Posts Tagged ‘flash’

GameHack 2012 at Pinewood

Monday, April 30th, 2012


To some, this weekend was 24 hours of constant rain and storm force winds. To about 400 dedicated game hackers and makers it was 24 hours of constant RedBull and code. Yep, the inaugural UK GameHack event kicked off in style at the world famous Pinewood studios just outside London.

If you’re new to the concept, these events challenge teams or individuals to come up with something in 24hours (or sometimes 48 hours) from scratch. You can bring a ideas, frameworks and code snippets but the bulk of the work is to be done when the whistle first blows.

So I wasn’t quite sure whether I should be a game creator of go as a general creative helper for anyone who needs me. As it turns out, a fair few others took this initiative, which was great. After the initial presentations and sponsor intros, we all managed to hook up with some needy teams. As luck would have it, I met a bunch of really great, dedicated and most importantly, funny guys to help out on the ‘MiniChe’ game concept.

MiniChe was a 3D mobile game where you follow the exploits of a mini Che Guevara as he tries to take over the world, one city at a time. My role was to create a bunch the UI graphics so the game could be played from end to end. Check out the video below of a ‘work in progress’ video the guys made, you get the idea. Can’t wait to see what the final thing looked like.

I had other commitments on Sunday morning so had to bail at about 1am. The stormy ride back on the motorbike was something I’ll remember for a while too!

Looking forward to seeing more videos from the other amazing projects as they emerge and I’ll definitely be back next year!


Live visitor tracking 3D globe

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

If the globe doesn’t show (and you have Flash), try refreshing the page.

Nothing really new here but thought this was nice to play with. You can make your own at Revolver Maps. It’s a flash widget but you can also use the plain HTML version below.

It works by counting and tracking the session data of any visitor that loads the widget. So it’s not true site data, it’s just ‘who’s looking at this page’ data really. Still, if you see another dot that isn’t you, you know you’ve got company! Not sure if you really want to share this kind of information, as it may show how little traffic you have coming to a post, but interesting all the same.


How many days until Christmas? Here’s a timer…

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Get Adobe Flash player

I created this little puppy a while back, maybe 2004. Just found it on my hard drive and thought I’d add a post with it in. It dynamically updates the stats based on daily averages I set up at the beginning. It also takes the year from the current system clock, so should just tick over into the next year on New Year. The bit in-between will go a bit strange, but I’m not that fussed about fixing it. Feel free to do it yourself.

The source is here, but it’s a bit old skool. It’ll give you a few ideas though if you’re brave enough to open it.

Shhhh, Adobe sidesteps up to HTML5

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

The bunfight seems to have calmed down from the dizzy heights of the iPhone OS vs Flash storm earlier this year. Adobe or at least Flash was on the ropes and taking a battering.

Adobe had a few interesting innovations that were almost ignored in the melee. Their response to the Flash v’s HTML5 tirade seemed to be that Flash is a great platform to develop on, then you can spit out Flash, iPhone Apps, HTML5 etc. The HTML5 exporter seemed to get lost in translation.

Nice to see Adobe putting it back onto the agenda with their new inspiration site The Expressive Web. It was put together with US uber agency Big Spaceship and is a great inspiration and learning resource for the latest HTML and CSS techniques like transition, audio and the like. Sure, the zealots will get all sniffy, like the Adobe moniker has tainted the purity of the code, but we’re more grown up than that, aren’t we?

The school of gaming for kids. The start…

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

This is just a quick post but it only scratches the surface of my interest in this subject. In a nutshell, I was never very good at maths at school. I liked what it did, just couldn’t really get my head around some of the deeper concepts. I got a C at O-level and then dropped out of A-Level maths in the first 2 weeks.

Then I became a proper multimedia developer back in 1994, making games, websites and the like. Maths was my friend but I did it in a very organic way. I worked out how to write my own physics engine for a pinball game by drawing lots of angles in countless sketch pads… and chatting through the problems with my friend Jop. I got there in the end. Have a go at the game here. Most ‘hardcore’ developers wouldn’t even attempt it. I’m still not sure if that makes me smart or stupid. It did make me proud though. I showed the ‘clever types’ what someone who barely passed their maths exam could do.

My mission is to inspire kids to see the beauty, the fun and more importantly, the simplicity of maths. Nobody took the time when I was at school. We all have an inspirational teacher from our past that got us to invest that little bit extra by injecting their own passion into their lessons. If they don’t exist, I’ll have to do it for them!

