How to Make Simple Ragdoll Effects on Game Maker

Updated April 17, 2017

In video games, ragdoll effects are the visual representation of a character going limp and falling down. Popular in first-person shooters, ragdoll effects are usually used to signify that your character or an enemy character has died. The simplest ragdoll effect that can be designed in Game Maker is that of a stick figure bending over and falling down. Creating this effect is a simple process of making one object rotate and morph into another object.

Download and install the latest edition of Game Maker from Game Maker lite is available for free on the yoyo games website and has all the features that are necessary to create a simple ragdoll effect. If you want to create more elaborate ragdoll effects, you may upgrade to Game Maker pro for £16. Game Maker comes with its own install file and only takes up about 25 megabytes of hard drive space.

Open the "Create Sprite" window and draw a standing stick figure. To do this, click "Resources" on the toolbar on the Game Maker screen and select "Create Sprite" from the resources menu. This will bring up a window that asks you to select the size of your sprite. Pick 200 x 200 as a size (the default 32 x 32 size is too small to check whether the ragdoll effects are working) and use the line feature to draw a head, torso, arms and legs. The line feature in Game Maker is the same as in Microsoft paint; it allows you to draw lines by pointing your mouse.

Use the select feature (the dotted rectangle button) to select the character and copy it. Close your sprite editor. Then return to the resources tab to create a new sprite. Paste your old sprite into the new sprite editor. This time, however, click on animation on the sprite editor toolbar. Select rotate and set the rotation to 7 frames and 90 degrees.

Click on "Resources" and start a new sprite. This time, however, do not draw your character standing up. Instead, draw the character lying down and bent out of shape. This, again, can be done with the line tool. When you are done editing, save this sprite.

Return to the editor for the falling sprite. Click on animation, then morph, and when the file folder pops up, select the lying down bent out of shape sprite. Now, if you look at the preview of the animation, you will see that the falling sprite also morphs into a bent, out of shape position.

Click on "Create Object" from the "Resources" menu and open the second sprite you made, which should be the falling down, bending stick figure. Do not enter any actions or commands for this object; just save it.

Create a second object, this time using the stick figure that stands and stays put. For this object, select "Keystroke" from the events box and drag "Change Instance" into the "Action" box. In the change instance window, click on "Change Into" and then select the falling down animated sprite from the file folder. This tells the computer to replace the standing sprite with the animated falling sprite when you hit a key.

Select "Run" and then "Normal Mode" from the toolbar. This should generate a grey screen with your standing stick figure on it. Press a key. This should cause the stick figure to fall and bend over. You now have created your first ragdoll effect in Game Maker. If you want to make it so that your character falls over when it is hit, create a new object and under "Actions" set it to "Move Toward (whatever the name of your character object is)".

Things You'll Need

  • Game Maker 8
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About the Author

Based in St. John's, Canada, Andrew Button has been writing since 2008, covering politics, business and finance. He has contributed to newspapers and online magazines, including "The Evening Telegram" and Button is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Memorial University in St. John's.