Wednesday 4 January 2012

Your Business Start-up – Lite. Using StencylWorks

Click a few times on game screen to start controls working  

A more light-hearted view of starting up your own business. Converting gained experience into the visual form of a flash game.

I have met a number of business start-ups, providing them with assistance and guidance. This is often in conjunction with other networkers such as HBN.

Starting a business is quite simple in principle. You need to have ideas on the nature of your business. Researching and asking around for information can help you at least identify a possible route to success. Against that you have the barriers and obstacles on your path, often from those who are more interested in telling you why your proposition won’t work: the Scoffers who ridicule your ideas; the Doom-mongers who believe it isn't worth trying in the current market, Blockers who just obstruct you; and the Sharks who see you as easy meat due to your inexperience.

During the Christmas break, I followed up a site recommended on BBC’s Click by Kate Russell in her weekly website review. The site is called and purports to make the creation of Flash games simple.

On the face of it, it looked so simple that I was tempted to play and create my own game. Stencyl allows you to download a free software, StencylWorks, which adopts a Lego type approach of different game building blocks and behaviours that you can choose as icons. They even provide you with a couple of starter kits that permit you to set up a demo game very easily.

The system IS straightforward but, like everything else, you can still make silly mistakes – and some of the elements provided by other players that you can download do not always work. Whether it is their fault or my ineptitude is a separate issue. However, by following instructions, searching for additional help on the web and perseverance, I was able to design the game you see here.

Basically, it is a wheeled little businessperson who has to travel through a maze to reach HOME (starting his business). On his way he can collect ideas (light bulbs) and information (information symbols) whilst stomping on or avoiding Scoffers, Doom-mongers, Blockers and Sharks.

The characters each have different properties; some can be pushed around, others can be stomped on to remove and two are lethal to the little businessperson. The little businessperson can walk left and right and also do a double jump.

This game is by no means perfect. For example, I can lose my character off screen to cause a restart and I also could not get a scoring system to work. However, it is satisfying to wander through the maze, popping light bulbs and information signs whilst avoiding the visual hazards.

The main lessons from creating this game were – 1. it is fun to acquire a new skill and 2. It is far easier to overcome the obstacles on the way to your new start-up in a game than in real life!

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