Posts

Blogging again soon

I think Twitter has rather taken the wind out of my blogging sails - but I'm going to return to it soon, with some tips and musings on the brave new world of Unity and HTML5. In the meantime here's a piece I wrote for CreativeBloq:  http://www.creativebloq.com/netmag/web-design-mistakes-every-beginner-makes-71412342

Create a Simple Asteroids Game Using Component-Based Entities

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I recently wrote a tutorial for GameDevTuts+ where I show how to set up an entity composition system in ActionScript3 and use it to create a simple asteroids-style game. If that gets you excited, go read it! Part 1: Avoiding the Blob Antipattern: A Pragmatic Approach to Entity Composition Part 2: Create a Simple Asteroids Game Using Component-Based Entities Full source on Github

Dungeon of Math - an Adventure Time game we made in 48 hours

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Me and Amanda made this game over the weekend for the Fantastic Arcade Game Making Frenzy Adventure Time Game Jam (wow, that's a mouthful!). Enjoy:  http://www.adventuretimegamejam.com/submissions/69-dungeon-of-math

Mochi London 2012 - Come meet me!

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I spoke at Mochi London last year, and I'm pleased to say I'll be back this year with a brand new talk (all about the making of Super Gun Kids). The main conference is on Saturday 15th September 2012 at King's College London, which is a great space, and it's completely FREE! Come meet the UK Flash game developer community! http://mochilondon2012-estw.eventbrite.com/

Super Gun Kids: Progress Report

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About two years ago, I decided that I want to gradually transition from being a freelance Flash dev to being an indie games dev – a full time one, if possible. I can now assure you, friends,  it’s not as easy as it looks! After a couple of false starts, I’m finally working full time on my own game, with a pretty healthy timescale and high spirits. But jeez Louise, it’s scary. Seriously, it take takes stones of steel! Here’s my progress... Firstly, where’s Alice? I spent a big chunk of November and December working on a prototype for Alice: Beyond The Looking Glass , which is a linear puzzle-platformer adventure. I came up with some cool stuff technologically, developing a 2D bones animation system, and getting Flash to do 1080p resolution at 30fps without hardware acceleration, which wasn’t easy. But as Xmas approached, I started to have doubts about the project. I think the theme, setting and gameplay were totally wrong for the Flash portals I was developing for. Despite

Help me make this Canvas benchmark faster

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I'm doing another round of benchmarks at the moment. This new one is called PirateMark. It tests how many big rotating sprites can run on a particular engine/platform at 960x720 resolution, at 60fps. So far it's not looking very promising for HTML5 canvas - I can't get 60fps even with just 1 sprite, and at 30fps I can only get 10 sprites going . But as you may know, I'm not really a canvas/javascript expert, so maybe you can help. JavaScripters - I am laying down the gauntlet! Make this faster!  Please leave suggestions and links to your own version in the comments. Because there's no native sprites with rotation in canvas, the code uses a light framework I wrote at Seb's creative JS course. It may be that I'm doing it hopelessly wrong.

Celebrating 20 Episodes of The Creative Coding Podcast

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Last January, me and Seb Lee-Delisle had an idea to record our Skype chats, and launched The Creative Coding Podcast. Here we are just over a year later, and we've got 20 episodes! We've had an amazing year, been nominated for a .net magazine award for best podcast, had 18 world-class guests and been downloaded almost 200,000 times! Please enjoy the latest episode or have a browse through the archives for something that takes your fancy. Episode 1 – Web games, HTML5 and Jangaroo Episode 2 – Mobile Devices Special Episode 3 – Molehill and Processing with Jer Thorp Episode 4 – Flash Special (plus WebGL and Unity3D) Episode 5 – Game Design and Conference Etiquette with Ryan Henson Creighton Episode 6 – openFrameworks, Adobe CS5.5 and multi-touch gaming Episode 7 – openFrameworks and Open Source with Pete Hellicar and Joel Gethin Lewis Episode 8 – Rome, Chrome and Angry Birds Episode 9 – Processing and Cinder with Robert Hodgin (Flight404) Episode 10 – Teaching Gam

