Diana Helander

About Diana Helander

Diana Helander is currently the group product marketing manager for Gaming Solutions at Adobe, and has played a variety of games from Duke Nukem to Angry Birds to Dance Central 2. She has worked in the technology industry for more than 15 years and has held marketing positions on the Flash/AIR Runtime team, enterprise and Acrobat business groups, and represented Adobe in global standards organizations such as ISO. Diana was previously at Autodesk, is a graduate of Amherst College, and while her guitar is – admittedly – collecting dust in the closet, she still mourns the passing of Guitar Hero.

Zynga Uses Flash Player 11, Stage 3D for Ruby Blast

Today, Zynga announced Ruby Blast, a new match-three Facebook game which uses Flash Player 11 and Stage 3D particle effects to deliver stunning graphics and smoother gameplay. Ruby Blast is a simple yet addicting game which will attract players of all capabilities and devotion levels – those who just want to kill a few minutes or who want to play with their friends all day long.

Just as Words With Friends brought Scrabble-like action to the social media mainstream, Ruby Blast tips its hat to games like Bejeweled and Diamond Dash, adding in a few twists to enhance gameplay and engage friends. Power-ups like Nova Flare, StarFall and Shuffle Magic make gameplay more immersive and allow players to shoot for high scores while getting help from friends or competing against them. Just like Rovio’s Angry Birds for Facebook, Ruby Blast uses power ups that are enabled by the powerful new features of Flash Player 11. Take a spin of Ruby Blast to try ‘em out!

For now, Ruby Blast is desktop only and scheduled to be released on Facebook and Zynga.com later this week. To find out more about building games like Ruby Blast with Flash and AIR, and for a whole host of great developer examples, check out our showcase at http://gaming.adobe.com/showcase. And if you’re interested in developing a game, check out our new webinars for developers who want to build mobile apps.

Idle Worship Brings Art and Engineering to Social Gaming

After a recent sabbatical, I returned to find that Idle Worship, the social “god” game which was recently profiled here in a Q&A with Jeffery Hyman, CEO of Idle Games, has changed expectations for social gameplay, enjoying success and attracting more than 400,000 players with a whimsical combination of blessings and curses. In an interesting twist, Idle Worship’s success has also prompted some discussion about people’s fundamental inclination to do good or not :).

We’re highlighting Idle Games in an Adobe customer success story that describes in depth how Idle Worship was built from the ground up with Adobe Gaming technologies. Creative Suite Master Collection provided the tools for the game creators to create the characters, while Flash allowed the team to infuse the impressive artwork with engaging animations. The game challenges players to rule their island however they see fit, while deep integration with social media allows players to gather fans, followers and friends as they play.

Idle Worship’s growing global audience is a testament to its playability and impressive engagement – on average, daily usage is an hour. Check out how Idle Games built its success and visit http://gaming.adobe.com/ for more tips, tricks and a fabulous showcase of great games. Enjoy!

Virtual Modern Warfare Evolves with CUKETA’s Age of Defenders

Indie game developer CUKETA is changing the online video gaming landscape with its latest release, Age of Defenders, a 2012 Mochis Award Finalist. The game is now a multiplatform, multiplayer tower defense game where the goal is to defend a player’s fortified towers while simultaneously going on the offensive to attack the enemy – something that is not typically seen in standard multiplayer games.

Age of Defenders was created from scratch in about a year and delivered to desktop and mobile devices via Adobe AIR. The accelerated graphics optimization and easy deployment to Android tablets and the Apple iPad allowed CUKETA to deliver a unique quality gaming experience to a wide audience. Age of Defenders grabbed the attention of more than 5,000 players in the first month, who averaged one hour of gameplay each, and has only increased in popularity over time.

Check out the full success story here and visit http://gaming.adobe.com/ for more information about creating and playing groundbreaking Flash games.

