Since you’re reading this article, the chances are that you’re interested in getting started with game development, and are looking for some reliable advice on where to start, or what game engine/game maker software to use first. Or, maybe you’ve already experimented with game design, but you’re still looking for an easier, faster way to make games, without having to become a computer programming genius in the meantime. Am I right? Well, you’re in luck my friend; this article has been written just for you.
When it comes to making games without code, the options are much, much better than what they were just a few years ago. When I first started studying game development, the only way to make a game for any platform or device was either to learn how to program yourself, or hire a programmer t work on your team. These days, there are quite a few easy to use game engines out there for artists, designers and people don’t how to code, or don’t like to. These game maker software programs (mostly for 2D games) have WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interfaces, allowing you to create games in a mostly visual and intuitive way. There are many of these out there, but some of the most popular and feature rich are Construct 2, Stencyl, GameMaker (sometimes called Game Maker) and GameSalad. In this article, we’re going to focus on just two of these: Stencyl and Construct 2. it is natural for you to ask: Which of these ‘game makers’ is better? Or to put it another way, which one suits my needs best? Read on to find out.
The first easy game creation tool in our list, and my personal favorite, is Stencyl. Stencyl is a free to download, free to try 2D game engine which allows you to develop your very own 2D games without having to type a single line of code! This amazing feat is made possible by Stencyl’s proprietary visual programming language, which is based around a drag and drop, block snapping interface (which was inspired by the MIT Scratch project originally, but which has grown far beyond its original roots). If you’d like to learn Stencyl, here is a link to my very popular Stencyl course for just $10 (Half Price).
• Free to Download and Use All Features: The basic version of Stencyl is free to download and use as long as you wish. Legally, you should purchase a license before you attempt to publish a Stencyl built game to Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android or HTML5. Obviously, the Stencyl developers have to make money somehow, so they can’t give everything away for free!
• Publish to Flash for Free: You can also publish Flash games on the web for free, though you need a license to embed SWFs, which is reasonable, since you’d only be doing that if your game had a sponsor, in which case, you’re making money off your Stencyl games.
• Drag and Drop Visual Programming: The drag-and-drop visual programming language, once learned, is very powerful. In fact, it is the most powerful visual programming language for game development that I have ever used in any software program available on the game development market.
• High Performance Cross-Platform Games: Stencyl makes cross-platform game development and publishing extremely quick and easy, when compared to a lot of other game engines. That is because Stencyl’s core engine is based on OpenFL, A Haxe library which emulates the flash API. Haxe is a cross-platform language, which compiles down to native code, so games that you build in Stencyl can be published on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and HTML5. The fact that it compiles to native code means that the games tend to run at pretty high FPS (frames per second).
• Annual Fee: The Stencyl license has a subscription model, which means that you pay once on a yearly basis (annually), if you want to continue to publish games with the software. In my opinion, it’s worth the money, but I thought I should mention this, as many of you will see this as a con when compared with the pricing model used by the likes of, say, Construct 2.
• Slightly Higher Initial learning Curve: Stencyl’s visual programming language is, by far, the most powerful out of all the game maker drag and drop logic building systems out there. But because of this, the learning curve is slightly higher than one some of the other options. But don’t let that dissuade you, it’s well worth the little bit of initial effort it takes to learn the ins and outs of building logic visually in Stencyl, and it will pay off dividends in the end, when you’re publishing all of those great cross-platform games you’ve built in Stencyl because you took a little time to learn the fundamental concepts.
• Relatively Cheap: Compared with some of the other options we’re discussing in this list, C2 is pretty cheap, with a once off fee of just $99.99 for a Personal License, or $329.99 for a Business License, if you earn over $5000 from your games in one fiscal year. You get free upgrades for life after that.
• Easiest Logic Builder: The event sheet system is probably easier to use for those who really don’t like programming, and want a super simple action-reaction logic building interface.
• Easy and Fast Importation: Sprite objects can just be dragged into the layout from a folder, which makes it super fast to import such assets into your Construct 2 game projects.
• Entirely HTML5 Based: Everything is made in HTML5. Even when you export a game for Windows or Mobile (Android or iOS), you’re really just putting the HTML5 code into a wrapper, it doesn’t convert it to native code like Stencyl does. This is only a con for some users, who create large games with a lot of complex graphics and game mechanics to compute. If you’re creating a simple game, it’s not even an issue! In fact, some advanced Construct users have created some pretty impressive looking games with really good performance. But as a rule of thumb, Construct 2 games won’t run as fast as Stencyl games.
• Simplicity of the Event Sheets: You may have noticed that I listed this as a pro as well as a con. That is because it is either one or the other, depending on your level of experience and ability in game development. If you’re trying to create a complex game, and you already have some game development experience behind you, with understanding of basic programming concepts, you’ll likely start to find the event sheets frustrating, hard to read and annoying to work with (when you have a lot of events, it can get into the hundreds, or even the thousands). But, they’re absolutely fantastic for beginners!
So there you have it, the pros and cons of Stencyl Vs Construct 2 as 2D game development solutions, or ‘game makers’. They’re both GREAT at what they do, but they’re also very different, as the I tried to make as clear as possible above. But ultimately, the best thing for you to do will be to download both, play around with them a bit with the above information in mind, and then make a decision about which one you want to focus your energy on and learn first. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from learning and using both to develop your own games, but I recommend that you start with just one of them, and progress on to the second one later, to avoid confusing at the start.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!