As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been using Stencyl to work on Defender of Azekal, an educational video game project, and the folks over at Packt sent me an e-mail asking if I’d like to review their latest guide to learning Stencyl. Naturally, I was interested, and they sent me a copy so I started going through it pretty quick.
The first thing I noticed was that the book included a walkthrough of a fairly typical example game, but with a large amount of additional background and information provided that made it much more useful than simply following a tutorial; not only was the writing some of the best technical writing I’ve seen in a while, but the book actually stopped at appropriate places to delve deeper into the concepts behind things and touch on things in a different way than the tutorials that I’d used when picking up Stencyl myself; embarrassing as it is to admit as someone who’s a good chunk of the way into a major project, I really didn’t realize all the things about Stencyl that I wasn’t exploiting simply because nobody had shown them to me, and this book included a lot of stuff that I hadn’t even thought about in ways that were clear and concise.
Moving on from that to the general quality, it’s really well put together; if you skip the introduction, table of contents, and index, there’s 300 pages worth of stuff here, and it’s all useful. I spent about three weeks when I first started using Stencyl doing research on the topic, and I found more information here than I did during that period of searching both about the tool itself and how to effectively use it (the book includes some invaluable examples of “best practices” that would’ve been nice to have when I started using Stencyl), but also the practices of actually getting your game distributed; while I haven’t published a game yet to test this, it’s got concentrated and coherent research that is great.
As a future educator and game designer (but really bad coder), I’ve always loved Stencyl as a concept not only because it’s flexible enough for me to use to rapidly test and deploy concepts and games, but also because it really is a platform that anyone can use with a little bit of training and understanding of how it works, and Packt’s guide is a wonderful example of that; I hope to keep a couple copies of this book or its successors on hand in my classroom for students to use.
If you’re interested in picking up a copy, you can get it from Amazon.com below, or on Packt’s website.
Disclaimer: I was approached by Packt about reviewing this product, and received a free review copy.