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Flash for full length non-browser games?

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I'm developing a game for children that involves point and click gameplay and some keyboard interaction. The game will have relatively simple 2D animations. I've been recommended to use Flash 8 and Zinc (Zinc allows you to compile he flash file into an exe). I was wondering what you guys think of Flash for game development. Does anyone in the industry actually use flash to create non-browser games? What are its limitation in terms of performance? What are its limitation in terms of functionality? Any compatibility issues? I guess I’m just paranoid that Flash won’t have the performance I need (even for a simple 2D game). Any thoughts or opinions would be helpful. Thanks.

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Flash has been used in the client for Dofus, a MMORPG with clients for Windows, Linux and Mac.

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there are some games made with flash,
but I can't recall some names, I have to admit ^^

for creating a .exe you don't need an external tool,
flash itself could create an executable flash player...


Marc

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Steam has a pretty impressive complete 2D version of halflife written completely using flash.

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Almost forgot about this post...

So far flash is performing well for me. I had some problems at first
because the artist has some filter effects set on the clips. The frame rate
dropped by almost 50%

Once I turned off the filters it was fine.

Marc, with Zinc you can also change the resolution, create full screen apps,
use a joystick, etc. I'm not sure if flash can do all this but if it can,
awesome. I'll look into to that.

Thanks.

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I believe that I remember reading on theZBuffer.com a while ago that the Xbox 360 XBLA game Hexic HD was totally done in Flash. ZMan rewrote the game with XNA for the GDC '06 conference a few months ago.

I also believe that several other XBLA games are also flash. I could be wrong though...

[Edited by - Billr17 on July 22, 2006 3:36:09 PM]

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I've seen a few full-length games done with Flash. I don't like the Flash environment nearly enough to put together one, but I can certainly see how you would be able to do it. The portability to OS X is a nice 'gimme' too.

One of the guys on the YakYak forums was putting together a Spectrum-style screen-based platformer with Flash and just produced an executable Flashplayer for OSX and Windows. Several games are using FlashLite for menus and whatnot in modern console games. John Hattan is using flash for his standalone puzzle games, hooked up to a C++ core that handles XML, file management, and some other stuff.

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I remember Star Wars StarFighter on the Playstation2 uses Flash for its GUI. I know some games on the PS2 and Xbox use Flash in the same way like this article explains back from the vaults. But ive never heard of games made purely in Flash making it on consoles, besides examples mentioned above that are available on Xbox LiveArcade.

The only issue with flash players that the rendering is done mainly through software, which affects the performance at times. Once Adobe points and sorts out this situation, your justification that you are paranoid about performance will be put away. I last heard that future Flash players will be rendered through OpenGL via hardware, which is a positive step. Until that has been inplemented into Flash, the quality of games will vary due to performance of the Flash players.That will not do justice to your product.

A simple 2D game will be viable, but it is best to understand Flash weaknesses and assess how you are going to go around these problems. I used to develop flash games, and the main frustration is the lack of freedom of control in how to run your app. Sometimes you have to have full control so you can do the messy development stuff that can improve performance like memory allocation, etc.

I would recommend you to develop a full running flash game, but be totally aware of the total weaknesses of the performance of the flash player. Plan and analyse how you can make you game run efficiently as you do not use too much animation as most users have low-to-decent spec PC. I think like that as for that reason, as i would like to reach to as many potential users as possible. The best thing about flash is that a flash player exe can run on VIRTUALLY any Windows PC that runs from Windows95 onwards, theres no problems like you would get in games developed in DirectX,etc. Most computers can run flash , but not all can cope with its performance lapses. So expect lags in rendering, sound and input.

Because i havent messed with flash for a few years i cant fill you in with the latest technologies. But another alternative for the kind of thing you are trying to do is Director MX 2004. It is a lot more powerful, and more expensive. It was made specifically for standalone apps, rather than web like flash. It handles point and click as keyboard interaction is a whole lot better in my opinion than flash. It has all the things you want and more. I am not a rep from Adobe,trust me. I havent used it since Uni, and i used it for several years before, but for a quickly developed application with functionality like point and click with more performance consistancy use Director.

