Setting Up For iOS

GameMaker Studio 2 Mobile comes with two export platforms: iOS and Android. In this article we give the required steps to get the iOS platform up and running. Note that we assume you already have an Apple Developer Account.

NOTE: If you are new to iOS development and/or do not have a Developer Account with Apple, then the following external link will take you to a tutorial that explains everything related to getting your developer licence and creating certifcates, etc.:


General Information

To target iOS from the IDE, you use the Target Manager, which is located in the top-right of the main GameMaker Studio 2 workspace:

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

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

On a PC, to compile your game using either the VM or YYC however, you will first need to set up your Devices so that GameMaker Studio 2 can communicate with your Mac build machine and transfer files to build for iOS.

NOTE: GameMaker Studio 2 requires a physical Mac computer to be able to test or compile your iOS projects, and although you can run macOS in a virtual machine, this is not supported and you should own, or have access to, a Mac computer (and preferably) an iOS device before targeting iOS with your games.


Set Up macOS

This article is targeted at users with the latest OS version for Mac, macOS Sierra. However, if you are using an older version of macOS (GameMaker Studio 2 supports from El Capitan onwards) then you may still be able to test and compile your games whilst Xcode remains supported on your OS, but some steps may be slightly different and you will only be able to test on iOS versions that are compatible with the version of XCode that works with the macOS being used. We recommend that you have the latest macOS and the latest Xcode to build games for iOS.

Before going any further, you will first need to download and install Xcode which is what GameMaker Studio 2 will use to build your projects. You can get the latest copy of Xcode here:


Set Up Xcode

Once you have downloaded and installed Xcode, you need to link it with your Apple Developer account so that it can use the required certificates to build your projects. For that you need to follow these steps:

  • Go to Xcode > Preferences.
  • At the top of the window, click the Accounts button.
  • In the lower-left corner, click the Add button (+) .
  • Choose Add Apple ID from the pop-up menu. 

In the dialog that appears, enter your Apple Developer ID and password, and click Sign In. You difefrent certificates will now be retrieved and you should verify that they are visible to Xcode by going to XcodePreferencesAccounts. Here you select the Apple ID to look at and then on the right of the window click the Team Name and then the button Show Details. This should show all the different signing identity certificates that you have:

You can close these windows now, as you are almost ready to start building projects for iOS, however we still need to set up GameMaker Studio 2.


Set Up GameMaker Studio 2's Devices

Back to GameMaker Studio 2 (either on Mac or PC), and in the Targets Window you can see that there is a section marked Devices with a small "pencil" icon beside it:

Clicking this will open up the Device Manager where you will be adding your iOS devices.


Set Up Your macOS Machine

(There is no need for most Mac IDE users to do this section, as GMS will create a Mac device for your local machine automatically. However, if you wish to target a different Mac as your build machine, then you should follow these steps also.)

If you are using GameMaker Studio 2 on a PC, you will first need to have the PC communicate with the Mac that you will be using to build the iOS projects. This is done from the Device Manager where you will have an extra device category for macOS (if you have both the Desktop and Mobile licence, then you should simply set up the Desktop macOS export before setting up iOS). Once you have correctly set up the macOS device, you will then be able to continue to set up the iOS devices..

So, in the Device Manager you should select the macOS platform and then click the Add New Device button to create a new Device and fill out the details (below you can see an example of what information is expected):

The top field, Display Name is simply a name that you can give to the device so that it is easy to identify in the devices list. After filling that out you need to give the Host Name - the IP address or Device Name of the Mac machine on the network that is to host the game - and the User Name and Password of the Mac user account that will be used for testing/creating your game. Finally, supply the Install Folder destination on the Mac system where the GameMaker Studio 2 files should be stored (default should be fine but you can change if required).

NOTE: To get the IP address of the Mac system you simply have to go to System Preferences then click on the Network icon and you can see the IP address there. If you wish to use an actual name to address the Mac, then this will require you to enable the option on the Mac as part of the network connection settings.

With that done you can then click the Test Connection button, and if you have installed all the required packages and the macOS machine is visible over the network then it should say "Connection Successful!":


Set Up Your iOS Devices

To set up the iOS devices you need to be in the Device Manager, where you should select the iOS platform from the list on the left. Here you can configure the iOS devices that can be targeted when testing your game project. Before continuing, you should ensure that any iOS devices you own are connected via cable to your Mac so that they can be correctly discovered.

