Better Learning Through Game Design

Improving classroom skills for students is no longer confined to pencils, paper and flash cards. Educators today must embrace the latest technology to equip students with the skills to succeed. The World Wide Workshop’s Globaloria program is taking a proactive approach to break out of the traditional education mold and help educators and students meet challenges with an innovative curriculum. Then program helps students in grades 6 through 12 with STEM skills and computing knowledge through hands-on game design and programming.

Students learn to design and program games using Adobe Gaming technologies. Adobe Flash Professional, Adobe Creative Suite, including characters designed in Adobe Photoshop, game elements created in Adobe Illustrator, and effects created using Adobe Fireworks give students all the tools they need to be successful.

And, with so much game design background at an early age, students may be able to create award winning games like IGF Student Showcase Winner Ian Snyder, a student developer now at Kansas City Art Institute. See The Floor is Jelly trailer below and Ian’s full story here. Be sure to visit gaming.adobe.com to see what can be accomplished using Adobe Gaming technology.

A version of this post was also posted on the Adobe Education blog here

Adobe Gaming Spotlight: Smart Aliens

Looking for a fun new take on an old classic, maybe with a dash of outer space? You’re in luck! The team at Etamin Studio has created the playful and terrific looking Hangman game, Smart Aliens. This free iOS app comes complete with smooth game play, hilarious animations, and new twists on the Hangman you remember. Challenge your friends, and get in the game.

The Etamin team developed this experience using Adobe Gaming technologies and the Starling framework. They chose the technology not just because of its cross-platform capabilities or high performance level, but also because of the great community supporting it. A social game like Smart Aliens deserves a social audience. You can learn more about the extensions and details that went into the game’s creation here. If there’s demand for it, an Android and Facebook version will be on the way too.  For now, you can download it on iTunes.

Take a closer look at the game’s wordplay fun in the video below and visit gaming.adobe.com for more stunning examples of games powered by Adobe:

Developer Spotlight: Made in Me

When James Huggins and Mike Outlaw struggled to find high quality content to play with for their young children, they started a new multimedia publishing company, Made in Me. First up in their offerings, The Land of Me – an interactive learning adventure for PCs, Macs and iPads. Focused on being a media-rich digital learning experience, Land of Me retains the old school elegance of children’s books while also offering engaging storytelling.

The creative founders – in collaboration with a childhood development team and digital creative agency, Less Rain – leveraged Adobe Gaming Technologies and Creative Suite applications, such as Photoshop and After Effects, in the making of their app. To date, the Made in Me has been able to achieve strong sales that have doubled month to month and is able to track 10% conversion of trials to sales – and the team isn’t stopping there! Get a deeper read into the making of Land of Me, their successes and next steps in our Adobe Gaming Success Story, Made in Me: Enchanting Worlds.

For a first-hand look at the interactive learning adventure itself, check out the trailer below.

Zynga Leverages Adobe AIR to Take Ruby Blast Multi-Platform

Rubies – now available on your mobile device! You can now play Zynga’s Ruby Blast not just on Facebook and Zynga.com but also on mobile, marking another successful game for which Adobe Gaming technologies have been used to deliver explosive graphics, action-packed sound effects and gorgeous particle effects on any device. Ruby Blast was Zynga’s first game optimized for hardware acceleration, supported by Flash Player and Adobe AIR, and successfully extended across multiple platforms while preserving the beauty and speed of the original Ruby Blast web game for a seamless experience.

While creating Ruby Blast, Zynga developed performance optimizations that have been integrated back into the open-source Starling framework, benefitting all developers leveraging the same technologies for their own games. By using the Starling framework today, indie developers and studios benefit from the ongoing innovation brought by companies like Zynga and Adobe and the entire community which has grown up around Starling.

Visit www.itunes.com/appstore to find out more about Ruby Blast and start playing today! And check out gaming.adobe.com to learn more about Adobe Gaming technologies, and how we are helping game developers of all levels reach the widest audience on desktop and mobile.

Introducing the Primetime Media Player – A New Way to Distribute, Monetize and Analyze Online Video Content

As part of the major updates announced to Project Primetime today, we’re thrilled to introduce a beta of the Primetime Media Player. At the core of Primetime, this is the industry’s first technology enabling TV content owners and distributors to reach the broadest audience while immediately monetizing online video experiences through seamless ad insertion and analytics. We’re taking several Adobe video technologies and putting them under a single framework to provide a SDK for video content playback on Mac OS and Windows, plus native iOS and Android apps.

