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7. November 2015

 

As a developer I switched to laptops ages ago.  In fact I haven't purchased a traditional PC in close to a decade and probably never will.  That said, using a laptop as your primary development machine certainly has it’s share of drawbacks including reduced capabilities, higher prices tags and more.  The process of choosing a laptop certainly isn’t easy these days.

 

The last time I went through this process it was actually quite easy.  My requirements in a laptop are, in order:

  • portability
  • power
  • battery life
  • price

Truth of the matter is, if any of those first three are missing, a machine is completely useless to me.  Getting all three at a good price… good luck with that!  If you don’t care about portability or battery life, there are a TON of excellent options available to you.  If on the other hand, you like me require power, performance and battery, the list shrinks a lot.  If you are on a budget, the list shrinks into a number you can count on one hand.  Let’s talk first about the GPU requirements.

 

The actual performance requirements of a game development machine vary massively from game developer to game developer.  If you are creating 2D games, or relatively simple 3D games, a basic discrete GPU or even a high end Intel HD chipset will work fine for you.  In fact, this might be a great choice, as it is representative of the “average” user machine.

 

However, once you start talking 3D games, especially if you are running an engine like Unreal, or content creation tools like 3D Studio Max, ZBrush or Maya, then your requirements go up a great deal.  In this case you need a discrete GPU at a minimum.  In the mobile space this means nVidia.  Outside of the MacBook Pro’s basically NOBODY uses AMD GPUs for whatever reason.

 

Laptop GPU choices

 

So now that we decided you need a GPU, we need to look at the major options out there.  Here’s the trick of understanding nVidia processors.  First off, the m designates a mobile chip, so lower power and thus lower power consumption.  As a general rule, expect the m version to run about 20% slower than the equivalent desktop version.  Also be aware, some laptop manufacturers put desktop GPUs in laptops.  Expect these to get extremely hot and to have battery lives counted in minutes, and that’s not hyperbole.

 

When looking at the naming convention of an nVidia gpu, the first number is series or a chronological marker, and the second number indicates the performance.  For example, you might think that a 940m would outperform a 880m right?  I mean it’s 60 better!  You would be horrifically wrong!  In fact my current laptop’s 765m would absolutely trounce the 940m in any benchmark.  So when looking at GPUs it’s the last two digits that are by far most important.  However that first digit can still be important as designs can shrink and become more efficient in their power usage.  The major differences between versions is the clock rate the chips run at, the amount of memory available, the memory bandwidth and the number of CUDA cores available.

 

The GPU Options

 

920/930m

You might as well go with a good integrated GPU and experience similar performance with better battery life and often lower cost or better form factor.  These GPUs may be able to run demanding games on low to medium settings at non 1080p resolutions at somewhat playable framerates.  You will struggle running a game engine like Unreal on this class of GPUs.

 

940/950m

These are in my opinion  the entry level of dedicated GPUs.  If you are looking at a sub-1000$ USD laptop with a dedicated GPU in it, this is probably the best you will find in a reasonable form factor.  You aren’t going to be running cutting edge AAA games at the highest settings, and it will struggle with higher end  or complex 3D content creation, but it’s still a big step up from even the best of the Intel integrated GPUs, even though those are improving greatly.  One of the big difference is nVidia can write good display drivers, Intel, not so much.

 

960/965m

I have been running a 765m now for several years and it’s still a pretty solid GPU.  At this level you will find you can run every game released in medium to high levels.   Personally this was my cut off when searching for a new machine.  The power to power consumed ration is quite good and it’s got enough power for today, if perhaps not for tomorrow.  The big caveat here is, this GPU is *NOT* able to power a 4K or 3K display, even though manufacturers really want to try.  The 965m is about 10% faster than the 960m. 

 

970m

This is in my opinion, the sweet spot for performance.  It runs a great deal faster than the 960 series, while not sucking battery and generating the heat of the 980m.  You are going to be *just* able to power a 4K display with this GPU, depending on the title or graphic settings.

 

980m

This is as of writing, the fastest GPU you can get in a laptop.  It is also the most power hungry.  This GPU is capable of eating any game or application you want to throw at it and often at 4K resolutions.  The 980m has 100W power consumption to the 970m’s 81W.  This is by far the most future proof of the GPU options.

 

Comparisons on GPU Boss:

If you browse those results you will see that the most profound jump was from the 960 to the 970 series.  A difference of more than twice as much as any other jump.

