I asked on the forums about how Stencyl would compare against MMF2, and this was the response I got:
I don't like to compare on features, because once you get into that game, you miss the bigger picture, and this kind of thinking has led to stagnation in game creation where everybody's making toolsets that copy features and try to impress with long spec sheets, but they fail to address the big issues that prevent hobbyist game creation from reaching more people.
You're going to choose Stencyl not based on the features but because you want to make a browser-based game that's hooked deeply to social media from the get go, where the post-publishing phase of the lifecycle is equally as important as the actual development.
You'll choose us because you want to take advantage of the collaborative creation process, our resource sharing service, and the ability to work with others closely, since most games are made by 2 or more people. All of this has come about because when all is said and done, people aren't getting stuck because a feature is missing or the interface is less than ideal - they get stuck when they try to work together or are missing a crucial skill.
So if you want me to emphasize what we do better, or things we do that our competition does not. MMF2 and practically any game creation app these days is weak/non-existent in the following areas:
- No substantial help in promoting or distributing your games or integrating with social media. Anybody who says they support "Facebook integration" can't say that with a straight face unless they actually hook it up to the Facebook API's in earnest, which we are doing in a big way.
- No integrated marketplace for MMF2. This is a huge thing for us, and it's not the technology that makes it great (it took me just a week to build the initial version). It's the content and how well it's built in that makes or breaks this sort of thing.
- You're on your own with MMF2 or practically anybody else. If you need an artist or need help, you have to do it on forums or e-mail. I can say that forums are perhaps the very worst way of collaboration known to man, and there are far better ways of working together, remotely. This is part of our secret sauce, so I have to leave it at that.
- You can't tell from the outside, but our feedback loop is very tight - releases generally come out several times a week to testers. We move a lot quicker than the norm.
So in the end, I'm not trying to compete on technology or raw features. Users want a solution that gives you the best chance at completing a game that a broad audience can hear about and enjoy. And that's what we're going to deliver.
Obviously some of those points are debatable (I think they underestimate MMF2 somewhat), but it should give you a general idea of what the developers are trying to achieve.
Competition is good for the end-user. It will push Clickteam to do better and I do have full confidence that they will..just might take a while..
I have spent probably like 1000 € on Clickteam products in total during the years, so the expectation is that no free software will be better. But definitely need to try out this Stencyl thingy when it comes out.
I'm pretty sure I remember seeing the interface in some way (screenshot?) and signing off on it for some reason. It was too limited or cookie-cutter looking or something. Or the layout looked irritatingly "simplified". But I haven't tried it yet and my memory's faulty at times, so I shouldn't pass judgment... That post seems a bit odd (ignored actual abilities and puffed up... a marketplace? To other Stencyl users? ), but it was also quite polite and I can certainly appreciate any effort toward helping indie developers! So we will have to wait and see.
It looks to me like what they've announced is that they've moved exclusively to Flash game development. That is, Stencyl now makes Flash games, but it doesn't make executables (unless they're Flash executables, if even that.) Doesn't that limit what can be done with Stencyl? It seems a bit odd. This is how I've come to this conclusion:
From the home page:
We built it from the ground up to address the unique needs of today's game creators. We create Flash games because Flash runs anywhere and just works out of the box.
From the post:
We are thrilled to announce our switch to Flash as the underlying technology powering all of our games. Flash runs on nearly every internet capable computer in the world and allows each game created with Stencyl to reach a broader audience, without the hassle and freezing that plagued our Java-based games.
I also garner from this that all Stencyl games were based in Java before, so it was kinda limited from the get-go. At the very least, MMF2 will have decent application development over Stencyl, such and such as that.
Yes, it looks like Stencyl have moved exclusively to Flash game devlopment, but that's in keeping with the general concept - it's a kind of "social" game-making tool, intended for people who want to make games to go on Facebook etc.
Given that MMF2 is quite limited in terms of making Flash games anyway - no HWA, fewer compatible extensions, etc - it could be hard to justify spending £120 on, when Stencyl is free (obviouslt it remains to be seen how capable it is).
With hindsight, I probably didn't phrase my question very well (probably came off as a bit disparaging of Stencyl), so it was very good of him to give such a polite and thotough response, as you said.
From what I can tell, their use of the term "marketplace" is very misleading - I don't think anything will actually be bought or sold there - just shared more easily.
Also, the interface has been changed. It now very closely resembles MIT's "Scratch" tool, although I hope it will be a lot more flexible than that. Scratch is basically MMF for primary school kids - it's what Clickteam should have been making, and giving away to schools, so the kids get hooked, and then as they get older they move onto TGF/MMF.
Anyway, I'm reserving judgement until I've actually tried Stencyl, but I suspect it will be pretty basic - although calling it a "cookie cutter" game editor is probably a bit harsh.
Ugh, that's one awful interface. :/ Clickteam probably won't have too much competition with that.
One thought though; since the flash exporter in Stencyl is built in, shouldn't clickteam just make theirs built in? That would probably attract more of an audience. Somehow it just feels as if it would come standard.