HTML5 Canvas Book : Notes #1: Use Google Chrome

Here are some notes about our HTML5 Canvas Book.  Actually one note:

Use Google Chrome.

Especially for the examples in Chapters 6 and 7 (audio and video), and especially when loading and playing video and audio clips, Google Chrome has the best support right now.  The other chapter examples work great in nearly all browsers, but audio and video support is still inconsistent among browsers.   For example, Firefox 4 appears to have trouble with the "loop" property and the "canplaythrough" event.   We are going to post workarounds as soon as we have them.  Still though,the advice we give at the beginning of the book still holds true:

Use Google Chrome.

That is all.


The 8bitrocket Daily Inter-Web Mash-Up – May 12, 2011

Atari releases  the first update to Star Raiders in almost 20 years.
The original Star Raiders was one of the best 8-bit computers games of the golden-age and the main reason that over a Million Atari 400 and 800 systems were sold in 1979 and 1980.   This week, Atari released a new version for the XBox 360 Arcade (PC and PS3 to follow). We've played it, and while it is a decent game, it, like the re-done version of Yars Revenge from a couple months back, just doesn't have the feel of the original. Maybe that isn't fair because both the original Star Raiders and Yars Revenge were instant classics, and it is probably too much to assume that a lower budget XBox Live Arcade game would be able to pull off the same revolutionary game-play.

This new version of Star Raiders is a decent first person arcade space shooter that seems to lack the feel of flying through space that made  the original so revolutionary.  It isn't a bad game though and it certainly is pretty.  The artwork is lush and it is obvious that a lot of time was spent making this look like a very cool, modern title. That might be the problem though.  Atari fans might be a little disappointed with the overall feel and the seeming lack of reverence (in some cases) to the original, but being a developer, I certainly can see the work and creativity that went into the title.

Our 8-bit Rocket opinion is that both the new Yar's Revenge and Star Raiders are decent games, but lack the necessary familiar and retro evolved elements from their predecessors to pluck our retro heart strings.

Star Raiders is available to PC, XBox and PS3.

Replicating the Game Maker Choose() function in AS3
Via Skype last night, Ace The Super Villain and I were discussing how to replicate some of the functions he misses from Game Maker in AS3. The first example he gave me was a function called choose() that would randomly select a value from a passed in list and return the value.  The problem with creating a utility function like this is the strong typing in AS3. If the return value of the function is a discrete type, then the function becomes pretty much useless as a utility to be re-used. We discussed maybe having the function return a generic object or an array with the first element being the return value, but both of those seemed messy.  Here I have created a simple version where the return value uses the "*" syntax. I am unaware of the consequences of this (memory leaks, etc), but it seems to function very well. If anyone knows of a better way to do this or of a red flag this might produce, let me know.

Here is the Utility function (in a class called Utils):

package  {
  * ...
  * @author Jeff Fulton
  public class Utils {
    public static function choose(list:Array):* {
      return list[Math.floor(Math.random()*list.length)];

Here is an example of using this static function.  Notice that I have created a list of choices that contains many (OK 4) different distinct object types. Normally you would probably use a list of the same type of custom class or object, but I wanted to demonstrate the flexibility.

var testArray:Array = [true, "Help", { x:1, y:2 },
                       new Sprite()];

The trace will show a return value that is any one of the four different types. Constructed and used this way, this function might prove to be a very flexible, useful tool.

Just Plain Cool
-Make a Batman Utility Belt at home with these tips. (truTV)

- Did you know that Greece once banned all video games + 5 other odd things that have been banned by governments. (Cracked)

- Watch lightening hit a jet above London (Yahoo)

- Wired discusses classic Game Boy games that it would like to see in the 3DS e-shop. (Wired)

- Something else cool from Wired, a hands-on review of the new Chromebook - The Samsung Series 5. (Wired)

The 8bitrocket Daily Inter-Web Mash-up Briefing is compiled and edited by both Jeff D. Fulton and Steve A. Fulton. We cover the world of retro games, new games, indie games, Flash / Web games, game coding, the toy industry, and anything else we find cool. Send news items that you would like covered to info[at]8bitrocket[dot]com


Atari Nerd: Lynx Garage Excavation

Inspired by Jeff's Atari excavation a couple weeks ago, I went into the garage this weekend trying to find the Atari Lynx we bought back when it was released in the USA in 1989.    Far back in the garage, I found a plastic box with the word "Handheld" scribbled on it.


Inside, there was a Lynx and a Game Gear!


The Game Gear I bought for my wife and I to play on our Honeymoon in 1995 (romantic, eh?  I still have a lot to learn).   Here are the games  had for it.

Columns must have been inside the Game Gear, as it is missing from this photo and it was the best game.  That game was the reason I bought this for my wife for our honeymoon in the first place. The Star Wars game was fun too, but I got stuck with Luke on Tatooine and never got past it.

