Setting Up For Android

GameMaker Studio 2 Mobile comes with three export platforms: Android, Amazon Fire and iOS. In this article we give the required steps to get the Android platform up and running using either the Mac or Windows GameMaker Studio 2 IDE.

Note that guide this covers Google Play and Amazon.


General Information

After installing and running GameMaker Studio 2 on your PC or Mac you can specifically target building for Android using the Target Manager window opened by clicking the target button in the top right of the main window:


For the Android target platform you can see that there are two output options:

  • VM - This will build your game using interpreted code. 
  • YYC - This will build your game using compiled native code.

The VM option will build your game and use interpreted code within a special YoYo Runner. The performance of this target is less optimised than YYC, but it is faster to compile and offers the ability to run in debug mode (when using YYC the debugger will not start). The YYC target however, gives a much greater optimisation (and corresponding performance boost) especially with logic-heavy games, but large projects can take some time to compile and you cannot use the debugger.

Regardless of the output that you select, you will need to add some extra build tools to your development computer before you can continue...


Required Downloads

To start working with your Android devices and GameMaker Studio 2 you will need to download and install the following development kits:

  • Android SDK
  • Android NDK
  • Java SE Development Kit (JDK)

These kits will be used when testing and building your project for Android. Note that the exact versions required for each (along with links for downloading them) can be found from the article:

Required SDKs

Note that whenever possible you should stick to the versions we specify in that FAQ, as newer versions may be unsupported. Google do update the SDK/NDK pretty frequently, so be careful just grabbing the latest stuff.


Set Up the Android SDK and NDK

When using GameMaker Studio 2 on a Windows PC, you have two options for installing the SDK components, either use Android Studio (recommended) or download the Command Line Tools. If you have an existing command line installation from using GM: S 1.4, then this is fine to carry on with - although GMS2 does currently target newer SDKs than 1.4 does, so there's maybe a bit of updating your SDK to be done.

On macOS you can only use Android Studio.

Here we outline both methods and you should only pick one for your Windows machine - don't install the tools twice.

Please also be aware that Google's path names can get very long, which can cause issues with Window's path length limit of 256 characters, so we would highly recommend installing as close to the root folder of your drive as possible - e.g., "C:\AndroidSDK" and "C:\AndroidNDK" if you're using the command line tools, or "C:\Android" if you're using Android Studio - in order to avoid errors later on, when building your projects.


Using Android Studio (Windows and Mac)

You can get Android Studio from the following link, and once downloaded you need to install it on your PC or Mac:

When installing Android Studio, you can choose either the Default install or the Custom install. We recommend the custom install as it gives you the option to shorten the path to the install folder, but also to get the Android NDK and setup your computer to use Virtual Devices as well (you need to select them from the custom install screen shown below):


If you choose the Default install, then you will need to later add the NDK if you wish to compile using the YYC runtime and you'll need to later add the Virtual Device components from the SDK Tools and AVD Manager if you wish to make use of the Android emulator.

Please note that the emulators are only compatible with some CPU architectures, so they may refuse to install, and emulators are never a replacement for real device testing anyway.

Regardless of the install type, once it has installed you need to run Android Studio and on the Splash Screen, go to the menu labelled "Configure", and in the drop-down menu select the SDK Manager.


This will open the following window where you can select and install the platform SDKs that you require (in general you simply need the latest SDK but you can install any, or all, of those on the list, as long as you ensure you use the correct SDK values later in GameMaker Studio 2):


You can see in the image above that we have also highlighted the Android SDK Location. You should take note of this as you'll need it later in the GameMaker Studio 2 Preferences. Once you have downloaded the required platform SDKs, you need to click on the SDK Tools tab and then download and install the following (select each of them from the list then click Apply to download them  - note that you may need to accept licence agreements before the download begins):


IMPORTANT! Make sure to take note of the Build Tools Version number as well that of the API installed, as you will need these later in GameMaker Studio 2.

Note that the above image shows the Android NDK selected too. This is required if you wish to use the YYC runtime to create your project APK, but for regular VM compilation this is not necessary (if you have performed a custom Android Studio install then this should already be added and installed).

You can also choose to install all the extras with Google in them now, although this is not essential for basic Android development. These additional components will be used for any of the Google Play services, or for Ads or In App Purchases, so if you require any of these features in your projects, it's best to install them sooner rather than later (you can see in the image above that the Google SDK components have been ticked too).

Amazon Support

If you wish to target the Amazon Fire device or use any of the Amazon services in your game, you will also need to download an additional set of files from the SDK Manager. However, since these are for Amazon and not Google, you need to do it from the SDK Update Sites tab. Here you need to click the (+) at the bottom and then enter the following in the window that opens:

Name the entry something like "Amazon Fire" then click "Okay" and then in Android Studio click Apply. The SDK Update Sites tab should now look like this:


If you go back to the SDK Tools tab, you will now have new entries for Amazon Fire, and you should select these then click Apply to install the components:


With that done, you are now ready to go and set up your project in GameMaker Studio 2.


