Stencyl – More Tools For The Developer’s Toolbelt

Stencyl Icon on Mac DesktopThere’s something that I see a lot of in Game Development communities. It’s the US vs. THEM mentality. I don’t think it makes sense to get too attached to one platform. I learned that early on in life. In my pre-teen years, I made games using BASIC. It was lots of fun, but obviously the world has moved on. I worked hard trying to understand that programming language. But suddenly, it became obsolete. I had to learn new stuff to grow. That’s what I’m doing now. I’m learning about Stencyl.

To do that, I first had to get past the Coke vs. Pepsi mindset. Primarily, I use GameSalad for game development. But unfortunately, it’s still beta software. There are some features missing that would dramatically improve my games. Because it’s a closed system, I can’t make customizations. My development speed is capped by the speed of the GameSalad Creator. Even though I think that the software is amazing, my projects demand more power. Where would I get this power?

There’s Corona, which is also amazing software, but it’s hard. While GameSalad doesn’t require coding, Corona is the polar opposite. It’s all code. Neither program suits my development style. Since I have a background with design and development, hybrid software seems to be better suited for me… something with the drag-and-drop style of GameSalad, but also the ability to use code like Corona.

Apparently, that software is Stencyl. There is a code mode in Stencyl, but it also has a drag-and-drop editor — which is built off of MIT Scratch. At initial glance, it seems much harder than GameSalad’s “Behaviors” system. Having to learning a new system can be a serious roadblock in development. Yet, while examining these building blocks, I spotted something amazing…

Stencyl Building Blocks — HTTP Requests
The ability to receive and send data to a web server would allow me to build incredible online games. It's basically the key to bringing the Photics Arcade online!

I haven’t actually gotten a chance to test this, but I believe this could be the core of a unified gaming platform. With Stencyl, I might be able to build an online Arcade — with high scores, achievements, social networking and turn based multiplayer gaming. This system could be cross-platform — Android, iOS, Mac, PC. It could be like Apple’s Game Center, but for almost everyone!

Wow, that’s exciting to me! :)

Previously, I dismissed Stencyl. I thought that it was primarily for building Flash games. I’ve been trying to get away from Flash. And also, I was stuck in the US vs. THEM mindset. But yesterday, I learned that iOS support is on the way. That’s when I realized that I should give Stencyl a closer look.

So far, I’m impressed. The Stencyl website ( is certainly is clean, friendly and well integrated. I liked how the profiles, forums and homepage all worked together. That’s my goal for and my games. The Photics Arcade could be a place for all popular platforms — iOS, Android, Mac, PC — why should it matter which device you use? Why can’t all of these players play together?

More importantly… why should I have to choose a side and limit myself? That’s the main reason why I decided to check out Stencyl. I felt that I needed more tools. Better tools make for better games. A good carpenter doesn’t get mad at a hammer when he needs a screwdriver. It’s the same with development tools. GameSalad is great for beginners. I still think it’s one of the best ways to get started with iTunes App Store development. Corona is also powerful software. It’s great if you want your apps to be more efficient or if you’re looking to launch apps for Android and iOS.

Since I’m serious about development, I decided that I shouldn’t limit myself. Instead, I should have lots of tools at my disposal… and I should pick the best one for the job.

2 thoughts on “Stencyl – More Tools For The Developer’s Toolbelt”

  1. Thanks for the writeup! You’ve hit the nail on the head about tools. There’s no silver bullet (yet) in game creation. A good craftsman should continue honing his skills and staying up to date. The more you’re exposed to, the richer your core set of skills gets. You also get to meet and talk with a lot of great people along the way, something I had forgotten after sticking with the Java game scene for years.

    For our part, we’ll be looking at Android, HTML5 and other platform-ish additions once we’ve planted ourselves more firmly in iOS land.

  2. I did look at Stencyl couple month ago. But I think I’m stuck with my GS current project for a long time. That’s why I just don’t have time to learn Stencyl.

    Make a book, will buy it :)

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