I recently downloaded Steam, and was going through the Indie games section - and then I wondered if there were any Gamemaker games that had got onto Steam, a few searches later, it appears not yet. Then I wonder, "Has anyone built something similar to Steam, but for Gamemaker?" - I couldn't find anything, so my first question is:
Has anyone built a Steam like service for Gamemaker games?
My main idea will be a website and then downloaded application for distributing. A developer, will upload their game to my server and add information on the game, then a link will be generated. This link is then posted as their Download link. Then its the users turn, they click the link, and will be offered to sign into the service, or get an instant Zip download. If they are signed into the service already, a small file (Like really small) file will be downloaded, this will automatically be opened by the Download Manager, then the contents read, this will literally be a game id, that is then sent off the server, and asked to download that game. You could also enter the game id inside the software.
You can get games also by using the website, to browse by Genre, Ratings, Content etc. and again, hitting download will give you a direct download option or a Download Manager option - so the site will also act as a file host rather than just a site for the Download Manager - meaning you only have to upload to one host rather than both for standard and DM choices.
Once a game is downloaded in the Download Manager, it can be run, rated, desktop short cuts created and other actions related to the downloads. When run from the download manager, the play time is clocked, so you can see how long users have been playing for. You can also rate the game from within the game, as well as chat to other users of that game.
I believe this will encourage more people to re-play Gamemaker games, if they were all in one place, I often find myself downloading some good games, but never play them again, I just forget about them. There are many WIP projects I like playing to, however, they are often difficult to track the progress of the game. With the download manager, a game update can be made, this will then appear as a popup to the users of your game, to tell them that there is an update - they hit update, and the new version will be downloaded. Release notes can be added to these updates.
I have no doubt in my web programming skills to pull this off, or the back end code for the download manager in Gamemaker, however, I may need some help on getting a smooth UX. I believe that the only extra work developers will have to do is to include a few scripts into their game, and to run a start-up, every few minutes and game-end. The start-up script will tell the server a user has started playing with the users id if they are playing through the download manager, then every few minutes an update to tell the server that user is still playing, after 5 minutes of not getting a request it will assume it is no longer being played, and the game-end script wasn't called: this script will just tell the server that the user has stopped playing. These scripts don't even have to be added.
I want to later expand this to be able to backup your saves online. Developers will write when they are uploading their game, the relative location of the save file, and then this can be uploaded online, this can be defined as automatically do this action every so often, remind me to do this action, or never backup by the users. This means, the user could go anywhere, and just log in with their account, this will download all their games and save files. This will work with standard Gamemaker saves, as well as files that contain game settings, a small .ini file with game settings is obviously preferred.
Is this service something that people would be interested in using? There are benefits I see with using the download manager for developers and users. Developers can see how many people have played their game and for how long, as well as get feedback quite easily, and there is little extra work compared to a normal file host. Users can keep track of their downloads, keep their saves, give easy feedback to a games developer, they will have to download the downloads manager and will be highly recommended to register an account.
There are a few other ideas that go well with this: paid distribution, the service could supply paid downloads, of course would be monitored to make sure only good quality games were approved, and a points system could also be added, where points can be earned across games to be used for buying stuff in other games, again this would be a monitored system so each game fairly distributes points (A developer would add a list of point payments that can come out of their game, and then I will approve that amount.)
So yeh, sorry for the long post, only need two answers: would you use it to distribute and would you use the program to play games? If your answer is No, please explain why - and please, don't turn this topic into what half of the distributing games topics turn into: a really big argument.
Edited by fullmedia, 09 October 2011 - 10:14 PM.