Tools Spotlight: Construct 2

It’s been called the ‘Photoshop for games’, and Construct 2 aims to be the 2D game editor that enables those without any technical knowledge to make games.

The PC-based game editor is the product of Scirra, a UK outfit started around 2006 as a loosely organised hobby project run by Ashley Gullen and some of his friends.

“Instead of traditional scripting or programming, which can have tricky syntax and require some degree of expertise to use, Construct 2 has a drag-and-drop block system called ‘events’,” Gullen tells Develop.

“This is a non-patronising, genuinely productive alternative to coding, and can allow non-technical people like artists, designers, and students to produce games without needing to go and find a technical partner. It also allows technical developers to prototype ideas really quickly with little effort.”

However, being built on HTML5, Construct 2 is also suitable for seasoned devs who desire more control.

So far, it supports 13 platforms, with more on the way. These includes the desktop and mobile web, iOS and Android native apps (via the CocoonJS wrapper), Mac and Linux desktop (via node-webkit), Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, BlackBerry 10 and Tizen.

Gullen says its biggest strengths are its ease of use and prototyping.

“Most other tools require the use of some kind of scripting, or have a limited drag-and-drop system that isn’t very flexible and is basically a stepping stone to coding,” he says. “Construct 2 has a really good set of behaviours – pre-built logic that developers can use to instantly add to any object.”

Notable games that have used the technology include Super Ubie Land for the web, plus the in-production Wii U version, and Mortar Melon, a fruit-flinging physics puzzler, which has amassed over half a million downloads on the Windows 8 Store.

In the last six months, a new in-browser debugger has been added that allows you to pause, resume, save and restore, and inspect and edit variables in real-time. Other new features include support for Sprite Fonts, line-of-sight detection, geolocation and a new multiplayer engine.

Since finishing work on its debugger, Gullen says: “Next, we’re thinking about improving the support for tile maps, such as being able to draw tiles with a brush, and perhaps real-time multiplayer games using WebRTC.

"We also get a lot of requests to port the editor to other platforms, since it currently only runs on Windows. We’re thinking carefully about our long-term plans in this regard, and definitely want to address it.”

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