Game Developers Conference Online 2012 is upon us! This Austin event brings together the best and brightest professionals in online, social and cloud gaming – and we’re excited to be a part of it. Our team will be there and speaking at two sessions you won’t want to miss!
From Stage3D development on the desktop with Flash Player, to cross-platform mobile development with Adobe AIR, Adobe is shaping Flash to be the console of the web. Join our own Sr. Product Manager Thibault Imbert to get an inside look at technologies, such as Stage3D (for GPU acceleration) and Project Monocle, and hear about their role in some of the latest gaming titles (e.g., Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) created. Register for this session here.
Building AAA 3D games for the web require many features, including GPU hardware acceleration, shader languages, audio, input, content loading, content caching, and full screen support. Gaming Evangelist Renaun Erickson will cover feature comparison of WebGL/HTML5, Flash, Unity and Google Native Client technologies, and highlight how developers are using them to push previously unheard of boundaries during his session. Be sure to attend – register here.
Interested in more about Adobe and Gaming? Get the full scope on Adobe Gaming. And, if you’re working on a Flash game or have an idea you think is really special, enter the Epic Flash game contest!
We recently caught up with the solo game developer Mat Dickie who created the wildly entertaining mobile game Wrestling Revolution for iOS and Android. The game was downloaded more than 50,000 times in its first month on Google Play alone and has 300+ 5-star reviews. Mat’s YouTube video has been viewed nearly 80,000 times since its debut and really gives a sense of what Mat has created with Adobe Gaming technology. See the full Q&A below and see his formal success story here.
What is your name?
MD: I release games under the name of Mat Dickie, which is often abbreviated to the signature “MDickie”.
Where is your company based?
MD: London, England and Chengdu, China.
How long have you been creating games?
MD: I have been creating PC games since the turn of 2000, but only recently side-stepped into mobile gaming in the past 6 months.
What are you known for?
MD: I am known for specializing in wrestling with the popular “Wrestling MPire” series on PC and the new “Wrestling Revolution” series on mobile devices. I am also known for accomplishing these things on my own rather than working in a team.
Why do you think people will be drawn to the game?
MD: Wrestling has not been very well represented on mobile as yet, so fans of that genre are starving for something to play. With Wrestling Revolution, those fans also have an innovative new way of playing to get to grips with – and with up to 10 characters on screen, it’s more fun than the one-on-one matches most fighting games are limited to.
How did you come up with your idea for the gameplay?
MD: I spent half of my time in China, where I noticed that tablet gaming had been widely embraced. It convinced me that the format had a future and it was something I wanted to be a part of. I specifically sensed that touch-screen technology had a lot to offer a physical genre like wrestling. I knew the mainstream companies would never try anything new, so I took a chance on it myself and created the first truly touch-screen wrestling game – where you tap, pinch, and swipe for intuitive control.
How did you build the game? MD: It was my first major project for mobile devices, so I had to put a lot of effort into learning how they work and adapting my way of doing things for a smaller screen. I had to go out and buy a whole range of devices so that I could see how well the game worked on each one and figure out solutions to any problems. I deliberately made the game 2D so that it could handle more wrestlers on screen. The fun comes first.
What platforms are you developing for and how do you choose which ones to target?
MD: I develop for Android and iOS primarily, but also release PC and Mac versions of my apps. I aim for the most popular devices that Flash can reach so that more people can play.
Why did you choose to use Flash?
MD: Not only could I simultaneously develop for both Android and iOS, but I could also stay true to my roots by releasing PC and Mac versions of my creations. And they were more reliable builds that I could be sure would function properly because all you need is Flash Player. To hit more platforms and have less issues was a win-win situation for me and my players. Flash is also capable of manipulating sprites on a grand scale, which allowed me to introduce an innovative new way of animating my characters.
How do you see the game growing over time?
MD: All I have released so far is the gameplay, which is in the process of evolving into a sophisticated RPG where you can live the life of a professional wrestler. I think we have to continue to embrace touch-screen technology and other new control methods. I like to joke that “real wrestlers don’t use buttons” so neither should my players!
Anything you want to add about working with Adobe Gaming technology?
MD: I made an important discovery in the early stages of my project, which is that Flash can be fed a high quality image and then be trusted to scale it down and use it as though it were a low quality image. And yet if you play the game on a larger screen, the original quality remains intact and is right there to be appreciated. This has been a blessing when releasing the same game on so many different sized devices. Flash automatically displays my sprites at their best – whether large or small. The resource management is astonishing.
