After some time and some troubles, finally Circle Chain has been submitted to the App Store, it’s currently waiting for review, and if everything goes well, it will be available for free in about a week.
So finally I am able to write something more than just an “how to…” about StencylWorks, which soon will be called just “Stencyl”.
Developing with Stencyl
Despite its “drag and drop” interface, Stencyl is really a complete and powerful tool. You can build interesting prototypes in a matter of minutes thanks to the built-in Flixel and Box2D engines. Moreover, you are forced to split chunks of “code” into behaviors, which are something like classes, and every behavior can be used in more projects, allowing you to save a lot of time once you have your custom, favorite behaviors.
Urban legends: if you are an hard core programmer you don’t need Stencyl, and you can use Stencyl even if you don’t know programming
Both are urban legends, let me show you why: first, smart programmers would rather focus on logic rather than on syntax. With Stencyl you have the full control of game logic although you may not know the syntax of a given language (AS3 or Objective C). And if you need or prefer to write your own code blocks, you can. On the other hand, you need some programming skills to sort out the best of Stencyl. If you just drag and drop instructions here and there, without knowing what’s a global variable, or an array, or the linear damping of a Box2D object, probably you won’t go much further from an Hello World project.
Porting Circle Chain to Stencyl
Porting the game to Stencyl was a piece of cake, because it’s a game I already made and I knew its logic. I just had to visually replicate the game logic without worrying about syntax and scopes. Should I explain the process in a single sentence, I would say “if you know how it works, you can do it”.
Publishing for iPhone: to have or not to have a Mac?
Although you can do everything in a Windows environment, there are two points you should consider: first, you need the Application Loader app to upload the game in the Apple Store, and it obviously works only on Macs. Then, testing the game in the XCode simulator will make you save a lot of time. If you let Stencyl build the game for you, in some cases you will receive an email saying your game wasn’t compiled and you don’t know why. In my case, I messed with the types of some variables. It worked perfectly with AS3 but Objective C is a little more strict language and it gave me errors. Without the simulator it would have been really hard to find and fix them, so I would recommend at least an entry level Mac with Lion. You can also use a virtual machine, but the Mac OS X EULA forbids installations of Mac OS X on a non-Apple-branded computer.
The final question: do you recommend Stencyl?
Yes. Absolutely. Once you’ll find how easy is to create quality games, you’ll love it.