Earlier in the year I started a series of simple modules to show how cool maths can be by showing how games use snippets of maths. And something games developers do very well is cheat with maths. Sure there are complicated equations for gravity, but Mario doesn’t use any of them. He just uses simple addition to do all that jumping around. It’s surprisingly easy when you know how… and shows how, with a bit of confidence, you can bend the rules a bit and ‘do maths’ in a very creative way. It’s problem solving at it’s best and when you use something like Flash, you SEE the results.

I’ll post more when I actually get my arse into gear and present to a local school (I have one lined up). My recent job change has deflected my focus of late. But now I’m back on my mission.

In the meantime, just noticed Quest to Learn, a fantastic initiative in New York. An entire school based around gaming. There’s a great article about them here to give you a quick overview.

Watch this space…

Do Penguins use Flash AS2?

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Looks like those penguins down at Club Penguin are being put to good use. Just noticed this little Easter egg… Go to the homepage of Club Penguin, click Play Now and zoom into the lower part of the screen (expand your browser window). Looks like they are using AS2 though… god help us when they figure out HTML5! Still, I assume they are working on Linux :)

Digital Outlook: Cool digital jobs galore!

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Shameless plug alert.

Digital Outlook London have some pretty funky jobs up for grabs. And the best bit is, you get to work with me!If that doesn’t swing it… we also have great benefits, multi-coloured beanbags, a room with fake grass, an indoor bike rack, the full Xbox Rock Band setup, table football, an inflatable moose head, an office in LA and free beer. What’s not to like?

The jobs are…

  • Creative Developer
  • Senior Designer
  • Art Director
  • Junior Designer
  • Microsoft Xbox Social Media Editor

Creative developer will be Flash based, working on games, funky stuff, Unity 3D, microsites and even iPhone content if you’re up for it. You’ll be sat right in among the designers and other devs so it’ll be a good giggle. So if you’re sparky, want to get lots of training, work on really cool content and are looking for the next step, drop me an email and I’ll do the rest.

Senior designer will be working on all the cool stuff we do at Digital Outlook; Disney, Pixar, Xbox, Mr. Men, iTunes, Universal, Miniclip, games, Facebook and all that. really looking for a bright designer. Someone who isn’t satisfied doing the usual banking, corporate nonsense and wants to roll their sleeves up and make a difference. You’ll be passionate about your craft, games, entertainment, movies and especially the kids and teen audience. Also, if you’re quiet, don’t like a laugh or shy away from karaoke, look away. If you’re still here, contact me!

Art Director is essentially the same as the above but with a fair bit of experience under their belt and someone looking to make Creative Director in a company that will actively help you achieve your dreams. You’ll have been there and done that but will also be sensitive to those that haven’t… including the clients, who will look up to you to hold their hand and inspire them. Yes you can wear a funky shirt. Yes you can lead brainstorms. You can even hang up an inflatable gorilla head to go with the inflatable moose we already have. The role is yours to shape. You guessed it, if it sounds interesting, let me know.

Junior Designer will probably be a year out of Uni… straight out of Uni but has a dose of reality already… or someone who’s never been to Uni but really want to climb the ladder, experience one of the cooler companies in the industry and develop their skills in an area that has soul. If you’re into games, love Photoshop, like Flash, fiddle with After Effects or get off on coming up with bonkers ideas for willing clients… Digital Outlook has a Mac and a nice seat with your name on it. We have PC’s too if you prefer.

Social Media Editor will help deliver and develop Xbox’s social media strategy across loads of social media platforms, as well as doing all the editorial and content updates, user engagement, moderation, and reporting. It’s 3-5 days a week, based in the Microsoft HQ in central London and obviously would be perfect for anyone into social content, gaming, writing and working in a job that would make your mates properly jealous. This one is time sensitive though so if you’re interested, get a shift on and let me know.

Check out the Digital Outlook site for a basic overview of what we do and if you like what you see, just drop me a line (and ideally a CV) and if the planets align, an interview awaits! It may be the best thing you do in the next 5 years. :)

Some of the jobs are here too. but we’ll hopefully update that in the next few days.

The real reason your iPhone will NEVER get Flash

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Oh, for crying out loud. If I read one more blog post about why Flash doesn’t work on an iPod / iPad / iPhone I’m going to scream. I bit my lip when the “because the swf format is not open source” comments started. I rolled my eyes when the “it’s because they hate each other” nonsense took hold. Same with the processor hogging / battery life debate. And now I’ve just read a post that argues the fact that roll-over states can’t be implemented on a touch screen as the main reason. The fact that every App on the App store seems to get on fine without a roll-over state and a simple change in approach to flash design would solve it, seems to be too much of a mountain to climb. [Update] Seems Mike Chambers is with me too. Flash designers (myself included at times) have the same attitude to Accessibility, I.e. I would have to change, so it’s not worth it. Each arguement has a valid point some extent but all in all, they are (in my opinion) just pointless finger waving compared to the main issue.

