In an ongoing effort to highlight developers who push the boundaries of game creation, we recently caught up with John Cooney, whose work at Armor Games (and now Kongregate) has generated some pretty remarkable things. He’s responsible for more than 90 gaming titles working on all the game design, programming, artwork and sound engineering. John will also be speaking at the upcoming Flash Gaming Summit in San Francisco if you’d like to meet him in person. In the meantime, we wanted to share our conversation about his inspiration, where he thinks the gaming industry is going, and more. Enjoy!
How did you get started as a developer?
Back in high school, I was really interested in animation and wanted to become an animator. The high school computers all had Flash installed and I was hooked from the first animation I produced. I started to freelance game development and formed my own company to help pay for college and living. When approached by Daniel McNeely (founder of Armor Games) to join his company, I jumped on board. All this happened over about five years, and by that time Flash was HUGE for games.
Do you have any advice for burgeoning developers?
Share your successes and failures. The best way we learn is to bounce ideas, send out works in progress, and collaborate when we need help. Your audience, fellow developers, and you will gain a lot from it!
What inspires you and your work?
I find most inspiration just in daily life. A game about traffic lights comes from the long commute home. A game about dinosaurs on treadmills came from a moving walkway at the airport. Ideas are everywhere. They just need testing and coaxing to get moving in the right direction.
You’ve worked on a lot of titles so far. What’s the project that you’re most proud of, and why?
I have a lot of projects I’m proud of, but the project I am probably the happiest about is Coinbox Hero. The game is about a floating box that you shoot, punch, and kick to rattle out coins. Coins pay for even more expensive items and weapons to further abuse the box for. The game is made entirely in Flash.
I began by trying to understand the technology requirements of this game. There would be a lot of coins, as many as I could render would be the ultimate goal. Using bitmapData and copyPixels, I managed to draw about 5,000 coins at a time without taxing the computer too much (this was at a time when Stage3D wasn’t available, so everything was on the CPU). This was REALLY impressive for the time. And since it’s Flash, I could use vector objects as well, so I rendered all my menus, characters, and backgrounds in vector.
The game was a short project, it only took about a week to produce – Flash makes rapid prototyping and fast game design easy. When launched, it gathered about a million plays in the first few weeks. Overall, it was a game that embodied the kind of work I do – over-the-top, joyous, simple games.
What products or applications do you use?
I use Flash Professional CS6 right now. I’ve always done all my programming through the IDE ever since I started in Flash 5. Most of the artwork is also produced in Flash. I’ve always loved the Flash IDE because it’s so fast and easy to use. Having a cohesive programming/artwork environment is all I need to make great content.
Where’s the industry going?
I think “social gaming” is going to find its way more and more into traditional gaming, hopefully in ways that will enhance these games to be better experiences for everyone. A lot of hardcore gamers sneer at the idea of seeing social in their games, but when social is done to make the game a better experience everyone wins. Mobile games will continue to be big. Indie titles like Minecraft are making it huge, and Flash games are still as exciting and innovative as ever.
For more about John and his work, check out his website. If you know (or are!) a developer who’d be interested in participating in our spotlight, please be sure to let us know in the comments section below, @AdobeFlash or on Facebook. Also, if you’ve developed an Adobe Gaming project, share it with us in our Flash Rocks gallery.