The Primetime Media Player allows for a richer, more robust viewing experience on desktops and mobile devices within apps. With seamless ad insertion and native support for protected playback built into the Player, consumers will enjoy faster video load times, fewer playback errors, and a less obtrusive advertising experience.  In short, it just feels like TV.  Consumers will also enjoy greater control over their content experience with support for closed captioning and multiple audio tracks (e.g. Spanish or English) when provided by the video publisher.  The end result is a positive online video playback experience where the consumer gets what they want – when and how they want it.   And, importantly, Primetime Media Player gives publishers and distributors a clear way to drive revenue from their online video experiences, without compromising user experience or audience reach.

Some benefits of the Primetime Media Player include:

  • High-quality Multiple Bit Rate (MBR) video playback support.
  • HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) support on iOS and Android.
  • HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS) support on desktop and Android.
  • Content monetization, including ad insertion capabilities and seamless ad insertion with native integration through Adobe MediaWeaver.
  • Better insight into your consumer viewing habits and stream quality with native integration with Adobe SiteCatalyst.
  • Content Protection and Business Policy Enforcement through Adobe Access – Full DRM and Protected Streaming with selectable output control and key rotation for linear, live and on-demand video.

The Primetime Media Player also offers fully compliant Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) features:

  • Render in-stream closed captioning with built-in support for user-based rendering overrides
  • Native support for multiple audio tracks

We’ve designed the Primetime Media Player with ease-of-deployment in mind. Consumers can take advantage of the Player now with very little effort. The only requirement for desktop experiences is installing Adobe Flash Player (version 11.1 or higher). With iOS and Android, it’s already bundled within native apps so no additional plug-ins or downloads are required.  Content formatting and encryption for desktops, iOS and Android is made easy via Adobe StreamKit, which can be integrated into a third party encoder or run as a separate tool. We will continue to announce support for more web-connected platforms in the future, such as game consoles, Over-the-Top (OTT) devices, and connected TVs. We’re excited to see the Primetime Media Player deliver an improved broadcast TV experience online while consumers reap the benefits.

Check out the video overview of Project Primetime below and our other blogs posts around other Primetime updates: Adobe MediaWeaver, our new ad insertion service, and full integration with Adobe advertising and data solutions. Stay tuned for more updates around Project Primetime coming soon!

Introducing Adobe MediaWeaver – Innovation for Video Ad Insertion Across Devices

Programmers and operators struggle to effectively insert video ads into professional content across devices. Adobe MediaWeaver addresses this challenge as a core component of the latest version of Project Primetime, announced today. To simplify the process of monetizing video content and create the optimal viewing experience for consumers, MediaWeaver merges three different workflows into one:

  • Seamless ad insertion into linear, live, and VoD video content using a proprietary form of “ad stitching.” This allows for dynamic ad execution into any content type, on any IP-connected desktop or device, creating an engaging, buffer-free ad and content experience for consumers.
  • Complete management of business rules and contractual obligations tied to inventory splits and syndication rights. This helps media companies control which partners can sell advertising against their audience and programs, creating as much value as possible from every viewer interaction.
  • Ad management (ADM), directing ad calls based on pre-defined rules and obligations to any ad server. This reduces friction throughout the broadcast-to-IP video and advertising workflow, and replicates the TV national and local ad inventory split for any video delivered to a desktop or device.

Adobe customers who use MediaWeaver can take advantage of off-the-shelf integration with Adobe Auditude, Adobe’s video ad server, or pass ad calls seamlessly to linear/VOD or IP-based third-party ad servers. MediaWeaver allows Adobe customers to adopt Project Primetime and its components in modular fashion, without disrupting existing workflows, implementations or contractual arrangements.

With MediaWeaver, broadcasters can replace or dynamically insert ads into adaptive video streams on any desktop and a broad range of IP-connected devices — without content prep or workflow changes.

MediaWeaver delivers smooth, immediate transitions into and out of ad breaks. This process mimics the ease and simplicity of TV broadcasting to set-top boxes, and handles national and local inventory splits effortlessly – without sacrificing the addressability of a digital environment.

Check out the video overview below along with blog posts on our other latest Project Primetime updates: Primetime Media Player and full integration across Adobe advertising and data solutions.

