YoYo Games’ first social game Grave Maker demonstrates popular Game Maker product’s versatility

Grave Maker is an upcoming social game for Facebook, iOS and Android, set to launch in February 2012 and currently undergoing beta testing on its own dedicated site. The game has been built entirely using YoYo Games’ own Game Maker product, and is intended at least in part as a demonstration of Game Maker’s application in making cross-platform social games as well as more traditional interactive entertainment.

The game casts players in the role of a graveyard keeper, and tasks them with defending the graveyard against frequent attacks from disgruntled locals. This is achieved by sending undead minions into battle to confront the locals, and gradually building up the graveyard with useful structures, crops and decorations.

Gameplay blends several popular social and casual game styles together into one coherent experience. Sending minions into battle is somewhat similar to the “tower defense” genre, where enemy forces approach the player’s base along a predetermined path, and the player must deploy defenses (in this case, minions) to deal with them as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, the building and crop harvesting is similar to city-building and farming games, with actions taking time to perform, and crops ripening and spoiling over time. In an interesting twist, the player acquires new troops with which to defend their graveyard by planting them just like normal crops. Finally, the combat involves elements of role-playing and strategy combat games, with both player minions and enemies having varying strength levels, and some working better than others against one another.

Since the game is currently limited to a ten-level beta demo on its own website, social and monetization features have not yet been implemented, nor can it be tracked via our traffic tracking application AppData. Planned social features include a “fear factor” rating for players’ graveyards, where friends will be able to compare what is effectively the “net worth” of their land of horrors. There will also be the facility for players to send gifts to one another.

Meanwhile, monetization will be accomplished through use of the game’s hard currency of skulls. The current version doesn’t give any specific indication of what players can expect to purchase using skulls, but the placeholder menu promises “special items, structures and creatures.”

When the game launches in February, however, it will be simultaneously released on Facebook, iOS and Android. This is made possible by the  HTML5 and cross-platform export support found in YoYo Games’ newest Game Maker product, Game Maker Studio, set to release shortly after Grave Maker’s launch. Game Maker Studio’s export pipeline means that the game can be made once and easily deployed to multiple platforms rather than having to go through a lengthy and complex porting process. The multiplatform support also allows one game account to be used across all three versions, meaning a game can be started on Facebook and later picked up on the go via an iOS or Android portable device.

“Grave Maker is a huge project for YoYo Games and in many ways, it represents the culmination of everything we’ve been working towards with the Game Maker package,” says Stuart Poole, head of publishing at YoYo Games. “Grave Maker is every bit a modern social game, but its cross-platform abilities and the power of GameMaker’s HTML5 support means that the player gets the same gameplay experience across all three platforms, with the game in play accessible from any of them, at any time.”