How to improve at Flowlab (quickly)
Flowlab games are made using blocks. If you don’t know how to make something, it’s because you don’t know how to connect these blocks. Learning how all these blocks (aka. behaviors) work is absolutely critical in improving.
Tips 1 and 3 are targetted towards newer users, but all the other tips are greatly helpful for most all skill levels.
How to learn quickly
Read the behavior handbook. And when I say this, really read through the entire thing and always keep it open on a 2nd tab (at least for your first 1-2 months). This will give you a basic understanding of how all the behaviors work.
Use bundles. They are amazing for organizing your code and will help you in the long run so much. Should be used to separate different actions from each other, like walking and jumping, attacking, rolling, etc.
Start with something simple. For your very first project make a platformer like Mario (even a recreation of it if you want), it has a lot of aspects of it that should give you small challenges. This first game isn’t meant to be incredible, it’s meant to be used as a playground for you to get used to how Flowlab works and experience things firsthand. (Creating a top-down game is also a good starting ground, but I personally think Mario is a better option)
Do things you don’t know. When I say this, I don’t mean a simple double jump, I mean something that’s an inch out of your current skill level. It should be reachable, but still hard and require a good amount of thinking.
Learn lists. This could be done with step 4, but I think doing a couple of other things before this is good. You don’t need to be the best with them, but use them enough to have a basic understanding. So either make a small dialogue system with it or a way to hold coins and rubies in a single behavior. People seem to find this impossible to learn well, so just use it in small parts and you’ll slowly gain knowledge of how it works. Then after 1-2 months, make a project that heavily requires it. This will really push you to learn and can be done for a lot of other things as well.
(seriously, it’s crazy how often I’ll see someone do something and in my split second of looking at it think “Why not use a list?”)
Ask for help if needed, but don’t make it the first thing you do. If you can figure it out on your own in half an hour or an hour, it’s better to do that than waiting for someone to respond to your forum post, and you’ll actually be able to really understand it if you do it yourself. This does not mean to never ask for help, this simply means to evaluate if there is something that would take you a very long time to learn or if you could learn it just as well from someone explaining it.
How to spot your own mistakes
Using lots of the same behaviors. If you ever find yourself using 5 filters, messages, expressions, etc. you’re doing something wrong. It’s as simple as that. There are some edge cases where maybe it is needed, but 95% of the time if something is condensed more, it’s both easier to understand and make once you figure out why.
If there are more than 20 behaviors on screen at once. If you have this many behaviors on screen at once, there is a very good chance it should be bundled.
Backwards wires. If you have connections going backward that’s fine, but if you have a ton of them, you should probably rearrange your behaviors or rethink how you’re doing something.
Lag. If you have a decent computer and experience a decent amount of lag on a small game something might be going wrong. For something like this, it’s probably best to ask others for some insight because it’s really hard to know the little things that make Flowlab tick as a new user.
Each week/month ask yourself “Do I know how to use X behavior?” If the answer is no, dedicate some time to learn how to use it.
If you never experiment and only try things that are currently needed in your projects, you’re limiting yourself by not learning other possible options. Go out of your comfort zone, and don’t just reuse the same mechanic in 10 different games, that’s not learning.
I would like to consider myself incredibly knowledgeable in Flowlab. While I don’t really have many fully complete projects, I experimented with a ton of different behaviors and mechanics, and after a little over a year, I’m so comfortable with Flowlab that I know how to make pretty much anything.
Many others can also make almost everything they need, but there is a huge difference between getting something done, and doing it effectively. So make sure to practice good habits. No matter what skill level you’re at, if you’re doing mistakes 1, 2, and 3 you need to fix that.
I personally still need to organize my code a little better and could learn how to use haxe expressions.
Just remember there is always something new to learn.