[NOW AVAILABLE!] The Interactive Stencyl Textbook

Photics

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Of course there are other, better know DD eCarts: e-junkie, payloadz, shopify and others. Lulu just reduced their cut to 10% for a limited time:
http://www.lulu.com/blog/2011/08/23/earn-more-90-revenue-for-a-limited-time/

I already have an account with Lulu. It is definitely an option for a printed book. But for digital files, I feel like I should have it running at my site. That's why I kinda like getdpd, because it integrates with WordPress. So, it's more seamless. I'm not sure how it would work with updates of the book, so it might not be a solution.

As for payloadz, shopify and others like it...
http://ecommerce-software-review.toptenreviews.com/ppc-index.html?cmpid=323517
...I've looked at a lot of them and I'm not too happy with them.

Previously, I was using Google Checkout... with just a buy-it button. I would manually process the orders and create download accounts. It was a little tedious and slow, but it was very effective. A lot of these services / shopping carts are simply overkill for what I'm trying to set up. And with all the great features I've seen, something as standard as sales tax calculation isn't always as robust as it should be.
Michael Garofalohttp://photics.com – Author of The Interactive Stencyl Textbook 8)

Photics

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  • Posts: 719
Hi everyone! Here's an update on the progress of the Textbook...

I think I might have resolved the e-commerce issue. I'm currently trying out a service called FastSpring. Basically, they handle all the pesky stuff... like ordering, delivery, and sales tax... while I can focus on content creation. I'm testing them out now with my sound effects...

http://photics.com/products/sound-effects-volume-1

If things smoothly things go with this test, then I'll likely use them for sales/distribution of the textbook. What's nice is that the PDF can be personalized to the customer, to discourage illegal copying. Also, PDF is a fairly ubiquitous format, which is better for this community. Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android... those operating systems don't really have a problem with reading PDFs.

There are some issues though. It's looking like the book won't have free updates. (If an updated version is needed, I might release a newer edition of the book with each major update of the software... 2.x... 3.x... etc.) That means the final version has to be pretty solid. It also means that the release date of the book is probably going to be a while from now.

Also, a new project has bumped this book in priority. My development skills are needed elsewhere right now. When things cool down with that, I can refocus on this project.

It's not all bad news. There's one last bit of good news. If the e-commerce test works out, the book will likely cost about $5 less than the app version of my other textbook. It's looking like $19.98 for the PDF — which is the year that I started Photics.

The goal is to build a comprehensive book... something that can educate a beginner, but also be a handy resource in general. Additionally, it should be a book that educators would respect as a teaching aid. I'm still quite excited and optimistic about this project.

« Last Edit: October 30, 2011, 05:03:49 am by Photics »
Michael Garofalohttp://photics.com – Author of The Interactive Stencyl Textbook 8)

Rob

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That's great. Really looking forward to that.

I think you'll have your hands full with all the new features and enhancements going into the toolset lately.

GOLDEN RULE #1 : SAVE YOUR GAMES FREQUENTLY
IOS/XCODE DEBUGGING
http://www.stencyl.com/help/view/xcode-ios-troubleshoot/
WATCH STENCYLWORKS VIDEO TUTORIAL BY SUNRISEKINGDOM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDfRfjzr9j4&feature=channel_video_title

Photics

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  • Posts: 719
OK, here's an update on the progress of this project...

Recently, things have slowed down with my Web Development stuff. It's still on-going, but I've turned a major corner. I've had more time to focus on StencylWorks. There were many moments where I felt like giving up on the project. I'm not sure if I have enough time to complete this. Yet, I've managed to resist major distractions.

I could have easily wasted my free time playing Star Wars: The Old Republic.  :D

Last week, I started fighting with iStencyl. I would hit these minor stumbling blocks and feel frustrated. I think part of the problem is that I'm so used to GameSalad. Some things with iStencyl are harder to do. Others are quite easy.

Once I got things going, I was surprised at how easy it was to set up my testing device. I didn't have to waste time with a viewer application. (Although, I wasn't able to get my Second Generation iPod Touch running. I'm not sure why.)

A lot of my games use effects that involve particles… and that was the turning point. I managed to create particle effects with iStencyl. I figured that Arcading is a great game to port over. It has lots of different techniques that are great examples for a textbook. But to port the game, I'd have to figure out how to create things like rocket thrusters and starfields/warpfields. With just some behaviors and a single actor, I was able to have 50 scrolling/rotating stars on my iPhone 4... at 60 FPS.

