and while it has many other uses, it is often used to near-perfectly replicate the game play engines used in ''VideoGame/MegaMan7'', as well as the ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'' series.
* ''VideoGame/SuperMarioMaker'' is Nintendo's ([[ROMHack official]]) response to this. The game allows anyone to create their own levels in the styles of the original ''Super Mario Bros.'', ''Super Mario Bros. 3'', ''Super Mario World'', and ''New Super Mario Bros. U''.
* ''VideoGame/ProjectSpark'' is a game maker for the Xbox family of systems and PC, allowing you to create a variety of games with its resources.
* Like idle games like ''VideoGame/CookieClicker'' and wish you can write something like that without going from ground up? Orteil has released the game engine as ''[[http://orteil.dashnet.org/experiments/idlegamemaker/help Idle Game Maker]]'', where you can now create games just like his. All you need to do is bring your own graphics and configuration script, and the engine does the rest.
* [[http://www.src-srpg.jpn.org/ SRC ~Simulation RPG Construction~]] is a C++-based program that lets the user create their own StrategyRPG games; it's clearly intended mainly for ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars''-style games[[note]]As seen by the fact that it has rules for mechs that imitate all kinds of ''SRW'' standards, one can code Seishin[=/=]Spirit Command-type "spells", and even the cut-in animations implemented later resemble the [[UsefulNotes/GameBoyAdvance GBA]] and [[UsefulNotes/NintendoDS DS]]-era games[[/note]], but is robust enough that one can still be used to create games more in line with ''VideoGame/FireEmblem'' and other traditional fantasy fare. Its biggest flaws are the fact that it's exclusively in Japanese, creating character stats can be pretty time-consuming, and it hasn't been updated since 2011.
* Cryptic Games has a program called the Foundry that is connected to both ''VideoGame/StarTrekOnline'' and ''VideoGame/{{Neverwinter}}'' which allows players to create their own missions for the game. The Foundry for ''STO'' is much more rudimentary than it is for ''Neverwinter'', but both of them are used for the same purpose.
* [[http://www.clickteam.com/ Clickteam]] has mad a number of Windows-based game maker programs since the mid-90's. The first version of this program was ''Klik and Play'', which allowed game makers to make simple one-panel stages. It was obviously meant for younger players, but much more advanced versions were released over the years - ''The Games Factory'', ''Click and Create/Multimedia Fusion Express'', ''Multimedia Fusion'' and it's current incarnation ''Clickteam Fusion 2.5''. A number of very popular indie games have been made via ''Clickteam Fusion 2.5'', including ''VideoGame/FreedomPlanet'', ''VideoGame/TheAngryVideoGameNerdAdventures'' and the ''Franchise/FiveNightsAtFreddys'' saga.
* [[http://www.lexaloffle.com/pico-8.php PICO-8]] is a "fantasy console" that allows one to write their own small {{Retraux}} style games in Lua. It comes with several size limitations, as well as a very small fixed colour palette to work with, but despite this, several impressive games and tech demos have been made. Games can be exported as a .PNG "cartridge", as [=HTML5=], or published on the official website, the latter two allowing them to be playable in a web browser.
* ''VideoGame/MegaMaker'' is a freeware game that allows players to make their own ''VideoGame/MegaManClassic'' levels.