Showing posts from 2011

What I learned on Seb's creative JavaScript course

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

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)

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"

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!

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. Send completed images to:!/dan_stubbs More info on the Explay Facebook group:

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

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

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!

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?

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)

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

This is a cross-post from ... 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 – 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

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!

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

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

Podcast Episode 2 - iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7 and more!

Me and Seb are back with another episode of The Creative Coding Podcast. This time it's a mobile devices special, with iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7 under the spotlight. For your aural pleasure: The Creative Coding Podcast - Episode 2 . Enjoy!

Molehill + Scaleform = hardware accelerated 2D in Flash?

This post is pretty much an open letter to Adobe, so if you know anyone who works there, please send it to them. I've had what I think is quite an interesting idea, and I think it's one that Adobe should have a long think about. The Flash player is about to add hardware accelerated 3D rendering with "molehill". The demos that have been released so far look great - amazing 3D scenes rendered with no impact on the CPU. All the rendering is handled by the GPU, leaving the CPU free to process your game logic, including physics, collision detection and AI - which allows for more advanced gameplay (and stops Flash-haters fixating on how much of their precious CPU the "bloated" Flash plug-in is consuming). However, this will only apply to 3D games. In fact 2D games - which we must not forget are what has made Flash the number 1 gaming platform on the web - will see no benefit from this release. What's the message from Adobe here? That 3D is the future of gamin

Web games, HTML5 and Jangaroo on The Creative Coding Podcast

Me and Seb had nothing better to do at the weekend, so we had a chat about web games, HTML5 and Jangaroo, and we're releasing it as a podcast - hopefully the first of many to come! So here it is, The Creative Coding Podcast - Episode 1 . Enjoy!

Free Flash game source code! Win Adobe Master Collection!

Update 2: The competition has now closed, but please still help yourself to the source code. My original example compiles with the Flash IDE, but Almog Koren has very kindly taken the time to create a version of the game source code for Flex . I've decided to give away the full source to a Flash game ! Here's why - Mark "ickydime" Grossnickle has organised a game development contest to coincide with Stanford University's annual charity "Hackathon". Anyone can enter (that means you!) and the top prize is a copy of Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection (that's all the Adobe software basically) worth $2500. The theme of the contest is " benevolence " which basically means being charitable and generally a good person. Mark has asked me to help judge the contest, so I can't enter, but I thought my benevolent act could be giving away the source code to a game, to get you started or help you learn game dev. Ok, so it's not really a

Gamedev and Indie Games Podcasts

Some decent podcasts about designing, developing and playing games: Audio Another Castle - Professionals talk game design. Game Developers Radio - Great guests, a different game or development platform discussed each week. Brainy Gamer - Game design from designer, journalist, academic and player perspectives. DigiPen - Professionals and educators talk games. IndieGamePod Interviews with developers about their games. A life well wasted Arty, philosophical trip around gaming culture. Podcast ( iTunes ) ( site ) Fun interviews with A-list indie developers. Infinite Ammo (iTunes) ( site ) In-depth 2 hour discussions on gamedev! Irrational Behavior The team behind BioShock on how they make games. Irrational Interviews Interviews with gaming luminaries. Video Bytejacker - Fun video reviews of great indie games. Co-op - Fun video reviews and chat.