27 June 2011
Note: The primary target audience for this article is Flash designers, people new to the Flash Platform, and business decision makers evaluating the Flash Platform for game development. This article also includes useful information for experienced ActionScript developers looking to get into Flash game development. However, for game-specific advanced ActionScript programming techniques, I recommend Gary Rosenzweig's book ActionScript 3.0 Game Programming University.
Flash games—games created with or for the Adobe Flash platform—are everywhere. You can find them on game arcade sites such as Newgrounds.com, AddictingGames.com, and numerous others. There are dozens of game genres to choose from, including action, adventure, casino, puzzle, and role-playing, among others. The games are interactive, cross-browser, and cross-platform; users can play them on personal computers as well as mobile devices. They work great as standalone destinations, they make excellent additions to larger sites, and they can be embedded into the most popular social networks such as Facebook. Many people still do not know that using Adobe AIR technology, Flash games can be deployed on iOS devices through the Apple App Store. Top performers such as Alien Hominid and Line Rider have grown so popular that they have been ported from the Flash Platform to consoles such as Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox 360. Online casual games are booming in popularity and the Adobe Flash Platform offers tools to create and deploy this great content.
For more than a decade, I have been designing and developing online games. I have collaborated on massive worlds with thousands of simultaneous users. At my start, there were many viable development platforms, including the powerful but difficult-to-use C++ platform. Over the years, the Flash Platform tools became easier to use and Adobe Flash Player evolved as well. Now the Flash Platform is the de facto environment for creating online 2D games. With the recent release of Adobe Creative Suite 5.5, the Flash community is moving compelling content to mobile phones, tablets, and Internet-enabled televisions. And with the upcoming release of Stage3D (formerly known as the Molehill APIs), the Flash Platform may be the leading choice for online 3D gaming as well.
In this article, I will provide an overview of the potential in online gaming, showcase the capabilities of the Flash Platform, and review the challenges and solutions for end-to-end game development.
The game industry has grown steadily for decades, and it has a very brighter future. But with so many gaming technologies, you may be wondering if the Flash Platform the right choice.
Online gaming became popular in the 1990s. As computers have become more powerful and Internet access speeds have increased, the industry has grown significantly (see Figure 1).