Author Archive: Alex Dewey

Maid Marian – Modernizing MMO Gaming with ‘Sherwood Dungeon’

Gene Endrody, CEO of Maid Marian Entertainment Inc., has a clear vision for keeping his best known title, Sherwood Dungeon, current and viable by bringing a 3D, multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPGs) to your web browser with the help of Adobe Flash Player.

Using the hardware acceleration enabled by the Stage3D APIs in Flash Player running in the browser, the team at Maid Marian was able to modernize Sherwood Dungeon to feature top-of- the-line visuals and responsive game play. By deploying the game in the browser, Maid Marian can now expand the revenue potential for Sherwood Dungeon as it can now be distributed through game portals that only support Adobe Flash® technology. Currently, Sherwood Dungeon is enjoyed by up to 3,000 social gamers simultaneously and more than one million unique players globally each month, attributable in part to the wide reach of the Flash Player on over 1.2 billion connected desktops.

The Maid Marian team looks to the future of the Adobe Gaming technologies and expanding their opportunity to grow their audience. “Marrying the ubiquity of Flash with GPU-accelerated graphics,” continues Endrody, “elevates the potential of browser-based games. We can now take on the big publishers with something small, independent, and disruptive.”  Read more from Endrody here: http://adobe.ly/RajbRM.

Q&A with Wrestling Revolution’s Mat Dickie

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.

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

Developer Spotlight: Jordan Casey of Casey Games

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.

Q&A with esDot Studio’s Shawn Blais

We recently caught up with esDot Studio’s owner Shawn Blais to learn about some of his recent projects using Flash and AIR for game and app development. Check out the Q&A below to see what Shawn is creating, monetizing and having fun doing what  loves. Enjoy!

What is your name, company, title?

Shawn Blais, owner/coder/marketer of esDot Studio, Inc. esDot is a company I started for the sole purpose of developing cool, polished AIR apps to mobile platforms. I started serious mobile development in late 2010, since then I’ve created 5 apps and am hard at work on the 6th. I code primarily on evenings and weekends, by day I’m lucky enough to work with a fantastic team at gskinner.com here in Edmonton. Without the experience and opportunities gained there I certainly would not be where I am today.

Where are you located?

Edmonton, AB.

Why did you use Flash/AIR to develop this app?

Two reasons really, efficiency and reach. Flash is so incredibly efficient at churning out high quality interactive apps, that you can literally code entire apps in a matter of 2 or 3 weeks, for me this is huge. I can use my skillset, and existing workflow to literally just fly through these apps.

In terms of reach, AIR allows me to take those 2 or 3 week apps, and deploy them to iOS, Android, BlackBerry PlayBook, Amazon Appstore and NOOK Color. That’s pretty crazy. And since there are two new markets opening up next year, Windows Metro and BlackBerry10, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to deliver my apps to those, too.

Diversifying my income across all these different app stores has really been a key part of my success. It’s been interesting to watch how different apps sell in different markets, SnowBomber for example took off pretty big on BlackBerry PlayBook, and Amazon Appstore, but was quiet everywhere else. TouchUp on the other hand, sells best on iOS. So it’s always different depending on the market, and it’s hard to predict, so it pays to just be in them all.

I looked hard at options like Corona, and Appcelerator, but I couldn’t get over the lack of strong typing in the languages, and the hit to my overall efficiency would have been massive. Also, the hard truth about HTML apps is that testing costs are massive, you really need to test on devices, on different versions of OS etc, and debugging is pretty hard, so it ends up being this monumental time drain. With AIR testing on a new device is usually just a couple hours, or even no time at all, and you get live debugging with breakpoints, so it’s usually pretty easy. That’s not to say there isn’t the odd issue that will drive you nuts, but it’s fairly rare!

How easy was it to deliver your app across multiple channels?

Signing up for the various portals, and passing approval is a pretty tedious process, but once you’re all setup it’s really a breeze. The fact I can build and install an iOS app, using a Windows box, is pretty awesome. Most other development paths would force me to buy a Mac to code on (I actually did end up buying a cheap mac for $500 off eBay, in order to do the final upload to iTunes).