Using Command Line Tools (Windows Only)

If you do not wish to download Android Studio and would prefer to simply get the SDK on its own, then you can get it from the Android Studio page, scrolling down to the section titled "Get just the command line tools":


IMPORTANT! The command line tools are now deprecated by Google and if you don't already have a command line tools installation we recommend that you use Android Studio for all your Android SDK requirements going forward.

The Android SDK command line tools will download as a ZIP file and you should create a folder called "Android SDK" and then unzip the contents of the ZIP to that folder (so you have something like C:\Android SDK\Tools for the path). 

Once you have unzipped the contents of the Android SDK tools, you need to add the required libraries to the SDK from the SDK Manager. This can be done from the command line (see here for details) or you can run the android.bat file in the Tools directory to open a command window and run the SDK Manager UI (the rest of this article will refer to this).

The SDK Manager will look like this: 


To start with you can leave the Tools folder "as is" (it should have selected Android SDK Tools, Build Tools and Platform Tools), and also leave the default Android API that is to be installed (it will have checked the most up-to-date version, but you can run the SDK Manager again later and add further APIs as required). However before installing these you should also check a few things in the Extras folder, namely:

  • Android Support Repository
  • All Extras with "Google" in the title (Google Play Services, Google Play Billing Library, Google USB Driver, etc... see the image below for an example setup)

These are not all going to be used for a simple game on Android (except the Support Library, which is essential), but if you wish to include any type of publicity or online services then you will need them, so it's best to have them installed now to save time later.


Note that while installing the packages you may need to accept certain licence agreements and the SDK Manager may require you to restart (in which case simply close the SDK Manager and run the Android.bat file then continue).

IMPORTANT! Make sure to take note of the Build Tools Rev. (Version) number as well that of the API installed, as you will need these later in GameMaker Studio 2.

Amazon Support

If you wish to target the Amazon Fire device or use any of the Amazon services in your game, you will also need to download an additional set of file from the SDK Manager. However, since these are for Amazon and not Google, you need to do it from the Add On Sites window, which you open from the Tools menu of the SDK Manager:


In the Addons window you need to go to the tab "User Defined Sites", then click "New" and give the following URL when prompted:

The Addons window will now look like this:


When you click the "Close" button, the additional Amazon files will be downloaded by the SDK Manager for you.

NDK Installation

The SDK command line tools do not support installing the Android NDK also, so you will need to go here and download the appropriate file:

Once you have downloaded the Android NDK you will need to unzip the contents of the ZIP file to a suitable location (for example C:/Android NDK/). It does not require any further setup and is ready for use.

Java JDK

Once you have the Android SDK and NDK installed, you may then have to download and install the Java JDK. By default, Android Studio comes with its own version of the JDK, which should be fine to use, but if you are using the Command Line Tools or wish to use a specific JDK version then you will need to install it separately.

You can get the JDK for both Windows and Mac from the following link:

When installing a stand-alone JDK, make sure to get the one specified in the Required SDKs document.

Please note: you may be required to create an Oracle Account prior to downloading the JDK.

Once you have installed the JDK and its components and have the Android SDK and NDK set up, you can continue with GameMaker Studio 2...


Set Up GMS2's Preferences

When you go back to GameMaker Studio 2 after downloading and installing Android Studio and all the required SDK, NDK and JDK files, the first thing you need to do before creating a project is to set up the Android Platform Preferences (File > Preferences > Platform Settings > Android):


Here you need to link each of the downloaded SDKs with GameMaker Studio so that you can test and build your games. Once you have supplied the required paths for the SDK, NDK (if you chose to install this) and JDK they should show a green "Found" label (note that you can find the Android Studio paths to each of these components from the FileProject Structure window in Android Studio itself).

Now you can continue to create your Keystore file:


The KeyStore is a file that will be used to "sign" all your Android apps so please fill in all the details correctly and then back this file up! We recommend you create a single keystore file for all your projects and not separate ones for each project.

If you lose your keystore or forget the alias/password details you will not be able to perform updates on Google Play or Amazon apps that have already been published!

When creating a new keystore file, you are required to give the following details:

  • File Name - this is the filename of the KeyStore (NOTE: Not your name or the company name!), and once it has been created this field will show the full path to it.
  • Password - your security password for the KeyStore file which must be at least six characters long.
  • Alias - this is the name of the "user" for this keystore and can differ from the Name field above.

The right-hand side is optional and has no relation inside GameMaker Studio 2, but we recommend you fill them in anyway.

  • Common Name - this would normally be your name
  • Organisational Unit - the department within the company that you are in
  • Organisation - the name of your company
  • Location - the name of the town or city where you are based
  • Country - the two letter code for the country where you are based

Note that all names must have only letters, numbers and spaces - no other "special" characters!

Once this information is filled in and you are happy with it, press the button marked "Generate Keystore" for GameMaker Studio 2 to create the necessary KeyStore file. This may take a moment, but once it is done it normally will not need to be changed again.

If you are using an existing Keystore file, then simply point GameMaker Studio 2 to the file and fill in the details exactly as they were when you first generated it. Do not hit the Generate Keystore button, instead click Apply.