Anything new in the pipeline for your company?
MD: 2012 has been a very exciting year for me already, so I am optimistic about the future. I will see Wrestling Revolution through to being the sophisticated game that I intended it to be, and then from 2013 onwards the game engine will be right there to drive other innovative concepts forward. I have more ideas than I could ever make in one lifetime!
Anything else that you want to add?
MD: I’d like to thank all the fellow developers who shared their stories and advice on the Adobe forums and all over the Internet. Whenever I get stuck, I simply run a search and somebody somewhere will have the answer! I’d also like to encourage people to follow the progress of Wrestling Revolution as it happens on my Facebook page.
Hey farmer, how are your crops? Since FarmVille first debuted in 2009, it has grown to one of the most popular and well known social games on Facebook reaching more than 3 million daily active users.
Thanks to the success of FarmVille and other games, Zynga has quickly become a leader in the social gaming space and a constant source for hit social games on mobile and Web including Words with Friends, CityVille, CastleVille, Ruby Blast and Zynga Poker, among others.
Today marks a new milestone with the launch of FarmVille 2. In FarmVille 2, Zynga created a next-generation social game that delivers a brand new farming experience through stunning visuals, beautiful animations and new ways to visit and interact with friends.
We’re excited that FarmVille 2 is Zynga’s first game developed for Adobe Flash Player 11 using Stage 3D technology, and is a significant example of an improved 3D game development workflow. The immersive experiences and optimized performance enabled by Stage 3D allows Zynga to extend the game to more players who are able to forge a deeper emotional connection to the farms they create, and have an even better game experience overall.
Our work with Zynga also incorporated some new technology that’s got developers buzzing. Adobe’s Project Monocle played a major role for performance optimization during the development of FarmVille 2. With Project Monocle, subtle bottlenecks in the development process were quickly identified and fixed thanks to the level of details and granularity exposed by the cutting edge tool. Soon, we’ll be making Project Monocle available to all, and we’re already hearing great reports from beta testers on the benefits of using this technology for their games.
Today, we released the latest version of the Flash and AIR runtimes with Flash Player 11.4 and AIR 3.4. These new builds feature a few great features that gaming fans will be excited about; most importantly, we’re increasing the devices that can take advantage of hardware acceleration so game developers can give more gaming fans smoother and more exciting game play.
Along with adding constrained Stage 3D, we’ve also provided added support for iOS application development, and introduced concurrency, which helps improve game responsiveness. Gaming evangelist Lee Brimelow will be walking users through the new features and upcoming tooling updates in a demo on August 23.
We’ve been laying some groundwork this year for increasing the speed at which updates to the Flash Player are adopted. Flash Player 11.2 introduced background updating, and over 400 million people opted in to use it. That means that with any new release of the runtime, 400 million users can be updated to the latest version of Flash Player in about 48 hours. To put this in perspective, 400 million is about six times the number of Xbox360’s sold since 2005. Game developers can now quickly embrace new features knowing there’s a huge audience waiting for them.
We’re also working closely with partners to help extend the reach of the Flash Player. This week, the gaming team is at the Unity Unite conference in Amsterdam, where we will be talking about Premium Features for Flash Player and showing off some great new games that were developed using a Unity workflow – Madfinger’s Shadowgun and Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. These are just two in the upcoming lineup of new games targeting the Flash Player, and the gaming team is really looking forward to talking with developers at Unite and learning more about their plans and creations. To hear more, check back in later this week, and take a look at the current showcase of games at http://gaming.adobe.com/.
It’s a busy week for events, and you can also find members of the Adobe gaming team speaking at CEDEC in Japan, where GREE will be talking about developing MONPLA SMASH, the newly-released free-to-play RPG action battle game – its first mobile social game built on Adobe AIR and now available on the iOS AppStore.
And finally, you’ve got to be in it to win it! PlayerScale’s Player.io, in cooperation with Epic Game Ads, has announced their first Epic Flash Game Contest with some sizable payouts (total cash prizes worth $150,000US). This contest is for multi-player games targeting Flash Player, and you can see the rules and start building your Flash games today – http://office.playerio.com/competitions/ega2012/#register.
Want to engage in epic battles on a planet riddled with monsters? We thought so!
GREE launched its first mobile social game using Flash technology for the iPhone today. MONPLA SMASH is the company’s free-to-play RPG action battle game that delivers stunning graphics through an Adobe AIR app and we are excited to have worked with them to bring this game to market.
