Here is another short preview of our book The Essential Guide To Flash Games from Friends Of Ed.
The first real game discussed in the book (taking up over 70+ pages) is named Flack Cannon. The game is a take on Missile Command in which you try to defend your ships from incoming "Kamikaze" planes. The point of these two chapters is to introduce a game using our optimized game framework (game timer loop, state machine) with a simple game. It also introduces an AS3 sound manager, bitmap collision detection, vector based movement, animated sprites, ramping difficulty with "knobs" and a lot more. This is the first of three games that use SpriteLib (Ari Fledman's
Sprite Library), so that is why it looks cool. However, the engine is pretty universal and could be used for almost any game of this type.
In my opinion the "Missile Command" genre has not been mined to it's full potential. I look forward to see if anyone can take this engine and make something really great from it.
Mochi Game of The Day (Sept 28, 2009)- Star Fish by Photonstorm
Star Fish made it to Mochi today. I saw a pre-release of this little gem a few weeks back and have been anticipating it's release on Mochi. It is a high quality casual game that you would expect to see on Big Fish or even Pop Cap. Kudos to Rich Davey and his team for such a nice effort on this one. The splendid music, graphics, and FX are charming and should please portal game players of all ages. The game is very simple: You are a little fish and you must collect all of the stars while avoiding everything else.
The abundance of high quality sea creatures and fun level design turn this simple mouse avoider / collector concept into something special. I had this one up and my 4 year old son heard the music, grabbed the mouse and played for 60 minutes. That's a record!
This is a very nice little game with style and class in abundance, and it deserves space on the front page of your portal.
Game Development Interweb Mash-Up: Sep. 27, 2009
has been quite an interesting 3 weeks since the last mash-up. The new 'day job'
web site launched after 9 months of corporate hand wringing, scope changes, and
development disasters. It came out nicely, but is still keeping me slaving away
for 12 hours days with bugs, production issues, content updates, and of course
all the additional features we had to move to that mythical 'Phase 2' that we
all know is every single day after the initial launch. I have received a lot of
email from you guys over the last few weeks, so I will attempt to cover as many
of your worthy links as possible, but I am not going to go too far in the past.
I have a few of these planned for this week before I move on to chapters 9 and
10 in the book, so there is no need to cover everything I missed in one
mash-up. So, this time we will start slowly and gain momentum as we go. With no
further ramblings, let's start with the Game Of The Day...
Game Of The Day:The Deepening by the Duncan Brothers.
deepening is a 'select' your own multimedia adventure game. It consists a cold
open video sequence that introduces the player to the game story through 2-3
minute live action video reminiscent of the best Beastie Boys videos, sans
awesome tunes (well, the music isn't bad actually), but avec tres hammy acting (but it rocks!). Once you get to the
Nintendo-esque title screen, you can choose to see
another live action 'Mission Briefing' just a bad (in a good way) as the cold
open. You choose to portray either agent Stevenson or Bukowski
on your missions. Stevenson seems to be equipped with fruit and teddy bears,
while Bukowski sports knives and automatic weaponry.
The game plays out in a series of these sequences where the agents must infiltrate
a terrorist organization, save captives and perform other missions. The 8-bit
feel that surrounds the video sequences is very well done, while the game play
consists of multiple-choice questions that lead to some pretty funny a creative
is it a great game? Not particularly. It is a great movie, not really. But it
is very fun and well done, and will not be a waste of your time. As a package,
the different elements are very creative and some actual money was spent in
putting this one together. I really enjoyed my time with this game.
