Stencyl is a program that allows the creation of video games for multiple platforms, without the need of writing code.
The creation of video games is something that attracts many people, because creating a video game we can can tell an interactive story, create a challenge for the player, or simply make the user pass a good time. One of the basic requirements to create a video game, is to know how to code.
Stencyl is presented as a tool that allows the game development without the need of programming skills. To achive that, it makes use of graphics blocks representing the basic control structures (loops, conditions, events, etc). Thanks to that, we will be able to program the behavior of the game using only the mouse. Even so, we must know a few programming fundamentals to be able to understand how to operate the control blocks. While it is true that we will be able to start using the program without knowing anything about programming, having prior knowledge will help us greatly to understand the use of this program.
The program is divided into several sections belonging to the different elements that we will be able to create within the game. For example:
- Actor Types: Here we can create the characters of the game, the main character, as the enemies. Within this section we will be able to import or create the sprites that will make up the characters.
Also we will control the behavior of the characters when they are jumping, running, squatting, etc.
We will be able to add events that happens when a key is pressed, or they happen from time to time, etc.
We can also define the collision detection between the different characters, and also we can define the physics that affect the character we are creating.
- Background: Here we can define how it will be the background of the video game, and how the scroll will move, in vertical or horizontal. This is an essential step to creating a typical platform video game with horizontal scroll, or create a shoot 'em-up with vertical scroll.
- Scenes: Here we add and edit levels of the game. For example, if we're creating a 2D platforms game, we will be able to define where the platforms will be located, in which place there are obstacles, and where will be a hole in the ground. The creation/editing of maps is very simple, since we will use an interface very similar to a graphical editor.
- Sound: Here we can add the sounds that will be part of the game. We will be able to use MP3 and OGG files. The audio files that we import may be used as sound effects: when the character jumps, or falls on an enemy, or shoot, etc. We can also import a song and use it as background music.
- Tiles: In this screen we will be able to create the “images blocks” that we will use to create objects that appear in each of the levels of the game.
- Logic: In this section we can define the behavior of the characters (jumping, running, squatting, etc.), and the behavior of the scenes. In this part is where we program, and to do this we will be able to make use of the “graphics blocks”, that allow us to program without coding, or if we know programming, we can select the “Code Mode” option, where we can type the instructions that we want to give to the characters and scenarios of the game.
In the “StencylForge” option, located in the top menu of the program, we can download a large amount of items that have already been created, in such a way that we will be able to download images of characters, background images, sounds, behaviors, etc. This way we can create a game by reusing already existing elements, which is a great advantage when we are just beginning to using the program.
Learn how to manage Stencyl is somewhat complex, since there are many sections that we must master in order to start the creation of our own video games. It is for this reason that we should not to confuse the comfort of the creation and programming games using only using the mouse, with the ease to understand and master this software.
One of the outstanding features of the program is that it is free, and we will be able to use all its features without any limitation. The free version allows us to export our game to Flash format, which can be used on almost any browser. If we want to export our video game to desktop platforms (Windows, Linux and Mac), we will have to buy a license. If, in addition, if we want to export the game to mobile platforms iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android, we must acquire other license.
The program is available for download, and run in i>Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.