Look at your options first, as I feel there are many reasons to do a game in a standalone flash exe, but there are many issues that are included. But Director can do the good things Flash can but with better performance and more functionality. Compatibility is around the same as it can run on most Windows PCs (as long as you dont render your game in DirectX using Director!)...

Hope that helped mate...
Regards

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I doubt that flash will ever have hardware rendering, it was never designed to be used for games, and never will be. The way it is right now ensures that it it is completely platform independent, and, like what adobe wants to use for, will even run on cell phones, and PDA's, which hardly have any video hardware that you could use. Personally i would not use flash for serious games, it's simply not made for it, and will lack some things that for example C++ would be able to do. Like any 3D game with the current graphical detail that most games have. This, obviously is mostly my personal opinion, you certainly can make a full game in flash if you wanted to, then again, i could argue that i could write a game for my digital camera ( in theory ), it would work, but would it be optimal? hardly. I suppose in the end it's all about what exactly you want to do with it. I'd say 3D is a 'no go', but 2d games should work.

As a sidenote, i happen to know dofus, and it's pretty smart how they made that, but you can notice the limitations with flash, as you have to move thru every map, a bit in the same fasion of the 2d zelda dungeons.

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You might consider shockwave as well. Lingo is an easy language to learn and shockwave has some added benefits. It remains cross platform, it does hardware accelerated 3d if you want the option of 3d, and has havok physics built in. Also, it already has the ability to compile to executables(called projectors).

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capz:
I would put forward the argument that, that is what they said about Java when was first released. Now people are saying it is very nearly reaching the efficiency of cpp. Clearly Flash will never become THAT good, yet with the improvment of technology, it will allow software rendered apps like those produced by Flash to become better and better... just a matter of waiting, I dunno, 10 years?

I like the idea about using Flash to create GUI's for games... Is there anywhere I can read more about this? Particularly Java, as I haven't learnt cpp... yet... and thus we are entering our 4E5 contest with a Java game.
Is take it there is no built in support through sun, but maybe a free open source pakage which will allow Java to not only embed Flash movies, but also read input from them?
cheers

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Hi

Quote:
Mashiniblik - I like the idea about using Flash to create GUI's for games...


If you want to look at examples of using Flash GUI you can check out GameSWF which is a wrapper which allows you to render a flash movie with C++ (or most possibly Java as well!) in your own application or game. A commercial game that uses GameSWF is Oddworld Stranger's Wrath on the Xbox. The article of LucasArts using Flash for their GUI is here in this link.

As i mentioned earlier in my post, i mentioned Director, which is Shockwave. Lingo is the language and i feel even though it is more complicated than actionscript, has so much more power and makes using different functions easier for your game.

I totally agree with Capz, Flash, even though it has its advantages in rapid development wasnt made for games development. Therefore has plenty of issues in that regard. If C++ or C# wasnt a language you want to use to write a simple game. I would again recommend Director...

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I've got your answer right here. That's my blog, you'll find a few topics related to Flash (just pick the category in the sidebar).

I would heartily recommend it for anyone doing a 2D game (3D is possible, though not worth it for that in my opinion except for in a few limited cases). You can think of it being equivalent of Super Nintendo, but with a really great vector renderer. And I'd design your graphics engine that way: the newer Flash 8 and 9 players have specific optimizations for incredibly fast bitmap operations. Create your artwork in vectors then at game load just render them all out to sprites. Or hand-create bitmap sprites in the first place (just like the good ole days) in Photoshop.

For those who dislike Adobe's Flash IDE or can't afford it, there's a bevy of free stuff available, including a better-than-Adobe's ActionScript compiler. There's also free tools for compiling assets; you end up with a full game production toolchain, completely free if you need it to be. Head on over to OSFlash for all the fun.

Every project I'm doing for the next several years will be built on top of the Flash platform. And this is coming from an experienced next-gen console engineer (Criterion/RenderWare, now EA), who has access to any 3D technology I want. It really presents a toolset at nearly the perfect abstraction level for building 2D games; and hey, the flawless cross-platform compatibility and the fact that Flash artists are a dime-a-dozen in the web community (on par or exceeding folks with 3D knowledge out there, let alone your-specific-modeler-knowledge).

