Leaning curve in Stencyl could be better

Almakos

  • Posts: 632
I find it very difficult to learn Stencyl at the moment.
There are some reasons to that:
no books
not so many decent video or written tutorials

But the weakest part (as for me) is that behaviors which come with Stencyl or can be obtained via forge are overcomplicated sometimes and not very suitable for a newbie to study.
Take pre-shipped 4 way movement behavior for example.
It doesn't look too engaging (for me at least) to deal with.

What I suggest is to create simple and easy to study behaviors for beginners. Let them be not very effective or right way of doing things, but they should be easy to understand and play with. And goes without saying they should be well commented.
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Joe

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Have you checked out Stencylpedia -- in particular, Crash Course 2 and Abigayl's tutorials?

Almakos

  • Posts: 632
sure.
those are exactly what I am talking about. wish there was a pre-shipped learners pack like those.

when I am making game and know close to nothing about proper ways of doing beautiful and correct code flow, I will try to assemble what I want from what I can find on forge or pre-shipped.
When I need to change anything, I will probably mess up existing behavior or won't find what I am looking for due to complexity of behaviors I've got.

If I was dealing with simplified behaviors like in second crash course, that would be much easier for me to get result I want and understand how I achieved that.

Right now I am stuck between being unable to assemble what I want with behaviors I can download and being unable to alter them or create my own by example. (if that makes any sense)
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Joe

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The purpose of the tutorials is to teach you the basics. The Behaviors we bundle with Stencyl are less about teaching you and more about helping you get things done quickly by not having to reinvent the wheel.

The best advice I can give is to use the pre-shipped Behaviors when necessary, but you'll be doing yourself a favor in the long run by spending some time inside Stencylpedia to really get a handle on writing your own Behaviors from scratch.

captaincomic

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  • Posts: 6108
Of course if you want to modify a pre-shipped behavior, or just wonder how it works, feel free to ask. ;)
For example the 4 Way Movement behavior is maybe not as complicated as it looks, although it does contain a few tricks.

Almakos

  • Posts: 632
I absolutely agree with your point.
Just I find myself analyzing examples which can be obtained through forge quite often.
I go there when Stencylpedia doesn't give what I need (or at least I think so).
I am browsing for something similar to what I need, but what have already been done by somebody, trying to understand why and how it was done. And sometimes blocks are too complicated to observe, which is expected.
Would be really nice to have some simple examples which I could study from. Not complicated approaches, just to demonstrate in easy way what game consists of.

I think those could be a valuable addition to educational resources for stencyl.

I do understand that those could already exist somewhere in some similar form, but I am still about to find them.
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Almakos

  • Posts: 632
Of course if you want to modify a pre-shipped behavior, or just wonder how it works, feel free to ask. ;)
For example the 4 Way Movement behavior is maybe not as complicated as it looks, although it does contain a few tricks.
I would say, that at first it was really easy for me to understand what is going about in some tutorials on youtube or here at Stencylpedia.
But when I tried to create some stuff, which is not discussed in those, I found myself almost helpless, 'cause I was unable to understand why some things are done the way they are done. When I checked some games at forge I got frustrated, because I almost didn't understood what is going on there. And when I checked pre-shipped behaviors, they seemed too inflexible at that moment to play with and adjust to myself, because I often just broke behavior and had to revert to original.

I just wish there were some really simple and tidy examples for dumb users as myself to explore and study from =)
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Photics

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  • Posts: 718
There are some reasons to that:
no books
not so many decent video or written tutorials

I feel bad. I should work faster.  ;D
Michael Garofalohttp://photics.com – Author of The Interactive Stencyl Textbook 8)

captaincomic

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  • Posts: 6108
I would say, that at first it was really easy for me to understand what is going about in some tutorials on youtube or here at Stencylpedia.
But when I tried to create some stuff, which is not discussed in those, I found myself almost helpless, 'cause I was unable to understand why some things are done the way they are done. When I checked some games at forge I got frustrated, because I almost didn't understood what is going on there. And when I checked pre-shipped behaviors, they seemed too inflexible at that moment to play with and adjust to myself, because I often just broke behavior and had to revert to original.

