flashgametutorialIf you have always imagined being able to create your own Flash games, you may be intimidated by the amount of programming that you think you need to know to be successful. If you are an experienced game developer who balks at the thought of using a drag-and-drop game engine to create your games, you may not be giving game engines such as Stencyl enough credit.

This article is designed for both beginners and experienced game developers. If you have no programming experience, you can use Stencyl to create awesome Flash games right now. Although no programming experience is required to create Flash games using Stencyl, it helps if you have a basic understanding of basic programming concepts such as looping and logic statements. You can learn more about these in Programming for Non-Programmers.

If you are an experienced developer, using a single code base which can be reused for multiple platforms can increase your current revenue and help you bring prototypes to potential investors much more rapidly than you could by hand coding a basic game. This isn’t to say that you should rely solely on Stencyl or another game engine for your designs, but it certainly makes it easier to get your basic game ideas into functional form.

What is Stencyl?

Stencyl is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for both Windows and OS X computers. Although it is designed with new programmers in mind, it also allows veteran game developers to create new game projects without spending a lot of time coding basic game functions.

Game assets can be created using Photoshop or by visiting StencylForge, an interactive marketplace where you can purchase assets from other game developers to use in your own Stencyl-based games. You can learn more about using game assets in Create Your First Computer Game with Stencyl.

Actionscript, the language used to create Flash games, is not required; however, as you become more accustomed to the Stencyl interface you may wish to learn more about Actionscript so you can modify existing templates and create entire games completely from scratch using the Stencyl platform. If you are not familiar with Actionscript or would simply like a refresher, check out Flash Actionscript 3.0.

The Benefits of Stencyl

There are quite a few benefits to using Stencyl as either a primary game development platform or as a complementary service to your existing game development strategy. Some of the most notable reasons why you should start using Stencyl include:

Game Studio in a Box – Stencyl is a self-proclaimed game studio in a box design that provides you with an attractive and intuitive toolset. You should expect to increase the speed of your workflow thanks to included tool such as Pencyl (an image editor) and tile creation and editing tools. This, of course, is in addition to the Stencyl core game development engine which makes drag-and-drop 2-D game creation extremely simple.

Community Help – StencylForge is the community-based toolbox full of sprites, game logic, and other game assets that can be used to create unique games. As your skills develop, you can contribute assets to StencylForge and generate a small revenue from other developers in addition to revenue your game may generate through advertising and in-app purchasing campaigns.

Drag & Drop – Stencyl prides itself on being a true drag-and-drop game development solution. Similar to building a structure out of Lego blocks, just about anyone can create functional game environments in no time using Stencyl. If you are an experienced developer, this may seem like “child’s play” to you, but think of how much faster you could create a basic demo of your game that could later be imported into a more traditional development environment.

Easy Testing – Stencyl provides on-screen emulators for rapid code testing cycles. Instead of having to compile and run the game which wastes time, you can test features of your game in real time without having to switch programs. Debugging features are also offered and provide good information about potential flaws in your game design.

Cross-platform – The games you create using Stencyl can be published to iOS, Flash, Windows, Mac, the Chrome Web Store, Android, and HTML5. This means that a single game can be experienced by users on seven different platforms; greatly increasing the exposure of your game and the potential revenue generating abilities of the game across these platforms.

Built-in Monetization – Although this is not unique to Stencyl, the development environment does include the ability to add advertising and in-app purchasing to your games. As consumers are becoming more accustomed to free games or freemium payment models, it only makes sense to include advertising in your games if you plan to profit from your game designs.

In addition to the benefits of using Stencyl specifically, you should also take into account the benefits of using any development environment that exports your games to multiple platforms easily. Some of these benefits include:

Marketing Revenue – Creating your game using Stencyl and distributing to multiple platforms simultaneously means you can save time and money marketing your new game. Traditionally, you would release your game on one platform and market it while you tested and debugged it for another platform. Stencyl’s cross-platform support means you can be working on your next game while running a single marketing campaign across multiple platforms.

Momentum – Since word-of-mouth advertising tends to be the most powerful, it’s reasonable to assume that if your game is doing well on one platform it should translate into downloads and success on other platforms as well.

Maintenance – Since you are relying on a single code base for your games, you will not have to waste time debugging the game on a single platform and can spend your time on other projects instead.

There are other benefits to using a single code base for multiple platforms. Some other game development environments such as the Corona SDK also offer built-in modules for social media sites such as Facebook. If you want to learn more about using Corona to create games, check out Mobile App Development Made Easy.

Stencyl is a powerful 2-D game development engine that can increase your workflow as an experienced game developer and allow you to create games quickly if you have no prior game development experience.

In either case, take your time becoming familiar with the Stencyl interface and you may very well realize the benefits of using a single code base across multiple platforms to create games for Flash, iOS, and Android and other popular platforms.

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