 

Project Primetime Integrations Make It Easier to More Effectively Monetize Professional Video

In addition to our Project Primetime announcements introducing Adobe MediaWeaver and the Primetime Media Player SDK, we are excited to unveil deep integrations between our analytics and advertising solutions. As the benefits of Adobe’s acquisitions and integration with internal development become apparent, video publishers, for the first time, can combine content and ad analytics, enabling comprehensive analyses of revenue opportunities and optimization of ad policies in order to improve audience engagement with content and ads.

By combining content analytics from Adobe SiteCatalyst and revenue analytics from Adobe Auditude, we break down the legacy silos and empower ad inventory managers and revenue executives to make the most profitable ad decisions for their campaigns. Available as an “out-of-the box” solution, SiteCatalyst content analytics are used to automatically create audience segments in Adobe AudienceManager, our data management platform. Then, with the integration of AudienceManager and Auditude, Adobe’s ad serving technology, these segments are automatically available in Auditude, and can be used to serve ads accordingly. Use cases include enhanced audience segment targeting or the ability to optimize your ad load/experience to find that optimal balance between content and ads. This increased insight and customization of the ad experience aids in maximizing the value of video content.

Project Primetime is innovating quickly because the media landscape is evolving at a blistering pace. Creating an immersive viewing experience like that of broadcast TV with finer-grained targeted appropriate to a given audience has long been a goal of premium video publishers. That future is now here, and these integrations represent a unique combination for the industry, especially when combined with the recent updated release of the Auditude platform, which includes new forecasting algorithms and real-time availability queries.

Make sure to check out the information on Adobe MediaWeaver and the Primetime Media Player SDK announcements along with the video overview below. Stay tuned for more updates coming soon!

Gaming Spotlight: FreshPlanet’s SongPop

How fast can you name a song clip? That is the question that SongPop, a game by FreshPlanet, puts out there for music fans looking for a challenge. This wildly popular music trivia game makes the most of social gaming, offering over 5 million daily Facebook and mobile app users the chance to compete to see who can name that song faster.

SongPop delivers a unified experience across desktop browsers on Facebook and extends that experience to mobile apps for iOS and Android. In using Adobe Gaming technologies, FreshPlanet was able to leverage a single code base, instead of having to build native apps for each mobile platform, and was able to easily streamline the workflow between designers, developers and animators.

FreshPlanet CTO and VP of Products Olivier Michon noted that Adobe Gaming technologies, “enabled us to code at top speed in Adobe ActionScript [and] rapidly integrate design assets and animations,” making development so easy that it only took two developers and one designer less than three months to complete SongPop for iOS and Android, and only one more month to launch it on Facebook.

For more on FreshPlanet and SongPop, check out their full story in, “Adobe Gaming & Fresh Planet: SongPop.” You can also get your hands on open sourced Native AIR extensions from FreshPlanet on their GitHub profile: https://github.com/freshplanet.

Developer Spotlight: A Follow Up with Jordan Casey of Casey Games

We had the chance to reconnect with young developer Jordan Casey, who recently released a new gaming app – Greenboy Touch. In our Developer Spotlight back in July, Jordan mentioned that he was going to slow down, but that obviously wasn’t the case! Read up on our latest interview with Jordan to find out more about his inspiration and the making of his latest Android and iOS game submitted to our Flash Rocks gallery.

What was your inspiration behind your new app, Greenboy Touch?

Greenboy Touch was based off a Flash game I developed about 2 years ago. I’m always trying new genres and I love different game concepts. While most of my games are just one specific style of gameplay, Greenboy Touch is made up of tons of different concepts. It is sort of a puzzle game.

We’d love to share more about the making of the app with our readers. What Creative Suite products did you use and did you have any favorite features?

I used Photoshop and Illustrator for graphics – they’re great tools! To develop the game I used Adobe AIR for iOS and for Android. I programmed in ActionScript 3.0, Flash and AIR, which are amazing. With the click of a button, I could switch a Flash game to a desktop app for Mac or PC back to an Android app to an iOS App. The program is great because it’s really visual and really powerful. ActionScript is an amazing language, and though so powerful, quite easy to pick up.

What was your experience like using Flash to create for Android and iOS? Are there any tips you would share with other developers?

The process was great. Like I said, with the click of a button I could go from iOS to Android. It’s just great. It’s the same as making a Flash game – the exact same, and with just a click, you get a native app! Just like that! It’s magic!

