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Posts Tagged ‘AIR’

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

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 …

Read more…

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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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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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Alcon 3.1 Update

April 5th, 2009 No comments

Although Alcon version 4 is currently under development I’ve decided to release a small update for Alcon 3, version 3.1 since I’ve received a code signing certificate from Adobe and wanted to keep up with re-releasing the now-signed application on the AIR Market Place.

Besides that Alcon is now code-signed there is exactly one new feature in v3.1 which I called Key Tracer. You can toggle Key Tracing Mode from the Log menu. If you enable it you are able to press any keys and their key code (and if available character code) will be listed in Alcon’s output window which is a useful feature if you want to know the codes for some specific keys quickly.

More features where planned (and already started) like a Search function, Log Level Filtering and even a Calculator but these haven’t made it finished yet into v3 so most of them will come with version 4, which is – yet again – a complete re-write (I do loathe my source code that is over one year old ;) ).

The newest version can as always be found here.

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Alcon 3 Out Now!

August 25th, 2008 4 comments

It took longer than expected thanks to obstacles like a crashed harddisk and other minorities in between but it’s finally done and I now can announce the immediate availability of Alcon 3! It runs currently on Windows and Mac and hopefully soon on Linux too. When I tested it on Ubuntu it installed and started fine but the LocalConnection seems not to cut it in the current alpha release of the Linux AIR Runtime. Anyone know more details about this?

I recommend to check out the Alcon Page for more details and of course the download link. Enjoy your debugging!

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Alcon 3 Preview

August 21st, 2008 11 comments

Since so many of you (well, at least four people) are feverishly waiting for the release of Alcon 3 here’s a preview screenshot to comfort your waiting time. The shot shows Alcon’s trace output panel with some bogus Array being traced iteratively and as a hex dump. the top of the window displays Alcon’s new App Monitor which can be used to monitor framerate, frame render time and memory consumption. It also shows the version of the runtime that the monitored application is run in (clicking on the version text will list all System.capabilities properties in the Trace panel).

Then there’s the Options dialog with Trace options opened where you will be able to set font, colors etc. On the File Loggers Options you will be able to optionally enable up to two File Loggers that can be used for example to log the flashlog.txt to see output made by ActionScript’s own trace method.
There’s of course the new Object Inspector and a new Help panel for Quickstart Help and API Docs. Alcon 3 is being written 99% in ActionScript 3 using FDT (the 1% left being the Main.mxml that is necessary to compile a Flex application). It’s only a matter of a few days now until release, some bug fixing, finishing touches and a few more documentation to write and it will be out so please endure!

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Announcing Alcon 3

July 23rd, 2008 7 comments

Alcon 3 is in the works! The new version is being written for Adobe AIR and that means no more hackish OS integration! Thanks to AIR the debugging tool will run nice and smooth on any supported OS and it will restore your windows size and position where you last left it, Stay On Top works properly, auto-update etc. etc. etc.

Some of the new features besides the already existing Trace Command and File Loggers are a Memory Consumption and Frames-Per-Second Monitor, a completely new and improved Object Inspector that is finally useful for Debugging, an Options dialog to comfortably configure Alcon, proper AS2 support and a couple of other minorities here and there.

The progress moves on quick enough that I dare to say that the release date is only a few weeks away from now so sit tight, it’ll be there in a heartbeat.

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AIR application: FEAT (Freelancer’s Estimation Assistance Tool)

August 29th, 2007 Comments off

I finally came to play a bit more with AIR and it’s specific features and wrote a small tool that is helpful for freelancers like you and me to make pricing estimation calculations. With FEAT you can calculate your hourly rate based on your expenses and some other factors and it provides a wizard to calculate project pricing estimates (another thing that is hard to get used to for many freelancing starters). It also stores all your values and changes its color if you want and can cook coffee and wash vegetables and …. ok wait, the last part is not true but still, this is a nifty little tool! Find more info and download at this LINK!

feat_screen_01_thumb.jpg

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