I'm speaking at Flash Gaming Summit in San Francisco

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If you're in San Francisco on March 4th 2012 for GDC (or any other reason) you can come along to Flash Gaming Summit and hear a brand new talk from me called "Two Dimensions of Awesome", where I'll be presenting the research and development work I've been doing for Super Gun Kids and Alice: Beyond the Looking Glass. Drop me a tweet if you want to grab a coffee! Here's the sessions description: Two Dimensions of Awesome - Advanced ActionScript for Platform Games Stunning console games Limbo and Rayman Origins have shown a glimpse of what is possible in two dimensions. It is my goal to take 2D Flash games beyond the retro pixelated aesthetics of Flixel and create rich immersive worlds closer to the state of the art found on games consoles. In this session I will present my research into advanced 2D game development, including: •Collision detection beyond tile-based maps - irregular shaped terrain. •Using Flash Professional as an advanced level editor

What I learned on Seb's creative JavaScript course

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A few weeks ago I went along to Seb Lee-Delisle's Creative JavaScript course in Brighton. Don't worry, I'm not thinking about moving away from Flash - I just wanted to see 1st hand what was possible with the new HTML5 canvas capabilities and the JavaScript language, and prepare a bit for my new part-time job as associate lecturer at Plymouth University (where I give an introduction to web technologies). Here are my take-aways: Pretty much all the stuff that first got me into Director/Flash, you can now do with canvas (although Flash has gained many new abilities since then). All the old demos like generative trees and particle effects are still really fun to play around with. A lot of this stuff is completely new to JavaScript devs, so I think it's a great thing that so many of them are going along to Seb's courses. The favourite effect I made was jelly asteroids (left it a bit broken unfortunately). I'm not giving up Flash anytime soon. I've

Learn Flash Games Development in Cornwall

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A few months ago I had the crazy idea that it might be fun to teach an evening course about Flash games, here in Cornwall. Thanks to the awesome people at Truro college, it's happening - and it's starting just 2 weeks from now, on Tuesday the 20th of September 2011. The really great part is that thanks to the magic of government subsidies, the whole 10 week course is just £75 . What, £75 for the whole thing? That's AMAZING VALUE!!! So if you live in Cornwall (or Devon) and want to learn some ActionScript3 programming to make your own computer games - go sign-up .

Come to Mochi London on Saturday (27th August 2011)

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In my last post I wrote about how the Flash community feels in need of a reboot, to align it better with Flash's new users, and its new role as a games technology. Well, events like Mochi London are probably a big part of that reboot. Mochi London is a free 1 day conference, being held this Saturday (27th August 2011) at King's College London. I will be speaking there with a brand new session called Addictive Game Design - ok, I've borrowed a lot of the content from my 2010 Flash on the Beach talk ;) The other speakers include Merlin Gore from Flash Game License, and Mike Jones from Adobe, as well as a whole bunch of other developers. It's free but you need a ticket, so grab one on Eventbrite while there are still spaces. There's also a pub gathering on Sunday, but I won't be able to make it to that. Hope to see you there!

The Flash community needs a complete reboot

This is a cross-post from my Google Plus account. Join in the original discussion on there. The Flash community needs a complete reboot. From Seb Lee-Delisle to Keith Peters to Jesse Freeman to Ricardo Cabello (mrdoob) many of the most well know Flash developers have either branched out to new technologies, or abandoned Flash completely. While I wish these guys all the best, this obviously has quite a negative effect on the Flash community. For young developers looking on, it must surely seem that Flash is dying, and anyone with any sense is jumping ship for the gold-paved streets of iOS or HTML5. And at the same time, the link-baiting tech tabloids are publishing more and more negative stories about the "obsolete" technology Flash, largely unchallenged by Adobe's former poster boys. Flash is surely dying. But of course this isn't true. For many applications, such as casual/social games, media players and online advertising, Flash is still the dominant force. And

Video of my talk "10 years, 30 lessons"

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I gave this talk at #Digpen, which is a free, informal conference for digital people in the South West, run by Frankie Dolan . This was a brand new talk I wrote on the evening before the conference! I was supposed to do about 5 minutes apparently, but nobody seemed to have told me that, so I did about 15. You'll have to turn your speakers up a bit because I wasn't mic'd up. This was a really fun one to do!