You’re juggling school and development. We want to know – what’s your secret? How are you doing it all?

Well, it is tough juggling between school, development, and lots of speaking events. To make up for time I missed while I’m away speaking, I take a 2-hour study course after school to catch up or study for exams. That way, I have my homework done and I can develop for about an hour or so.

Check out Greenboy Touch in action below.

The “Test The Web Forward” Movement: engaging the community to move towards a better Web

What makes a better Web?

Features are certainly important and there are multiple improvements to the web platform in the woks, for example the “SysApps” working group, the Linked Data effort or the new functionality added to CSS (such as CSS Regions and CSS Filter Effects which Adobe is actively contributing to).

However, while features are obviously key to a better, richer web, they are one of several elements which, when combined, deliver an enhanced web experience.

One is proper implementation of the web standards. For the web platform to be reliable, it is very important that implementations follow the various standards properly and reliably. The specifications define what browsers and other web components should do, but we need to make sure that implementations stick to the specification, from the most common features and down to the most obscure corner cases.
Tightly related to proper implementation is interoperability. It is possible, and this has happened many times in the past, to have standards, pretty solid implementations but poor interoperability because of various interpretation of the specifications by implementors. For example, in the early days of the Web, there were a lot of discrepancies between implementations of the Cascading Stylesheets specification. Interoperability issues are the plague of web developers as it either neuters the use of features (because the feature is not guaranteed to work in a consistent way across browsers for example) or weakens its appeal (because it will only be available to a fraction of the end-users).

Testing is the key to insure proper implementation and address interoperability issues. And great testing is the recipe for great implementations and awesome interoperability.  In the realm of web standards, testing comes in the form of specification test suite which are used to validate that a specification is implementable.

The testing challenge

Unfortunately, writing tests is fraught with difficulties. It requires dedication, expertise, persistence and careful attention to details. In addition, it is important to have the widest test coverage as possible to ensure testing depth and the desired implementation quality and interoperability. Historically, it has sometimes been difficult for implementors of particular specifications and working groups defining specifications to create test suites that are as deep as they would like. This issue has been at the root of implementation, interoperability and adoption difficulties for new standards.

Test the Web Forward

Move the Web Forward” is a grass roots movement that engages the community and challenges those passionate about the web to act on their desire for a better web. “Test the Web Forward” is exactly in that spirit: there are implementation or interoperability issues which the community of developers is painfully aware of, let’s try to enable developers to do something about this and contribute to better test suites which are an excellent way to improve the web.

Following that train of thought, Adobe and others in the community such as Microsoft, Mozilla, Google, W3C and Facebook have started to engage the community to contribute to web standards tests with a series of events call “Test the Web Forward”. To date, three events have been held: one in San Francisco (in June), one in Beijing (in October) and one in Paris (also in October). So far, about 700 new tests have been created that will be contributed towards web standards test suites. The events are typically held over a day and a half. During the first half day, experts from the standards working group (such as the CSS or SVG working groups in W3C) give short presentations about standards testing frameworks, browser bug filing and other topics related to reporting issues, isolating problems or ready a specification carefully to identify testable portions. The full day that follows is dedicated to ‘hacking tests’ in groups where the web developers work with the experts to write new tests, convert tests that may need reformatting or review existing tests so that they can be integrated into official test suites.

The following blog posts relate the events as they happened in San Francisco, Beijing  and Paris and this video gives a good description of what the events are about, how they foster interest in testing the web, generate good discussions, suggestions and produce concrete results.

Next Steps

While the Test the Web Forward events are fun, there is a desire to find ways to keep engaging between events and at the recent W3C Technical Plenary meeting in Lyon, France, Adobe suggested concrete ways for interested web developers to keep contributing. There are also very interesting discussions about how the “Test The Web Forward” movement relates to the Web Platform Docs effort and a lot of suggestions that the two efforts should be closely related.

It is very encouraging and exciting to see the web community interested in contributing to a better web and offer time and expertise in efforts such as TestTWF. Our team at Adobe will continue working on this effort and with our partners to help it grow and further demonstrate its efficacy to help build a better web.

So if you and your team are passionate about the web, want to help move it forward please follow #TestTWF on Twitter and visit http://testthewebforward.org to learn about upcoming events and new developments around this initiative!