 

Now keep in mind there are going to be several older models with last years chip, often for a very good price.  You will often find that performance is quite similar, but power consumption is not.  If you don’t care about battery life, the 880m for example, might be an exceptional bargain for you.

 

Choosing a CPU

 

I might be somewhat controversial on this one, but this area I think matters the least.  Simply put, if you buy a machine with a good GPU you will almost always get a good enough i7 or possibly i5 processor.  There are of course a few choices here and mostly come down to when the laptop was manufactured.

A very common CPU in gaming laptops is the i7-4720, which is a very solid choice.  The newest laptops will be probably be running an i-7 6700.  If the laptop came in the middle of the year it may be running something like an i7-5700.  So what is the difference.

On the one hand you have clock speeds which should be immediately obvious in meaning.  The next two most important aspects are the architecture and the size of the chip.  Smaller chips generally use less power, so size does in fact matter.  Architecture is going to be one of four things, in order of age (oldest first): Ivy Bridge, Haswell, Broadwell or Skylake.

As a general rule of thumb the newer the chip the less power it consumes, although you will often find the older chips in the previous series out perform the newest chips in the new series.  For example, the best Broadwell CPUs today are generally faster then the newest Skylake CPUs.  Of course over time this becomes less true. 

As mentioned earlier, size is a big part of power consumption.  Skylake chips are made of 14nm transistors while the Haswell is a 22nm chip.  To make things even more confusing, Broadwell is a transitional chip, it’s a Haswell architecture made at 14nm.

Generally what this means when shopping for a laptop, if it was made in the last 4 or 5 months and it’s running a Broadwell or Skylake processor, it will probably get great battery life.  That said, if it’s not a Ivy Bridge chip you are probably good to go and even that shouldn’t be a deal breaker.  In benchmarks thus far, I have actually seen almost zero difference between Skylake and Broadwell CPUs in both processing power and power consumption.

At the end of the day, the CPU is rarely the bottle neck and Intel has been making really good chips since they started the i3/i5/i7 series, so you can’t really make a huge mistake here.

 

HOWEVER.  If you are going with an integrated GPU you want to be very aware of which iteration you use, as the capabilities of the integrated GPU have changed massively from release to release.  For an idea of the various integrated graphics from chip to chip, refer to this handy chart.

 

RAM, Storage and Everything Else

 

Next there is all the other stuff that goes into making up the laptop.  The keyboard and trackpad style are obviously going to be personal tastes, as are the design esthetics.  This was actually a big point for me, as I simply wont buy a “gaming” styled laptop.  I don’t want glowing logos, or bullet holes or bite marks in my laptops design!  Of course your opinion will vary.

 

For RAM, I think the reasonable limit is 8GB, although you could get buy with 4GB and quite frankly, I don’t think most people would use 16GB.  32GB is just a waste for the vast majority of users.

 

For storage, this one is critical.  A 5400 RPM drive as a primary hard drive is an absolute non-starter.  Seriously don’t do it.  Your boot times will suck, your machine will be sluggish and all that other hardware will be wasted.  Increasingly these days a SSD drive is a must, at least for your system partition.  The difference between an SSD and non SSD drive is 3 second boot times verses 30 seconds or worse.  If your machine starts using swap instead of memory, this will becoming even more glaring.

 

What I am saying here is, get an SSD.   I pretty much consider it mandatory in this day and age.

 

How big, that’s up to you.  I lived for the past several years with only a 256GB drive for storage and with solutions like DropBox, Github, Google Drive or One Drive basically giving away online storage, I never really found this a major hindrance.  Frankly if I didn’t install Steam or any games, I would probably never use more than 100GB or so.  That said, more is always nice.  Another common option is a small SSD drive for your OS install and a larger slower SATA driver for storage and non-performance critical applications.  Nicely in this day and age, swapping the hard drive out of a laptop normally requires zero technical ability and the removal of a screw or two.

 

The final, and critically important decision is the screen.  Many people are jumping on the 4K or 3K display train and this is certainly an option.  That said, if you have less than a 970m GPU or a dual 960 series, don’t even consider it.  Honestly don’t.  That GPU cant power that screen.

 

The choice of an ultra high def screen also leads to a ton of legacy apps being almost illegible.  A higher resolution screen is also a greater draw on battery life.  On the other hand, they look really really really nice and greatly reduce eye strain.  Personally if the option existed, I would go FHD (1080p) regardless of the GPU I selected, but that’s of course personal opinion.