MochiMini Game Reviews
the deal with the game reviews: When I review the 'Coins and Features Mochi games, most of them are pretty good and get good
ratings. This time I am going to focus on five of the non-featured and
non-'coins games that have a retro feel. Good or bad, these are the ones I
found and decided to give space to. Of course if a game happens to be new, and
featured, it can still show up here, but I won't look for them in the featured
Soldier: A Commando style game with updated
visuals and sounds. Now, this is how to do a re-make or tribute. Don't steal
the tile sheet from the original; make your own sweet graphics and mimic
classic game play style. This one reminds me of the great Leather Necks title
we had on the Atari ST. If you like Commando, Frontline or even Contra (even
though this one scrolls up), you will like this one too. Quality
Meteorite Hunter: You take the good you take the bad, you take 'em both there you have...This Game. Take (what I think) is
a Glenn Rhodes book game (the good) and make a cheap knock-off for Mochi (the bad). I am sorry if I am wrong about this being
an exact copy of the Glenn Rhodes' game, so if it isn't, please let me know. As
a tech demo for pseudo-bitmap 3D, it is impressive (for 2004). But ss an actual
game to put ads in, it's not very good.
Flash Hound: This is an interesting space shooter
that I am just too lame to understand. Everything is well presented, but the
controls make the game very difficult to play. It is a little like Star Castle
in reverse on a scrolling play field, mixed with Arkanoid
(if that makes any sense). I really wish I GOT this one more because it looks
and sounds great, and the ideas are very unique. I just didn't have much fun
8BIT Infinity: There in nothing infinite about
this little retro shooter. At least to me, that is, as none of my games lasted
more that 10-20 seconds. It is a fun little blaster with tiny graphics and no
sound. I like it, but it could be much much better.
A fine little 360 degree scrolling shooter that let's the player obtain quite a
few cool power ups. The presentation is pretty well done, the sound is good,
and the game play is pretty fun.
Blogs, Articles, Forum
Posts, and other nonsense (not many this time, but I will catch up this week).
Squize and nGfx have a
TD game in the works.
I'm not a HUGE Tower Defense Game Fan, but I am a huge fan of R & O and the
thing they do best (make games of course). If they have a TD game coming out, I'm sure I'll play it more
than most. Check out the bottom of this post for the current details on this and other games
they have in the works.
What's going on over a PhotonStrom
Rich has released a new game, Star Fish. It's a sweet little under-sea
collecting game with all the professional polish that you can expect from a Rich.
Plus, our friends over at RobotJamGames
sponsored it! That's cool all the way around. Rich also has a class that encapsulates the GetDefinitionByName util class in Flash for use in instantiating dynamically
names library items. I cover this ground the book I am writing, but Rich's
version is much better! Damn you cheeky Brits =)
Colby and Panayoti
have done good with Ginger
Colby and Panayoti have released Ginger, an
API for Bitmap animation that will all at once make most of the tutorials
on this site useless =) It is a very well done library that covers a lot of the
ground I am going to cover in the book, but for free! This
Hot Chicks with Violins (and a
drummer) Cover System Of The Down's Toxicity (awesomely by the way!)
will cover much more this week, So don't be disappointed
if your blog didn't show up yet. It's late and I'm tired.
always, please visit http://www.flashgameblogs.com
for your daily dose.
Essential Flash Games Book #2 (chapters 6 and 7)
I have just completed (finally) chapters 6 and 7 of our
upcoming Essential Flash Games Book.
These two chapters go into exhaustive detail on creating a maze-based,
over-head 2D shooter in the Armor Attack genre. The game is not one that I
would want to release to any portals yet. Compared to the even moderately
good games out there, it is lacking some polish. In any case, the point of
these two chapters was to explain how to create a tile-based environment using Mappy, XML, TileSheets, Blitting, Maze-Chase AI, and Line Of Sight firing. I looked
over a number of books in my game development library before I started these
two chapters and none give this level of detail, so I am please with how it
came out. This set of chapters
brings in the low-level set blitting classes I wrote
about very early in the year when I was discussing my Generalized Flex Game
framework. By no means are these the best, most exhaustive set of framework
classes available, but they are clean and simple, and extend the book's
The TileSheet class is the basic building block for
creating game assets. It is agnostic to implementation, so a TileSheet instance could simply be a single imported
png graphic that is static and placed in a Sprite (in
a Bitmap instance). Or, it can represent a sheet of any sized tiles that can be
used for blitting operations.
class is an extension of the Sprite class that includes properties and
functions for using a TileSheet instance for bitting to its own internal canvas (A Bitmap Object) for
animation. The canvas is located at -.5*x, -.5*y to allow the Bitmap to be
rotated and resized and around the center of the Sprite. It is still a Sprite though. The BlitObject class will be introduced in chapter 10. This
will eliminate the use of the built-in Sprite class for those who want to go to
a full screen blit.
class is an extension of the BlitSprite class with
properties specific to an object moving about a maze (using the center of each
tile).These two chapters also include topics covering
everything from pixel perfect collision detection to creating dynamic warp
tunnels and navigating a tile-maze with 'tile center' logic. It took 104 Word
2008 pages to get it all it though all.