Q&A With Idle Worship Creator

We sat down with Idle Games’ CEO and CCO Jeffrey Hyman who answered a few questions about the San Francisco company’s breakout hit Idle Worship. And from personal experience, I can tell you the game is addicting – after all, who wouldn’t want to be a god? :) The game incorporates cheeky, irreverent game play and real time interactions with fellow mere mortals, gods, and island-dwelling Mudlings as players try to build the biggest following on Facebook. One of my favorite aspects of this game is that you can play with strangers or friends, and the game design is not only entertaining, but often laugh out loud funny. Whether you choose to cast blessings or curses, check it out for yourself here.

How long has Idle Worship been in development?

How long did it take God to create the Heaven and the Earth? It took us longer ;) We began development in November 2009 and just wrapped it up before our release on March 14th 2012.

What do you want people to know about how cool it is?

If they look directly at the game their eyes will melt and their brains will explode due to the sheer unfiltered awesomeness radiated by our pixels.

On a more serious note, Idle Worship has redefined what is technically and artistically possible in a Flash based game. First I want people to know it’s an original game and I think the users will respect that. Adobe’s audience knows how daunting it is to try to come up with and then execute a wholly original concept. Additionally our team implemented a completely novel art and animation tool chain combining hand drawn and painted 2D animations, with Flash…all set within a richly painted universe. As proud as we are of the artistic innovations, the team also created quite a few novel technological improvements for the social gaming industry. First, Idle Worship allows you to play synchronously, meaning together with friends & strangers, all in real time. Second, three of our five patents cover social mechanics designed to connect friends and strangers. We believe that creating new connections is the unrealized promise of social games. Idle worship creates connections by leveraging the social graph in unique and awesome ways, and I guess that’s a long winded answer that to say our art and technology are pretty sweet.

Idle Worship seems like a great idea, how did you come up with the game?

The genre of god games has been around since the 80′s and I always enjoyed playing them as a kid. But what always disappointed me about the genre was; it never felt like I was a god when all I could control were non playing characters. It occurred to me that a social network was the perfect place to create the world’s first “polytheistic god game.” In our game you try to create the biggest religion and become the most powerful god by gaining (through kindness or cruelty) the worship and adoration of friends and strangers, in addition to the non-playing characters. Clearly I have issues that will take years of psychotherapy to work through.

Why do you think people will be drawn to the game and how will they relate to the game, the characters, the concept?

I think that in the beginning people will be drawn to the game to check out the art and technology. After that, I hope they discover and become delighted by the story, copywriting, the characters and the complete entertainment experiment we try to provide. As far as people relating to the characters, we purposely made them lovable to both male and female players. Our main character is cute enough to be loved by women and edgy enough to be liked by (or tortured by) even the most jaded, skinny jean wearing, male hipster.  In regards to the consumer’s ability to relate to a god game, I believe god games tap into the fundamental human desire to be liked and adored. Additionally, they cater to today’s fascination with things like “the number of Facebook friends you have” or “how many Twitter followers you have amassed.”

How did you build the game? What tools did you use and what went into the design?

We built Idle Worship using Adobe Flash Builder 4/4.5, Flash CS5.5. Almost all our other tools and libraries were developed from scratch to maximize performance and address the unique requirements of our game. For example, we built an isometric rendering engine designed to handle large maps constructed from thousands of tiles, hundreds of animated game objects and positional sound effects. Our game maps are randomly generated using a tile placement algorithm that provides each player with a unique, visually pleasing environment.

Our development methodology is more akin to the approach of a console company than the typical casual game developer.

Some highlights of our approach include:

  • Compilation and continuous integration of Flash code via an automated build and deployment system (using Jenkins).
  • An open-ended architecture that supports any number of scripted characters, abilities, virtual goods and user interface components.
  • Scripting hooks built into the Flash client for automated testing and tutorials.
  • Application persistence and content (with localization support) managed via a Django CMS tier.
  • A modular approach that allows application subsystems to be developed independently, and re-used in future games.
  • The Flash client communicates with our proprietary simulation server via Google Protocol Buffers, delivering a synchronous gameplay experience to all concurrently connected clients.

Why did you choose to use Adobe technologies?

