Back when I first started making games, I trained myself in the basics of Game Maker by following the tutorials. I made "Catch the Clown" and moved on to the scrolling shooter demo "1945". The tutorial file provided all of the graphics needed to make a scrolling shooter. If you have GM8 (not sure about later versions), you can try it out yourself here. Press F1 in game to view the instructions.
Here is the modified version with my own special touches. I don't take credit for most of the sprites or the idea of the game, however I did design the power-up graphics, drop rate, function, and the ability to choose between shot styles (rapid shot and spread shot). I originally had a combined rapid/spread shot style with three levels of each shot, but the rate and spread of fire became so extreme that you could sit in one place and kill most enemy planes long before they reached half way across the screen! The solution was to reduce and separate the shots... which posed the new problem of including a weapon selection system. After making a switchable weapon system, I needed a way to display which shot was selected, so I added a display to the UI.
The first boss I designed was inspired by the submarine sprites included on the master sheet in the tutorial file. Figuring out how to make a bullet-hell like shot pattern was tricky, but the patterns I used are basic compared to the more complex (read: insanely difficult) patterns used in other games.
The second boss was an experiment to test the pathway system in Game Maker. The tutorial didn't make any use of the pathway system, so I played around with it until I found a movement pattern I liked... The second boss moves in a predictable pattern, but covers a large area with spread shots and makes attack runs firing targeted (but not homing) shots, much like the silver enemies.
This project was a fun learning experience, but I didn't choose to pursue GM8 any further in favor of learning Unity 3D. I am currently working through the Unity 3D training course provided by WalkerBoysStudio, as well as reading and following Unity 3D Game Development by Example by Ryan Creighton, and Challenges for Game Designers by Brenda Brathwaite and Ian Schreiber. As I reach new milestones, I will share them here.