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Unity [web] Flash/AS3 related questions (Beginner/Starting)

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First id like to say that I am completely new to everything. My post will mainly touch upon using Actionscript 3 and Adobe Tech. And a general math question.

But...

I have done some research. Im aware of FlashDevelop, Flex, Flixel, FlashPunk and FlashBuilder 4.5 and ''Molehill'' , some 3D engine/frameworks, like Alternativa, Flare3D and others.
I have not used any of them yet. And that's why im here.

I made a topic about Flash and Director 11.5, weeks ago on the beginner forums but sadly no one at all replyed(I even bumped the thread once)...I lost a bit of morale there.

So, I decided to go with Flash/Actionscript, atleast look into it more, see what it does and whats coming in the future. But I hope my Director 11.5 question can get answered/commented on later, too.

Please keep in mind that some of the questions might sound abit ''stupid'', but I coudnt find the answer that I was looking for OR would like your opinion on them derived from the experiences that you have.
Pass on the knowledge =D Thank you.


*** Flash Related Questions:

1- Is FlashBuilder worth it? Or should I use FlashDevelop? I dont mind putting down the $250 but, is it worth it? Which one is better 'for you' and why.
2- If I go with FlashDevelop, do I get the Adobe Flex SDK or the Open source Flex SDK?
3- Adobe AIR, what is it exacly? Sounds like what the usual PC/Console game is. Does it have any negatives/cons? Heck, some positives too if you can.
4- Can you extend the functionality of the Flash Player? ala what Director 11.5 says it can do?
5- Is the 'player' multicore optimised? As in, does the game run faster on 2-4-6-8 core systems? Say I want to have a Physics or A.I. intensive game, more cores = better performance?
6- What are the limits of Flash as a platform, in your experience.


*** Actionscript Related Questions:

1- Any good tutorials or books EXCEPTIONALLY newbie friendly? As in no knowledge at all in programming. I might need some hand holding I admit...even if I hate it lol
But I really want to do this, so...yeah.
(I have looked and found, but maybe there are some that you particularly suggest, enjoyed or helped you.)


*** Molehill Related Question:

1- The Molehill API, What are your thoughts? Just interested to know your opinion.


*** Math Related Question:

Math...Im good while I take them, forget when im not. Im interested in Graphics, mostly 3D. But I know where I stand, and that is no where.

1- What does it take to be good at say...Using Molehill? Or even as far as making a software renderer, like Pixomatic for example?

I know I can learn math online and ill be taking some courses soon also. But id like a headstart. I really hope the community can point me in the right direction.
In University there are only a few math/physics classes on the 4-year CS program. Fundamentals of Algebra, Precalculus, General Physics, Intro to Probability and Statictics
and Calculus 1. In that order specifically.

There is one elective that I can take but I was thinking of using it for a CS class. Im just planning, havent started yet. And im just not sure if that math is enough, I really doubt it.


*** Director 11.5 Related Questions:

1- Is this dead? Someone commented that awhile ago, but Adobe sells it and advertises it as there ''Game Dev'' platform. This got me really confused at the start...and still kinda am.
I was really atracted to the NVIDIA Physics, built in. But if its not getting updated and with the upcoming 3D for Flash, its kinda pointless to even try it now, no?
Comments and Personal opinions/experiences, please.


*** And...

Just for opinions, Flixel or Flashpunk. What do you prefer and why?



(The post was cut into topics for ease of answering, I hope...)

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  1. I don't know. I've only used FlashDevelop for small games, and it was good enough; if I had to develop in Actionscript professionally, I'd evaluate FlashBuilder, but only after significant experience with FlashDevelop (to learn what's important in an IDE and what is the right way to do it).
  2. Do you need the additional stuff in the non-opensource version, or the more friendly license terms in the opensource version? Probably neither, and in that case the opensource SDK should be a safer choice.
  3. AIR is a runtime to run your Actionscript program as an application, with some extra bits of standard library and more privileges (filesystem access etc.) than a more common web animation.
  4. Why should users bother with installing extensions? It is a losing model. You can instead be fussy about the latest and greatest versions of Flash Player and AIR.
  5. Cross your fingers and test your game.
  6. The standard library isn't very good. For example, there is no stable sorting.