The mission of Idle Games is to create products that combine the best in art and technology, creating an experience that is greater than the individual parts. The workflow provided by Flash and other Adobe tools makes it easy to integrate our art and animation into the game; our engineers work closely with artists and designers to make sure their vision comes to fruition. Furthermore, Flash has the install base that allows us to reach a wide audience, and Adobe provides the art and development tools that let us quickly produce a console-quality social game.

Has Idle Games build with Flash/AIR in the past?

This is our first title … but we are working on two more as we speak, so stay tuned.

Were there any challenges facing the company that Flash/AIR helped to alleviate?

Flash supports rapid prototyping and development of online games. It allowed us to iterate on our ambitious feature set, and quickly validate and test the novel social mechanics integrated into the game.

What platforms are you targeting for your games?

We are currently developing Idle Worship and other games for desktop and mobile.

Are you currently monetizing the game? How are you doing this?

Idle Games is in the business of selling entertainment and art. Within Idle Worship, there are a number of ways a user can upgrade their virtual life. First, the user can customize the appearance of their world through virtual goods. We believe that if you are going to sell people “things that don’t exist,” the very least you can do is take the time to make them look as good as possible. We spent the time to create thousands of unique, hand painted elements that users can buy to customize the appearance of their avatars and/or their world. Also, Idle Worship users can elect to spend money to accelerate game play and/or gain power. How we are monetizing the game is not novel and is based on the proven freemium business model. However, what is unique is our approach to monetization. As Forbes magazine said, “Most social games hope to make money by badgering and frustrating the player to the point that they pay a tiny amount of money. Idle Worship hopes to engage and entertain the player to the point where they happily pay ….”

Have you had a chance to evaluate Stage 3D? What do you think?

Not yet, but only because we’ve been busy building our first game in 2D. From what we are seeing we are excited about being able to create a 3D game that doesn’t look like it was created in the 90s.

I know you just launched, but how do you see the game growing over time?

We see Idle Games as an entertainment company. The properties we create are not shallow experiences meant to be quickly consumed and even more quickly discarded.

Before we began building Idle Games, we wrote a 149 page “script” (if you will), that documented the world of Idle Worship and all the features, functionalities and stories we hoped to integrate into the game. I would say at launch, we managed to get about 25% of what we wanted into the game. So we hope to be able to continue richly developing and evolving the world of Idle Worship for quite some time.

What do you see as the next big thing in gaming? What is trending right now?

Ever since 2009, we felt that enabling synchronous game play and fostering play between like-minded strangers was the technological future of social gaming. On the artistic side we felt that people just had to begin raising the bar on the production quality of art, animation and story. I’m glad to see developers and artists actively working (and being allowed) to work on those things.

Do you have anything else up your sleeve?

Of course we do. While we have a large team working on Idle Worship, we’ve also been working on two other games, one of which will launch this summer. Both games incorporate Idle Games’ focus on large scale synchronous game mechanics combined with lush, richly painted and illustrated artwork and animation.

Again, where can people go to play the game?

Just go to http://apps.facebook.com/idleworship/ and start building your religion and acting godly.

For more information about Adobe & Gaming, as well as an amazing showcase of games, check out http://gaming.adobe.com.

Adobe Loves Indie

As a company, Adobe is all about changing the world through digital experiences. In gaming, we know that there’s nothing like a beautifully crafted game to create a digital experience that’s fun, immersive, and in many cases, a great shared moment.

Oftentimes, these games are the result of very individual efforts, manifestations of passionate dedication to a particular vision. Helping indie game developers realize their creative dreams is the Adobe gaming team’s mission. Indie game developers have used Flash and AIR to create gorgeous games like Machinarium, Land of Me and Winter on Whale Island, taking creativity to new heights, and changing the look and feel of casual and mobile gaming.

As we announced a few weeks back, Adobe is also helping producers James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot, of Indie Game: The Movie, stay “Indie” by funding screenings throughout North America to bring the movie to fans without being locked into exclusive distributions agreements. The movie tour debuted to a sold out audience of about 600 people in Santa Cruz, CA on Friday and had two more amazing showings last night in San Francisco. The film follows the stories of independent video game designers as they create and release their innovative, personal works to the world. It’s a beautifully told story of individual game designers and developers, and the passion and creativity that goes into creating unique games. If you haven’t purchased tickets for a screening yet, tickets are going fast for all shows throughout North America.

