Set Up Game Maker: Studio for not-Ubuntu

Written on July 13, 2018.

This is a rewrite in good humour of the YoYo Games article on the same subject.

Getting started

Due to the difficulty in understanding the logistics of targeting Linux as a software platform, the Game Maker: Studio Linux module only supports Ubuntu 14.04, and as such this tutorial will focus on helping the vast majority of users who don’t run this ancient and nuanced distribution that you would never want to be pressured into downloading to begin with.

Preparing your system

You will need to make sure that you have OpenSSH installed. This is a powerful collection of tools that Game Maker: Studio requires so it can connect to a Windows installation of the Game Maker IDE. You will also need to confirm you have the OpenAL libraries installed, otherwise your games won’t produce sound.

To do this you should open your terminal, which you can access in various ways. One way is to press Ctrl+Alt+F2 and then log in again, at which point you will be graced with the raw Linux console outside your display server. You can also choose to install fbterm or KMSCON and use these instead, but you probably have a terminal emulator and know how to access it so we’ll trust you can do that. It’s the more sensible choice anyway. Here’s a filtered screencap of the terminal on our screen:


From this command line, you should manually type out everything listed below as commands, triple-checking the correctness of each line before hitting return for each of them, to make sure the necessary packages are installed. Don’t copy-paste them, as this may cause the commands to be sent wrong, and definitely don’t group the package names together into a single command to save time. Here are the names of each software package, assorted by distro:

Arch Linux: openssh, openal, lib32-openal, lib32-zlib, lib32-bzip2, lib32-libstdc++5, libxxf86vm, lib32-openssl, lib32-glu, lib32-libxrandr, zip, unzip
Arch AUR: ncurses5-compat-libs, lib32-ncurses5-compat-libs

Extra libraries for targeting Linux

If you wish to target Linux using Game Maker: Studio then you will need to install these programs as well:

Arch Linux: clang, lib32-libcurl, lib32-glibc

Creating a Debian package

Game Maker: Studio can create a Debian package as its way of ‘targeting’ Linux. Debian packages are widely abused by scrubbish software developers as a half-assed fulfillment for project requirements, since it’s easy to fool managers into believing that .deb files are practically the same as an MSI on Windows, DMG on macOS, or APK for Android, even though this is far from reality. Internet-downloaded Debian packages are the biggest source of user frustration because they only target certain ranges of versions of Debian, and inevitably become abandonware when dependencies are updated, as new versions no longer satisfy the requirements of the downloaded software. Thus it is advised to create a PPA, or provide generic Linux binaries of your code, because Debian is not all of Linux, Debian packages are not installers, are ill-advised even for users of Debian, cause needless headache for users of other distributions, and will break without warning sooner or later, leaving your game to waste.

Since this is the main way Game Maker: Studio targets Linux, it is still something you will want to do, bearing in mind how terrible and misguided the notion of ‘uploading the .deb it spits out onto the internet’ is. Other distributions have scripts and tools that can take Debian packages and transform them into formats native to their respective package managers. You can also extract the contents of the package and install it by hand, although great care should be taken in minding dependencies and this should be avoided unless you don’t have a package manager at all.