Below  is the original Lynx box from 1989.  I recall that the box was never sealed.  We bought the last one from Software Etc.   This must have been from the same policy that continues to this day at GameStop where they will sell you an open game or system as new.  Boo to you GameStop, boo to you!

Inside, the console, power supply, instructions and all the games were packed tightly.  I must have thrown away all the boxes at some point (damn).

Below is the Lynx console.  It's giant!!!  You can't tell from this photo, but it almost a foot across!

I once wrote a Haiku about it how big the thing was:

Lynx Console

Plays video games?
Strap two on and go skiing
Those babies were huge

I bought a ton of games for the thing.   Many were bought on closeout in the mid-1990's, but not all of them.

First set of games:

Left to right, top to bottom:

Pit-Figher: Bad, bad bad bad bad bad bad...

Super Sqweek: Unremarkable

Qix: Great game in the arcade, but strangely, almost unplayable.

Jimmy Conners Tennis: Passable

Rampart: Very good conversion.

Gates Of Zendocon: One of the original Lynx games.  A nearly unsurpassed shooter.  This one needs more recognition.  This would be in my "1001 Games You Must Play" list.  This needs to go on an Atari/DS collection if Atari ever leaves the 2600 and gets into the 5200/8-bit/Lynx/ST/Jaguar retro games they have in their archives.

Viking Child: Better on the Atari ST, but still a fun game.

Rygar: This is my absolute favorite version of this game.  Perfect on the Lynx.

Batman Returns:  Atari played up this license, but it's not a very good game at all.

Todd's Adventures In Slime World: Another one of the original Lynx games.  It's an excpetional platformer/shooter.  This would be in my "1001 Games You Must Play" list. This needs to go on an Atari/DS collection.

Hockey: Passable.

California Games:   One of the original Lynx games, but never one of my favorites.  It still needs to go on an Atari/DS collection.

Gauntlet: Good version, but too hard to play with the Lynx vertically.  Also, the poor sound on the Lynx kind-of ruins it. It still needs to go on an Atari/DS collection.

Checkered Flag: Decent Racing game in the tradition of Pole Position.

Kung Food: Food themed beat-em-up.  Original and fun. This needs to go on an Atari/DS collection.


Second Set of games:

Pinball Jam:  Two very well done pinball games.  One is based on Elivra Mistress Of The Dark .

Ninja Gaiden:  Honestly I don't recall this game.  I'm sure it was mediocre though.

Tournament Cyberball:  Cyberball.  Not a bad version either.

Zolar Mercenary:  The BEST game for the Lynx.  A great top-down scrolling shooter awesome. This needs to go on an Atari/DS collection. This would be in my "1001 Games You Must Play" list.

Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure: An interesting adventure game, but I recall that the save feature was a type-in code, which was annoying.

Steel Talons:  A great version of this game, based on an Atari Games coin-op.

Dirty Larry, Renegade Cop: Dreadful.

Chips Challenge: Great, great, great puzzle game.  Should have been a classic. This needs to go on an Atari/DS collection.

Klax: Great, great, great puzzle game. This is a classic.  This should have been the Lynx's Tetris killer, but it came too late.

Switchblade II:  Nice game, almost as good at the Atari ST version.

Basketbrawl:  Umm, yeah, great name, not a great game.

Ishido: Another game I cannot recall at all.

Hydra: Fun 1st person, river boat shooter.

Crystal Mines II:  Another game I cannot recall at all.

European Soccer Challenge:  Not bad, but hard to control.

Stun Runner: Another Atari Games coin-up.  Very challenging and fun.

Third set of games:

Warbirds:  A really good flight/sim shooter.  Certainly one of my favorite Lynx games of all time. This needs to go on an Atari/DS collection. This would be in my "1001 Games You Must Play" list.

Awesome Golf:  I don't recall anything about this one at all...

Turbo Sub: My mom got this for me for Christmas in like 1990.  Fun little first person shooter, submarine game.

Xybots: Another arcade conversion.  I've tried to like this one many times, but I've bever been able to get into it.

And there you have it.  Neither the Lynx nor the Game Gear work any longer, (a surprise to me), so I can not tell you how it felt to play these games again.   I do hope that Atari finds a way to create a Lynx Collection for the DS or iPhone/Android so I can play them the way they were intended to be played, in this century, once again.



8bitrocket.com Interweb Mash-Up: Tuesday May 10, 2011

What is Obama's favorite game system? Why did Jeff hate the Fringe Finale, where can you buy our new book, and much more.