So, even though I don't know if I'm going to complete the textbook project, I haven't stopped working on it.
Michael Garofalohttp://photics.com – Author of The Interactive Stencyl Textbook 8)

Rob

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  • Posts: 1268
Happy new year. That's a great update.

If you ever have a chance to finish the textbook, I suggest that to come with sw 2.0 writeups with event system. I'll let others chime in on that.

It's also nice to see quite a few experienced GS users like yourself giving us feedback in terms of workflow and features.

In setting up the device for istencyl, I was a little worried early on how easy the process for any new users might be. But, looking at post from several non-pro users (who have never used istencyl or GS before) and seeing that they can get their game (or stencyl sample game) to run on device
quickly, is a good sign.

BTW, we keep talking about mobile games here. With the quality of games I've seen you made, have you ever thought of doing a flash game with sponsorship. Someone just got a lucrative deal here being sponsored by armor games. HTML5 may get hotter down the line but quality flash game can still net you a ton today.
GOLDEN RULE #1 : SAVE YOUR GAMES FREQUENTLY
IOS/XCODE DEBUGGING
http://www.stencyl.com/help/view/xcode-ios-troubleshoot/
WATCH STENCYLWORKS VIDEO TUTORIAL BY SUNRISEKINGDOM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDfRfjzr9j4&feature=channel_video_title

Photics

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  • Posts: 719
BTW, we keep talking about mobile games here. With the quality of games I've seen you made, have you ever thought of doing a flash game with sponsorship. Someone just got a lucrative deal here being sponsored by armor games. HTML5 may get hotter down the line but quality flash game can still net you a ton today.

I'm not inherently opposed to the idea, but it hasn't come up. I'm still planning on launching an online arcade at my website... and StencylWorks is great software to make that happen. Many years ago, I had a game creation competition...

http://photics.com/photics-guild-wars-edition-issue-26

...and I might bring back the competition to help populate the Photics arcade. I've been thinking about the creation of an Arcade Plugin for WordPress (or module for Drupal) where high scores could be kept. (Stencyl seems to have post/get features, so it might work.) If that works out, I could build a new market for flash/html5 games.

Heh... I have lots of great ideas, but not enough free time to make it happen. Maybe I should start a project on sf.net — or even kickstarter — to get a robust WordPress Arcade module running.

I think that's probably why I haven't looked into selling my games. One of the long-term plans for my site is to add a place to play.
Michael Garofalohttp://photics.com – Author of The Interactive Stencyl Textbook 8)

Rob

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Heh... I have lots of great ideas, but not enough free time to make it happen.

How true is that for a lot of us. ;D These are great times for mobile/flash/html5 publishing. You can also build mobile and web version of a game and cross promote each other. It's a matter of ideas, prioritization, and execution.
GOLDEN RULE #1 : SAVE YOUR GAMES FREQUENTLY
IOS/XCODE DEBUGGING
http://www.stencyl.com/help/view/xcode-ios-troubleshoot/
WATCH STENCYLWORKS VIDEO TUTORIAL BY SUNRISEKINGDOM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDfRfjzr9j4&feature=channel_video_title

mukowAPPS

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Hey photics, I'm also from GS, I never got your textbook for over there, but I might be interested in one for here, as I have much less time to sit around and learn by myself these days.

You should definately make the book, I'm sure your book will attract people to istencyl. You could also have a chapter on transitioning from GS to SW.

Skillism

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Hi there, would be happy to promote your book on http://stencylbook.com if it's of interest ;)

Photics

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You should definately make the book, I'm sure your book will attract people to istencyl. You could also have a chapter on transitioning from GS to SW.

Well, I'm definitely still working on the book. This weekend is pretty huge. I'll be focusing on porting Arcading. If I can do that, the book should pretty much write itself after that. I'm not so sure that I want to mention GameSalad in this book. I think that's fair policy to have... as I don't mention Stencyl in the GameSalad book.

Hi there, would be happy to promote your book on http://stencylbook.com if it's of interest ;)

Hi. I don't think that's appropriate, as it seems that we are in competition. I'm planning to promote the book through my website and other conventional types of marketing... and perhaps not so conventional. I'm not sure, but maybe the Stencyl Market could be a good match for this book.

This is from another thread...

You know what would be really cool? Supplementing your book with live, playable content. You could play the book in landscape mode, display a webview in one half and have playable content and other stuff in the other half. Or when we support HTML5, embed the playable content into the web view itself.

The possibility to embedded HTML content does change things. I might have to rethink the textbook's design if local web files can be stored within an iStencyl App. It would be cool to make the iStencyl book with iStencyl... but then should I launch it as an iOS app? That changes things. I'm not sure. I think Apple is having a press conference this month and it might be about books. Maybe they'll announce something that might change things.

