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My friend and I have next to no programming experience (2 quarters at UCSD for Java, C, and Matlab) and were wondering if Stencyl would be a good starting place, to later transition into AS3 and FlashDevelop. As of right now, FlashDevelop is a little challenging so we were planning on learning Stencyl for a bit then transitioning. Would this be a good idea?
If you’re not familiar with how to do general programming such as making “if” statements or “for” loops, Stencyl would be a good tool to introduce you to these concepts. The code blocks in Stencyl are designed in such a way as to minimize the possibility of syntax errors. Another advantage of Stencyl is that it can help you make a complete game in a very short time. Even if you already know AS3, Stencyl may be just what you need to make a quick prototype. Also, Stencyl already comes with built-in Box2D commands, so you can easily make a Physics-based game without having to learn how to use a Physics engine like Box2D.
There are some disadvantages with using Stencyl, however. Often, the code blocks do not snap together or pull apart the way you intended them to. If you’re running Stencyl on a small screen, your code blocks may go beyond the horizontal limits of your screen. While Stencyl helps people learn general programming, it does not really help in learning object-oriented programming, which is what AS3 is built on. In Stencyl, you can only use raster images, not vector art, and those will always be converted to PNGs even if you try to use a JPEG file. SWFs that are compiled from Stencyl may not be optimized and may run slower than an equivalent SWF compiled in Flex. Finally, some players seem to think that anything made with Stencyl is bad. That’s not true of course, but Stencyl makes it so easy to make games that it enables people with no game development experience to make bad games fast. Those people are quick to upload their bad games on sites such as Kongregate or Newgrounds, much to the detriment of Stencyl’s reputation.
If your foundation in object-oriented programming concepts is already strong, you may as well go straight to learning AS3. Learning how to work with the stage and the event system takes some getting used to, but once you’ve figured them out, you may find it much more satisfying to exercise greater control over your code than you could with Stencyl.