The Device Manager for iOS shows two initial preferences, with the first permitting you to select from the different available macOS machines that have been added for building. On Mac this will show "Default" which is the computer running GameMaker Studio 2 and on PC you should select the Mac that was set up in previous step. The second option available is to Detect Devices. Clicking this will automatically populate the Device Manager with all the available iOS devices found on the target Mac:

Once your devices have been discovered, they will be listed and you can choose to rename the display name of each device (this will only affect what is shown in the target manager).

If no devices are found, but the connection test was previously successful, then this is likely an issue where Xcode has not been started on your Mac recently and so does not have its device list ready to send back to GMS2. Simply open Xcode on you Mac, wait a couple of minutes, and then try detecting devices again.

If a physical device connected to the Mac is still not being detected, check Xcode > Window on the menu bar > Devices. Ensure that the device is shown here (if it isn't, then something is wrong with the physical connection to the Mac) and that there isn't a spinning circle icon next to the device. If there is, Xcode is processing the device's contents and you will need to wait for this process to finish before your device will be sent back to GMS2 when you click the detect button.

Note that not only will any physical devices connected to the Mac be detected, but the different simulator devices in Xcode will also be listed, and you can target them like you can any physical device. Note that when targeting a simulated device, you likely want to launch the simulator first from the Device Manager before starting the build to test your project, as otherwise this will typically cause a lengthy build delay, which might in some cases cause the build to fail - especially if your Mac has low RAM.


GameMaker Studio 2 Preferences for iOS

With the devices now setup, you need to open the GameMaker Studio 2 Preferences (from the File menu at the top of the IDE) and under Platform Settings > iOS you need to specify your Team Identifier and the macOS Install Path (the default path should be fine, but you can change if required):

NOTE: You can find your Team ID from the "Membership" section of your Apple Developer Account.

The other option you have here is to Suppress build and run. If your Mac is freshly setup for development and so you don't have all your certificates and profiles downloaded already, it's very important that this is enabled the first time you try to test a project. We will further explain why in the next section of this article, but for now, make sure that it is checked too.


Testing Your Project

You are now ready to test your project. Regardless of whether you are using the VM or YYC output, you can simply click the "Play" button at the top of the IDE and the game will build and then be sent to Xcode.

If this is the first time you are testing your project then you should have enabled "Suppress build and run" in the iOS Preferences (see above) and so this initial test will simply send the game files over to Xcode, but will not start the compile or run the game on the target iOS device. We advise you do this because the project requires a Provisioning Profile, which you need to generate in Xcode, and without this you'll just get an unsatisfying build fail on your first attempt.

In Xcode on your Mac your project should open and the initial page look something like the image above. You can see that there are issues with the signing (flagged in the "Status" section), and we need to fix them by changing the Bundle Identifier.

Note that in our example we've used the GMS2 default of "" to guarantee this error, but you should already have changed this value inside GMS2 > Options > iOS to match the identifier you've set for this app on your iTunes Connect panel.

If you didn't set the bundle name in Options > iOS already, or you want to use different values temporarily, you should change the bundle identifier in Xcode (giving it a few seconds after each change to the name, so it can do its thing) until the status warnings go away and Xcode finishes creating a provisioning profile, as shown here:


If all has gone correctly your project should now run when you click Xcode's "play" button. You can now go back to GameMaker Studio and uncheck the "Suppress build and run" option in the preferences if you wish, as the project has a correct bundle ID and a profile has been made ready, so you should be able to run directly from GameMaker Studio 2. Remember to fix/update your iOS bundle name in GMS2 > Options > iOS accordingly, or you will get this error again next time!

Note that you can also test play your game using the "Debug" option at the top of the IDE. This will run the game and launch the debugger (this may require some extra permissions from the OS the first time you launch it, so accept any confirmation dialogues you may see). This module permits you to see in detail how your game is performing, as well as set breakpoints and check for issues or bugs. For more information, see the manual.



Have more questions? Submit a request


Article is closed for comments.