In more indie developments, this past weekend several members of the Adobe gaming team attended the Indie Giving event to help independent game developers attend GDC through sponsorship. Adobe was also a premier sponsor of the Flash Gaming Summit, which saw a superstar pantheon of indie dev’s showing off their stuff in Flash and AIR.

As jam-packed as this week is, it also brings the exciting debut of a new Adobe site dedicated to game developers: http://gaming.adobe.com. The site launched yesterday and thousands of visitors have already made their way to it, with lots of great feedback and conversation about it on Twitter. Developers can get their hands on everything from code samples to tutorials, as well as see a rolling showcase of games showing off some of the best examples of what can be created with Flash technology. Check it out, and please send in your comments!

 

Mobile Gaming Gets a Performance Boost: Adobe AIR 3.2 with 2D and 3D Hardware Acceleration Announced

Over the last year, we’ve seen a 7x increase in the availability of Adobe AIR apps in mobile marketplaces, including the Apple AppStore, with no signs of slowing down. With AIR, game developers and publishers can deliver their apps across 6 platforms on more than 500 million smartphones and tablets with stunning graphics and intricate gameplay. Creating amazingly detailed games like Machinarium, which claimed the spot as the #1 iPad app in 12 countries last year, is becoming easier than ever.

Just as Machinarium first debuted as a desktop game, publishers and developers today are looking to easily take their games and deliver them to app stores on a host of mobile devices across the globe. With the availability of AIR 3.2, we’re excited to help users push the envelope of mobile game development with new hardware accelerated 2D and 3D graphics rendering (Stage 3D) to enable significant performance gains in mobile gaming apps. Hardware accelerated 2D and 3D graphics will help ring in a new class of social and casual games running at 60 frames per second on mobile devices and tablets. Developers can download a release candidate of AIR 3.2 today and start packaging up apps for delivery to mobile marketplaces immediately, with general availability of AIR 3.2 and Flash Player 11.2 in March.

Hardware accelerated 2D and 3D support, released in Flash Player 11 last year, spurred a new class of features for existing games, including Rovio’s Angry Birds for Facebook, now available with special power up features and enhanced graphics. The global gaming community has shown great adoption of this new technology, boasting a host of titles from Renren, Gamegoo and Disney, and we anticipate that many existing PC games will be ported to mobile using AIR 3.2 in the coming months. Falanxia’s Spaced Away as well as Pamakids Tech’s Winter on Whale Island will be some of the first. Also, we recently learned that the top 9 Flash based games in China generate more than $70 million per month! Now that shows rapid adoption.

All of these innovative developments (with more to come soon!) demonstrate our focus on creating value for our gaming customers. By delivering new features to advance gameplay, increase fun and provide added support for productized features within the runtimes, gaming at Adobe will continue to grow by leaps and bounds. The future has never looked brighter.

Check out some of the great new features that are available with Flash Player 11.2 and AIR 3.2.

Flash Player 11.2

AIR 3.2

Read why our partners are excited about 2D and 3D hardware acceleration with AIR 3.2:

“Earlier this month, Rovio launched the first ever version of Angry Birds for Facebook to huge fanfare using Adobe 2D accelerated graphics,” said Andrew Stalbow, GM of Rovio North America. “Building a game that runs smoothly at 60 frames per second with five times more particles in our explosions and special effects is critical for delivering the most brilliant gaming experiences to our customers. We’re excited to see how Stage 3D accelerated graphics with Adobe AIR 3.2 will take these features to mobile devices and hopefully we can take advantage of this capability down the road.”

“We are thrilled to be the first mobile gaming company to take advantage of the AIR 3.2 release candidate to deliver AIR versions of our social games to our users,” said Masaki Fujimoto, CTO, GREE, Inc. “Flash Player and AIR help us push the limit of what can be created across the web and delivered as standalone apps on mobile devices. As we expand into global markets, Adobe technology is helping us take advantage of our market leadership in Japan to build success around the world.”