Just to repeat what was said before, as it's very important: please backup your keystore file somewhere safe and make sure to remember your details - we recommend taking a screenshot with the passwords showing and then backng this image file up along with your keystore. You can find the generated keystore at the path you have in the top field of this preferences form.

Once everything is setup here you can continue to add one or more devices for testing.

Set Up Android Devices

Back to GameMaker Studio 2 and in Target Manager you can see that there is a section marked Devices with a small "pencil" icon beside it:


Clicking this will open up the Android Device Manager where you can add one or more Android devices to target when running and building your projects for the Android platform. For GameMaker Studio 2 to detect your device it must first have been plugged into the the PC or Mac using a USB cable, and must have Developer Mode and USB Debugging enabled. On Mac you will also need to have installed the Android File Transfer App.

Once the device is connected, clicking Detect Device should automatically detect it and add it to the list of connected devices:


If you have issues with GameMaker Studio 2 finding the device or have any other connection issues, please see the article on Android Troubleshooting.

With that done you can then click the Test Connection button, and if the Android device is visible and correctly connected via USB then it should say "Connection Successful!":


Note that there is also an option to use an Android Virtual Device (AVD) for those of you without test devices, or that want to test on a wider range of devices. You can find out more about setting up AVDs on both PC and Mac using Android Studio from the following article:

Setting Up Android Virtual Devices

If you are using the Command Line Tools on PC, then you can click the Start AVD Manager button here to open the AVD Manager where you can select an AVD (or create a new one) for testing.

Once you have set up an AVD you need to start the emulation before going back to GameMaker Studio 2 and clicking the Detect Devices button. A list of detected emulated devices will be shown and you can proceed to use them as targets for compiling (note that if you do not start the emulator before testing your project then the device will not be found and compilation will fail). If you want to check that the devices have been detected and can be used before trying to compile you can click the Test Device button for each of the discovered devices.


Set Up Game Options

Unlike some other target platforms, before you can test your game you need to set some things in the Android Game Options, namely the initial Build Settings:


GameMaker Studio 2 gives you the option to selectively target specific versions of Android, mainly due to the fragmented nature of the Android OS on devices and the fact that certain extensions require different SDK or build tools. For a "vanilla" project (i.e., one that has no extensions or extra requirements) you would normally set these to the most up-to-date versions of everything.

You first need to give the Build Tools version, which can be found from the SDK Tools section of the SDK Manager in Android Studio, although note that you will need to check the "Package Details" to see it:


Or if you are using the command line tools, inside Android SDK Manager:Android_BuildTools_Version.png

You also need to get the Support Library to use recent versions of the SDK Manager (both the Android Studio one and the Command Line Tools) no longer list these separately and instead they are included as part of the Support Repository, so to target the correct one simply use the initial Build Tools version number (for example, in the above image the build tools are 25.0.2, so the support library would be 25.0.0).

Next you have to set the Target, Minimum and Compile SDK versions. The Compile SDK version is the version of the API that the project is compiled against. This means you can use Android API features included in that version of the API. If you try and use API 16 features - for example - but set Compile SDK 15, then you will get a compilation error. If you set the Compile SDK to 16 then you can still run the app on an API 15 device (as well as all other previous versions too).

The Target SDK, however, has nothing to do with how your app is compiled or what APIs you can utilize. The Target SDK indicates that you have tested your app on (up to and including) the version you specify. This is simply to give the Android OS an idea of how it should handle your app in terms of OS features. For all practical purposes, most apps are going to want to set Target SDK to the latest released version of the API (as used by the Compile SDK setting). This will ensure your app looks as good as possible on the most recent Android devices.

The Minimum SDK version is the minimum API level that will run your project. This is set to 9 by default, and in general this will be fine, but if you add extensions then they may require a higher minimum API level.

IMPORTANT! If you are using the AVD and an emulated device then you must open the Architectures section and check the x86 target, otherwise the project will not compile and run.

You don't need to give any further information here if you are just testing your projects, and so you can close the Game Options and continue.

Testing On An Android Device

Once the above sections are completed and you have a project ready for testing, you can go to Target Manager and select the target, output, and device options that you want to use:


You can then click the "Play" button in the GameMaker Studio IDE to compile the project and push it to your test device.

Remember: If you are want to test on an emulated device via AVD, you must have started the AVD manager from the Device Manager (for the Command Line Tools on PC) or from an Android Studio project (PC and Mac), and have already started the emulated device there.

Note that the first time you try to test an Android game, Google's compile tools may need to connect to the internet to download additional files and tools, which in turn may prompt a firewall alert - if this happens you should allow the connection otherwise the build will fail. This is normal and should only happen the first time you build using those SDK values. Be aware that Gradle (the Google tool in question) will occsasionally check for its own updates, though, if you are online at the time.

If all has gone well, you should see your game project running on your target device.

Once you have finished testing and are happy with the project, then you'll want to look at creating a final executable package and publishing it to a store. This process is explained in the following article:


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