Picking a game making platform day 3: Stencyl

Introduction: as outlined in my initial blog post, I am going to attempt to create the same basic game - that of the first few minutes of Gradius for NES - using a number of different game making platforms, one per day during my week off. I'm using GitHub to store the different projects. See my progress in the repo.
NameStencyl v4.04
Web sitehttps://www.stencyl.com/
Alt web siten/a
LicenseSome kind of custom, free for individual/non commercial use
Git/GitHub integrationNo
My github for this projecthttps://github.com/tildesarecool/grad-dah-clone-stencyl-ed
Export format(s)Flash (couldn’t test) and HTML5 (requires java development tools)
meta data

I think I had heard of Stencyl but never tried to actually use it.

This one does not have an online version of the development environment but must be downloaded and installed on your platform of choice.

The initial impression of the application is one of…circa 1996 Mac OS. I can tell already this is not a native Windows application. I could tell that even before I noted a default save location embedded some place in the user profile/AppData folder (really?) for Android build files (maybe that’s the default for Android stuff, never tried it).

Update: found where it stores newly created games by default, no way to change so far as I can tell. Guess I was right about it. I can’t believe they’d dump created games into what is by default a hidden folder (AppData) buried in the user profile. It’s just kind of weird.

C:\Users\Tildes\AppData\Roaming\Stencyl\stencylworks\games

Actually I still don’t know how to save a project in a specific location in my file system so I can create a git repository to sync with GitHub.

But other than that it has a lot of the same things GDevelop has: easy asset import, an optional (I haven’t seen it specified yet) programming language, and things like “sprites” and “actors” to help conceptually.

Unlike GDevelop, it actually has a puzzle piece snap-together UI like Scratch and MakeCode.

Having gone through the initial “crash course” on the web site I was starting to like how the program works. And the accuracy of the walkthrough.

As I saw in the crash course it has a lot of the same things as GDevelop: behaviors, sound events, animations, scenes, keypress events. The whole thing. I think I got up and going much faster than with GDevelop but I’m still pretty sure GDevelop is worlds more powerful.

Then I got to the end of the crash course where it says “test your game” and…I can’t. I tried all the different platform choices but they all gave me one error or another. The HTML5 option says to import OGG sounds in addition to MP3. Really seems like that’s something that should have been noted in the walk through or just included with the “crash course” pack. I could either un-assign the event sounds or just make OGG versions of the MP3s that are included. But who has time for that? Well I do. But not right now.

Update: it wouldn't have been that hard to unassign the MP3s from the events and I actually found a web site that will take an uploaded MP3 and provide a download link to an OGG version of it. I did that for the three MP3 files and imported the OGG files and it ran after that as a preview (doesn't help for exporting).

Crash Course 2 is actually a space shooter, albeit a vertical one. I’ll probably just follow along with it and then if there’s time see if I can figure out how to rotate the whole “board” 90 degrees to the right. Probably have to rotate the enemies, player sprite and bullets as well. Or it may not make sense.

Couple things stood out to me when starting Crash Course 2: the assets pack zip file was flagged as possibly malicious by Windows 10 and this course probably hasn’t been updated since 2014. It’s fine though, as long as it works (there’s a message across the top of the screen saying they’re updating it as of “late 2021” so it looks like they’re aware).

At the end of the day

I think Stencyl has a lot of potential if the developers ever bother updating it to not bother with Flash as an option and maybe actually have some kind of option of where the user wants to save an actual game. And maybe update the UI so it’s 2005 XP instead of 1996 Mac OS.

I really can’t see myself using it for thousands of hours at a time on some kind of long term project.

I did actually find it simpler to get to the same place I achieved with GDevelop though. It does actually work really well. I don’t hate it as is. It’s just really out dated. And the two crash courses I went through work really well with very few out dated screenshots.

Upon finishing “Crash Course Part 2” the “Invaders” game, I had gotten all the functionality out of it the Crash Course had laid out except one minor detail: the “you win” screen. The course doesn’t include ship movements, the enemies firing back or multiple waves or anything. Just five static enemy ships that can be destroyed in three hits.

And in case it wasn’t clear: I can’t even share my result of this with anybody because for some strange reason exporting as “HTML 5” requires the JRE and the only other option is Adobe flash which isn’t even a thing any more (thank God). So have fun looking at my code on GitHub but it won’t do much.

2 thoughts on “Picking a game making platform day 3: Stencyl

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