Having finished up this section, I am pleased with my
accomplishment (especially given the 14 hour day-job work days I have been
putting in lately), but I am still skeptical of its quality. Nothing good comes from rushing to the
finish line, so even though it was due last Monday, I am turning it in this
Monday. I hope to catch up (time-wise) in my next set of chapters (10 and 11)
that will deal with creating a scrolling space shooter using larger tiles for 'full
screen blit scrolling'.
Here is a sample picture of the game for chapters 6 and 7.
It uses SpriteLib (Ari Fledman's
It doesn't look like much yet (although Ari's sprites are sweet), but the reader is given
enough information to turn this little engine into any game they desire. I will
be adding a lot of zarjaz to my version and shoving
it out on our site (and possibly Mochi) when I find time to catch a breather'
I just learned yesterday that I am going to Adobe MAX in L.A. in October. There are only a few sessions that I want to attend, so if anyone wants to meet and talk Flash, Games, Flash Games, or anything else, drop me a line.
Unfortunately, as it stands right now, Jeff can not go, so if you want to talk him about all his Zarjazz, I can only pretend to know what you are talking about as I smile and nod (hopefully at the appropriate times).
Also, I'm looking to meet crackerjack Flash devs who can consult for my day job, so there is that too...
Almost 2 months ago we reported on what we thought might be the scariest/best Flash Game Contest ever created.
The Stonking Great Game Contest From The Escapist Magazine:
Well today we received an update about the contest. It seems that they have upped-the-ante a bit by adding a bunch of industry pros as judges to the contest. You still don't win very much, but at least now your work can be seen (and most likely roundly dismissed) by a bunch of industry guys. Here is the list:
Central Clancy Writer
R. Michael Young
Director of Games
SVP Visceral Games
Chief Creative Officer
Again, this is a game contest in which you use Zero Punctuation assets to make game. We here at 8bitrocket.com do think it might be a worthwhile contest, mostly for exposure to your work. Our advice to use an existing engine, and make sure that you use the Zero Punctuation assets in way that would make the game unique and usable only for the contest. The contest ends on Oct. 19th.
Does the addition of industry vets change your opinion of the contest?
We just got an email from Jeff Palumbo brand Manager for The Escapist Magazine He wanted to clear-up a couple misconceptions:
Thank you for posting that news! I can
understand the developers' concerns but there are a couple items people
have been fearful of that we have cleared up in our forums:
game is ours once it's submitted.
isn't true. The only thing we want to keep is our IP, so every
developer is welcome to use their game in any way they choose after wards,
just as long as they take our IP out.
will steal my code.
are only asking for code for people's games we are looking further
into for the event itself. We will be checking for viruses and the ability
to put it up on our site for everyone to play. The Escapist will not do
anything else with the code. It wouldn't benefit our brand or
reputation to do so.
If there are any further questions, please
feel free to email me or take a look at this post which has a lot of answered
questions in it: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/6.128927
We get all sorts of email requests here. Most of them are from reasonable people who need help or ask questions. We like those. However, sometimes we get emails that are simply mind-bogglingly awesome in the boldness of their requests. Here is the best one we have received in a long time:
I want to do jigsaw puzzles using flex3. i
want your source code for some clarifications.If its possible kindly
send me that source code as soon as possible.
Clarifications eh? Sure. As soon as I catch-up to that turnip truck that just dropped me off.