Meanwhile, I'm planning to watch this thread... to see if people would rather have an App or a traditional PDF.
(An app would likely be more expensive.)
Michael Garofalohttp://photics.com – Author of The Interactive Stencyl Textbook 8)

Silux

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If i'd write a book about Stencylworks i would take a good look at the "ask a question" section.
Many questions are common and are a good sample of what problems your readers will face the first times.

My hardest problems when starting with stencyl were knowing exactly what blocks did, trigonometry, making images(to import on Stencyl), missing blocks(and creating them).

In my opinion biggest problem with Stencyl workflow is that even if no language knowledge is required, it needs still a programmer's mind.There is still need to know syntax and think like the cpu.
When i let my non-programmers friends see Stencyl behaviours, i'm often amazed that they understand very little or reversely,they are amazed how an apparently simple thing like a jumping frog requires so many instructions!
Currently working at:
Starwarrior 2097(my main project)
How to make successful games in Kongregate and the world(article)

Jon

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The Events System we're building into 2.0 (as well as making a lot of the boilerplate behaviors pre-ship locally with the app) go a long way toward smoothing out the tougher parts of the workflow. We're also doing something to the blocks to vastly decrease the perceived complexity of the system, without actually removing them.

But fundamentally speaking, I don't think it's possible to make an effective game creation platform that doesn't require the ability to think logically (which is the thought process behind writing code). I can name 5 companies that tried, and failed (as in they shut their doors failed) in the past couple years trying to solve that problem.

There's a better approach, and it's one of the areas we're really excited about.

TomEllard

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I'm an educator and I bought your Game Salad book. It was useful when I was sorting out class work (don't worry - no cribbing involved!) but it wasn't quite ready to be a text book. Your style is conversational which is great for encouraging people to give it a go. But the conversational style is a pest when people want to get to the heart of a problem.

In the section about formatting text for example you used a few pages of 'could do this' 'could do that' before getting to the actual best practice for doing the task. That seemed to document your own investigation (which is interesting but not quite what is needed) when my guys just want to reference the procedure and grasp the ideas behind it.

In the class I run we start by building the simplest little thing, and then iterate it slowly up to a decent level which then demonstrates a design principle (e.g. triangulation). The GameMaker text books are pretty good examples.

It's a lot easier to do this face to face so I appreciate your working on the books. Will buy etc.

Photics

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In my opinion biggest problem with Stencyl workflow is that even if no language knowledge is required, it needs still a programmer's mind.

That's why I think Stencyl is awesome.

In my life, I've been on job postings and asked in interviews a stupid question. It's basically... "Do you know how to hand-code HTML" ...as if this is a litmus test to understanding proper web development. I don't think that it is.

Things are different than the early nineties. I used to hand-code websites because the WYSIWYG editors were not so great. But when I introduce someone to HTML publishing today, I actually like to start in a Content Management System first... which includes a WYSIWYG editor. It helps to build their confidence. And then, as they see the results of their work... and want to become more advance... they can start messing around with the source.

I think it's more important to give people a sense of exploration and interest in technology, rather than hitting them with a wall of technical jargon.

Which leads into the next comment...

I'm an educator and I bought your Game Salad book. It was useful when I was sorting out class work (don't worry - no cribbing involved!) but it wasn't quite ready to be a text book. Your style is conversational which is great for encouraging people to give it a go. But the conversational style is a pest when people want to get to the heart of a problem.

The conversational style is intentional, to make the topic more interesting. It is game development, so I think a dry and strict explanation of the software wouldn't have been as successful. The book doesn't just explain behaviors, it shows the process... the success... the failures. In doing so, I think it teaches important life lessons... and strengthens a "Programmer's Mind". Like before, being a developer is not about language... not to me... it's about making ideas a reality. If you understand basic principles about development and the way computers work, then the language is just a barrier between you and the computer.

That's why I'm looking forward to writing the Stencyl textbook. Stencyl tears down that barrier. The development language is primarily English... but I can mess with ActionScript / Objective-C if I want to.

Heh... and maybe I should save some of this text for use in the book.
Michael Garofalohttp://photics.com – Author of The Interactive Stencyl Textbook 8)

Photics

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And one more thing...

I think Tom does raise some valid points. I'm not planning to lose the conversational style, as I think that's helpful in learning. Yet, since StencylWorks is more advanced, there is more room to be more technical.

I'm surprised about the "best practice" for display text though. I thought that part of the book was highly detailed.
Michael Garofalohttp://photics.com – Author of The Interactive Stencyl Textbook 8)