Interview

Jonathan Chung on the potential of new cross platform 'no coding' 2D game tool iStencyl

Jonathan Chung on the potential of new cross platform 'no coding' 2D game tool iStencyl
As mobile game development becomes ever more popular, so the range of development tools also grows.

There a particular focus on reducing barriers of entry as low as possible. Alongside drag-and-drop solutions such as GameSalad comes a new entrant iStencyl.

It labels itself as a 'block builder' (although you can also code if you want to), which supports iOS and Flash, with Android and HTML5 promised soon too.

We caught up with founder and CEO Jonathan Chung to get the inside track on how his 2D-focused development tool will fight its own corner in the coming months.

Pocket Gamer: Are you aiming this at developers with little experience, or is this a tool for established indies?

Jonathan Chung: We're aiming iStencyl at indies and small studios who want to rapidly create and publish iOS games without resorting to code or code-heavy tools like Unity.

The majority of our successes have come from developers who've had some kind of prior experience creating games.

That said, I've seen plenty of cases of developers with little to no prior experience creating rather impressive games from scratch and seeing success. Feed My Zombie for iOS is the most recent example of this.

What do you think iStencyl offers that your rivals don't?

Although many mobile development tools and frameworks exist, only a couple provide a visual, code-free way to build mobile games.

Getting more specific, we offer a block-snapping interface that has worked well for both non-programmers and coders, direct access to the Xcode project that's generated - so that power users can extend their games beyond what we provide, and a toolset that works on Mac, Windows and Linux.

What platforms are you aiming at?

Our target platforms are iOS, Android, Flash and HTML5. Our goal is to give our developers the best chance at success through access to the most popular platforms and app stores and next year, through alternate ways to monetise their works.

With iOS and Android, developers can reach the smartphone market and monetise their games. With Flash, they can reach desktop users with demos of their mobile games and score sponsorships - which several of our games have, with Armor Games and Newgrounds among others.

With HTML5, it's an investment into the future standard for web games.

Are 3D games possible using iStencyl?

For the foreseeable future, we'll be focusing on 2D games because that's what we understand best. There are already plenty of great tools out there for building fully-fledged 3D games.

How easy do you think it is for newcomers to have a crack at smartphone development these days?

Although it's true that the quality of average mobile game is rising by the day, newcomers who understand the fundamentals of creating and properly marketing their games will continue to find success on the market.

Games that execute a concept very well, have the requisite polish and market through the right channels will find an audience.

While it may be considerably more difficult to make a top 10 game these days because of the sheet talent out there, making a top 100 game is achievable.

My advice is this: start small and work your way up. Don't aim to make the next Angry Birds. Ship something to get a feel for the entire process. Turn every mistake into a learning experience. If you keep improving, remember to execute the fundamentals well and do what you love, you'll work your way up in no time.

Behind every 'overnight success' is a history of hard work, some luck and staying true to what you love doing.
Thanks to Jonathan for his time.

You can find out more about iStencyl on the tool's website.

 


With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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