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Quote:
Original post by WillPash
I totally agree with Capz, Flash, even though it has its advantages in rapid development wasnt made for games development. Therefore has plenty of issues in that regard. If C++ or C# wasnt a language you want to use to write a simple game. I would again recommend Director...


I would strongly disagree with Capz and WillPash: Director is not the direction to go, and Flash most certainly is a viable game development platform. This is an incredibly common myth about Flash. Hell, I believed it myself, and I was even a die-hard Flash geek back in the day (founded OpenSWF.org). But with release of open-source ActionScript compilers, linkers, and IDE's, you can basically treat it like Java, C#, C++, Python, etc... with the upside that it produces a nearly universal executable.

Flash is far more "write once, run anywhere" than either Java or C# ever will be (not that they're necessarily trying to attain that, but Java certainly embraced that dream back in its beginnings).

With free tools like ScreenWeaver (was commercial until earlier this year) or commercial tools like MDM Zinc, SwfStudio, or any of nearly a dozen others, you can go from a folder of raw ActionScript files and PNGs to a MacOS/Windows/Linux/PocketPC/Xbox360/PS3/PSP executable at a click of the button. Sure, it won't have cutting edge 3D graphics, but it will have cutting-edge 2D graphics which is still how the majority of the art world works! [grin]

And remember, a lot of customers for games (if you have any commrecial ambitions) don't have decent 3D acceleration, but they usually do have memory and CPU cycles more than you would expect (they're relatively cheap by comparison). And that's what Flash works wonders with. And it's fast 2D stuff... and since it's all software, you can do fun things like have it perform Fourier transforms on your own arrays of data, or apply a Guassian blur to your data (influence maps, anyone?). Incredibly handy...

So, the question is simple: am I doing a 2D game. If the answer is yes, you should be using Flash if you're truly focused on the *game* and not on the tech. If the answer is no, I'm doing a 3D game, then I'd probably recommend to go along.

LordZod6, it sounds like you made the right choice in sticking with Flash. Anything else would be unnecessarily expensive in either time or energy.

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What free tools do you reccomend? Flash seems like something I would like to try, but I'd rather not if there isn't a decent free IDE. Your site seems like it's down right now.

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To get the most out of flash performance, make sure you use raster images instead of vector images. They are MUCH faster in flash. The latest version of flash has the "cache as bitmap" option which allows flash to treat vector graphics as raster ones.

If, as you say, you are just making a point and click game, flash will be more than adequate performance-wise.

I made a crappy real time game in flash that is probably the upper limit in what you can achieve while still maintaining good fps. It runs much better in exe format, rather than in a browser.

http://infotech.monash.edu.au/about/news/archive/2006/resources/zombieattack.exe

Though flash wasn't originally intended for creating games, many people use it for that purpose these days and Adobe would be crazy to ignore it. They will continue to add features that make it easier to create games. I hear AS3 is meant to be much faster, tho i havent used it yet.

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Quote:
Original post by Daniel Miller
What free tools do you reccomend?


Grab FlashDevelop. It's all you need. It includes MTASC (Motion-Twin ActionScript Compiler) and SwfMill (XML <-> SWF tool), plus some other bits and bobs for capturing debug output (FlashOutput, I think).

The FlashDevelop IDE is great. It's got "IntelliSense", project management, syntax highlighting, etc...

There's not a lot of info on using strictly FlashDevelop, but I'll hopefully get some of my own tests up there soon enough.


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Sweet, thanks a lot. I'll download that right now.

edit: This is going to look stupid... but does FlashDevelop use a unique version of ActionScript? That's what it seems from reading a few questions on the official forums.

[Edited by - Daniel Miller on July 23, 2006 10:27:55 AM]

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Quote:
Original post by Daniel Miller
edit: This is going to look stupid... but does FlashDevelop use a unique version of ActionScript? That's what it seems from reading a few questions on the official forums.


No it doesn't. I use Actionscript 2.0 and can compile the code in both FlashDevelop and in flash studio without any changes at all!
Flashdevelop is realy a life saver. Before I found it was a lot harder to develop in flash. Just make sure you put all code in external .as files and your good to go.

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