Essential Flash Games: The Book #1
One reason that there have been fewer tutorials, mash-ups, reviews, etc on the last few weeks is that Steve and I are deep into our first book on Flash game programming. Friends Of Ed is the publisher and we have a deadline to finish by November. The name of the book is Essential Flash Games, a title bestowed on it by the publisher.
I am currently finishing up chapter 7. It deals with creating a top-down, tile-based AS3 engine for maze/chase style game. It could be used for any maze/chase game (Pacman, etc), but the game I am creating is closer to the classic arcade and Vectrex title, Armor Attack. I am creating the enemy tanks to have enough AI to be a challenge...now I have to piece back together my spaghetti AI into good enough code that I won't be embarrassed for others to see. The funny thing about writing code you know others will look at and even use is that (given enough time) you always want to go back and refine it. I have been writing the games for the chapters and then when complete, writing about the games and explaining all the code. The best possible code bullsh*t detector is having to re-read code and explain it in detail. When I get to some lame-ass code that shouldn't be there, or needs to be better, I am forced to re-write it as to not be embarrassed. How's that for an incentive? =)
The book will contain an expansion of some of the tutorials found on this site, and much more new content. All of the games use a simple OOP-lite framework that we have created that should not get in the way of game programming or design, but adds a little helper functionality for screen updates (optimized timer), and game organization (a simple state pattern), and more.
It isn't designed to be an all encompassing game engine, but rather a framework for helping to create games without having to start over each time.
The code is being written in both Flash Develop and CS3, so it will be easy to pickup for those who want to start making games for free as well as anyone with CS3 or CS4.
Ok, that's my update, not back to the chapter...
Mochi Game Review Mash-Up : September 14, 2009 (9 new games reviewed)
First impression mini game reviews covering a variety of the latest
Mochi games. The grading has been toughened up a bit because
the quality of games has reached a new level in the last few months. I
have three "coins" games, three "featured" games and three
"new games" this time. When I did the "new" games, I searched for
retro-style games first (because those are the games I like the most).
Games Of The Day: Maus Trap:
Maus Trap is a sweet little action puzzle where you are tasked with
moving a mouse through the elaborate maze and to the exit on
each level. You do this by dragging a piece of cheese along the ground,
enticing the little guy to follow. The mice die pretty easily, so you need
to be very careful that you don't lead them straight into any of the
various traps on each of the levels. This is one that I will come back
and play a lot.
3D Car Racing Deluxe:
A Very nice looking, behind the car, 3D environment racing
game. This is one of the first Flash games I have played that actually
is a real 3D environment to race in. It seems to have been translated
(in some cases not) from Japanese. It plays well technically, but is
not easy steer so I lost all of my races by a huge margin. Still, to
see Flash games reaching the quality of early PSX games is very
Gerba Deadly Revenge: A
Shinobi style side scroller where you have three major weapons and
skills at your disposal: A sword, forward fire, and a sweet set of
advanced jumping skills. When you press (and hold) up to jump you can visually see
a meter that tells you the strength of the jump. When you let go, you jump. You can even double,
triple, and quadruple jump (I think) by doing this when in the air. The
story is set in ancient Japan (or a similar real or fictional Asian
country) and you are tasked with beating your way through the various
levels to find 6 magic regents to cure the... don't worry about the
story, just play the game. It uses coins to access some levels and I
encountered some inter-level ads.
Apocalypse Warrior Mad Max: Another
"coins" game that also gives the user the option of playing a "full 3D"
version at another web site by installing a plug-in. There are 20
levels of exploding action to conquer. The game is played with very
simple controls and is similar to the classic Operation Wolf. Instead
of being wide out in the open (as in Wolf), you are crouched behind a
barrier (tires stacks on the first level) and you simply press the space-bar
to rise up and shoot, and release to lower and re-load under cover.
When you come up from cover, you are treated to a nice looking (but
purposely desolate) landscape filled with enemy soldiers and barriers. They are
pretty smart, and take cover, as well as bring in re-enforcements in
cars and heavy weapons to blast you to bits. I found the game a decent
challenge, but not as fun as I had hoped as there isn't
a whole lot to the action (just one key and the mouse to
fire). It certainly is technically impressive though. I found aiming a
little difficult, and died rather easily. I also can't get behind using
the Mad Max name unless they own it (doubtful). In any case, it is a
well made game that many will find enjoyable.
