Game talkWhere 3d browser stuff stands

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Jan 152011

Been awhile since I posted about how progress is going on this front. Everyone is very excited about HTML5, of course, but particularly with the latest H.264 news, Flash is still going to be pretty widely used. WebGL is going to be in Firefox 4, (basically, the OpenGL ES 2.0 API will be available).

To my eye, the WebGL stuff is behind the Flash stuff in terms of framerate consistency and performance — but it does have all sorts of nifty off-the-shelf integration with Web data on the fly, because it is literally “a 3d web page” made out of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Here’s a video of the “Flight of the Navigator” demo — if you have a WebGL enabled browser, you can actually try it yourself.

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Game talkMessages in mechanics

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Jun 232010

Gamasutra has published an opinion piece by a Christian pop culture critic that is perceptive and cogent. In it, Richard Clark argues that games that place storytelling in a privileged position in the game design need to be judged by the same sort of critical and moral standards as we judge storytelling in any other medium.

I agree, of course as those who have read the book and blog know; that said, Clark seems to give a pass to games whose experience is more centered on mechanics:

Not all games call for these kinds of questions. Games like Tetris, Peggle, Torchlight, and Doodle Jump make a deliberate attempt to place gameplay first. The story and characters truly are intended to be containers for game play elements.

I think there are implicit lessons to be derived from mechanics too. So I am not inclined to give any games a pass on serious critical thought, regardless of whether they are heavy on story or not!

Is Loved less to be analyzed because it lacks cutscenes or detailed characters? Check out the comments on the review over at Casual Gameplay and see what you think (and if you haven’t played the game — be sure to play it with the sound on). Note how the game mechanics and content alter as you play based on mechanical choices. And notice how the fundamental questions the games raises are based on a mechanic: the choice to obey or not.

Times have definitely changed though — the comment thread on the Gamasutra piece is running heavily in favor of the article, which I don’t think would have been the case five years ago. Hopefully, we see the sophistication level of game critiques — and game content! — continue to increase as we think more about what we do.

Game talkTrinhex

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Jun 102010

On Metaplace there was a puzzle game I designed called Wheelwright. One of our users, known as Obo there but as oscan on Kongregate, just released a game called Trinhex on Kongregate that is inspired by that one. Given that it is hexes, it of course plays very differently, adding triangle swaps and bonus objectives. Check it out!

Game talkThe flip side: Apple vs Flash

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Apr 082010

I actually knew about this while writing the other post, but it hadn’t seemed to break publicly on the Net yet. Well, now it has. There’s language in the new SDK agreement for iPhone OS 4.0 that appears to ban using any development environment or toolchain that Apple doesn’t like. Most especially, it seems aimed at preventing Adobe from marketing the flagship feature in CS5: compiling for iPhone standalone apps.

3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

CS5 launches on Monday, by the way, so this is a huge blow to Adobe.

There is already plenty of speculation as to whether this catches stuff like Unity, MonoTouch, Appcelerator (they had a blog post up about it, but it’s gone now!), and who knows what else. Basically, all cross-compilation tools, which is a large amount of the middleware out there.

This is the dark side of the last post I wrote. Epically closed means, well, epically closed. And in this case, it means creating barriers to content creation that effectively mean it costs more dollars to engage in the market. That’s what happens when you have closed-off production-and-distribution chains: smaller developers lose out.

Game talkA whole bunch of news tidbits

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Jan 052010

Boy, have I neglected the blog. Here’s some stuff I said to myself, “I should blog that” that flew by.

Game talkA few neat little games

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Dec 082009

Just a quick post to note some games that have caught my eye lately. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen mention of some of these already.

Game talkFlash comes to the iPhone

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Oct 052009

Well, this is a nice end-run around Apple. In a nutshell: develop in Flash CS5, cross-compile to iPhone as a standalone app. Public beta later this year.

How is this different from Adobe Flash Player 10 coming to iPhone? Will iPhone users be able to view web content built with Flash technology in the iPhone browser?

The new support for iPhone applications in the Flash Platform tooling will not allow iPhone users to browse web content built with Flash technology on iPhone, but it may allow developers to repackage existing web content as applications for iPhone if they choose to do so.

Flash Player uses a just-in-time compiler and virtual machine within a browser plug-in to play back content on websites. Those technologies are not allowed on the iPhone at this time, so a Flash Player for iPhone is not being made available today.

Flash Professional CS5 will enable developers to build applications for iPhone that are installed as native applications. Users will be able to access the apps after downloading them from Apple’s App Store and installing them on iPhone or iPod touch.

Adobe Labs – Adobe Flash Professional CS5: Applications for iPhone.

This s a huge game-changer. Expect the App Store to get overwhelmed with Flash apps within days of this becoming available as every good Flash app is ported over. It’s another solid step on Adobe’s part towards making Flash a common rendering and development platform across multiple devices, too — Flash 10.1 is already scheduled to land on basically every other smartphone, and honestly, users don’t care whether it’s runtime interpreted or not.

Game talkVivaty implements X3D in Flash

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Sep 222009

First, the link to the blog post:

Vivaty in Flash (Sneak Preview) « Vivaty Blog.

It isn’t a full version of Vivaty — you can chat with one other user, and the space does not look customizable right now. There’s effectively an “upsell” to the plugin-based client.

The Flash version of Vivaty is a great way to get introduced to the experience, explore parts of the world, and meet new people. Currently, you can hangout with one person at a time, but you’ll soon be able to build up your friends list, and mingle inbetween both the full Vivaty experience and all of the big parties and events and the more intimate scenes that are in the lightweight version of Vivaty.

from the FAQ

The rendering looks pretty darn good for Flash 10. I wasn’t able to find a way to go look for a specific other person — looks like it does random matchmaking right now. And my avatar (and theirs) went invisible after a while. It is nonetheless an impressive technical achievement. According to Tony Parisi in the comment thread, this is literally a port of their X3D client:

From the outset, we made a conscious decision to use X3D as our delivery format for the 3D. As you can imagine, that made the task of developing our Lite application much easier, essentially a port. And of course since so much of our service is driven by the back end, it was really just a client port plus a slight simplification of the content.

That comes from a discussion in the comments to the blog post, where people are attacking the project on the grounds that X3D is all about open standards, and implementing it in Flash is a betrayal of core principles. These people need to get a grip. An open standard that is used by effectively no one (statistically speaking) is no standard at all regardless of what bodies back it. The sad fact is that technical superiority, openness, and official acronyms have zero to do with whether something really becomes a standard, which is all about getting lots of people to use it.

The way Vivaty are approaching this uses Flash as a gateway to the full experience. If this lines up with the way it has gone for others who have tried this, the Flash version will get dramatically more usage than the plugin version.

(Thanks to len for the heads-up!)

Game talkGreat article on indie biz

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Aug 042009

Jeff Ward has a great article on Gamasutra about the viability of the indie scene these days, which ties right back into the recent blog post on new bosses and old bosses. He analyzes iPhone, XBLA, and PC markets, as well as the alternative funding model of getting investors in advance for a title.

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