Why is Stencyl doing better?

  • How do I measure better? Primarily by the number of people on the forums (not wholly scientific). Stencyl routinely has 300+ (atm 338) people on their forum - which shockingly ties GM. Construct seems to net about 70 - 120 most times I'm on - 224 is the max ever. Please don't take this as an endorsement of Stencyl, I paid for C2 as my badge proves and like it very much - it'll be near perfect with family behaviours and per layout loading. I ask this question not as a put-down, but as an investigation for future development of C2. Here are some reasons I've come up with.

    1) Stencyl runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

    2) iOS and upcoming Android exporters.

    3) Flash is better understood than Canvas or HTML5.

    4) Stencyl is friendlier sounding that Construct.

    5) The UI is less intimidating.

    6) Path to monetization is clearer.

    7) Free version is complete.

    8) ActionScript 3 kicks JavaScript's butt.

    Of all those reasons I find 2 the most convincing (despite my lack of interest in exporters) which makes me wonder why Stencyl has exporters. Stencyl is likewise made by one person (or so their website says) who is also a CS grad. Thus it can't be a matter of man-power. However, 5 is also attractive. Open Construct and you'll see a lot of options you have no idea what do with. Open Stencyl and it looks simpler.

    If exporters are the issue perhaps development on the editor should halt until App Mobi or PhoneGap support is both complete and fast - if that's possible.

    In fact, Stencyl was criticized on these boards for having a closed beta and it seemed certain a closed beta was inferior. Yet it is successful. I'd like to know if anyone has any insights into the success of Stencyl and how Construct can adapt or if it needs to.

    P.S. Thank you Tom for fixing the preview button!!

  • For the number of people on the forum, I guess it depends if the number counts/displays the webbots or not.

    Also as you said it's not really a scientific measurment anyway, more to get an idea.

    There are several reasons I guess. C2/CC are far less represented in the medias then stencyl is. I guess a reason for this is in part the statement in your point 8.

    For point 2 : C2 already exports to iOS and Android (as HTML5 sites, and also has "experimental" options but still already working too). Check for the keywords "appmobi" and "phonegap" in a forum search you'll find more than one topic on the subject. Exporter for C2 is not far away either.

    AS3 has probably more libraries and scripts available to help that process compared to the younger HTML5/JS.

    Also consider Flash being a "dying technology". The author of stencyl knows it and knows that is best "invest" in the long term to make incomes he is to have a support that will earn him money.

    Hence making mobile phones a priority. When flash will be "gone" and HTML5 being a "young technology in developpment" will have as much deployment/developmment/etc as flash has now and will be considered the "main" technology if he hadn't this "exit" he'd probably couldn't make a living anymore.

    For point 3 : HTML5 is still yound indeed. In a couple of years this point won't matter though.

    Another matter of "here and now" I guess.

    For point 4 : It maybe sounds friendlier, but as far as I'm concerned when I tried it a few months earlier, the tutorial happened to be quite tedious, and a "developping tool" that requires you to be connected to the internet before doing anything just doesn't cut it for me.

    Also communism of assets is cool up to a certain point imo.

    + the fact that I have a slow connexion, uploading assets to a server before incorporating them in my project just doesn't cut it.

    On that points, it doesn't make stencyl better than C2 in any way in my eyes.

    For point 5 : More or less like above. But on this I won't argue too much as I'm really biased/used to C2. it reminded me of Visual Basic so I found my marks pretty quick. For a non-coder user I understand how intimidating it can be.

    On the other end, the progressive tutorials available on scirra's site and the manual makes it easier imo to "enter into C2" than Stencyl's "Follow my lead but don't go experimenting on your own" introduction.

    For point 6 : Two man job, it's on the todo list, list of priority, etc...

    Flash older than HTML5, more libraries, more scripts, more ppl involved for more time, etc...

    For point 7 : Scirra had to find a way to monetize C2. As they are not enforcing you into being connected to their website/server they fell back on including certain limitations.

    Also to publish to iOS you need to pay 149$ a year for iStencyl pro. C2 is a one-time fee.

    Their "free version" is also incomplete in that sense I guess.

    For point 8 : Ashley's last blog article is an interesting read.

    I don't know if stencyl is doing better than C2, but it has some success indeed, and the apparently single dev can make a living out of it. Good for him.