Zombie Mall: A
well designed side scroller where you must walk through a cartoon
styled mall and kill all of the zombies. Zombie Mall is a
nice production and much effort has been put into creating a quality
product. I found the game play a little simplistic, but I also enjoyed
my time playing it. You basically walk through the mall, shooting
everything that moves. For every zombie you kill, you gain money that
can be used at the convenient vending machines scattered around the
levels. At these you can buy heath, weapons and other goodies to help
you in your quest.
Ragdoll Zombie Slayer:
Just exactly what the title says. You stand on the left side
of the screen and aim your shotgun with the mouse as hordes of oncoming
zombies. Your gun has three shots and must be reloaded often. The
zombies and their destruction are beautifully crafted and a joy to
shoot! The death/speed/black metal music is highly appropriate
and I thought of Gwar the whole time I was playing. This one
is a very fun time.
A very nice looking first person asteroid dodging game. I
wanted so much for this one to include blasting, but alas, it
does not. It is well made, but the dodging can go on for just so long
before I get a little bored. It will have its audience though.
A very good looking little "lunar lander in reverse" style game. You
are placed in a sweet looking cavern and you must thrust around,
finding gems and crystals, while avoiding fire balls. The game ends
when you get hit by a fireball or run out of fuel. There is LOT of 2D
rendering going on to create the elaborate graphics, and this resulted
in some hiccups on my machine. It is a fun little game, but like some
of the others today, I wish there was a little more to do.
Rockman is an odd combination of Rockford, Apple Panic, and BoulderDash
- three very well respected classic 8-bit games. The controls are a
little odd, and the game is not easy to understand at first, but it is
still a nice little gem once you get the hang of it. Some oddities
here: The score and other text items are off the bottom of the screen.
Also, this seems like a BBC Micro, Speccy, MSX, or C64 (not
Atari 8-bit as I have played all of those games and this is
not one of them) port or emulation in some way.
When people talk about "old school" role playing games these days, they are usually referring to Final Fantasy or Dragonquest or some other JRPG released near the end of the 80's. Those are good games mind you, but hardly old school. To me, "old school" RPGs are nothing of the sort. They are Ultima, Wizardry, Temple Of Apshai, Rogue, Ali Baba And The 40 Thieves, and many other games that have mostly been forgotten since the NES dominated video games after 1986.
Most kids from the 90's don't even know that RPGs started on mainframe computers and classic 8-bit computers systems like the Apple II and Atari 800. They don't even realize that Final Fantasy I is an almost exact duplicate of Ultima from many years before. Damn whippersnappers.
Well, here comes The Dark Spire for the Nintendo DS (released by Atlus earlier this year), and one would hope that it might help change a few minds. This is a brand-new game in the style of the earliest computer games. The Dark Spire's obvious inspiration is the first Wizardry title from Sir-Tech for the Apple II in 1980. While there are some obvious differences, The The Dark Spire has the same in-town/visit single giant dungeon structure of Wizardry, as well as a reliance on text, wire frame dungeons and serviceable bit-mapped monsters to fight (in turn-based battles). There is a "modern" option that upgrades the look of the dungeons and monsters, but after trying for a couple hours, I went right back to the "classic" version. You see, this game is all about stats. They could have named it "Stat-o-Matic RPG" and it would not have been far from the truth. You must keep track of almost everything about your characters: from the weapons they are allowed to use, to the armor they can wear. For instance when you buy a weapon little symbols will tell you which players can use it, but you are allowed to equip it on any character...it just won't do anything. Similarly, your characters will gain experience after winning battles, but you do not gain levels automatically. You must return to the guild in town and spend your experience on your own. While this might sound restrictive, it actually allows you to create pretty much any character you would like. The four major classes (warrior/mage/thief/priest) can be had by any character, and you can advance in one or any class depending on how you spent your experience. You can also spend your experience on skills instead of advancing levels. The choice is yours.