 

The Options

 

Two and a half years ago, the decision was extremely simple.  In fact there was only one option, the Razer Blade series from Razer.  Well that’s not completely true, there was also the MacBook Pro… sorta.  Those were the only two machines in 2013 that were truly portable while packing good internals.  The MacBook Pro unfortunately, and true still to this day, packed a sub-par GPU especially for the sky high price tag.   Not that the Razer Blade is what I would refer to as cheap.  It has however served me well these past two and a half years and had the battery not started failing I would probably continue to use it.

 

These days however, more and more manufacturers are making capable while still portable laptops that are ideal for game developers on the go.  Let’s take a look at the leading options.  To make this list you needed to meet the following criteria:

  • around 5lbs or less
  • 15” or smaller
  • dedicated GPU, preferable 960 or better
  • i7 processor
  • 8GB or more RAM
  • SSD

 

Name

Asus G501JW

MSRP

2200USD

Weight

4.5lbs

Features

Asus makes a whole series of laptops worth considering, but the 501 series is certainly the most portable.  This laptop ships with a respectable 960m processor but unfortunately pairs it with a 3840x2160 display.  There are several models available but I link to the J for a very specific reason.  This is the only version that doesn’t ship with a completely useless battery.  4+ hours are possible with this version, while others in the series will struggle to get 2hours.

i7 4720HQ

GTX 960M w/ 4GB DDR5

16GB DDR3 RAM

512GB SSD

This version without an SSD and with a much more sane FHD (1080p) display is instead listed for a much more reasonable $1050USD.  Be aware however that the battery life is terrible.  There are several different versions of the same model, just be aware that the American J version if the only one with a good battery choice right now.  There is also the 551 series which are cheaper with similar components but a fair bit heavier.  Too heavy to make this list.

 

Name

Asus UX501

MSRP

2075USD

Weight

5lbs

Features

i7 4720HQ

3840x2160 Display

GTX 960M w/ 4GB DDR5

16GB DDR3 RAM

512GB SSD

 

This is the same machine as the G501, just marketed to business consumers instead of gamers.  It comes in a brushed aluminum chassis and is a very nice looking machine.  Like the G501 series, you want the J series if battery life is important to you, however if it is not, much cheaper versions exist.  This machine has similar build quality and superior specs to the MacBook Pro for half the price.

 

Name

15” MacBook Pro w/ Dedicated GPU

MSRP

2300USD

Weight

4.5lbs

Features

i7 2.5GHZ

16GB DDR3

512GB SSD

Radeon R9 M370X with 2GB

Of course the MacBook Pro is also an option.  The internals are certainly not cutting edge compared to others in this list, and Apple’s refusal to use nVidia GPUs really hurt it.  On the flipside you get MacOS and can run Windows either in Parallels or dual boot.  Build quality is generally quite good although the design is really waiting for an update.  Not a great gaming machine but certainly a flexible one and the only Macbook really even capable of running games at all.  You can raise or lower the price slightly by changing the RAM and storage requirements.  Has by far the best battery life of machines on this list.

 

Name

MSI GS40 or GS60

MSRP

1500 – 2200USD

Weight

4.2lbs

Features

i7 5700 CPU

970m GPU

16GB DDR3 RAM

128GB SSD + 1TB SATA

There are several variants of the the GS60 Ghost Pro laptop from MSI and every single one of them has the interns you need.  Packed in a lightweight chassis for a reasonable price.  If we stopped there this would be the easier winner on the list, but sadly we can’t.  The battery life kills this model.  Depending on the review you read the battery life is anywhere from abysmal at 1hr to just kind of bad in the 2.5hr range.  Sadly unlike the Asus line, there isn’t a model with a superior battery available.

The GS40 is a similar machine packed into a 14” chassis, otherwise all the interns are pretty similar.  The range is available in a variety of SSD sizes and with differing processors for obviously differing prices.

 

Name

Aorus X3 / X5

MSRP

2300USD

Weight

5.5lbs

Features

i7-5700

2x GTX 965m in SLI

16GB DDR

512GB SSD + 1TB SATA

This laptop certainly stretches the portability and weight values but is otherwise a powerhouse with a SLI setup.  However a 2hour battery life and a high price tag certainly hinder it.  The Aorus X3 is a beastly machine that is lighter and smaller, but with equally horrid battery life and a higher price tag.  If battery and budget are no issue, it’s got some amazing specs.