    I guess it's just that Flash is "here and now" whereas HTML5 still needs to mature. As far as C2 is concerned, it's doing the job though.

    And the general spirit of the "coding community" about HTML5 needs also to switch from "bah useless/toy" to "OK, I see the potential here".

    This is mostly a matter of time.

    As I said, most of the points evoked here are subjective (yours as well as mine).

    In the end, I believe C2 and stencyl are different products, aimed at different users possibly.

    They can and do coexist though.

    As scirra often states, they believe their product is better. I believe it too.

    I hardly tested stencyl, true, but not coming from the flash developpment at first, nothing really pushed me into getting deep into it, whereas I'm already used to C2.

    I have no reason to do the jump and I really don't know if I could achieve as much in Stencyl as I know I can in C2 and I don't know if I could have as much fun with it either.

  • There are only two things that bothers me with C2 right now, from otherwise being the front runner is this game maker market. (I'm not biased towards any app, i just call them as i see them)

    1.Quantity over quality. He has so much on his plate, that the direction of the development seems to be implement rough new features, to later give them more substance. I have different view on this philosophy, which is exhaust ALL areas in a feature before moving on. I know Ashley is playing the catch up game with its competitors, but just saying. (I'm probably a little bitter because i am not a programmer, so i rely on program aid like features, such as behaviors)

    2.Wasting time on janky phone wrappers (or whatever you call them). If your going to try to get something on other platforms, do it the proper way by working on native builds. Doesn't matter how long it takes, but don't skimp to just have something in the program. Yeah, not a fan of phonegap/appmobi

    I'm not loyal or a kiss ass, so don't take it the wrong way. Just my two cents.

    As for Stencyl.... about the ugliest UI I have seen, next to Game Maker. It's recent addition of the event driven system seems to be less likable then the visual event driven style system in apps like Construct and Multi Media Fusion. The always connected to the internet deal is a minus, plus the yearly fee for the IOS export option. Those two are big problems for me as a consumer, so i dunno about that strategy.

    Those are my cons for both.

  • I would like to clarify that I like Construct more than Stencyl which I haven't spend much time with - I intend to spend more time with it when 2.0 is available. Regarding the user interface I only meant the first impression is that Stencyl's UI is simpler. I do not think Stencyl's UI is better. I never gave Construct's UI much thought until a friend saw me using it (it was just a glance as she walked by) and asked "Is that Gimp?" I said no and asked her why she thought that. She responded "It just has that unfriendly, open source look which made me think of Gimp".

    I'd also like to add that 8 was a bit of a gag, but I suspect Java/C++ programmers feel more at home with AS3.

    What I meant by path to monetization was being able to sell your game which currently is a little fuzzy with HTML5.

    I guess what I really want to say is since Construct is better why are people seemingly more interested in Stencyl? How has an inferior product generated more interest.

    Again by "doing better" I am not referring to the quality of the product. I am referring to the amount of forum traffic which I'm taking as sign of overall product interest. As is "doing better at generating and retaining user interest".

  • One phrase:

    • Quantity is not quality;

    I was using Stencyl for a long time, between alpha, beta and official release, so, I can say, Stencyl is much inferior than C2...

    C2 only need a RPG behavior and a better and complete new Z ordering menu to overcome Stencyl in all the ways..

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  • C2 only need a RPG behavior and a better and complete new Z ordering menu to overcome Stencyl in all the ways..

    This :D

  • How do I measure better? Primarily by the number of people on the forums (not wholly scientific).

    Heh. I'm not certain but I'm pretty sure Stencyl's "who's online" list is set to show people in the past hour, or past day, or some long period of time, presumably to make their forum look busier. Our forum is still set to the standard default for forums which is 5 or 10 minutes (@Tom will know). If we increased our timeout we could make the forum look like it had a lot more people on it, but we prefer to make it useful (if you see someone in the online list, they're probably online right now). Anyway, you certainly can't directly compare the two without taking in to account the time difference.

    Also, last I checked Stencyl it was lacking some really basic features that nearly every C2 game uses: the layering system is something like 2 layers only, they're only now working on an equivalent for Construct 2's triggered conditions for Stencyl 2.0, etc. I think Construct 2 has way more features, not even including third party plugins and behaviors (which we have over 50 of now). And Construct 2 is cheaper to buy, especially in the long run (no subscription).