Contribute a character texture to a free indie game!

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Contribute a character texture to a free indie game! Explay's Dan Stubbs needs 100 textures for his game "Go! Commando Go!". The textures are pretty simple so even a 2D artist should find it easy. Click the download below. http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3542646/Go%21Commando%21Go%21%20Texture.png Send completed images to: http://twitter.com/#!/dan_stubbs More info on the Explay Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_148159575222493&id=209145229123927

Flash game development book ideas

I've been mulling over the idea of writing some kind of book or eBook in the future. Rather than being a set of example games like most Flash games books seem to be, it would arm you with the techniques to create your own games, so when you are stuck on a specific topic it is quick to look up. The book would be almost completely source-code based (with plenty of comments). There would be almost no "waffle" sections of description. It would be more of a look-up (or copy-paste!) technique reference than a traditional "blah-blah-blah" book. Due to this format I think it would be better as an ebook than a dead-tree book. What do you guys think about that? Anyway, here are my topic ideas. Could you please let me know if there's anything that should or shouldn't be in there? Input - Keyboard input and control (from scratch and using Gamepad library) - Mouse input and control View - Top down (+2D Camera) - Side-on (+parallax) - Zelda style (+Depth sorting)

Away3D 3.6 Essentials – Book Review

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Ok, so here’s a book I definitely can recommend! ;-) Away3D 3.6 Essentials by Matthew Casperson (published by Packt) is a really great introduction to creating 3D content in Flash with the free and open source Away3D library. For a brief time in the summer of 2008 I was the golden-boy of Flash 3D after my team at Bloc launched the Papervision-powered game/transmedia experiential play-node called Meta4orce, which I documented to launch my new blog . While my experience and high google ranking for the term “papervision developer” (#2 – boom!) earned me a couple more PV3D gigs, it all tailed off by the end of 2009. The fact that the Papervision3D team pretty-much abandoned development and moved on to new projects didn’t help, but there was also a sense that the novelty of 3D Flash content was wearing off (especially with such jaw-dropping competition as Unity3D’s island demo). But 3D Flash content was not in fact dead, and the Away3D engine very ably filled the gap left by the demise

Flash Game Development by Example – Book Review

Tech publishers Packt have sent me a copy of Flash Game Development by Example by Emanuele Feronato, to review. Packt seem like a really awesome publisher – I love the short, punchy format of their books and their twitter account @PacktExplorer is single-handedly bringing the tech publishing industry into the social media age (honestly, they’re definitely worth following). I’m currently also working my way through their book Away 3.6 Essentials by Matthew Casperson, which is excellent and will be getting a full review on this blog shortly. For reasons that will become apparent however, I was able to get this review of Emanuele’s book out a bit more quickly... Unfortunately, this isn’t really a book that I can recommend. Emanuele Feronato is a legend in the Flash blogging scene, tirelessly giving away tutorial after tutorial, covering everything from Box2D to Flashpunk. These tutorials are great for beginners who don’t know where to start with a new technique or library, or are

Takeaways from GameCamp 4

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GameCamp4 was definitely the most fun I've had at a conference in a long time. The fact that it was held on a weekend, that people were there for love and not work, the democratic unconference format, the fact that there was a nice mix of male and female attendees - it all added up to a very pleasant day out. There were no dark auditoriums, no videos or keynotes - just lively debate, Nerf guns, zombies, rubber swords, obscure board games and lots of chat about videogames. Here are my takeaways (the ones that I can remember) from the sessions I went to: The Distillation of Gameplay A lively debate that ended up filling two sessions, yet somehow I remember very little of what we discussed. Limbo is a brilliantly distilled game as it dispenses with many of the trappings of games, such as a HUD/GUI, stats, scores, lives etc. Farmville and World of Warcraft both essentially rely on the same hooks of progression, leveling up and loot drops, rather than "gameplay" to keep play

Go play Owl Spin right now!