The titular "The Dark Spire" is one giant dungeon with a "foozle" at the bottom who you must defeat. Traversing the dungeon is linear experience where you are rewarded for grinding as much as possible before trying to "clear-out" each section. However "grinding" might not be the proper word. It's more of "grind and run" (at least in the early stages), where you pop-in, fight a couple battles, and run out, savoring the small rewards and advances of every minute you play. Battles are both random, and set-pieces for particular areas. All choices are made with text menus, and the results are also spit out as text, while the graphics are used really as reference only. The real game is played with text menus, text stats,and textual descriptions of everything. In fact, in a true shout-out to the 8K-48K games of old, some descriptions of things must be read from the instruction manual (see Temple Of Apshai). Mage spells, for instance, are named in such an arcane manner that the instruction book is essential so you can tell what spell you are learning. While this might seem like more work than it is worth, I found the game very refreshing. Most of the recent DS RPGs I've played have been a bit on autopilot. I'm told where to go, what to do, and must have certain characters with certain skills and levels before anything interesting will happen. Leveling in those games is so automatic, as to be a non-event. In fact, in those RPGs leveling becomes the point of the whole exercise. You need the proper number of levels to defeat on big bad guy before you take-on the next. End of story. While a game like The Dark Spire has similar elements, getting there is quite a different experience. You must carefully plan out how to use your experience, how to mix your party and skills, and how to spend your limited cash. It's not a perfect system by any means, but it's certainly not inferior to any of the the watered-down RPGs styles that have appeared in the 30 years since this game's inspiration was first released.
The problem with The Dark Spire is that while game is so well done and true to it's old school roots, it won't appeal to 90's gamers enough to get them to even pick-it-up. To be honest, this game is even old-school for me. I started playing microcomputer RPG games in 1983. By then the games had made some major advances in graphics and sound, animation and game-play. I think the irony with The Dark Spire is that the designers tried very hard to make a game as close to an original 8-bit computer RPG as possible by making the interface and up-front effects as simple as possible. However, the original designers of these games did the exact opposite. They PUSHED the languages (BASIC, then later compiled languages ) the hardware platforms, memory, disk-space, sound chips etc. in every way to make more and more immersive adventures. Before first-person shooters, it was RPG games (in part) that pushed computer game enthusiasts to buy new and more powerful computers. Game designers put in small special effects using the sound and graphics capabilities available to them to make the games as pleasing as they could muster. These things were not a substitute for game-play, but they did help enhance it. The Dark Spire on the other hand almost revels in an era that only existed for a very short time. Anything that does not add to the core game-play seems purposely removed. While I really like the game, I'd like to see the same treatment given to game styles that advanced the genre even further: Ultima III, Phantasie I, Temple Of Apshai, Wizard's Crown, Alternate Reality , Bard's Tale and even later games like Dungeon Master, Might And Magic and Megatraveller would all shine if given the same treatment. Still, The Dark Spire is a solid starting point. Older gamers who are not adverse to reading text and who get excited by small and measured character advances instead of huge event-based character coronations should really dig this game. The Dark Spire is a game the begs to be played, but it will not play you. If you think have the guts to play a game like that, you need to try it.
How does this game relate to the subject of 8bitrocket.com? Flash game developers could learn a lot from the implementation of The Dark Spire. The game relies less on graphics, and more on a very solid internal game engine that models old school pen and paper RPGs. The basic set-up with a single town and single dungeon may be simple, but it screams "addiction". It's the type of game someone could play for a few minutes or hours everyday, and keep coming back for their fix. The ability to save anywhere in the dungeon helps drive this home. A game like this, with a simple up front ad embed, and then some possible micro transactions for upgrades (or another ad when you enter the town or dungeon), to me, might be the perfect Flash game project. While, a little less text and a few more graphical flourishes would be a good idea, but they should not take away from the simple role-playing goodness to be had from a game in this style. Flash game developers need to find a genre that will get people to keep playing their game more than once. The Dark Spire should be studied as inspiration.