Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Indie Flash Games 101

My buddy Adam, who has just started teaching interactive media at university in Denmark, emailed me some questions about how to get his students started with publishing their own indie Flash games. These days I can't write anything without making it into a blog post, so here's my getting started guide:

What technical issues should students be aware of?
- You need both a copy of Flash Professional (CS3, 4, or 5) AND a code editor. If you are on Windows download FlashDevelop - it's free. Otherwise try FDT, InteliJ IDEa or FlashBuilder, which all have free/cheap options for students/beginners.
- Use ActionScript3, Flash player 9 or 10.
-If you are confident with programming and want to make more advanced games in a short space of time, consider using Flixel or Box2D.
- Filesize should be less than 8MB
- Dimensions should be width: 400-720 pixels, height: 300-600 pixels.
- Game should be a single self-contained swf file.

What are the top sites to submit a game to, and how can they judge how good their game is?
- Kongregate - Signs of success: score 2.8 or higher on the user rating, get more than 500 plays, get some positive comments. Kongregate audience are very particular and are much more forgiving to long form fantasy RPG type games than other genres. Expect mini-games to get a roasting / be ignored. Getting featured on the front page or winning any weekly contests very unlikely for a beginner. Game can include Mochiads, which Kong will automatically disable, and instead give you nice share of their ad revenue.
- Newgrounds - Signs of success: score 3.2 or higher on the user rating, get more than 1000 plays, get some positive comments. Newground audience are lovable scamps with an open mind about any type of game. Front page feature unlikely but getting featured on any page or finishing in the daily/weekly top games is something to aim for. Game can include Mochiads.
- FlashGameLicense - in the current FGL market, beginner and mini-games are unlikely to sell at all, but it's still worth investigating this site.
- Add the Mochi analytics APIs, (and mochi ads obviously) and submit to Mochi distribution to see how a game does virally. Signs of success: 5000 plays, large number of sites featuring game.
- More portals can be found on this handy list.

What should students aspire to?
- Front page of Digg.com
- featured on mainstream games blog e.g. Kotaku.
- featured in print publication e.g. Edge, .net
- Front page on Newgrounds or Kongregate
- Millions of plays across various sites
- attract sponsorship from big name e.g. ArmorGames, Kongregate
- players produce fan art

Hope this is useful to someone. Remember not to take the negative criticism from comments too personally. Learn from it and move on to your next game!

1 comment:

Desmarkie said...

Although a copy of flash pro has it's advantages, I wouldn't say it's strictly necessary. It's main advantage would be for character animation within the timeline, though there is no reason why you couldn't do this with a sprite sheet + code, it just takes a bit more effort.

Also, this may be a better approach in terms of learning games development, given that flash is pretty unique with it's stage concept. Something like XNA would go for the spritesheet+code approach no?

Flashdevelop + the free Flex SDK is all you really need to start making games imho ;)