ROUND 2: GameSalad vs Stencyl

Stencyl vs GameSalad - Round 2 - ThumbnailA little over three months ago, I posted an assessment of two powerful game creation applications. Which one would win in a fight? I didn’t really declare a winner, as choosing between Stencyl or GameSalad is essentially a matter of preference. Yet, things did not stand still. During the last three months, one of the competitors dramatically improved. That competitor is GameSalad. Is there a clear winner in the game development battle now?

Apparently, the “GameSalad vs Stencyl” issue is still a popular source of traffic to this website. Many new developers are looking to me to settle the debate. I can’t really answer the question, but I can post useful information. That’s why I’m posting this article. Things have changed. Here’s a list of improvements with GameSalad since the last article…

  • Game Center Achievements are now possible
  • The annual subscription dropped to $299
  • The Android sound bug was addressed
  • A Windows version of GameSalad is now in beta

Some major gripes that I had with GameSalad were resolved. So, did I ready my credit card for another year of action with GameSalad? Well… no… not yet anyway. That’s because things have changed with Stencyl too.

In the last three months, my understanding of Stencyl has improved dramatically. There’s really nothing technical that stops me from launching a completed Stencyl game. Unfortunately, there are other issues that I’m battling with…

  • Despair – Sure GameSalad and Stencyl have improved, but can I really compete with a flood of free games? Just recently, I downloaded “Got Cow?”, “Cut the Rope: Experiments” and “Mini Motor Racing” for free. If this is the kind of stuff being given away, I feel a little awkward charging 99¢ for my games.
  • Artwork – If I am going to compete with these free games, my games have to look a lot better. I just don’t have that level of content right now. I haven’t decided if I want to spend thousands of dollars on hiring an illustrator or investing weeks of time to create the art myself.

And yet, I still poked around with the latest Stencyl update. Version 2.1 makes it a lot easier to create scenes/levels. It resolves mostly tedious stuff, like being able to place actors outside of the scene or holding the shift key to snap actors to the grid. Little details like that make Stencyl more user friendly. That’s exactly what the software needs. Stencyl isn’t standing still. Something interesting is going on over there. Apparently, version 3.0 is going to be a major change. Things could be quite different mere months from now.

So, I still see it as the same stalemate as before… but GameSalad clearly won round 2. Major issues were resolved.

Yet, the ultimate issue with GameSalad still remains. I can’t customize my GameSalad games. With GameSalad, my games feel locked in and limited. With Stencyl, my projects feel more like my own. Stencyl has features like custom polygon collision shapes, Web Requests and Universal Binaries. The ability to add custom code removes boundaries. I like to see the code. Things feel less hidden with Stencyl. I feel less restricted. I can make my dreams a reality with Stencyl. For rebuilding the Photics Arcade, Stencyl is the clear choice. All I have to do is keep working with it. Although, that’s easier said than done.

Ironically, because these two applications both have their advantages and disadvantages, I have been incredibly less productive. I’m like a carpenter without my favorite hammer. Instead of just banging away, knocking down those nails, I find myself switching back-and-forth between the tools. I can’t just forget about GameSalad. The software is improving and my most successful project to date is The Unofficial GameSalad Textbook. The plan is to muscle through the Stencyl textbook and then go back to release the second edition of the GameSalad book.

The truth is that there’s money to be made with both applications.
That makes me the winner in this fight. :D