 

Name

Gigabyte P34

MSRP

1500USD

Weight

3.5lbs

Features

i7 5700HQ

8GB DDR3

128SSD + 1TB SATA

970m GPU

By far the lightest machine on this list and loaded with hardware it’s hard to go wrong with the P34.  There are a variety of versions available with more RAM and higher resolution and obviously a higher pricetag.  The secondary drive unfortunately is 5400RPM, the only major strike against this machine.  Battery life is a respectable 3-5 hours daily use, also among the best on this list.

 

Name

Razer Blade 14

MSRP

2000-3000USD

Weight

4.5lbs

Features

i7-4720HQ

16GB DDR3

nVidia 970m

256GB SSD

A number of different configurations exist, mostly varying the SSD size and screen resolutions.  The chassis is basically unchanged since the original model, simply receiving a spec bump each year.  Battery life is third on this list behind the Macbook Pro and Gigabyte P34.  Build quality is as good or better than any other machine on this list.  Sadly the same can be said of the price tag.

 

 

Name

Acer Nitro

MSRP

1000USD

Weight

5.3lb

Features

i7-4720HQ

8GB DDR3

nVidia 960m

1TB 5400RPM Sata HD

The bargain on this list, hamstrung with an absolutely stupid choice in hard disks.  If you buy this machine budget some money for a HD replacement or that will drag the entire system down.  With a respectable 4 hours battery life and a somewhat heavy 5.3lb weight, it’s a solid economical choice.  With a really stupid hard drive.  Keep in mind however that fit and finish may not be the best on this machine at that price level.

 

 

 

Name

Lenova Y50

MSRP

1050USD

Weight

5.3lbs

Features

i7-4720

16GB DDR3 RAM

GTX 960M

256SSD HD

Another budget choice like the Nitro, with a similarly stupid decision to pack a 5400RPM drive.  This one does however ship with a 8GB SSD drive for swap partition optimizations.  How much of a difference this makes is unknown to me.  For the price however, a solid portable system similar in all respects to the Nitro.

 

 

Name

HP Omen

MSRP

1400USD

Weight

4.7lbs

Features

i7-4702

8GB DDR3

nVidia 860m

256GB SSD

Not traditionally the company you would think of for gaming laptops, but this one is quite solid if a bit underwhelming from a spec perspective. 

 

Honorable Mentions

 

Dell XPS 15  A high quality, great form factor machine, a serious price tag with excellent specs and a horrifically outdated GPU.  Update the GPU to a 960/970 and you instantly have a contender.  With this GPU at that price, sadly I have to pass.

MSI GS30 This one is an interesting concept.  It’s a portable and capable 13” laptop that lacks a dedicated GPU.  That said, it ships with a Gaming Dock, that contains a desktop class GPU.  So a portable machine when you need it, a gaming machine when you take it home.  If you only need the power when you are at home, this is certainly something to consider. 

Alienware 13  This 13” option from Alienware is certainly worth considering as well.  It packs a 960m GPU and solid internals into a 13” chassis.  Also like the MSI it has a desktop GPU docking option available.  It clocks in at under 5 lbs, so it certainly meets the criteria set above.  It is however horrifically fat, at 1.14”.  If it’s girth isn’t an issue to you it’s a solid option for 1200-1500USD.

Microsoft SurfaceBook  When it was announced that the Surface Book would have a dedicated GPU I stood up and took notice.  The price tag was extremely steep, but you were essentially getting a tablet and high end laptop in one, so perhaps it would be worthwhile.  Then it was announced that the GPU was a 1GB custom nVidia chip on par with the 940M and it’s place on this list was lost. 

Origin EON-15x  This machine is amazingly powerful in a 15” chassis.  It’s also amazingly expensive with horrid battery life.  Plus it weighs more then some 17” laptops.  It’s fun to drool over though, so I’ve included it.

 

The Verdict

 

Looking at the list there seems to be one clear cut winner when it comes to size, performance and price.

The Gigabyte P34v4.  The lightest, one of the highest specs at one of the lower non-budget price points with a 2 year warranty makes it hard to say no.  I’ve put my money where my mouth is and purchased this machine, so expect a review soon.

Totally Off Topic


30. July 2015

 

My primary laptop was misbehaving in so many ways I was about ready to do a complete re-install.  It was randomly turning itself on from hibernate for example, which lead to an overheating and half dead laptop half the time I got to where I was going.  Fortunately the Windows 10 release was on the horizon, so I figured I would be doing a fresh install then anyways, so I held off.  Now that I’ve finish the upgrade ( Windows 10 rocks btw… ), I’ve noticed that I have my essential programs that get installed right away on a fresh install.  The following are my go to programs on a fresh install.