I just wish there were some really simple and tidy examples for dumb users as myself to explore and study from =)
Understanding someone else's code is often difficult. If I open a random game from StencylForge it would also take me a while to understand it (except if it only used behaviors I  already knew).
Maybe at some point we can add comments to the pre-shipped behavior to make them a better learning resource.

Almakos

  • Posts: 632
I feel bad. I should work faster.  ;D
Good luck with your textbook!

Understanding someone else's code is often difficult.
unless it was created with educational purpose in mind

Maybe at some point we can add comments to the pre-shipped behavior to make them a better learning resource.
That would definitely help. As well as commented example games.
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GregAnims

  • Posts: 305
we can add comments to the pre-shipped behavior to make them a better learning resource.

This is definitely what is needed.

irock

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I never looked at other behaviors when learning design mode. Doing that just confused me. I found that just experimenting and reading documentation was the best way to go, and the documentation back when I started using Stencyl wasn't anywhere near what it is today. :)

Jon

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Usability of design mode is something I want to revisit later this year. There are a lot of interesting directions this can be taken in (and some very good suggestions in the past that I'd love to fulfill), but the current priority is on making the base technology rock solid before I look at anything new at the toolset level.

That all being said, reading other people's code, even well-written code can be a challenge. People think and build things differently, and what may have made sense to the builder could make no sense at all to you. Another thing is that pre-shipped behaviors are going to be significantly more difficult to read than regular ones, because they're built to be generic and flexible, and that makes for logic that is a lot more difficult to follow.

Almakos

  • Posts: 632
Simple example of troubles I meet while learning.

I needed to detect collision and spawn actor in those coordinates. I decided to go with sending a message, when collision happens. How do I do that? It is not in the crash course, on Stencylpedia I found only short description of term message
Quote
Message

An individual “phrase” sent between Behaviors is called a Message. Note that for Messages to be received properly, the Message must be spelled in the When This Hears Event Block EXACTLY as it appears in the messaging Action Block.
Which didn't explain to me what to do or how to create them. So as a result I ended up at the forum creating new topic.
I've got a response, but when I did as suggested, it still didn't work. I felt a bit uncomfortable to ask further, because I felt I messed up somewhere else, but was unsure.
So I went through several forge games and checked whether any of them had what I needed and at last found a solution.
It happened that I had a hidden bug in other place and forum suggestion was right from the beginning.
As a result I've spent quite a lot of time dealing with rather simple task. And I would be unable to solve it at all if I was not online.

Situations like that are indeed educational, just it is a long way of learning things.
I like small challenges like that, but for some people they can turn into frustration.

If documentation cannot cover everything (or I am simply too dumb to find the answer), rescue can come from examples. And if those examples are created by pro's for newbies like myself that would be an awesome help.
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captaincomic

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  • Posts: 6108
we can add comments to the pre-shipped behavior to make them a better learning resource.

This is definitely what is needed.
When 3.0 comes out we will have to rewrite some of the pre-shipped behaviors, that might be a good time to start adding comments.

... Another thing is that pre-shipped behaviors are going to be significantly more difficult to read than regular ones, because they're built to be generic and flexible, and that makes for logic that is a lot more difficult to follow.
This. :)
If in your game, you want to fire bullets to the right when you press the mouse, you can write this with very few blocks.
The Fire Bullet behavior on the other hand can fire when the mouse or a key is pressed, or when a custom event is triggered. It creates the bullet at an offset from the center of the actor in the direction the actor is facing plus some angle or in an absolute direction. It has options for ammunition and to limit the number of bullets that can be on the screen at the same time, and an option to create normal or recycled actors.
All this options make it rather complex and of course harder to understand.

I've got a response, but when I did as suggested, it still didn't work. I felt a bit uncomfortable to ask further, because I felt I messed up somewhere else, but was unsure.
If you're unsure, just ask again, really, there's nothing wrong with that.