Game On: The Present and Future of Game Development

The Adobe Gaming crew has been out and about a lot lately, participating in large, multisite events that inspire youth and young adults to explore game development for fun and even as a potential profession.

First, we participated in the Global Game Jam, Jan. 25–27. More than 11,000 developers from 319 sites in 63 countries spent 48 adrenaline-fueled hours working on more than 3,100 projects based on this year’s theme, sound of a heartbeat. It was an exciting intellectual and creative marathon for programming, iterative design, narrative exploration, and artistic expression.

On Feb. 6, Adobe visited schools around the United States to promote digital literacy as part of Digital Learning Day. Nearly 25, 000 teachers and millions of students participated in all 50 states. The national campaign spotlights successful instructional technology practices in K–12 public schools.

In the Global Game Jam (GGJ), participants gathered late Friday afternoon, watched a short video keynote with advice from leading game developers, and then received the contest’s secret “sound of a heartbeat” theme. All sites worldwide were then challenged to make games based on that theme, with games to be completed by Sunday afternoon. Although the event is heavily focused on programming, there are many other areas where people who don’t code contributed to game development.

Many of our Adobe colleagues attended the event at locations worldwide. For instance, Adobe evangelist Andy Hall, in Sydney, Australia, went to cheer on jammers programming with Adobe Flash. “Organizers loved it and were happy to let us speak, hang around and interview people, or do whatever we wanted really,” Hall says. “With that said, at the Sydney Jam, my presence as an evangelist was not really necessary. Everyone there knew their technology backwards and forwards.”

Sushi

For the GGJ, Adobe sponsored an award for the best game made with Adobe Flash, which went to Monster Sushi Train. It features a monster sushi chef who cuts hearts into shapes requested by other monsters at a sushi bar. Its programmers are Chris Suffern, Wayne Petzler, and David Kofoed Wind. Check it out at http://www.playgamespro.com/game/1844/Sushi-Monster-Train.html.

For the K-12-focused Digital Learning Day, Adobe Gaming used the opportunity to connect with students—many of whom had limited previous computer experience—tackle the task of building a game with Adobe Flash Professional. Besides introducing them to Adobe Flash Professional, Adobe helped kids from different backgrounds collaborate in ways that made the best use of each student’s unique skills and interests, whether those interests included zombies or American history.

Achieving digital literacy through game design is also one of the goals of Globaloria, an Adobe education partner. Globaloria is a turnkey academic curriculum that uses a social learning network and game design to promote computing knowledge and global citizenship. As part of Digital Literacy Day, the Adobe Foundation has committed to match all donations made to Globaloria up to $50,000. You can be a part of it by donating at http://www.globaloria.org/adobe. Besides funding Globaloria’s initiatives, your donations help fund the World Wide Workshop, Globaloria’s parent organization. The World Wide Workshop supports publicly shared, long-term projects that are complex, computational, immersive, and innovative, so children build long-term skills for learning and critical thinking.

See the Flash Platform in Action

Companies often turn to the Adobe Flash Platform to solve business problems. From data visualization to customer self service, here are some great rich Internet applications (RIAs) developed by Universal Mind that executed business ideas to make them a reality. Built with Adobe Flash Platform technologies like AIR and Flash Builder and integrating Creative Suite tools, check these RIAs from Kodak, SpatialKey and SchoolVIEW to see what’s possible and learn about the ease of cross-platform app development!

Watch how Universal Mind used Adobe Flash Platform technologies to build the Photo Book app for Kodak, helping them offer a profitable online service allowing customers to easily create their own Photo Books to share “Kodak Moments.”

 

See how SpatialKey uses Adobe Flash Platform technologies to create a flexible tool for enterprises that rely on large location-based data to better present timely information for better decision making.

 

Learn how SchoolVIEW by Universal Mind used Adobe Flash Platform technologies to enable the Colorado Department of Education to present student and school achievement data to help administrators, parents and government funders make better decisions regarding education, creating a uniform approach to student educational achievement.

Interactive Storytelling Using the Flash Platform

Combining the magic of a classic story book with Adobe technology, Made in Me, a U.K.-based educational multimedia publishing company, has created an interactive, digital learning experience for kids with the “The Land of Me” story book. Built with Adobe Flash Platform and Creative Suite technologies and a 2010 MAX Awards finalist, “The Land of Me” story book engages children and parents with an imaginative world filled with colorful creatures, exciting adventures and learning around every corner.

Adobe AIR was a key component in developing the story book as Made in Me didn’t want it to be browser-based. With AIR, the creators marketed the story into downloadable parts, providing strong revenue to the company.  As a result, Made in Me’s sales have doubled month to month since its startup. AIR also allowed the creators to easily extend “The Land of Me” to other platforms, devices and screens while offering offline viewing functionality. Made in Me’s story book has gained some buzz in the UK – from getting the attention of the BBC to having several local preschools launch pilot programs based on its educational value.

Check out the video below for a sneak peek of “The Land of Me.” The first chapter is downloadable for free with additional chapters available for purchase on Made in Me’s site. You can learn more about how Made in Me used Adobe technologies to develop the story book here.

The Land of Me – Shape, Size & Colour from Made in Me on Vimeo.

Flex Momentum in Higher Education

educause_2009Since this week is Educause I thought it would be a good time to talk about some of the momentum we’ve been having with Flex in higher education. I came from the higher education side of the industry so it’s really great to see Flex do well. It’s major props to our education teams and Terry Ryan, who has been doing the evangelism side of higher ed, that this year has been so good.

  • Over 70,000 downloads of Flex Builder. That’s a combination of student downloads, faculty downloads, and lab seats.
  • Around 30,000 page views for our RIA teaching resources site which includes course project information, best practices, and other information to let professors incorporate RIAs into their curriculum.
  • In a survey of faculty at mostly 4 year graduate and undergraduate institutions we found that 52% are requiring Flex Builder in their courses and that 85% of them are using it to teach about rich Internet applications. Most of the faculty came from computer science and multimedia programs.
  • A number of technology partners in higher education including Stanford, Carnegie Mellon University, MIT, University of California – Berkeley, University of Missouri, and University of Southern California.

We’ve also got some interesting things going on at MIT, Stanford, and Berkeley. All of them have integrated Flex into the coursework in design interface classes (an example Stanford course and an example MIT course). Rochester Institute of Technology is planning on having some of their students do guest blog posts for InsideRIA. The University of Missouri has been working with our developer program and has run a couple of student contents including one that has students using the beta 2 of Flash Catalyst to create interactive content. One of the other cool things is that a lot of the schools are using Flash as a way to be on the cutting edge. RIT, Purdue, Georgia Tech and the Vancouver Film school are using Flash to research multi-touch and augmented reality projects.

It’s great to see Flex in every part of higher ed from directly in the curriculum for classes to downloads for lab seats so that any student can go and experiment with Flex. Growing the base for Flex from the education side means more interesting Flex developers, more tinkering, and ultimately a better ecosystem for the Flash Platform. It will be great to see the momentum carry into 2010.

And of course, if you’re a graduate getting ready to enter the job market, it’s a pretty good time to be looking for Flex jobs.