As is customary at this point, on this subject, I seem to have to declare my allegiances. Yes I develop Flash and have for years. But I also have experience publishing iPhone apps and the inner workings of the iPhone development (and deployment) world. I’ve also been coding since 1982. I was there before flash and the iPhone and I’ll be there after no doubt. I’ve seen many things come and go and have a job in a digital agency where I get involved in the inner workings of the business models of certain platforms and content strategies. I like my iPhone, I like Flash, I like Adobe, I like Apple.

Right, that’s that out of the way. What’s my point? The App store model is the ONLY point. So 3 billion Apps have been download, of which an estimated $75million goes to Apple EACH MONTH. That’s profit btw. They didn’t develop the Apps, they don’t have to support the Apps, Apple simply take their 30% of the App revenue to cover ‘making it happen’.

If you want to play a game on the iPhone, you download the App.

If you want to play a game on a PC / Mac, you go to Miniclip or similar and play a Flash game. The ad-funded or Advergame model may not be perfect but it does seem to, just about, keep the internet free.

In fact, if you want to do many things on your PC / Mac, you will probably find a Flash or Java ‘something’ for it. Quite literally… “there’s a free App for that”.

Now imagine what would happen to that juicy $75million a month if you just went to a full screen Flash App on a website using Safari. Yep, you wouldn’t pay a thing for a game again.

Apple innovated with music downloads when others were struggling to come up with a model. With the App Store, Apple have also managed to get people to pay for low-level content too. Something not achieved before. Of course they wouldn’t want to allow Flash to punch big, leaky holes in their ever-so-tight monopoly for extending the iPhone’s functionality. I can’t EVER see a point where Apple will let this change unless all Flash content is preceded with an ‘pay now’ popup or micro-payment system or, heaven forbid, Adobe pays a hefty fee each month ($75million?) to offset Apple’s loss in profit.

So it’s not about handbags at dawn, it’s not about something as trivial as a rollover state, it’s (unsurprisingly) about guarding a business model that makes more in a month than most companies make in their lifetime.

I do love the blurring of the edges however. Those ‘screw you’ moments like Gordon, completely written in iPhone-browser-friendly javascript that allows simple Flash to be played in the Safari browser. I also like Adobe’s own (rather cobbled together) functionality in the upcoming Adobe Creative Suite 5 to allow Flash to be compiled directly as an iPhone App. For Flash developers, Apple has turned itself into the cliché vision of King Kong, swatting off the annoying advances of desperate attackers determined to find a weakness, and exploit it. Will they succeed? I hope so. Will Apple’s clean, tidy walled-garden get scruffy and diluted? Probably. Will Flash content be on your iPhone any time soon? No.

iPhone app development tips for Flash types

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Just watched Lee Brimlow’s quick demo of Flash CS5 saving out an iPhone app. Watch it!

Now, first things first, we’ve made a few iPhone apps at Digital Outlook already in native Objective C and although I’m nowhere near being even remotely classed as a developer, I have been on a basic iPhone dev course and have spent a good length of time debugging and mildly fiddling with the existing apps we have. I’ve made a few simple apps myself so I’ve got a fair understanding of how it works I guess.

I’ve also go a VERY acute understanding of the process and costs involved in creating a native iPhone app from scratch from within an agency. At the beginning, they said “take a Flash app, budget the coding part, double it and add another half”. Cool. Nowhere near. Without going into detail, it seems iPhone App development isn’t quite as simple as it’s made out to be. Yes, your developer may know Objective C, applying it to the iPhone development environment is another thing. Us Flash guys could only stare on as seemingly simple issues took days and weeks to resolve.

So the fact that the Flash SC5 release will compile to iPhone is immense news for me, us and probably every digital agency and Flash freelancer on the planet. Sure there are things it can’t do. Sure you get a bundled app that you can’t ‘add to’ in the native development environment. Sure you can’t use the camera and a few other api’s. And it may be a bit slower than a native app, but take it from me, I’ll take all of those on the chin for the ability to get a creative idea onto the iPhone and into the hands of the world’s mobile consumers.

I can’t wait for CS5 to drop but in the mean time, here are some of my observations from native iPhone development from my Flash perspective.

