Category Archives: Writing

Macromedia Flash Professional 8 Game Development

Well, the new book is out It’s called Macromedia Flash Professional 8 Game Development.

Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Charles River Media; 2 edition (June 1, 2006)

It’s not a “brand new book”, it’s a “Second edition”. For those who don’t have the original, it’ll be all great and new to you. For those who have the original, you’re going to find a few updates and items for Flash 8 (and that’s especially what Flash 8 is good at; games)… To me, the entire tile-game engine in Flash 8 is worth its weight in gold.

It’s a great book, and I hope people enjoy it – it took a bit of work to put together.

Click here to order!

I’m really excited about it, and it covers some of the best things that Flash 8 has to offer in relation to games. It’s currently being used as curriculum material at many educational institutions around the world.

We cover full tile game development (like Super Mario) making use of the BitmapData object in Flash 8, and you’ll get to learn all sorts of amazing things and effects that can be specifically applied to games.

Introduction to Game Development

introductiongamedevHere’s a book I wrote a chapter in recently, and it’s a book I’m immensely proud to be a part of.

This year I had the honor of writing a chapter in a truly amazing book. The book is called simply “Introduction to Game Development”, published by Charles River Media, and it is a whopping 1000 page hard cover.The book is written by 27 of the worlds best game designers, developers and artists. I did the chapter on Flash games. This book is the first of its kind – it covers every facet of game development yet it is not lacking in detail. Continue reading Introduction to Game Development

Creating a Dynamic Soundtrack

pwpcoverPractical Web Projects, May, 2005.

This is an article on how to use Flash to create a dynamically generated soundtrack. Using a careful blend of musical elements, with matching tempos, one could transition between different feelings and intensities of music, without a seams in the transition.

Making a dynamic soundtrack where music seamlessly shifts to match the visual subject matter.

Music is perhaps the most powerful tool we have at our disposal, as web and Flash developers, for drawing an emotional response from our visitors. For years, Hollywood has used music to enhance a scene and give it maximum emotional impact. In fact, music in movies often strictly guides our emotions along, making us feel certain ways from moment to moment; suspense, relief, suspense again, relief, more suspense, disaster, relief.

The ability of the composer to move the music smoothly from one state to another is something that we can imitate when we create dynamic soundtracks in our websites. Essentially, we’re going to be using several pieces of music and tying them smoothly together, changing based upon what we’re viewing on the main site. The music will be seamlessly transitioned from one piece to another.

The trick here is that all the pieces of music must have several fundamental things in common. First, they must all be in the same key. In order to transition from one piece to another, crossfading smoothly, we can’t use two pieces in harshly opposing keys, otherwise, as they fade, the sound will be jarring. Secondly, all the pieces must have the same tempo, or speed. This is necessary for them to “line up” properly.

In Flash, we’ll be using the Sound object extensively. We can have up to 8 sounds playing at once in Flash, and we’re going to take advantage of this. Our dynamic soundtrack will consist of 7 possible genres of music. Each genre consists of a single looping piece of music, 16 seconds in length. At the launch of the Flash site, all 7 pieces will be started, and set to loop indefinitely. The volume of all these will be set to zero (silent). We then smoothly fade between them to create our dynamic soundtrack.

Flash MX 2004 Game Development

fmx2004gamdevby Glen Rhodes

Creating games with Macromedia Flash MX 2004 is a rewarding endeavor for aspiring and seasoned programmers alike. With its quick download time, cross-platform deployment, ease of use, and power, Flash is quickly becoming the program of choice or online game development. The use of vector graphics also makes the games scalable for any resolution from full screen to cell phone.

Intended for both game and Web developers, Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Game Development teaches developers how to maximize Flash for the creation of online and standalone games. The entire development process is covered, from design, story and character development, to the physics and motion of a game, audio issues, optimization, and deployment. As you work through the book, you’ll create eight fun games as you learn and apply the tools of Flash. After completing these projects, you’ll be ready to produce your own high-quality games, and you’ll have the skills needed to take on more complex games. Continue reading Flash MX 2004 Game Development

Creating a Cool Flash Intro

pwpcoverFor Practical Web Projects, December, 2004.

Creating an animated intro for the hypothetical “Mash and Grab” website.