“As Flash based game developers, we are excited to use AIR 3.2 to make our visually appealing games stand out even more with the tools we already know,” said Jakub Svoboda, Game Producer, Falanxia. “Adobe helps us to bring our award winning games, like Spaced Away, to more iOS gamers than ever before. Good job Adobe!”

Flare3D Studio is leveraging the enhanced features in AIR 3.2 to create a very powerful Stage 3D IDE,” said Adrian Simonovich, CEO, Flare3D. “Adobe AIR has been, and will continue to be, a very important and powerful tool to bring hardware accelerated 3D support for mobile devices and allow Flare3D’s developers to create amazing 3D accelerated experiences and reach a much larger audience.”

“Since investing in AIR, we no longer have to worry about weighing different platforms and developer tools to reach our audience,” said Yifei Xu, CEO, Pamakids Tech. “AIR is the tool we rely on to avoid the clutter and just laser focus on what really matters – delivering the best games and apps to kids and parents.”

“We have chosen to develop with Flash because it is widely used, does not require installations, and games can be played instantly by simply clicking on a link,” said Filip Kuna, CEO, CUKETA. “Thanks to Adobe AIR, we were able to port our game, Age of Defenders, to different devices including Android tablets and iPad2 which allows us to appeal to a wider range of customers at a minimal cost.”

“NVIDIA’s been working closely with Adobe to bring increasing amounts of GPU acceleration to several generations of Flash Player and AIR,” said Neil Trevett, Vice President, Mobile Content at NVIDIA. “Now, Stage 3D in Flash Player 11.2 and AIR 3.2 can fully exploit the power of GPU acceleration to enable rich, real-time 3D games and content that is portable across multiple desktop and mobile platforms. NVIDIA is committed to ensuring that Stage 3D continues to be highly optimized for multi-core Tegra-based mobile devices.”

 

Put Down the Joystick and Pick Up the Popcorn: Join Adobe for Indie Game: The Movie

As someone who is passionate about film and enjoys games, I’m delighted to announce that Adobe is working with the producers of Indie Game: The Movie, Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky, to bring screenings of this award winning film to a city near you! We’ve scheduled seven dates so far in the U.S and Canada and are adding more every week, including Seattle, WA on March 23, and Portland, OR on March 28.

Indie Game: The Movie is a feature-length documentary, and follows the compelling, personal stories of independent video game designers as they create and release their unique and very individual works to the world. Coming off their recent win for Best Editing in World Documentary Cinema at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, Lisanne and James are thrilled to finally share this film with so many audiences, and are excited that Adobe is helping take the film to indie game developers and fans on such a large scale. Community support for this movie has been outstanding, and part of the funding was secured through Kickstarter, where the producers raised their initial funding goal in just 48 hours.

The first public screening will be held at the Rio in Santa Cruz, CA on Friday, March 2 at 7pm. For those of you attending GDC, the second and third screenings will be held at the Embarcadero in San Francisco, CA, on Tuesday, March 6th at 7pm and 9:30pm.

At each venue, members of the Adobe Gaming Solutions team will be on hand to give out prizes and talk one on one. Additionally, Indie Game: The Movie’s filmmakers will hold a panel to discuss the film and answer questions from attendees at each screening. Edmund McMillen, who was featured in the documentary will be a special guest at the Santa Cruz, CA screening, and will join the panel. Edmund is a Flash game developer and co-CEO of Team Meat that produced the successful Super Meat Boy game for Xbox 360, Windows PC, Mac OS X and Linux. Super Meat Boy has sold more than one million copies to date.

Like Edmund McMillen, game developers working with Adobe technology can reach 98 percent of Internet connected PCs and up to 500 million tablets and phones with their creations. Adobe will be demonstrating some great Flash based games at GDC March 5-9 in San Francisco, both for mobile and desktop. In the meantime, learn more about Adobe & Gaming at http://www.adobe.com/solutions/gaming.html, grab your tickets for a great show, and keep your eyes open for more news coming soon!

