Friday, 25 November 2011

Construct 2 vs GameMaker vs GameSalad vs Stencyl

I like to work with 2D engines that take a lot of the legwork out for me. I don't like having to code stuff from scratch all of the time. The more time you will spend on design and QA the better the game will be. The more time you spend on technical garbage, the less time you have to work on making the game good. I have noticed this with my projects. All of the games that I have used a non coding language game are way better than the games that I had to program from scratch.

If you haven't seen this already this was posted on the Scirra site.

I have used all of these engines extensively and my favorite by far is Scirra's Construct 2. It is by far the best engine for several reasons. I am going to start of with my least favorite and work my way to my favorite

Stencyl is a non programming engines that makes flash games. It is very easy to use and you can make games fairly quickly. It recently added iOS support. If you like to make games in a hurry you can use stencyl. On top of this, Stencyl is was essentially made by one person. As a person who knows how hard it is to code things, my hat is off to the creator.

Since flash is not being supported any more it will be hard to use stencyl as a commercial platform. If it can export to HTML 5 then this engine will be a strong contender against the other ones. They are planning to be able to export to HTML 5 in early 2012. Once that happens it will be on par if not better than Game Salad.

Use it

Game Salad
I think game salad is a great engine and just because it's here on my list doesn't make it a bad engine. Game salad is awesome. It is a very streamline engine that makes game development extremely easy. I highly recommend checking it out. In fact, I use game salad to make most of iOS games and if this is your main goal I would suggest using it.

Game salad has a ton of features that you can use to make your game and the development team is constantly adding more. I have to stress that it is very easy to make a game and if you want to start making games, the free version has a lot of features to it. If you own a mac download it and start producing some games it is really easy and you will have a lot of fun making the games.

While Game Salad is awesome there are a few problems with the software and the amount of cons I have with the software puts it here on the list.  I should also point out that I am a professional game developer and I am viewing how these engines work through this lens. But even as an amateur these issues pop up and can be annoying.

The biggest issue with game salad is the lack of updates and features. I say this because I have been using game salad since February and the roadmap that they have set out to achieve has not even been met. There are tons of features like arrays, in app purchases, joints and a whole list of others that have not been added to the engine. Also, when they update the engine the performance can be worse than the previous version. When I am working on a huge project I hesitate to upgrade my software because it could be broken.

Whenever you use an engine you will see a performance drop in your game. While game salad can be sluggish at times it still isn't that bad. People complain about it on the forums, but personally it isn't that bad. It could be better and once they get the engine to run smoother Game Salad will be a better engine.

Also, to be a pro member you have to pay 500 dollars a year. This may seem high but it used to be 2000 dollars. This is way too high. There are other engines that can do what game salad does for less money. If they don't change the price they might lose a lot of customers.

Lastly, their arcade is very inflexible. Game Salad has a feature where you can export your game to their arcade which is HTML 5. However, you have to export it to the arcade you can't export it to your site. I would like this to be more flexible in the future. The arcade is a good idea but it needs improvement.

Im not sure Game Salad was ever designed to be a commercial engine. Personally, the engine looks like it is made for hobbyists instead of professionals. Having said that, I don't think game salad is a bad engine, in fact it is a great engine and I will still make commercial games in it. While the engine has a ton of features and they are constantly adding new ones, Game Salad is lacking a few key features such as arrays and in app purchases. Once it gets those features then Game Salad will be even better than it is

Use it

Game Maker
Game make has been around for a long time. When it first came out nobody wanted to use it because the engine couldn't make AAA titles. Now that everybody wants to play casual and simple games, Game Maker has entered the spotlight as an engine that can do this. If I had wrote this article a few months ago Game Maker would be lower on the list. But recently it added a lot of new features that make the engine very attractive.

The engine has been around for a long time and therefore it has a lot of QA behind it and it works really well. For the most part you can make a really good game without coding. One of the main features that Game Maker has is that it does have an interface where you can program. This is great for professional users who know how to code. Even with out the code there are a lot of features that you can use. Game Maker is a very well thought out and tested engine and if you want to make a good game then go ahead and use it.

Another reason to use game maker is their sandbox arcade. Lots of people play the arcade and you can upload your game so that other people can play it. It's a good way to get your game out there

Although it hasn't been released yet, they will have a feature where you can export your game to iOS and android. This is amazing because the engine is so robust, you can make an awesome game and then possibly make some money on the app store. The best engine will be one where you can push a button and release it to several different platforms. Game maker is almost there and when it gets there it will be an even better engine.

There are few things that I can say about Game Maker that are bad. One thing that they do is advertise that the engine has it's own image editor so you don't need to buy software. This would be awesome if the editor was good but it is a pixel editor. If it had a vector editor like adobe illustrator then that would be amazing. The problem is that game art has to be much better thank pixel art in order to sell it (for the most part).

Other than that the only issues I have with Game Maker are personal. For example, a feature might not work exactly the way I want it to or the interface is a little odd. But that is all personal preference and I can't say that it is necessarily bad.

Game Maker is awesome and I suggest using it. Once it has iOS and android support I would suggest using it to make your games.