As one of the leading gaming companies, we are thrilled to see GREE take advantage of the cross-platform delivery options provided by Adobe to release this innovative mobile social game worldwide, as a native iOS app, using its existing workflow. MONPLA SMASH is a great example of how AIR addresses the growing demand for high-impact social games with amazing graphics across leading mobile devices.
Our team at Cannes Lions last month had the opportunity to meet and chat with someone from our developer community – 12-year old Jordan Casey. If you’ve had the chance to play Alien Ball vs Humans or its sequel, Alien Ball vs Humans 2: Holiday, you’ve experienced a Casey-developed app. If not, you can get to know this young Irish prodigy, who has made headlines as one of Europe’s youngest iOS developer below. Between teaching himself game design, his schooling, and working on upcoming content for his own game studio – Casey Games – Jordan found some time to participate in a Q&A on his youthful rise in the world of game development.
Adobe: When did you first start developing and what inspired you to get started?
Jordan Casey: I first started developing when I was nine, I was playing a Flash multiplayer game called Club Penguin and saw that other kids were building websites and blogs about it, and I saw that this could be fun, so I learned 3 languages: HTML, ActionScript 2.0 and CSS and went ahead and made my site.
How do your ideas come to you? While riding your bike, playing with your dog, from your friends…?
Both of my grannies have a wall in their back garden so I get a football (soccer ball) and start kicking it at the wall, and I just start thinking and I could do this for an hour and when I’m finished I have a couple of game concepts or what to look up online that night when I get home.
Who are your “creative heroes” or role models?
My creative heroes would have to be Apple founders, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak and independent game developer Markus Persson (or Notch) the creator of Minecraft who showed me that you don’t need a big team to make a successful game.
How did you come up with the idea for ‘Alien Ball vs Humans?’ Was it based on game mechanics, the concept, or just the fun factor?
For Alien Ball, I was just in my granny’s house again just kicking the ball. I had just gotten my iMac and was thinking of ideas for my first app. I didn’t want my first app to be a massive thing and take years to make, but I didn’t want it to not be fun either, so I was thinking of a retro game remake and made a Pac Man, Space Invaders and Mario clone. I looked at them all, and I published the Space Invaders one and made a couple of changes and also made Alien Ball, who was the main character of my previous Flash games, the main character of my app. When you think about it, it is kind of the opposite of Space Invaders, because in space invaders you are the human destroying the aliens but in Alien Ball vs Humans, you are the alien killing the humans.
What was the transition from HTML to game coding like? Any tips for other young developers?
When I started developing web games, I already knew Actionscript 2.0, so making Flash games wasn’t that hard. But when I was starting to develop gaming apps it meant learning Actionscript 3.0, which wasn’t that hard but it did take a bit of time.
What’s next for Casey Games?
I am currently working on a Flash game, which I plan to publish to AIR for Mac and PC. Then, I will make some changes and publish to iOS. In September, I am speaking at a summit in Germany and after that I am starting a new school. So, I plan on taking a break and just study for a while but I will be developing, just not as often as the summer, maybe 20 minutes a day.
You can check out Alien Ball vs Humans in action below, and get in touch with Casey Games on Twitter @Casey Games.
If you didn’t have a chance to catch Indie Game: The Movie on the big screen during the official movie tour, here is your chance to bring Edmond, Tommy, Phil and Jonathan into your living room or a screen near you. In a first, the movie is delivered through Steam using Adobe AIR.
Congratulations to co-directors Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky on this magnificent film that serves as the voice of the passionate indie game developer. We hope to see you at the Oscars!
Indie Game: The Movie is one of the first feature films to be delivered through Steam. It’s been being distributed through an app built using AIR. Details about the Steam package are here.
Additionally, it’s also available DRM-free on IndieGameTheMovie.com, and currently in the following languages: English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Arabic & Traditional Chinese (with more languages being added soon).
Indie Game: The Movie looks at the underdogs of the video game industry, indie game developers, who sacrifice money, health and sanity to realize their lifelong dreams of sharing their creative visions with the world. Following the making of the games SUPER MEAT BOY, FEZ and BRAID, this Sundance award-winning film captures the tension and drama by focusing on these developers’ vulnerability and obsessive quest to express themselves through a 21st-century art form.
Adobe is thrilled to be a part of this significant release, sponsoring the North American tour of the movie, as well as working with the team to distribute the movie as an AIR app. We hope that the ongoing success and critical acclaim of the movie (including winning an award at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, and a 100% ‘Fresh’ rating by Rotten Tomatoes as the ‘Number one best reviewed film of 2012’) encourages indie game developers to continue pursuing their passions, and we’re working hard to make sure Adobe technologies continue to help improve their ability to develop, deliver, and distribute their games! Let us know if you have a game that you’ve developed using Adobe technology, and see more examples of indie games here.
