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Posts Tagged ‘ActionScript’

Flash gets Low-Level 3D API, golden Times for Game Devs ahead

October 26th, 2010 6 comments

I’ve heard plans and rumors about this before but it seems now it’s official: The next versions of the Flash and AIR runtimes will have a low-level 3D API on board that utilizes DirectX, OpenGL and OpenGL ES. Maybe this racing demo video will convince most game devs who were skeptical about the Flash platform before.

The demo was coded by the guys who maintain Alternative3D, one of the the few software-rendered 3D engines for Flash that are better suited for 3D game development. The engine has recently been made free of charge for commercial development. The makers only require a back link to their product website in your game now.

I find Alternativa3D quite attractive, in particular after seeing videos and screenshots of War.ru, an online multiplayer Role-playing game that reminds me of RPGs classics like Wizardry, just with better graphics. Unfortunately the whole game is in Russian only for now and so far I haven’t been able to log in, the load procedure is very slow and always gets stuck at some point for me.

Still the game looks very promising with some nice looking 3D environments. The actors (NPC’s and creatures) seem to be inanimate billboard sprites though so they only look impressive on a static screenshot but imagine what would be possible with the newly achieved 3D power! I’m looking forward to create vast 3D environments with autonomous actor AIs a’la Oblivion or Fallout 3! The only bottleneck will – yet again – be the content creation.

Random Accessing Zip Files with Adobe AIR

September 20th, 2010 16 comments

I’ve recently re-published a new version of hexagonlib, a universal AS3 class library at code.google.com/p/hexagonlib/. Some parts that were originally in the library have been removed, in particular the UI components and the game package. This has been done because I’m working on a game engine (more about that one later) that will probably exclusively include these parts. The hexagonlib is instead targeted at a broader area of development, not just games.

Either way, many classes have been updated and improved (and many still need too *ugh*) and what is particularly worth mentioning are the file IO classes which provide a unified way to work with different file formats. Basically the way how files work in hexagonlib is that you can create file objects of any specific file type (like text, binary, image, XML, etc.), give them a path to a physical file and then add them to a loader (BulkLoader, FileLoader, ZipLoader) which then loads the data of the physical files into the file objects.

While you can use the BulkLoader class to load a collection of arbitrary files in one go with all sorts of comfort (priorities, weighted loading, load retries, multi-connections etc.) the newest addition to the library is the ZipLoader class which can be used in AIR development to access a standard zip file using Random Access. What does that mean? It means that you can create a zip file (a very large one if you want), pack all your resource files that can be loaded by your application and then open it with your app and ‘load’ (= extract) files from it without ever needing to load the whole zip file completely into memory. This makes accessing a large zip file very efficient because only the chunk of the requested, zipped file is loaded.

This is especially interesting for us game developers who desire to use large, nicely packed resource files like they are utilized in a similar fashion in most current day commercial games. For a while I was promoting to add such functionality to AIR over at Adobe Labs but that was before I knew that this can actually be done in AIR since 1.0 thanks to the FileStream class and the position property of it (alas, the property is not available in the URLStream class so random access is not possible on web-based Flash). The ZipLoader uses asynchronous loading to open a zip file as well as ‘loading’ files from it because I don’t like the idea of having the application at the mercy of the file system which would be the case with synchronous access (and which is used in way too many examples on the web).

You can download the hexagonlib distribution over at Google Code, which includes the SWCs and documentation and of course the source code is available for access via SVN. I’m updating the library on a irregular basis. There are already some Wiki pages too with code examples showing how to use the BulkLoader and ZipLoader here but I will hopefully get to write some more in-depth tutorials soon.

hexagonlib at Google Code
File API Wiki
Documentaion

Setting up Eclipse for Flash Development

February 18th, 2010 18 comments

This guide explains how to set up a Flash and Flex development environment with Eclipse, FDT, Flash Builder and a couple of other editors that you want for ActionScript coding and Flash development with style! This guide is based on Windows because that’s what I’m using but I’m sure you Mac and Linux guys can figure out the parts that differ on your OS! Let’s get started …

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Flash for big Games?

August 26th, 2009 20 comments

Even though I love ActionScript more than my daily meal I’ve recently started to think about if the Flash Platform is actually the right stuff for developing big games. Most Flash game developers write small-scale games for the web which is totally fine and I too like to write a small coffee-break game sometimes but often I’m craving for more! My dream has since long been to design and develop a large-scale role-playing game and I’m usually overflowing from new ideas coming to my mind every day that it’s almost hard to track all of them.

I could go on and make this project an oldschool-style game with 2D graphics like some other indie devs are doing but I feel that going 3D would be the best bet to convey atmosphere and tactical gameplay at the same time (you could use switchable first-person and third-person views). This makes me think if ActionScript is actually sufficient for this but the experience of some of my recent coding tests with Away3D which already start to bog down the CPU with a few hundred polygons on the screen tend to say “no!” to my ambitious plans.

