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GameMaker was originally designed as an easy-to-use tool to help introduce complete beginners to the concepts of game development. Getting started is very easy thanks to simple drag and drop command blocks anyone can use to quickly build games and prototype ideas without programming. Since it's original release GameMaker has seen many improvements under Mark Overmars, while YoYo Games primary focus has been on publishing games and porting them to other platforms, such as Mac and mobile devices.
One of GameMaker's greatest strengths is that unlike most other similar tools the program is not geared towards any one particular game genre, making it extremely flexible in allowing for the creation of many different types of games including shoot 'em ups, platformers, and puzzle games. There is also a built in scripting language called GML which allows advanced users even more control and flexibility.