Web games are hugely popular in China, and the vast majority of these games are Flash technology-based. According to Analysys International, the 2012 web game market will reach $1.2 billion USD with a growth of 50.13% compared to $830 million USD in 2011. With such a big market opportunity, China’s game development community is also asking itself a number of questions: how to improve gaming R & D, marketing and operations? What is the latest technology and how can it be used to attract new players and improve retention? What are the new trends for browser-based games?
Starting in mid-April, Adobe’s China evangelist team hosted the Flash Gaming Tour in Beijing (April 14), Shanghai (April 22) and Guangzhou (May 10). Almost 1000 developers, designers, operators, students, and teachers attended, representing over 400 gaming companies and 14 partners, including HP, Sohu, Baidu, China Joy, Epic Games, Gamegoo, Shanghai Terminus, Joyegame in Guangzhou, and Chongqing JinTian. Showcasing the latest developments in Stage 3D MMO game development in China, as well as peeks at future developments, the event also introduced Flash Player Premium Features to a gaming audience in China.
Among those new Stage 3D games, “The King of Fighter,” developed by SNGO networking entertainment design, is quite stunning. This game is based on A3D, a Stage 3D game engine independently developed by SNGO. The live demonstration at the SNGO booth, highlighting the 3D effects within the game (including light effects, normal maps, and motion blur, and air twist) became a hot topic among the developers at the event. The game scenes are beautifully rendered in real time with exquisite details and smooth performance, including an Indian Buddhist temple, the ancient city of Suzhou, and European cathedrals, along with Xbox-style fight action, like strokes, kill, and slash. The game is expected to be available as a public beta sometime in June.
The positive feedback during the tour was fantastic, and I was excited to hear many developers state that they believe Adobe Stage 3D technology will bring a needed revolution to web-based games. I’m looking forward to 2012 as the year of 3D Flash web games in China, and to seeing more games like “The King of Fighter” taking advantage of this technology to deliver great gameplay.
*Gary Zhu is an Adobe Gaming Evangelist based in China.
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.
Mobile games delivered using AIR 3.2 can take advantage of 1000x faster rendering performance over AIR 2, allowing game developers to animate millions of objects with smooth 60 fps rendering. Developers can use a single workflow to optimize their apps, and take advantage of using native extensions for device-specific capabilities like vibration control, gyroscope, and dual screens as well as integration with in-app payments and Apple Game Center. AIR is enabling more and more developers to easily deliver content to mobile marketplaces; over the course of the last year, the number of AIR apps on mobile marketplaces, including the AppStore and Android Market, has grown more than 7 times!
The Adobe Gaming team will also be at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco this week, where we will be showing all kinds of new browser-based desktop games and mobile gaming apps with key partners including Rovio, Zynga, GameFly, EPIC, SpilGames, and many more. Demos of high-performance, cross platform games like Soundquest, Delta Strike, and Sherwood Dungeon are just a few of the new Flash technology-based games on show in Adobe’s booth. And the showcase of mobile games built using AIR includes Waste Invaders, Spaced Away, and Winter on Whale Island, as well as Machinarium, the hit iPad game. Also, our friends at NVIDIA and AMD will also show demos for games built with Flash as well. So come by and see us in the North Hall, booth 2328.
With the full release of Flash Player 11.2 later this month, Adobe is addressing the needs of game developers by ensuring that Flash technology provides the level of quality that enables it to become the true game console of the web. With Stage3D, Flash Player already brings console-quality hardware accelerated graphics to more of the web than any platform and Flash Player 11.2 includes features like mouse lock and expanded GPU support. Our recently announced roadmap demonstrates the investment we continue to make in delivering new capabilities for our customers with upcoming features directly targeting game developers. As we’ve previously communicated, Adobe will also productize “Alchemy,” an Adobe research project that allows users to securely execute high-performance C and C++ code with the reach of the Flash runtimes. The commercial release of Alchemy will offer significantly better performance and productivity over the Labs prototype, including full debugging support and up to 75% reduction in code size.
And one more thing, we’re pleased to announce the debut of a new site dedicated to game developers: http://gaming.adobe.com. It has a beautiful showcase of games that use Flash and AIR, as well as resources for developers like tutorials and more information on why and how to use Flash technology for gaming. Go check it out, and tell us what you think. Game on!