 

Keep in mind, a lot of my needs also focus on blogging/writing in addition to game development, so if some of these have you scratching your head, that’s why!  I am also not completely up and running yet either, so this isn’t by any means a complete list of the tools I used, just the priority stuff I cant live without.

 

Dropbox To be honest, I think the client is starting to cause issues with both stability and battery life.  At the end of the day though, this IS my file system these days.  Thanks to Dropbox, I can be up and running productively on a new machine in a matter of hours, tops.  Plus, and I totally know you shouldn’t do this… but it’s a great poor mans version control Smile

 

7zip  Swiss army knife free archiving tool, all I ever need for all my compression needs.

 

Steam It’s where my games are.  This gets installed early as there’s about 1TB of games in there to download.  It’s kind of nice having all of my games in one spot, makes reinstalls a breeze.  I do hate the constant updates and the CPU hogging that are becoming more and more common though.

 

Visual Studio 2015 Community  The Windows based IDE, C++, C#, F# all in one home, also thankfully now free in a small developer environment.  I had great timing here, as the torch was just passed between Visual Studio 2013 and 2015, hopefully saving me about 15GB of drive space.  Hopefully.

 

SublimeText  My go to text editor.  This or Notepad++, I flip back and forth.  I go with the beta version 3 as I like living dangerously.

 

Blender  Free and comprehensive 3D graphics package

 

Paint.Net  Free 2D image app.  Not the most powerful image editor out there, but certainly a capable one, especially for the price.  My go to app for resizing and cleaning up images.

 

Java SE JDK  Even if I’m not working with LibGDX or Android right now, it’s enevitable I am going to have to install the JDK eventually so might as well do it now.  Normally go with Java 7, but trying 8 this time, mostly because Oracle made 7 enough of a pain in the ass to find.  Have a sinking feeling I am going to have to download Java 7 at some point in the near future.

 

IntelliJ IDEA  Speaking of Java, this is my Java IDE of choice.  Also my Lua and Haxe IDE of choice while we are at it.

 

WebStorm  While I’m on JetBrain’s site, I also grab WebStorm, my HTML5 IDE of choice.  I subscribe to this, 50$ a year I think.  Well worth it.

 

Windows Live Writer  Part of Windows Essentials.  It’s the software I do my Windows based blogging on, what I am typing this in as we speak.  Sadly discontinued in 2012, as it’s still the best software for blogging available IMHO.

 

FastStone Capture  I bought this app like 6 years ago for 20$ and I love it to death.  It’s my screenshot/markup/video capture go to application.

 

Camtasia Studio  When I started producing video I tried so hard to find a free alternative.  They sucked, every single one of them.  Camtasia has a price tag attached and some glaring faults ( no on screen keyboard display??? ), it’s still the best video capture/editing package on the market.

 

GifCam  I make a lot of animated gifs for tutorials and this little free app ROCKS.  I used to use a much more complicated process, now I just use this.  Creates high quality but small filesize images.  Highly recommended.

 

Highlight  I’ve tried all sorts of different approaches to creating marked up code for books and blogs and Highlight has been hands down my favourite.  Oh, it’s free too!

 

Scrivener  This is my primary book authoring software, and as time goes on I will mix my book and blog workflow into a single entity and this will be home.  It’s a tool for writers and really takes a bit to get used to, but once it clicks… it clicks.  Honestly though the Windows version is only so-so.  It’s the Mac version that shines.

 

What I haven’t installed:

A Browser.  Normally Chrome would be item number 1 on a new install.  Thing is, Chrome has gotten worse, a lot worse.  Microsoft Edge however… check it out, really, do.  I did however disable Bing after about 30 seconds…

A Mail Client.  I’m giving the new Windows 10 mail client a go.  Actually pretty impressed so far.  Normally I use MailBird.  If I dont like Windows 10 mail I will go back to Mailbird.

Microsoft Office.  I have a license, and will eventually need to install it, at least Word, but I try to put it off as long as possible. 

 

What I’ve not mentioned:

Game Engines.  I also install game engines… LibGDX, Unity, Stencyl, Unreal, Paradox3D, etc…  These vary based on the tutorials I am currently working on however, so I don’t include them, although they are certainly essential.  The cool part is, pretty much every single one of them is free.

 

Honourable mentions:

Krita or GIMP – 2d painting

Inkscape – Vector Graphics

Visual Studio Code – Sublime Text like editor, fairly new but becoming a bigger and bigger fan

 

 

It’s actually kind of cool if you look through this list just how low the total price tag actually is.  The amount of stuff I need to install is actually getting smaller and smaller too, thanks to more and more functionality being move to the web.