Our O'Reilly HTML5 Canvas Book Has Arrived

HTML5 Canvas

Clocking in at at hefty 652 pages, our thinly disguised book on HTML5 Canvas game development has been released. This one focuses on many basic and intermediate topics such as drawing, bitmaps, physics, sound, video, and text before moving on to game applications, devoting a chapter to iPhone development with Phone Gap, and rounding out with discussions and application demos dealing with 3D and using the new Electroserver Javascript API to create a multiplayer experience.



I would have pegged Obama as a 360 fan, but this photo proves he is a Playstation 2 player(wired controller? There must be a budget crisis).

but then I see this, and I can't figure out which system is his favorite:

Oh, wait:

Flash Game Mini Review
Zombie Knight - You are a zombie, you get to kill zombies. You get kick ass skillz in this very well made 2d beat-em-up.

Old Games News Bites
- The greatest swords in video games
- South Korea and other countries are trying to stave off gaming addictions
- It's "Jumpman" for $100,000

Jeff discusses why the Fringe Season Finale pissed him off.
I have been a huge Fringe fan from Episode #1, but the 4th season finale Jumped the Shark, and ran over cousin Oliver on its way to crashing into Newhart waking up from his dream. It made no sense what-so-ever. It made the Dollhouse finale look like good television.

The Fringe writers are generally pretty excellent and  I never really have anything but good things to say about the stories, characters arcs, etc. The first 21 episodes of the season were really good and then suddenly they replaced their writers with 4th rate, free blog software published fan-fiction.

Why would Peter disappear? Why would he go 15 years into the future, but somehow be conscious of the all the events between 2011 and 2026? Sending the pieces of the machine back in time was a lame use of the paradox theory pretty much stolen verbatim from Bill and Ted's Excellent adventure. If Peter is gone, why would there even be a Fringe division in either universe? No Peter means no Ground Zero kidnapping. It's like we were all given chance to see how the proposed Veronica Mars 4th season FBI story-line would play out...and it sucked.

The 8bitrocket Daily Inter-Web Mash-up Briefing is compiled and edited by both Jeff D. Fulton and Steve A. Fulton. We cover the world of retro games, new games, indie games, Flash / Web games, game coding, the toy industry, and anything else we find cool. Send news items that you would like covered to info[at]8bitrocket[dot]com


Our book, HTML5 Canvas is now available.

Our book, HTML5 Canvas from O'Reilly is now available. Only a few copies are left at Amazon, but you can get it directly from O'Reilly if you want.

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8bitrocket Daily Interweb Mash-up : Saturday May 7, 2011

Atari 810 MicroSD Drive!

This is amazing!! A MicroSD card reader in the shape of an Atari 810 disk drive that can be mounted and used by an Atari 8-bit computer (400,800,1200xl,600xl,800xl,65xe,130xe).  We want to buy this NOW!!!

History Of Atari computers @ CIO Magazine

Here is a nice slide-show that gives the great engineering of the original Atari computers some web-time.

Xbox 720?

Rumors have started that Microsoft will show a new Xbox at E3 this year.  IGN says the rumor has been debunked, but we are still hoping.  We'll see how it pans out next week.  The rumors have started the same way the Nintendo Cafe/Feel rumors started a few weeks ago...hmm...

Apparently Our HTML5 Book is now available for Kindle

Like we reported earlier, our faithful reader Hayes reports that our new O'Reilly book, HTML5 Canvas, is now available for the Kindle:  You can see it here.

A PC For $25!!

David Braben has created a PC so small it can fit in your pockat and costs $25.  It has HDMI output, and /uses MicroSD cards for storage.  The idea is to use it to teach kids around the world to program.  We love it!  Read about it here.


The 8bitrocket Daily Inter-Web Mash-up Briefing is compiled and edited by both Jeff D. Fulton and Steve A. Fulton. We cover the world of retro games, new games, indie games, Flash / Web games, game coding, the toy industry, and anything else we find cool. Send news items that you would like covered to info[at]8bitrocket[dot]com


Our HTML5 Canvas Book Now Available for Amazon Kindle

Apparently Our HTML5 Book is now available for Kindle.  Our faithful reader Hayes reports that our new O'Reilly book, HTML5 Canvas, is now available for the Amazon Kindle:  You can see it here.


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Need A Death Panel? HMOs Already Got You Covered

So my dad is very sick, lying in hospital bed at his house, unable to walk, speak,  eat or use the bathroom without help.  Over the past 18 months he has developed severe dementia.  We thought he was just slowly fading away.

He has been to the doctor many times, and is now, basically, waiting to die in my mom's living room.  Just a yesterday, a visiting nurse let it slip that the doctors at the HMO have known all along what was wrong with him.  It's this:

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH)

I looked it up, the symptoms are exactly what my dad has:

  • mental impairment and dementia
  • problems with walking,
  • and impaired bladder control leading to urinary frequency and/or incontinence.