    As for "Flash is better understood than HTML5" or "ActionScript 3 is better than Javascript", why do you need to care? The users of the tools don't need to worry about the underlying tech, just how well it works. And I understand HTML5 way better than Flash, so no need to worry there :) Construct 2 was faster than Stencyl last we measured as well, so I'm not sure there's any credibility left in the "ActionScript is better" argument.

    Stuff like "better UI" or "friendlier sounding" or "less intimidating" is opinion. In my opinion Construct 2 has a better UI, is friendlier and less intimidating (obviously). A lot of our users have similar thoughts. There's not much to argue there since basically different tools are just different, and you can choose whichever suits your taste best.

    I know the mobile wrappers kind of suck, but we're being very forwards looking with them. In future, mobile wrappers won't suck, they'll be at least as fast as Flash ever was. We could write iOS and Android native ports, but that's 3x as much work (the HTML5 runtime was started a year ago and is still being tweaked), then we're a tiny team weighed down with 3 codebases which also have to be kept compatible, then there's a huge headache with "will your game work *identically* on all platforms?" (small frustrating differences are likely) and "will all third-party plugins be available on all platforms?" (highly unlikely). And by the time we're finished HTML5 might have become fast anyway. So we're sticking 100% HTML5. We're early to the party, but things will get going soon.

    FYI we are currently prioritising mobile support. We're going to be adding directCanvas in future so appMobi gets hardware accelerated rendering, and there's more to come after that.

  • I didn't want this to sound like a comparison. I don't need to be convinced, I'm backing C2. I was just wondering why it seems so many more people are interested in Stencyl when C2 is the better product and if there is something Scirra can do to change that. However, I think Ashley's theory that they are inflating their forum usage is the best explanation. Thanks for the replies.

  • Also, I hate that sub sub sub sub menus inside Stencyl, where only someone with 10 hours by day can work with that tool.

    In C2, if you prefer type your code, simple save as folder and edit the xml =]

    Stencyl can't handle a single animation without bug the collisions, you need to make ALL the sprites with the same exactly size...

    and much other things that are not solved and I believe they will ignore as much they can, that's one of the things I give up that tool.

  • C2 rules but there's some things Stencyl does better:

    • Cloud integration, download assets, behaviors right from editor.
    • Asset share system , 'StencylForge'
    • Tilemap support
    • Better font support, customization inside editor like, drop shadow. Yeah i don't like webfonts.
    • Better visualization of things like : My Games Screen, Game Scenes screen. In Games Scenes for example it's more intuitive to set the start scene, and get a overview of all game scenes.
  • If you're basing it on forum users (which is a reasonable way to estimate a sites activity) you have to realise that as far as I can tell Stencyl forums are set to show active users from a long time ago. Here's one I just clicked on:

    Yesterday at 04:21:46 pm

    It appears their 'active' users expire after around 24 hours.

    Try clicking on each active user and taking a look at when they were last active. On our forum, active users expire after only 20 minutes of activity.

    Also worth noting is that our alexa traffic rank is 34,373 compared to Stencyl's 78,860 (lower is better)

    http://www.alexa.com/search?q=scirra.com&r=site_siteinfo&p=bigtop

    http://www.alexa.com/search?q=stencyl.com&r=site_screener&p=bigtop

    A lot of these numbers are vanity statistics, and don't really matter in the grand scheme of things. What matters is that you are producing a good tool and have people that enjoy using it.

  • Thanks for the reply Tom. I'm glad to know Stencyl isn't somehow mysteriously kicking Construct's <img src="smileys/smiley35.gif" border="0" align="middle" /> in forum activity.

  • One other thing that is quite important is how easy it is to find these programs.

    My way was to check game making programs in wikipedia where Construct 2 is not present.

    Only Construct classic is present en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Construct_(software)

    Whilst Stencyl have a major page at:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stencyl

  • Why would anybody find C2's interface intimidating? I found Stencyl's UI quite a mess, and I hated it.

  • We used to have a Wikipedia page, but it got deleted for being written like an advertisement. You have to write Wikipedia articles about software very carefully to remain within their guidelines. Feel free to start a new article if you want.

    We've had a page up for Classic for ages, but we don't get many hits from it relative to other sources, so we're not bothered if we have a page or not TBH.

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