Totally Off Topic


23. July 2015

 

I recently ran into a bit of a challenge and the work around wasn’t entirely obvious so I’ve decided to share the process here.  The XNA Game Studio install includes a couple of tools, the XACT audio tool being specifically what I was after.  Unfortunately to install XNA you need to first have Visual Studio 2010 or Visual Studio 2010 Express installed.  As that version of VS is getting increasingly dated, this is going to be an issue for many.  Fortunately there is a work around.

 

First download the XNA installer here.  The file is called XNAGS40_setup.exe

 

Now open a command prompt ( possibly with admin privledges ) and CD to directory containing the file you downloaded.

Run the command:

XNAGS40_setup.exe /x

You will now be prompted where to extract:

image

Click OK

This will create a couple files, the most important being redists.msi, run this file ( just type redists.msi and [enter] at the command line, or double click in Explorer ).

 

This will in turn create a directory structure in Program Files ( or Program Files x86 on 64bit Windows ) called Microsoft XNA.

Close the command prompt and navigate to that folder in Windows Explorer then open XNA Game Studio\v4.0\setup:

image

Run xnags_shared.msi then xnags_platform_tools.msi, both are simple installers,  take default options if asked.

Now if you check the folder XNA Game Studio/v4.0 you should see that all of the tools you need have been installed in the Tools directory:

image

Programming General


18. July 2015

 

So I just ran into a recent problem with Blender that ended up having a very very simple answer.

 

Normally I do my animations in place with no movements along a certain axis.  However an animation I downloaded from Mixamo wasn’t in place and I had to get around it.  In fact, the animation looked like this:

Blender

 

My first thought was to simply delete all of the transform keys along Y axis.  It didn’t work, so then my thought was I could reset each key to the same position, but this quickly became a complete pain in the arse.  In the end, as I said, the answer was incredibly simple… track the translation of the model using the camera, leaving:

Blender2

 

And…

Blender3

 

To do this, simply select and position the camera, then add a Copy Location constraint:

image

 

Pick the axis you are moving along, set the target to the Armature and pick a bone to aim at.  Done.

Art


14. July 2015

 

Since picking up the Humble Bundle a few days back, I’ve been playing around with Stencyl ( expect more later ) a little bit.  While Stencyl provides a drag and drop programming interface, it ultimately enables you to generate Haxe code ( more seamlessly than you probably expect ).  My preferred Haxe editing environment is the IntelliJ IDE.  This tutorial looks at configuring one to work with the other.

 

First go download and install the community version of IntelliJ IDEA if you haven’t already.

Next run IntelliJ, we need to configure the Haxe plugin.  With IntelliJ loaded, select Configure->Plugins:

image

Click Browse Repositories

image

 

Type Haxe into the search field, select Haxe plugin and click Install plugin

image

 

Click yes when prompted, the plugin will be downloaded, then click Close/OK and let IntelliJ IDEA restart.

 

Now load Stencyl if you haven’t already.  Click File->Preferences or Alt+Enter:

image

 

Click the Editors tab, drop down the combo under Code Editor and select Choose Application… and navigate to the idea.exe:

image

 

Next Apply Changes.

 

Next we need some code to edit.  One easy way is to create a new Behavior.   From the Dashboard, select Actor Behaviors, Create New

image

 

Fill in the resulting dialog like so (Select Code Mode and name it), then click Create:

image

 

You new behavior will be created and opened in the built in code editor.  Now click Open In External Editor:

image

 

This will open in IntelliJ, but you wont have any code completion or intellisense.  Let’s fix that now.  To do this we need to configure the Haxe SDK.  To do so, right click the generated project name and select Open Module Settings or hit F4 with the project selected.

image

 

Click SDKs, then + then Haxe toolkit

image

 

Then navigate to the Stencyl install directory, then plaf/haxe and click OK.

image

 

Finally we want to add the additional libraries so IntelliJ knows about them.  Select ClassPath, then + and add /lib.

image

 

Finally we need to tell IntelliJ that this project is a Haxe project.  Still in settings (F4 to go back if you’ve closed it), go to Project and select Haxe as SDK.

image

 

In the future, this last step should be the only one you have to perform, unless you change your Stencyl install.

 

Now your code in IntelliJ should have full autocomplete:

image

 

Now when you save in IntelliJ, it will automatically sync in Stencyl.

Programming


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