I’ve started reading and doing the tutorials on The Game Maker’s Apprentice, a book about the Game Maker program. I’ve only done the first chapter/game demo, but it’s good thus far.
One thing I liked about the book is that the initial demo project has nice music, a painted background, and high-quality sprites. It helps to avoid tutorial disappointment. I’ve had other books where I’ve finished a tutorial, and I have a weird-looking mockup with placeholder art and ugly lines and font. “It works, but nobody would actually play this.” The Game Maker demo, although equally buggy and unsatisfying, looks like an actual game.
I’ve enjoyed Game Maker when I’ve used it before, but I left it behind previous because it’s too self-contained; in order to play a Game Maker game, you have to download and run a file. The web players of Flash and Unity are more appealing in that sense, but I’m going back to Game Maker for a while, just because its basic level is truly programming-free, and makes sense.