If you've ever wanted to make your own games but find the prospect of programming daunting, then new project Stencyl is definitely worth a look.
Flash games and even awful retail titles there are out there. But the idea of proving that you could do better is often stymied by the necessity of learning a complicated programming language.
There have been efforts to change that over the years. Clickteam's fantastic products, for example, make game production as simple as solving a logic puzzle. Power Game Factory for Mac is a great solution for those looking to make side-scrollers exclusively for the oft-underappreciated platform. Yoyogames' Game Maker is capable of some sophisticated end results with a bit of effort. And Enterbrain's RPG Maker series covers those looking to better their favorite JRPGs.
But most of these products cost money -- and a considerable amount of it, too, in many cases. If you're not sure if game making is for you, it's a lot of money to spend to find out.
Enter Stencyl, with its free (yes, free) StencylWorks application for PC and Mac. Stencyl allows anyone to create Flash games that work on PC, Mac or, soon, iOS devices. Not only that, but the program itself features a built-in online community, allowing content creators to easily share their resources with each other, and making life much easier for those who have a really good idea for a game but no idea about how to create graphics or sound. The company has also partnered with popular Flash gaming portal Kongregate to help educate potential game makers about the art of making something truly interactive and entertaining.
Making a game in Stencyl is a simple case of picking (or creating) graphic and sound resources, building them into "scenes" and assigning "behaviors" to them. Behaviors are built by snapping blocks together and following through logical processes which might occur in your game. This might sound complicated, but in practice it's a simple case of "if player lands on top of enemy, play a sound, increase the score by 50 and destroy the enemy" or similar.
Programming pros can also use ActionScript to extend their games beyond the behaviors provided with the game, making Stencyl a great solution for beginner and experienced game makers alike. So what are you waiting for? Go check it out now, and be sure to let us know if you've come up with an earth-shatteringly brilliant creation!