Use it

Scirra's Construct 2

This is my favorite engine to use. Out of all of these engines it is the best for so many reasons. What is mind boggling is that it has only been around since July and there are only 2 people working on it.

Here are the features I like best about construct 2

  • Engine features
  • Performance
  • Export control
  • Updates

The engine features are amazing. You can create almost any game you want with them. They are also really easy to use. I run a course on construct 2 because I believe that it is the easiest way to get your ideas from idea to realization. The features are set up in a wonderful fashion.

The performance of the HTML 5 game is amazing. They recently upgrade to WebGL and the performance is out of this world. You can have some very computing intensive games and they work. I use a 3 year old PC to develop my games and it works well.

The export control is awesome. You get 100% of the control. You can export it to HMTL 5, Chrome Store, PhoneGap (experimental) and the Scirra arcade. And it is easy! The developers took time to make this process incredibly easy.

The best part about the updates is that they happen on average once a week and usually they have a cool new feature. Every update feels like Christmas as a kid. The developers have done such a good job.

There are few negative points I can say about the engine. Sometimes there are bugs and sometimes a feature doesn't work exactly the way you want it to. But this is to be expected with any software. There is one major suggestion I have that for me and other professional developers have.

It would be amazing if it had chrome store in game purchases and facebook credits functionality.

HTML 5 + in game purchases = money for the developer

The main reason why they are not putting this in is because they advertise themselves as a no coding game engine and to make in game purchases work you need to have server side scripting which essentially means some code on a server. Personally, I don't really care if the process isn't pretty. I just need it to be able to happen. I would love to make games with in game purchases. I would also love to make some tutorials on the subject in my course.

This engine is amazing. It is by far the best. Go download it and use it to make games. You will not be disappointed.

Use it

Final thoughts

While all of these engines are awesome. Scirra's Construct 2 is the best by far. One thing that I would love to see from any engine is in game purchases. I constantly crave this feature. I will give a gold medal to the first engine that allows me to do this.


  1. Nice Article :D
    I agree with you about the engines, because I got them except game salad, because it's only available on mac currently.

  2. Thanks for your post.

    I´m deciding to choose one of these engine to build some 2D game, aimed mainly to android and further iOS too.

    Have you tested deployed games made by Construct 2 under Android environment? Is it runs as expected and fast? Is it easy to publish at Android Market?

    Sorry about so many questions and thanks for your blog!

  3. Right now mobile development on Construct 2 is using phone game which is in beta. Personally, android is hard to develop for. There are so many screen resolutions and different devices.

    For iOS you can build web apps as well as native apps.

    If you want my advice, I would personally stick with construct 2 and build a chrome store or facebook game. Im personally moving away from mobile right now. It has become much less lucrative since Jan 2011. I think the best strategy is to go to a publisher if you are going on iOS.

    The short answer is use constrcut to make your games. If you want to produce something within a month then use Game Salad.

  4. Just to let you know Stencyl now supports in game purchases through IOS development and HTML 5 and Android are just around the corner:)

  5. With iStencyl, do you need a server or does Apple help you with an account for the IN-APP PURCHASES?

  6. Good review but I was wondering if you would care to review some other Game Creation programs like:

    Game Editor (
    Game Develop (
    Construct Classic (I know its similar but what's the benefits and drawbacks etc)

    There's also a big list of other game creation programs here (Nice!):

  7. Great article, I've been looking for a platform to choose. I actually would love to teach game development, but I should develop a game first :)

    GameSalad is available for Windows now, but it isn't fully functional it seems to me. Looking forward to checking out GameMaker because it has been around for so long, but knowing their are other game dev platforms out there just makes it more difficult to choose.

    For the hand-coders, I just took a look at the Atari Arcade and found they have an API available for HTML5 that looks pretty sweet.

  8. Hi John. Would be nice if you could update this post as its now a year old. Many of these game engines have come along in leaps and bounds. I too am still on the fence, having downloaded a free version of Construct 2 and Stencyl. Been looking at Gamesalad and Gamemaker too - even Corona SDK - which i know isn't a drag & drop engine. Not sure how you'll ever make money with sticking to Chrome store / Facebook only. Isn't that a bit limiting and defeatist? Nearly all these engines will be able to publish to the main native platforms soon, some already do. I'd like to know if your view still stands, cheers!

  9. Hi man!

    Thanks 4 this blog!

    Im brazilian and have a C2 license (early adopter) since dez/2011 - for me the best 2d engine for the moment, is the Construct 2, i agree w u in the most parts of your posts!

    For now, i working on a 2d platform style game, i searching for friends wo like make games, i think u are the one! ill apreciate for share my ideas and project too, or learn more about create games too.

    Thanks again, Good job here!

    Jardel Rodrigues

  10. Thank you for your article.
    This is really helpful and I really agree with your solution.
    Construct2 is the Best of all tools.

    However, you can check out another engine call "Game-Editor"
    This one is the great engine you can have even it can't export for HTML5.

  11. Construct 2 or Stencyl are on even terms.... Try and make money with these two so you can afford a Unity license. Unity is the way to go these days in both 2D and 3D