Are you monetizing this app currently? If not, do you have plans to do so in the future?

Currently I’m monetizing ColorUp Pro, TouchUp Pro, SkyTunes, SnowBomber and RedditSolitaire across various markets. Most of my apps have free and paid versions, and TouchUp Pro and SnowBomber also have In App Purchase support on iOS, using an ANE.

Adding In App Purchase, and releasing a free version TouchUp Pro was a great experiment. It nearly doubled my sales on iOS, and I now get an even split between In App Purchase, and Paid Installs.

How many people are currently using the app?

With TouchUp Pro, there are about 12,000 daily users across all platforms. SnowBomber sees about 3000-4000 players a day, most of those on PlayBook or Kindle [is this Kindle Fire?]. Across all my apps, I see about 5,000-10,000 installs a day, with around 5% of those being paid.

What drives you to create these apps/games?

Primarily it was financial, new baby, new house, so something had to give and I saw this as the road to success. Plus, I’m just a complete gadget freak, so I was incredibly passionate about mobile devices, and bringing cool new UI’s to them.

Do you have anything else up your sleeve?

I have a new Photo Editor coming out very soon which will be stunning, it’s running at 60fps and the graphics are based on Android 4.0 UI. Then it looks like we might be teaming up with the awesome artists over at Cherry Sauce (http://cherrysauce.squarespace.com/contact/) to do some fun stuff. Stay tuned!

What do you want developers to know about creating apps with AIR/Flash?

Well, if you haven’t tried it lately, go for it. The performance is really great these days and the workflow is solid, it’s really improved a lot over the earlier AIR 2.7 SDK.

In terms of making money, from my experience the money is in productivity apps. Just make something really nice, really simple, that everyone needs, and you’ll do well. It doesn’t really matter if there’s good competitors in the space, because users love having choices. As long as that space is not completely oversaturated … the most saturated markets seem to be Games and Music, so maybe look elsewhere…

Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

Check out my blog for some tips and tricks on how to achieve fast rendering in AIR for mobile: http://esdot.ca/site/category/blog

 

 

Q&A with SparkChess’ Armand Niculescu

We recently caught up with Media Division’s lead developer and co-owner Armand Niculescu about SparkChess. Check out the Q&A below to learn about SparkChess, Armand’s process and why he relies on Adobe to deliver games across platforms and the globe. Enjoy!

Why did you use Flash/AIR to develop this app?

I’ve been using Flash since 1998 and over the years I’ve learned its strengths and weaknesses. Things that won me over were its availability across platforms, the rich toolset from Adobe and third parties and the ease in combining great graphics and animation with programming.

When I started working on it there was no HTML5, and even today I would not be able to deliver the same experience with Canvas & Javascript without worrying about compatibility or making compromises.

How easy was it to deliver your app across multiple platforms/channels?

SparkChess is built with Flash Professional  for interface elements, and I’m using FDT5 and Flash Builder to manage the code base – about 25,000 lines of code spread in 80 classes. The code is the same but I have slightly different graphics and layout for each platform. The biggest challenge was that the game had to be tested on each device, not as much for functionality but for the user experience, especially on tablet devices. A 7” tablet needs bigger buttons than a 10” one, the aspect ratios are different, you need to take the onscreen keyboard into consideration and so on.

The packaging and signing process is different for each platform, and can be confusing at first, but once I had it worked out, I created some batch files to automate packaging and signing for all platforms. Submitting to the various stores requires some preparation and organization, but it’s nothing daunting.

The multiplayer functionality is built with Union Platform, providing a consistent experience across platforms.

Are you monetizing this app currently? If not, do you have plans to do so in the future?

Yes. There are some significant maintenance costs associated with the game – CDN, multiplayer servers and so on.

SparkChess is available for free with ads and as a paid version with no ads and some very nice additional features.

How many people are currently using the app?

In total, across platforms, there are about 420,000 weekly users (single player and multiplayer). 8,000 chess games are played in multiplayer every day.

What drives you to create these apps/games?