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If you don't mind paying for your IDE then I would recommend FDT (http://www.fdt.powerflasher.com/). We use it at my workplace and it has many neat features I can't live without now like auto-generating just about anything, organizing and auto import dependencies, auto-completion, debugging and more. I'm not sure how advanced flash builder is nowadays, but flashdevelop is rather thin if I remember correctly. Or i'm just spoiled after using FDT for awhile. :)

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I really like the Adobe Suite. I've been using Web Premium since CS3, and I had Macromedia Studio before that. If you have the money, and the time to learn the tools (Flash, Flash Builder, DreamWeaver, and Photoshop), I think it's worth it for a few reasons.

1.) When I used to use all the freeware stuff, I spent a lot of time trying to work around limitations.
2.) Better documentation. It's much easier to find books, online videos, and online tutorials for using Adobe's stuff than it's open source alternatives.
3.) Learning these tools makes you more marketable if you are trying to get contract work or a job with your skills.

That being said, I started doing development with the free stuff back in the day, and it will get you by until you have the money to go and buy Adobe's tools. However, when you're really serious about writing web games for a living, it's worth paying the money for Adobe's Web Premium (IMHO).

Hope that helps

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Hi there,
the Flash IDE (Flash CS5.5 now) has the advantage of actually having an editor to draw all those vector graphics and do all those timeline animations.
It is very helpful where the designer can animate the look and feel of everything and then the developer uses either the build-in code editor or Flash Builder to do the coding part.

In my opinion flash develop does the same thing as flash builder, but flash builder is integrated with flash professional IDE.


Adobe AIR is for desktop and mobile applications, you can have access to the restricted stuff in flash player like file system, geolocation, (device specific functions) ...

what do you mean by extend flash player?

to my knowledge it is not multicore.

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1. If you are intending to make games, Flash Builder doesn't make a lot of sense for you. FlashDevelop is an excellent application now and is a great place to start. In time you may want to consider purchasing Flash Professional so that you can use it to build assets. You'd still do well to code in FlashDevelop, as many people feel it is the best pure ActionScript coding tool there is.

2. When you install FlashDevelop, it automatically downloads the SDK for you.

3. Adobe AIR is for writing desktop applications - applications that run outside of the browser. As a result, you gain access to some more functionality, most notably access to the file system. Adobe AIR is also the platform you write for when you want to create a Flash-based native Android or iPhone application.

4. The Flash player runtime itself is proprietary, and you can't make changes to it. However, I think you'll have a different understanding of this after you get a little programming experience. If you're looking for justification for the decision to choose Flash over Director, feel confident that you've chosen correctly. Adobe has been replacing Director's functionality with new features in Flash for a long time, and Flash offers plenty of functionality that Director lacks. Most importantly, Adobe has clearly shown that Flash is where they are putting their efforts, and that's where they believe they have a future.

5. Flash currently uses multiple cores for rendering the graphics to the display. Beyond this, Flash for the most part executes on a single core, and this is a performance consideration. Over the last six months, Adobe has discussed and previewed new developer-controlled multi-core functionality, and it looks like we'll be seeing this in a future version of the Flash player.

6. If you're programming a web application, you have security restrictions that limit your access to computer resources. This is a necessary evil. Performance in Flash has always been good when compared to other browser technologies, but it has traditionally lacked in comparison to desktop games/applications. Molehill will be a big step towards improving this, as will the eventual new multi-core functionality and new AS3 language optimizations that have been hinted at. But I still wouldn't expect ActionScript to be as fast as something like C# in direct speed comparisons. Among Flash's strengths is the speed with which developers can create applications - it's the reason you see many people creating Flash games on their own in a few days or weeks. I also personally think that ActionScript is an excellent language for learning object oriented programming. It's very visual, which helps conceptually with this, and it allows for all major OOP features while avoiding complexities that can make some other languages a little more daunting to start with. If you learn OOP in ActionScript, the knowledge will apply directly to languages like Java and C#.

Regarding Molehill, my advice would be to first start with the traditional 2D API in AS3. By the time you are feeling comfortable with OOP, 2D and 3D frameworks for working with Molehill in a more intuitive manner will be available. There's a lot of excitement in the Flash community about Molehill, and people are just starting to build the tools for it that will make it a lot of fun to program with.

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