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Good news! Owl Spin is live on Kongregate . Go play it at your leisure. As always, voting things 5 stars makes me happy. Even though it's just a silly casual game, it was a monumental game for me because it's the one that made me decide to cut down on the client work and go full time indie. Can't wait to see how it does...

Advice for conference speakers

I was recently asked for some advice by someone starting out at conference speaking. I'm no expert, but I've had a bit of a crash-course in this over the last couple of years, so here's my advice: Make sure you have your session timed-out to last exactly 1 hour, with an additional 15 minutes of bonus content in case nerves make you burn through your slides too fast (as I did!). Similarly, make sure that you've covered all your main points by 45 minutes in, in case you run out of time. Have your slides on your laptop, on a USB stick and on dropbox / gmail / somewhere on the internet. Plan for complete technical malfunction! Test your your presentation / content on multiple computers just in case. If possible, find out what the resolution of the projector is before designing your presentation. If not, assume 800x600. People expect a humorous session with plenty of jokes (you can try to tailor these to the content/audience of your talk, so, at FOTB, jokes at the expense of

Is Flash Cool?

Fab Five Freddie told me everybody’s fly, DJ’s Spinning, I said “My! my!”, Flash is fast, Flash is cool. - Blondie A couple of days ago I saw a really great bit of Flash work – Magnum Pleasure Hunt which was flying around twitter. It’s a really fun (silly) bit of interactive media combining gaming, video and animation in a seamless way that only Flash can do on the web at the moment. It’s a classic theFWA -style Flash site. A couple of years ago I used to check these kinds of sites out all the time. Now, not so much. Why is that? Is it just me reaching a jaded, “I’ve seen it all” phase? Or has the world moved on? Is Flash still cool? So I turned to you guys on twitter and asked the simple question #isflashcool? (and give it a score out of 10 to be scientific)/ Here are your thoughts... For many respondents, Flash developers themselves are the thing that keeps Flash cool: Kyle Rodgers offered the pragmatic “8/10 - It's still far more capable than the alternatives (except unity)

What have I been up to?

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I haven't updated the blog in a while as I've been a bit blah, so I thought to help organise my brain a bit better I'd write a list of everything I've been up to, and what's coming next. I'm also slightly hung-over, if that information helps. This is exactly the kind of post I set out not to write when I started my blog. Good blogging is about writing articles, I think. Ideally, they should be good enough to print them in a magazine that someone would buy. However, a few personal milestones have also gone by in the last couple of years with little fanfare, so it's probably past-time I got into a bit of reflection. (I failed to mark 10 years using Flash, 10 years in the industry, 3 years of blogging, 2 years running my own business and, more depressingly, turning 30 - oops.) I've been a freelance Flash game developer, or as I like to call it "Managing Creative Director of my own company", for over 2 years now, since leaving Bloc. My main busi

Podcast Episode 4 - Flash Special (plus WebGL and Unity3D)

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Flash is undead. It has been killed many times already - first by Ajax, then by Silverlight, then by web standards, then by Steve Jobs, then by HTML5 - and yet it moves! Watch in horror as this bloated, rotting zombie terrorizes the internet and Iain and Seb scramble to to find a cure before it is too late. Which is to say, go listen to the latest podcast .

Jam games, card games and panini - another great show-and-tell in Plymouth

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This is a cross-post from http://explay.tumblr.com/ ... We had another friendly and awesome meet-up last night, with demos from Gareth Williams, György Straub, myself and almost Dan Stubbs, as well as a gallery of concept art from some of our other talented members. Gareth showed a badass prototype where you control a snake who has to eat different music samples to build up a beat. Gareth’s demos are great because he invites suggestions for improvements and always gets a good debate going. György showed his work from the last Plymouth game jam , which was an inspired reversal of the tower-defence genre, where you have to defend the helpless monsters from being slaughtered by the evil towers. I showed the work-in-progress of my forthcoming game Owl Spin, which will be available to play very soon. Thank you all for your kind words about it, and cheers Alex for being only the 3rd person to play it! I also showed the creative physics toy I made for muzy.com – which you can play wit

Yet more game development tips!