  • Objective C may look like AS3 but it works in a whole different way. From declaring variables to having a .h header file to your .m main class files. Don’t even think of using a ‘Trace’ or C ‘Print’ command. Underestimate the differences at your peril… but don’t be scared either. If I can do it, so can you! (No, seriously, I’m not that clever).
  • Debugging already written code is really easy when you know your way way around. Moving graphics, font sizes, swapping sounds, changing text etc. are all pretty straightforward with a simple search to narrow down the location to work on.
  • The assets are held externally to the project, so changing graphics, movies, audio etc. is simple too, just swap out the file and recompile.
  • The graphics are just plain old JPEGs and PNG files, so your designers are more than up to the job. It’s just like a Flash project as far as that goes.
  • If you have time / money, put a rough Flash demo together first. Changing your mind and feature creep during production can be slow and costly.
  • The iPhone development suite is really slick (unlike Android I may add!). The on-screen emulator is great and allows you do test it (with a few exceptions) without needing an iPhone or a developer account.
  • If your app uses accelerometers, cameras etc. the emulator will fall short as it’s can’t ’emulate’ an accelerometer. You can get around it by installing an app on your phone to transmit the accelerometer data to your mac, then add a little code to your iPhone build to receive the data and substitute the values in the emulator. Here’s an example of screen-capturing the emulator using this technique. See the Accelerometer Simulator by Otto Chrons for more.
  • The icon is VERY important. Make sure you spend time on it. And by the way, the glassy shine and round corners are automatically added to your icon on the phone itself. You can switch the shine off though, but not the corners.
  • If you don’t have them in-house, freelance iPhone developers will charge you anywhere from £250-£500 a day.
  • If you shop around and do your research, you soon find out that the cheap way to get an iPhone app done is to go ‘off-shore’. South America, China and India are all much cheaper than your average LA, London or New York dev agency. However, they do come with the usual health warnings about production values, creative sign-off and time-zone / communication problems.
  • If you have the money and it’s your first app, get someone local to hold your hand and learn from. If not, make sure you have scoped the project within an inch of its life. After the project, budget for an extra half-day for your iPhone dev to explain what he/she did to your Flash dev team. Shame to pay all that money and lose all the knowledge.
  • Memory management is now your problem. You have to allocate memory and release it as you go. This is one of the big areas that Apple check when you submit your app to the App Store. You don’t have to allocate actual memory size as in assembly language, but you do have to ‘manage’ closely.
  • Do register with Apple and get a developer account. You can get the dev environment for free and start compiling but you can’t transfer anything onto your iPhone without a developer license and associated provisioning files.
  • While I mention it, the process to authorise your computer and set up your first app is a bit of a faff. Still not 100% sure I understand it but the instructions on the Apple site are clear enough to get you started.
  • The app submission process is pretty simple and the time taken to get a response is anywhere from 2-4 weeks. I know the guys at Apple and even they can’t affect this process, so don’t ask! However, in general, if your app is basic and doesn’t have any advanced functionality such as external database calls or live data, you go into a ‘less risky’ pool, and are generally through in less time. If you are rejected, you go to the back of the queue.
  • Make sure you look at what everyone else is doing too. Download everything remotely related to compare. Look at the top 3 in each category too, there’s a reason they are there, whether it’s the content, the execution or the user-interaction. It’s all vital knowledge.
  • The ‘Games’ category is the most varied and the most competitive. Before you assume your first app should be a game, consider that it will be up against the EA’s and the Need for Speed’s of this world. If you’re not in the top 20 pretty quickly, you pretty much free-fall until you become all but invisible to the regular browsers.
  • To charge or not to charge? 59p says “Aaaah, hell, why not”. £2.99 says “This better be good or I’ll tell everyone it’s a rip off and rate it 1 star”. Initially, you need to go for ratings, so consider an introductory low rate then change it if you see an appetite and good ratings. It’s easy to change the price on the fly.
  • And finally, if you can wait until April 2010, consider using Flash CS5! :)

Mr. Men Pinball bounces back!

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Just noticed that our Mr. Men Pinball game has just re-appeared in the “Hot Games” top 6 on the Miniclip homepage. Considering this game has been around for about 2 years now, that’s fantastic! Not sure of the figures as they’re probably also a little guarded, but I’d expect it to be somewhere up near 40 million game plays by now. Amazing when you consider the population of the UK is about 65 million

That’s the power of a good advergame. Equate that to a traditional media spend on say, Yahoo or the Google Ad Network and the ‘cost per click’ or ‘cost per engavement’ is very impressive on Miniclip or similar gaming sites. People actually spent more time playing the Mr. Men game then the length of an TV episode of the Mr. Men Show! Click through to the Mr. Men Show site was similarly impressive. Double figures where the usual industry average for a click through on a banner is maybe 1.4%.

Obviously, advergames are one of my pet passions and I’ve made a few games before so this is kinda big news yet a big ‘I always told you so!’ moment. I’ll post something more useful in the near future but fo now, enjoy the pinball!

Note the little square bottom right. That’s cool.