When creating the intro for the Mash & Grab website, it’s important to grab the attention of the visitor right away, with relevant motion graphics that make use of the branding that has been developed thus far. To that end, we’re going to create something that follows the tradition of television style motion graphics done with After Effects (think TV show intro) and eventually finish off at the Mash & Grab logo. We want to convey excitement and movement, while at the same time indicating that this is a high-tech venture.
We’ll start off with a black screen, into which will drop dollops of mashed potatoes, filling the screen from bottom to top, until the entire screen is white. Then the pieces of the logo will fly on, settling into proper position. Once in position, they will all begin to pulse and “dance”, gradually settling down to the final logo form. At the end, a “diner floor” background grid will fade in, and will continually pan from right to left, giving the appearance that the logo is moving. Almost everything will be controlled by ActionScript.

All the while, there will be music playing. This is custom music written for the job by Glen Rhodes, and the music too follows the progression of the motion graphics. It begins as a simple jazzy piece to indicate the traditional roots of popular take-away. The music will, however, begin to morph gradually into a more modern sounding piece to reflect the nature of Mash & Grab being an online and relatively high-tech experience.

Once the action has settled down (and the song has finished), we will automatically forward the user to the main index page, and if they so happen to click anywhere on the intro movie at any time, we will be good enough to forward them at that exact moment.

Creating an Audio Mixer in Flash

wdcoverThis was a 3 part series for Web Designer Magazine, October, November and December 2004.

How to create an audio mixer in Flash, first looking at the task of drawing the graphic assets.

One of the things that Flash handles really well is audio. Flash has the ability to play up to 8 stereo audio channels at the same time, with independent volume and pan controls over each channel. This means that we can get 8 concurrent audio loops going at once, and using volume and pan, we can create our own mixes, and in essence build our own songs. Continue reading Creating an Audio Mixer in Flash

Flash MX 2004 Games Most Wanted

fmx2004gamesmostwantedby Sham Bhangal, Anthony Eden, Brad Ferguson, Brian Monnone, Keith Peters, Glen Rhodes, Steve Young, Kristian Besley (Editor)

Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Games Most Wanted is the latest title in the popular ‘Most Wanted’ series from friends of ED. This book presents the definitive selection of game design techniques using the latest version of Macromedia Flash – now the industry standard for creating multimedia applications, used by over one million professionals.

Each chapter covers a distinct area of online gaming, describing the design and development of a finished Flash game. The book delivers as many complete example games as possible and is packed full of the most wanted tips, tricks, and techniques to demonstrate exactly how to produce exciting and interactive games. This is an inspiring sample of all the very best techniques that professional Flash game designers are using today.

Creating a Flash Game

pwpcoverPractical Web Projects, November, 2004

This article was about creating a game in Flash to fit into the framework of a pre-existing site.

When it comes to really showing our stuff, nothing seems to show it better than creating a game for our site. Creating a game says that we don’t just know how to build sites, but we know how to entertain. It indicates to the world that we know what we’re doing in Flash, and that we care about user satisfaction.

The value that a game adds to a site is immeasurable and, currently on the web, game sites account for those with the most consistent traffic, and those where visitors remain the longest. In this sense, they’re called “sticky”, because games cause the users to “stick” to the site. In the competitive online world, being sticky is definitely a good thing, and if we can create sticky sites for ourselves, then clients will hire us to create sticky sites for them as well.

In this tutorial, we’re going to be creating a game that is essentially a remake of an old classic, which often goes under the name of “memory” or “match”. In the game, we’re going to present the user with a grid of squares, or “cards”. When the user clicks on a card, it flips over, revealing a picture on the back of the card. The user may then click on another card, and if the two card images match, then the cards will fade away, revealing portions of the background.

The object is to clear the entire grid of cards in as few attempted matches as possible. When the user selects two cards that don’t match, they both flip back over, leaving it up to the user to remember where each card is.

The core of our game will be the card logic, fade code, and the shuffle algorithm that ensures every run is different.

Drumming to a steady beat in Flash MX 2004

pwpcoverPractical Web Projects, September 2004

Using the built in sound timing in Flash MX 2004 to create a rock solid interactive drum machine.

Macromedia Flash MX 2004 is a powerful tool, and it allows us to do some amazing stuff. One of its catches, however, derives from the fact that all timing is frame based, and that actual, achieved frame rate is determined by something akin to luck, rather than the actual document frame rate setting.

In truth, Flash attempts to attain the frame rate you have requested, but often will fail, as external processes, or even animation within your movie take over and cause the playback to skip and sputter.

This does not engender much hope for a drum machine, which relies on rock solid timing. In fact, if you look at drummachFrames.swf, and try inputting a drum beat, you’ll see this effect in full swing. It sounds OK, but you occasionally hear the “drummer” lose time, and play a beat late.

Note that in years since, the audio timing has become better and better, and now things like drum machines, dynamically generated audio and effects are easy with AS3.0