 

 

Rovio Chooses Flash Player 11 with Support for 3D Graphics

Today, Rovio launched Angry Birds for Facebook using Flash Player 11 with support for 3D graphics. The most social version of Angry Birds yet takes advantage of hardware accelerated graphics in Flash Player to bring a silky smooth gaming experience to a wider audience than ever before. More than 130 million people play Angry Birds every day – now with Flash Player, hundreds of millions of Facebook users can do the same. New, enhanced special effects like lighting, smoke and explosions running smoothly at 60 frames per second bring the game to a whole new level and allow players to have a more connected and engaging experience. As we showed you at Adobe MAX in the fall, Rovio’s general manager of North America, Andrew Stalbow provided a sneak peek of this new hardware accelerated version of Angry Birds built on Flash Player 11:

Angry Birds on Facebook game makes it even more exciting to play with friends, offering amazing new power-ups like Sling Scope, Birdquake, King Sling and Super Seed to extend players’ gratifying arsenals. And with new accelerated graphics, the feathery antics have never been more fun to more people. For more information about how to power-up your games using Flash and AIR, please visit the Adobe Gaming Solutions site.

 

2012: The Year of Gaming

Happy New Year! We’re excited to start 2012, and the holidays have brought a bushel of new games and apps, including the first version of those famously Angry Birds using Flash Player 11 and Stage3D. If you’re all revved up and looking to build something new in the coming year, see how you can publish a car visualizer to Flash in 90 seconds with Flare3D Studio Workflow.

As we announced last year, we are investing in our Flash technologies to support the kind of innovative 3D and 2D games that developers and publishers want to deliver both in browsers and through mobile apps. To give developers access to high-performance C/C++ code, we told you we’re creating an improved, paid, fully supported release of Alchemy for production development. This new addition will be available later this year and will allow developers to publish content leveraging Alchemy technology in Flash Player 11 or AIR 3 and beyond. Meanwhile, a few months ago we introduced full GPU-accelerated graphics rendering with Stage3D, which provides 1000x faster rendering performance over the previous versions of Flash Player and AIR on the desktop. Stage3D in Flash Player already enables fluid, hardware accelerated graphics for more people in more browsers than any other web technology. And we’re now seeing exciting previews of Stage3D hardware acceleration coming for mobile devices like iPhone, iPad, and Android smartphones and tablets.

See for yourself what’s happening with the latest updates to Flash Player and AIR for gaming, and jump in on the fun by checking out the beta release of Flash Player 11.2 and AIR 3.2!

 

Developers: Game On!

Compelling online games? Check! Pushing the limits of interactive creativity across multiple browsers? Check! For online game developers, Flash is the console of the web for delivering gaming experiences that draw committed gamers.  Adobe’s investment in Flash for both desktop, in-browser gaming as well as apps for mobile and TV (via AIR) is a growing opportunity. We are currently defining new features and an updated gaming roadmap, which we’ll be sharing with you through blog posts, announcements and demos down the road.

In the meantime, if you’re an online game developer, you can continue to use Flash to reach the broadest audience across desktop browsers. To augment developer solutions for gaming, we recently released Stage 3D APIs for Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 for desktop and TV, and the stage is set for an upcoming release of Stage 3D for mobile apps. Given the range of incredible mobile games already under development in prerelease, I’m excited about the opportunity this provides game developers to reach new audiences and deliver unique and immersive 2D and 3D gaming apps.

Speaking of apps, we’re doubling down on AIR, which gives developers the ability to take Flash based content and create apps for multiple mobile marketplaces, including Apple’s App Store, Android Market, Amazon Appstore, and BlackBerry AppWorld. Developers can also deliver AIR apps that run on the recently released Amazon Kindle Fire as well as the Barnes & Noble Color NOOK.

Here are some great examples of a few recent hits powered by Flash and AIR.

Machinarium

Delta Strike

Ben Franklin vs the Dead Coats

La Carrera del Siglo, made with Flare 3D and Stage 3D

As we recently communicated, this updated strategy will narrow our focus and allow Adobe to prioritize development of Flash for advanced gaming online and via mobile apps with AIR. For more information on game development using Flash and AIR, please visit the Adobe Gaming Solutions site.