It's a terrible thing, but it's also curable and there is a procedure that could make him whole again.  The site says this:

"While the success of treatment with shunts varies from person to person, some people recover almost completely after treatment and have a good quality of life."

However, the HMO has decided that he is "too old" to have the procedure.   My dad took great care of his body for 82 years.  He is the healthiest person I have ever known.  Then this thing hit him like a ton of bricks, and he faded into oblivion.  He could be saved, and live another great 10 years, but "it has been decided by the power that be at the HMO" that he is too old for it.

If that is not a "death panel", I have no idea what a "death panel" might be.   Where are the "Anti-Health Care Reform People" when there is something to really shout about? Oh I guess when it is a corporation making those decisions, and not the government, then it's OK.

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8bitrocket Daily Inter-Web Mash-Up – Friday, May 6, 2011

Flash Games We Like
- Wing Defender - Fun top-down shooter with cartoon-style graphics and a retro feel to the game-play.

-Go Go Gummo - This Mochi FGF winner is a really cool puzzle game with elements of an action platformer...or is it the other way around.

From the Flash Game Blogs
- Have you finished your game yet? No? Me neither. Richard Davey tackles motivational issues that plague indie game development and how to combat them

- Squize tackles hackers and skript kiddies...

-Iain Lobb speaks at a lot of conferences, so his advice for those starting out is well worth the read.

Nigel Twist discusses using an Atari 1040 ST to build The Alarm's Rain In Summer Time
Nigel Twist, drummer for classic version of the The Alarm  (1981-1991)  discussed using a 1040 ST to program their hit Rain In The Summer Time for their 1987 album Eye Of The Hurricane today in the Facebook Alarm 30 years anniversary group:

"Rain" was one the The Alarm's biggest hits and co-written by the band. It started as a jam one day at a rehearsal studio in Elephant & Castle. I was playing with a drum machine and had the basic drum riff going. Dave was jamming along to it and ended up with the guitar riff you hear on the track. Mike and Eddie arrived at rehearsals and the track was born. When we recorded it at Linford Manor, I wrote the bass and drums lines using "Pro 24," a very early music sequencing software that was designed for the Atari 1040ST computer (which I still have). I recorded live drums over the samples triggered by the Atari. All the cymbals, Tom-Tom riffs, Timbale and percussion were live in the studio.

Another Game Algorithm That Might Be Useful in Interviews: Find the Largest Integer in an Array

This might be an overly simple solution, but i just used it today and it works great.

	import flash.display.Sprite;
	 * ...
	 * @author Jeff Fulton
	public class LargestIntegerInAnArray extends Sprite

		public function LargestIntegerInAnArray()
			/* Look at each value in the array and
                         * compare to the first
			 * Skip evaluation of the first item in
                         * the array by
                         * using it as
			 * the initial value for max.

			var theArray:Array=[5,13,25,16,17,2,5,
			var max:int = theArray[0];
			for (var i:int=1;i max) {
				max = theArray[i];
		trace (max);




The 8bitrocket Daily Inter-Web Mash-up Briefing is compiled and edited by both Jeff D. Fulton and Steve A. Fulton. We cover the world of retro games, new games, indie games, Flash / Web games, game coding, the toy industry, and anything else we find cool. Send news items that you would like covered to info[at]8bitrocket[dot]com


8bitrocket Daily Inter-Web Mash-Up for Thursday, May 5, 2011

Attack Of The Mutant Sheep!

Robert Podgorski, the winner of our 16K Game contest has released a new iPhone/Ipad game named "Attack Of The Mutant Sheep".  It's very 8-bit, and very awesome.

You can download iPhone version (it's free) at: http://itunes.apple.com/pl/app/mutant-sheep-2/id433857505?mt=8

The iPad version ($.99) at http://itunes.apple.com/pl/app/msheep-hd/id430579572?mt=8

Wanna learn Box2D Game Programming?
PlasticSurgeon.com released a HUGE tutorial and the full source for creating a physics-based cannon game. To get pumped up for the tutorial, check out Zach's  commercial client game based on this same code.

Play the Ace The Super Villian's Dress Up Game's
Sheer brilliance!
ASV Dress-Up #1: http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/536915
ASV Dress-Up #2: http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/544360

From the Atari Age Forums
-A new remake of the Activision Classic, Enduro, was release to the iPhone by Nemo Games.
- A couple new free, retro-style 2d side scrolling shooters for the PC.

Speaking of iPhone games...
- Draw Race 2, looks pretty sweet.

Check out this Kick-ass Old Skool Gaming Site
The Old School Games News site is filled daily with awesome content dedicated  to retro gaming.

The Insane Clown Posse Reviews Water For Elephants (FilmDrunk) (hint: they are not huge fans..but they love James Woods!)

20 Awesome Photos Of Darth Vader (heavy.com)

Of Course the Meme on the Obama Situation Room would have to include The Situation

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