Are you sick of game development tips yet? Between the endless array of indie game blogs and the myriad of developers shooting their mouths off on Flash Mind Meld , you probably are by now. But in case you're not, I wrote some tips for Microsoft's Ubelly blog. You may read them . They also have a contest to make an HTML(5) game or creative app with some cash prizes etc. Please note -you may not use any plugins for the contest, not even VRML.

Podcast Episode 3 - Molehill and Processing with Jer Thorp

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The unstoppable juggernaut that is The Creative Coding Podcast continues on its inevitable rampage of destruction, this week flattening Molehill and making mince meat out of Processing. Special guest Jer Thorp jumps on board to crush those who would oppose us. Listen now!

Hackathon contest winners announced!

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A while back I announced a Flash game contest I was helping to judge, and gave away some source code to get you started. Over 500 people downloaded the source code - however not one of those people managed to enter the contest! No matter though - six intrepid developers did get their games finished and in front of the judges eyeballs. Head over to Mark's blog to find out who won and play the games . If you didn't win - don't worry, there was something to like about all the games, and all entrants get a copy of FDT.

How to make a whole game in one day

There are game jams and Flash game competitions seemingly every weekend these days. While I don't really like the idea of pinning my eyes open with matchsticks and coding all night, I do like the idea of getting a complete game finished and released in a single day. I sometimes get a day or two of downtime between client projects, and rather than using this time to experiment on bunnies, I've been trying to work out how feasible it is to release 1 or even 2 games in these gaps. My first couple of attempts have overrun by about double, and still aren't released (I'll keep you posted), but I have learned a few things along the way that I thought were worth sharing. I've also picked the brains of some other friendly developers for some suggestions (you know who you are, so thanks!) Here's what I've worked out so far: The game can't have more than 1 level that you need to design. So a single maze like Pacman would be ok, but you can't have every level

BunnyMark compiled from ActionScript to HTML5 with Jangaroo

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Jangaroo is a cool opensource project that lets you compile AS3 source code into JavaScript, and as it emulates a subset of Flash player features, you can even use it to port existing Flash games and apps to HTML5 Canvas. I talked about my experiments trying to get it working in the first episode of my and Seb's podcast . I wasn't having much luck at that point, but since then Frank from the Jangaroo team has given me loads of help to get all my demos working, even editing my code and fixing parts of the compiler for me! What I think I didn't stress enough on the podcast was that this project is still very much a work in progress / public alpha - I think it has a lot of potential. So here I present BunnyMark via Jangaroo and HTML5 Canvas! BunnyMark - blitted version - 30fps (Windows Vista / Chrome) - Pretty fast! BunnyMark - bitmap version - 8fps - Really slow for some reason. (any ideas Frank?) BunnyLandMark - blitted version - 30fps - Pretty fast! BunnyLandMark -

How to communicate between game objects.

Over on Richard “PhotonStorm” Davey’s blog he proposed a simple way to communicate between objects in your game using a “Registry” a class with static variables storing all the major systems of your game. So, for example if you wanted to create a spray of blood when an enemy is hit, in the enemy’s hit() function you would include the line Registry.fx.sprayBlood(x, y) and the FX object stored in the Registry.fx variable would create the blood spray and handle updating etc. In the comments on Richard’s post, I pointed out that this isn’t a very object-oriented approach: these are basically global variables by a different name. I have used a similar approach myself on quite a few games projects, and overall it works well and is a quick way of getting things done. I have, however, encountered two problems with it. Firstly, you can end up with all you code in one huge blob or “god class”. For example, if the FX class is responsible for handling any possible visual effect you would want