OK, it seems a lot of you are hitting my website because you searched for “GameSalad vs. Stencyl” or “iStencyl vs. GameSalad”. As the author of The Unofficial GameSalad Textbook, it seems that my answer to that challenge might be highly biased. Yet, an honest answer can be determined by my actions — or inaction. My GameSalad subscription has expired. I haven’t renewed. That’s because iStencyl gives me more development power at a cheaper price. Yet, what if you prefer simplicity over power? What works for me might not work for you. That’s why I decided to write a guide, to help you decide which drag-and-drop editor is best for you.
I used to be a huge fan of GameSalad. Yet, I grew weary of waiting for basic features. With a name like GameSalad, I’m surprised that full Game Center support is still lacking. Where are the achievements or networking support? That’s why I found StencylWorks alluring. A draggable block for Game Center achievements is right there. And while the networking aspects of Game Center are not yet supported in iStencyl, I could use HTTP requests or even add my own custom code.
However, after using StencylWorks for months, I still don’t have a completed game on my website or published game to the iOS app store. I’ve been struggling to recreate the games that I’ve made with GameSalad. While StencylWorks gives me more power, it comes with more responsibility. GameSalad aims to makes things really easy. With StencylWorks, it’s a lot easier to break a game.
As a general summary, GameSalad is great for beginners, while StencylWorks is for more advanced developers.
Both applications have their limitations and glitches. Both are fairly responsive at fixing stuff when it breaks. Yet, I have the impression that StencylWorks is moving at a faster development pace. GameSalad has a nice head start though. As an example, StencylWorks is still working on Android support and HTML5 support. GameSalad’s lead is being squandered, as Android and HTML5 publishing with GameSalad feels rather unfinished. In GameSalad, HTML5 exporting tethers your game to the gamesalad.com website. Exporting isn’t as liberal as Flash exporting is with StencylWorks. As for Android publishing, none of my GameSalad games have made the jump. A nasty sound glitch ruined the fun.
StencylWorks is superb at making Flash games. Yet, Flash is a dying medium. It doesn’t run on iOS and HTML5 is starting to chip away at the percentage of browsers with the Flash plugin. And unfortunately, I can’t use complex vector artwork. StencylWorks has a drawing feature for lines, circles and squares, but I can’t import the fancy stuff from Adobe Illustrator.
Right now, it looks like a race of potential. I think that StencylWorks is more likely to win that race, which is why I have been going through the trouble of learning the software. It’s been a grueling process, but that goes back to what I wrote at the beginning. My actions speak honesty. Unless GameSalad can get more competitive with pricing, and faster with the release of new features, StencylWorks is looking like the longterm winner here.