How I Use It
I introduce my students to game design with the popular web tool, Gamestar Mechanic, "a game and community designed to teach kids the principles of game design and systems thinking in a highly engaging environment" (Gamestar Mechanic). My students complete a pretty comprehensive study in the five elements of game design, as defined by Gamestar Mechanic. After that, I would like to provide students with an opportunity to go deeper. Currently, all I have is an "À la carte combination" of a number of projects including Stencyl, Scratch, and ARIS.
I've grabbed any YouTube tutorials that where comprehensible and added them to my student walkthrough, along with Stencyl's "Crash Course". More support would definitely be helpful.
I really really really want to love Stencyl. I keep trying to squeeze its potential awesomeness out. Stencyl is "a drag-and-drop gameplay designer" (Stencyl website), modeled after the MIT Scratch project. Basically, it's blocks-based programming made specifically for game design. The sweet part for teachers is that it is free. I've been using this for a couple of years now. This definitely gives students more freedom and challenge than Gamestar. It seems, though, to be very buggy. Stencylforge, Stencyl's marketplace for user-created resources is heavily promoted within the application as the main source for graphics, sounds, behaviors etc. Unfortunately, this fall, Stencylforge was down more than it was up, rendering the whole program a bit clunky and useless and leaving students frustrated and stranded. Stencyl is awesome for making Platformer Games, but when it comes to something more robust, like an RPG, Stencyl has more glitches and frustration than success. Most of it's kits were designed on a previous version and break once imported into the new version. Most of my students do not have the level of experience with the program necessary to troubleshoot what's broken.