Since this is a desktop game my platform choice is AIR which offers more freedom that the Web Player but there are still many let-downs that make you grind your teeth …

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RPG Design: Choosing the right Graphical Projection

August 11th, 2009 6 comments

Neverwinter Nights 2 Banner

I’ve been designing on a rather ambitious Role-Playing game project since a while now (in fact quite a long while but I’m not in hurry to finish it anytime soon) and while I’m in the process of working out the story, technical details like the combat mechanics, skill system etc. and creating interesting characters I still haven’t made a decision on the type of graphical projection for the game so far. I’ve been thinking about five kinds of projection from the most basic one (2D orthographic) up to full dynamic 3D which would be quite an effort. As my development platform of choice happens to be Flash, the resources in terms of 3D are limited.

So with that in mind I thought it would be good opportunity to introduce some of the most-used projections in computer and video role-playing games to get to know them a little better. This is by no means a complete list of all sorts of projection used in games but I believe these the ones most commonly used for role-playing games.

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ActionScript: Beaten like a ginger stepchild

August 10th, 2009 19 comments

Recently there has been a lot of uproar about ActionScript from some of the more nominated ActionScript developers. People like Joa Ebert, Nicolas Canasse, Andre Michelle and Peter Elst spoke off their dissatisfaction about the current state of ActionScript, that’s it’s stuck in the middle of nowhere, that Adobe isn’t open enough about their plans with the Flash platform, that ActionScript has become too OOP, etc. etc. And though all this bashing hurts, they all got a point about their complaints.

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FDT Template: Quick-create Child DisplayObject

July 18th, 2009 1 comment

Let’s burrow some in my FDT templates crate … how often do you have to add a child display object to another display object? If the answer is ‘very often’ then this small FDT template might save you some time.

${property} = new ${cursor};
addChild(${property});

It’s very simple but effective. Usage: Let’s for example name this template “newDisplayObject” and after invoking it with CTRL+SPACE you start typing the name of the display object property that you defined as a class property before which then should be auto-completed, then you hit TAB and then CTRL+SPACE to quick-insert the type after the ‘new’ operator (FDT is finding the correct type for you) and Voila, you’re finished, no need to add that extra ‘addChild’ manually.

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AIR needs GPU support!

June 24th, 2009 No comments

Imagine you’re writing an AIR-based game that uses fullscreen at a rather high resolution and a full-frame rendering engine like, say, PV3D and you find out that AIR can’t really handle this.

After a lot of research it turns out that there seems to be no way in an AIR app to use the GPU mode that is otherwise supported by Flash embedded in HTML via wmodes parameter. In fact the docs state it’s not even supported by AIR …

… Flash Player 10 introduces two window modes, direct and GPU compositing, which you can enable through the publish settings in the Flash authoring tool. These modes are not supported in AIR …

While this is a definitive must for a hopefully soon appearing update there’s another issue with fullscreen modes … AIR doesn’t really feature any decent solution for fullscreen! You can have your app to be either in fullscreen OR in windowed mode but trying to be able to switch between both looks very ugly because the system chrome isn’t being disabled automatically when switching to fullscreen which results in that the window size will simply get maximized. So creating applications where you could let the user switch between fullscreen and windowed mode seems to be impossible at the moment with AIR 1.5.

I can understand that the Flash player on the web needs it’s security restrictions in this regard but AIR should definitely not be touched by this! I hope Adobe will improve this for a future update, AIR is a great platform for (complex) game development but these two issues are serious limitations to that!

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PushButton Engine

May 6th, 2009 16 comments

Probably old news but I’ve just found some time to read about the recently released pushbutton engine, a modular ActionScript 3 engine tailored especially for game development. It seems that Jeff Tunnel & Co (of Garage Games fame) were sitting down and wrote some serious ActionScript library overnight.

“…and a component system which lets you easily package game functionality into reusable modules. The component system draws on nearly a decade of game development history…”

This looks very promising indeed and the component structure makes a lot of sense.

I’ve been working on the hexagonLib on and off but time is sparse currently and so it seems I would never get it into a decent release state. I Might as well see how the pb engine works out for me. Let’s see how this engine fits for my current role-playing game project!

Setting up Eclipse for Flash Developers

April 12th, 2009 35 comments

I’ve been using Eclipse and FDT for several years now to develop Flash (and Flex) applications but I never really managed to set up Eclipse to exactly fit my needs. Either some desired tools were missing or I installed plug-ins that slowed down Eclipse with a truck load of stuff that I never need.

So today I finally figured out how to install the plug-ins that I really need and nothing else (well … almost nothing else). The following guide describes how you can set up your own custom Eclipse tailored for Flash/Flex development which features FDT plus Subclipse, a HTML, CSS, JavaScript and XML Editor and then some. The CSS Editor becomes especially useful for Flex Stylesheets.

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