by Jon (Updated on 2014-01-26)
- What is Actor Customization?
- You can refer to specific Actors/Regions inside a Scene
- Example: Pressing Switches
- Caveat: Don't use hidden attributes if you intend to customize an actor.
Sometimes, you'll want to customize the "behavior" of an actor instance in order to make it act a little differently from the norm.
Suppose we’ve got a Goomba for a Mario game. Now, we want to make a Hopping Goomba, but we only want one.
You could do this by creating a brand new Actor Type, copying everything about the regular Goomba, and adding a Jump behavior. But a few too many times and you end up with this...
Is there a better way to go about this? There is. It’s called Actor Customization.
What is Actor Customization?
Actor Customization is a feature that lets you tweak a specific instance of an Actor to behave differently.
To customize an Actor, left-click on it, and then click the Inspector Pane tab on the right hand side of the screen.
From there, check "Customize" box in order to change the characteristics of the actor you've selected.
What can you customize?
1) Modify an actor’s set of behaviors.
You can add more behaviors or even take some away. You can click the + button in the Inspector to add a Behavior.
Doing so will bring up a dialog that lets you choose a Behavior to add, for example one that lets our Actor jump and run.
You can also delete a Behavior for an Actor from the Inspector by clicking the X button.
2) Modify the values for those behaviors.
For example, suppose that we want a particular Actor to walk really quickly. We could increase the “Minimum Speed” field for the
You can refer to specific Actors and Regions within a scene.
As you may know, an Actor’s behaviors can’t directly refer to specific objects within a scene. This is why, when you attach a Behavior to an Actor, and that behavior has an Actor attribute, you see this.
Is there a way to enter values into these fields for Actors? There is! When you customize an actor, you can refer to specific Actors and Regions within a scene. Like this.
I’ll explain how to do this through a common example: pressing switches.
Example: Pressing Switches
Suppose that you're playing an adventure game like Zelda. You're inside a dungeon, and you come across a room with several switches. Stepping on a switch causes a particular door to open.
- Unzip and stick the project into your Games directory as "Switches"
- Don't know where your Games directory is? Click the "View Games Directory" button at the bottom of the Welcome Center (the first screen you see after opening Stencyl)
How can we use Actor Customization to make this work?
In a gist, we want to create a “Switch” behavior that, given a “Door” actor, will tell that Door actor to open up when our Hero steps (collides) on the switch. (The switch should also visually change to a pressed-down state)
Through Actor Customization, we can customize each instance of a switch to open up a particular door when pressed.
(Note: I’m explaining how this works for this scenario. You’ll need to tweak the approach to fit your needs.)
1) Open the “Customizing Actors” project that you downloaded above.
2) Open the main scene.
3) Left-click the left switch, then click the Inspector tab on the right. Click the “Customize” check box in the Inspector.
4) Notice that you now have full control over what behaviors are attached to this particular switch!
5) Click on “Door Actor...” in the Inspector. A dialog will pop up. Choose the left door.
6) Test the game!
7) Finally, configure the other switch to open the other door. Test again.
You’ve customized the switch so that when that switch is pressed, the left door opens.
How does this work? Let's take a peek into the "guts" of this sytem. Open up the “Switch Behavior” behavior.
The key piece is the Actor attribute called “Door Actor” - when you customize the Switch actor inside a scene (by double-clicking it), this "Door Actor" attribute lets you pick a SPECIFIC door within the scene to act upon.
If you understand that connection, you fully understand how Actor Customization works.
Caveat: Don't use hidden attributes if you intend to customize an actor.
Readers have reported an issue in which hidden attributes are problematic when you attempt to customize an actor. For the time being, it is best to adhere to this limitation until the issue is fixed.
- Use Actor Customization to tweak the behavior of actors rather than creating brand new ones.
- Actor Customization lets you modify the attached set of behaviors and modify each behavior’s values, for a particular instance of an Actor within a scene.
- You can refer to specific Actors and Regions within a scene through Actor Customization.