I wrote my first game when I was 11 on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. It’s what got me started with graphics and programming. Games are some of the most challenging types of applications: they have to look great, run smoothly and above all, entertain. They are an excellent way for any programmer to push the envelope and learn new skills.

As part programmer – part designer (though I absolutely despise the term ‘devigner’), I was always interested in creating visually appealing apps. With SparkChess, my goal is to have a chess game that’s actually fun to play by casual players and that also helps them improve their skills. I’m also told by parents that kids love it, that it is a game for all ages.

Do you have anything else up your sleeve?

Yes! I’m listening to user feedback and I’m constantly tweaking SparkChess to make it an even more enjoyable experience and to take advantage of the upcoming features in Flash Player and AIR.

Based on this experience, I’m in the planning stage of a new multiplayer strategy game.

What do you want developers to know about creating apps with AIR/Flash?

Since the beginning, the beauty of Flash was its ability to deliver a consistent experience (graphics, fonts, animation and later program logic) across browsers and platforms. With AIR and native extensions, I can now deliver a native-like experience on all major operating systems and platforms. In a way, Flash is Java done right. Recent advancements in Javascript, CSS, the Canvas element and other HTML-related technologies can make HTML5 an alternative in some cases, especially for features that need to look integrated in a website. On the other hand, the browser quirks and lack of solid development environments make development of complex apps much harder, resulting in higher costs. An objective assessment should be done on a a per-project basis.

What I love about Flash, compared to any other platform, framework or environment, is the ease in combining programming with animation, graphics, sound and video in a seamless way, and with the new 3D support, the possibilities keep expanding.

 

 

FarmVille Features Flash Animation in Holiday Film

FarmVille embraces the holiday spirit and helps children in the process! The loveable cast of characters from the addictive Facebook Flash game launched their first-ever Flash animated holiday film. T’is the season for giving! FarmVille has partnered with Save The Children to give players a fun way to contribute to a great cause. Watch “A Very FarmVille Christmas” or go to FarmVille.com for a super-cool way to contribute. By making select in-game purchases, you can make a real difference in a child’s life.

For more information on game development using Flash and AIR, please visit the Adobe Gaming Solutions site.

 

Flash Player and AIR Support for the Galaxy Nexus

We’ve received some questions regarding support for Adobe Flash Player 11.1 and AIR 3.1 on the Galaxy Nexus. To be clear, the Galaxy Nexus does not initially support Adobe Flash Player 11.1 and AIR 3.1. As we previously communicated in a blog post, devices and software updates from our partners which introduce new technologies are being developed on varied schedules that are different from our own, which means that the Adobe runtimes may not always be optimized or supported on devices until a subsequent release. We will provide a minor update to the runtimes to support the Galaxy Nexus in December.

Greg DeMichillie is the Senior Director of Product Management for Interactive Development

Amazon’s Kindle Fire Lights up App Creativity

This is an exciting day for Adobe AIR developers who create amazing Flash based apps capable of reaching over 350 million smartphones and tablets by the end of this year, including the iPad. Today, Amazon began shipping the Kindle Fire, a new tablet boasting a 7” full color multi-touch display with 8GB of internal storage and free cloud storage for all Amazon content.

The Kindle Fire is already equipped to run AIR apps available on the Amazon Appstore for Android, right out of the box. Using Flash Builder or Flash Professional and the AIR SDK, developers can create and deliver Flash based apps via AIR, which run outside of the browser and deliver rich interaction and stunning performance. The Fire shipped with AIR 2.7, but developers can deliver AIR 3 apps by leveraging captive runtime. Apps created for the Android Market can also be published to the Amazon Appstore and there are currently many cool AIR apps available on the Appstore already, including:

Pyramix (interactive word game)

Pocket Penguins (live streaming video of penguins at the California Academy of Sciences)

TouchUp Pro (photo editing for your phone)

Politifact (the #1 news app)

We’re excited to see how the Kindle Fire will encourage new and creative uses for tablets, and the many ways new Flash based apps will help deliver those experiences through the Amazon Appstore.