Where I've been, and What I've done.

Fool

  • Posts: 86
Pardon the narcissistic titling.

First, want to say thank you to people like Hectate and Ceosol, for all the help they provided just a couple years prior.

I ended up switching to GMS because I wanted more access to the file system and I had serious concerns about the state of flash. This was back when I intended to sell my game to flashportals, oh poor nieve me, the trials I was about to go through  :D

A friend told me that if I switched over I'd end up doing exactly what the devs behind Hyper Light Drifter did, building all my own tools in-game. I said he was wrong. Turns out, he was right. I ended up building a system for loading a 100k plus objects into game, completely ignoring tilemap options, dynamically loading chunks and only saving objects if they changed. I had to build a custom system for loading prefab-style level designs, and a dozen other headaches.

Ultimately, because of constraints, I shelved all the work. The game UI had changed a hundred times and now a critical element of the game was time 'passing' whenever the player changed maps, in much the same way resources were used when changing locations in games like 'Out There.'
Lesson learned, don't build tools and systems 'just in case', or because they're 'cool.'  8)

A big part of the original switch was the lower-level access I believed GM would give me. I'm not a tool maker. I didn't start with the intent of making my own tools. And now, the thing I learned is, making your own tools is expensive, so is reinventing the wheel, but I digress.

Cut to the chase, here I am, back in stencyl, implementing a flash game..in stencyl..as an advertisement for my larger game, and here I am like oh my god if I had avoided or cut out the desire for massive open worlds, and moddability, I could have been using stencyl the whole time.

And let me tell you, when you leave stencyl to use gm, and return after two years, it's the difference between night and day, it's a world of less pain you have to deal with.

Stencyl, I'm sorry I ever left you. Can you forgive me?  :'(

merrak

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  • Posts: 2261
if I had avoided or cut out the desire for massive open worlds, and moddability, I could have been using stencyl the whole time.

I ended up building my own tools for my game (in Stencyl): level editor, physics, scene renderer. I don't see why massive open worlds and modability can't be done in Stencyl. But I don't know enough about GMS to have an opinion on whether or not it's easier or harder. It'd be interesting to know. I've heard it both ways. Stencyl's engine is open source.

Stencyl, I'm sorry I ever left you. Can you forgive me?  :'(

Welcome back!


Fool

  • Posts: 86
Thanks merrak and irock.

I think for me, at the time, dropping from visual editor down into code was a no-go.
I'm coming back from GM and experiments done in Haxe over the last two years, so I have a stronger grasp of what is possible now.

While I won't be inventing all my own tools, if I wanted lower-level access to the filesystem in Stencyl thats now a possibility. Live and learn eh?

Definitely a possibility in GM to implement your own tooling but quality is linearly correlated with pain, which is great if you want predictable deadlines, but working around things like the sandbox is a constant nuisance.

Things I *love* about Stencyl,

1. In-editor layer transparency

2. Distinct separation between events and code. Able to switch a line off with a single click. Draws a good distinction between comments, and code thats been enabled/disabled for testing or prototyping.

3. Proper object types (actors), instead of the headache where every instance is just an integer in GM.

4. Attachable behaviors with configuration per actor type

5. Per-instance behavior configuration in the scene editor

6. You know how painful it was to get a UI that sticks to the camera, doesn't scale wrong, doesn't have a *collision box* that scales wrong, and keeps it's layout when your custom camera code zooms or moves?
Whole hell of a lot harder in GM.

7. Composition through behaviors, all of which can have their own *named* events.

8. Polymorphism through changing out actor types on actor attributes in various behaviors

9. Dead-simple tile data editor and access

10. Built in animation panel, able to set collision shapes, data, per frame animation speed (made animating the lighting effect of a campfire ridiculously easy), and named animation strips.

11. True scene scripts and behaviors, instead of the bastardized practice of putting global objects in scene and spending way too much time debugging why things suddenly break (curse you dynamic object deactivation! When I said target all object types, I didn't mean my scene controllers!)

12.  Lists are great, folders are even better, but it can be a real PITA when your looking through 300+ objects and other resources (not to mention the save time in GM is god-awful). Stencyl is way better about this with grid based resource panels, instead of searching through endless lists.


merrak

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  • Posts: 2261
...if I wanted lower-level access to the filesystem in Stencyl thats now a possibility. Live and learn eh?

I even published an implementation of FAST, as a Stencyl extension, if you want to use it to pick apart all the xml files in-game.

For 3.5, Justin mentioned moving away from xml config files for certain things... particularly where speed is an issue. I don't remember the details of the conversation, since it was on the Discord chat some while ago. But I do remember there being some easier ways to get access to lower-level data. I think I saved a log of the conversation in my notes files, but those are on my other computer which I don't have access to right now.

Fool

  • Posts: 86
Holy hell, your book "Ember In The Wind", is in my reading list.

You're the author?

merrak

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  • Posts: 2261
Holy hell, your book "Ember In The Wind", is in my reading list.

You're the author?

There's a few books by that title. If you're talking about the one linked in the website on my signature then yep, that's mine. I actually first picked up Stencyl while I was waiting for my editor to return the draft--with the intent of making a little game to help promote sales outside of Eastern NC.

Eventually I realized that was a bad idea. The game had nothing to do with the story. So I renamed the game "Thief of Vallas" and the protagonist from "Mara" to "Marika". At first I just took the original sprites and recolored them. Over the years I've revised Marika's design, but they still look kinda similar.


NickamonPoppytail

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  • Posts: 1044


RIP Pirate Wray
April 2002-September 2018

Bombini

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  • Posts: 1150
Welcome back!
I think that especially the Stencyl version 3.5 (for customers/subscibers) is taking shape in the last weeks.

harshhsrah

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  • Posts: 66
Welcome back!
I am relatively new here. I run a small game development studio and have released more than 50 games on mobile and around 15 games for PC/MAC...we make casual games for a older female demographic.
It is good to read about such experiences.
We were evaluating shifting to GMS2 around a year back...before that we were using our own framework built with Adobe AIR. Our core team is more design & art oriented so we wanted a simple engine. At that point we felt GMS was far better than Stencyl but couple of months into evaluation we ultimately zeroed in on Stencyl. I think many of the points that you have listed hold true and it does help to assess your own specific needs and see which engine fits and what are the things that you can compromise. For us the downside was difficulty in using the software in a team setting (e.g. exporting scenes across team members) and we needed a slightly better scene editor for non tile set games.
Anyway we worked around that and have our first Stencyl game ready for release...there were some issues but most of them could be sorted out with the basic stencylpedia manual and some free extensions ...so we haven't yet got into the custom tool building which actually is what we expected from the engine.

So have a good time with Stencyl and best for the future

Fool

  • Posts: 86
Hey, glad to see another developer join the Stencyl bandwagon.

They're very much different tools and you can accomplish similar results in both if you're comfortable with code.