Archive for July, 2002

New Flash MX Resources at Macromedia.com

Its that time again, the Macromedia Designer and Developer Center has been updated with new Flash MX content and Resources. While this is not the largest release we have had, I think that it has some of the coolest and most original content. Make sure to check out the Asteroids article, and the character animation article.
Macromedia Designer and Developer Center
In particular, we have a lot of new content on the:
Flash Application Development Center

Streaming XBox through Flash via the Flash Communication Server

Well, since I began playing around with the Flash Communication Server, I have been missing a lot of sleep. As I posted earlier, I created a simple Flash chat application, that included text and video chat.
Well today, I figured out how to get the Flash Player to think the SVideo in on my laptop is a camera. So I was able to stream me playing Halo on the Xbox to every one in the chat room (about 6 or 7 people).
Here are some pictures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
Btw, I have still not had to write any ActionScript code for the application.

New Boston Macromedia Flash User Group

Eric Dolecki posted on FlashCoders that he is starting a Boston Macromedia Flash user’s group. If you are interested in joining or helping out, send him an email.
He has put up a webpage here.

FlashForward Pictures

A couple of people have posted pictures from FlashForward:


If you post some pictures, let me know, and I will list them here.

Flash Communication Server : Wow!

(Note, I am posting this first as a Flash Developer excited about the technology, and second as a Macromedia employee).
I haven’t had much time to play around with the Flash Communication Server. I have been focusing on Flash Remoting, and working on a book on the same subject. However, last night I finally got a chance to install the server and play around. Here is the timeline:


  • 0 minutes : begin installing server.
  • 5 minutes : server installed.
  • 10 minutes : I have created a simple multiuser chat application, where users log it, the user’s names are displayed, and they can chat with each other.
  • 20 minutes : After playing around with the chat, I add audio and video support. It works pretty well with two video streams over my measly 144/144 DSL connection.
  • 25 minutes : I add a shared whiteboard, and cursors (you see everyone else’s cursor (we had some bug fights)). Works like a charm, although the whiteboard takes focus away from the chat sometime.

So in 25 minutes I had created an app which allowed multiple users to connect and chat, send and receive video, share cursors, and work together on a whiteboard. All of this, and this is the kicker, without writing a single line of ActionScript. You can see a picture of the chat with video support here with myself, Christian Cantrell and Phillip Torrone all chatting(I am not sure why I didn’t just take a screen shot).
So now, I have to go back to not sleeping so I can play around with this and Flash Remoting. Btw, I am hoping to get some content up on the site here soon. Maybe we will have some live chats or something (post any ideas you might have in the comments section).

FlashForward Slides Online

Here are all of the FlashForward slides that I have found posted online:

FlashForward Slides : Flash Remoting with Flash MX and ColdFusion MX

Christian Cantrell has posted his slides from his FlashForward session titled Flash Remoting with Flash MX and ColdFusion MX. If you are interested in getting started with Flash Remoting with ColdFusion or ServerSide ActionScript, this is a great resource, complete with both ActionScript and server side code samples.
You can view the slides here.
You can view a growing list of online FlashForward slide here.

More Flash Forward Stuff

A couple of FlashForward items from around the web.


I expect we will see a lot more FlashForward info online, as more people get home from the conference.

Home from Flash Forward

I just got home from Flash Forward. I was pretty busy at this one and didn’t get to hang around with everyone as much i would have liked though. Branden Hall, Christian Cantrell and I all rode the train back from new York to DC. We had a contest to see who could make the coolest thing with the drawing API on the train ride back. Branden won (surprise). Actually, he won first, second and third place. He built a Flash movie that wrote some of the code for his main flash movie (showoff). Oh yeah, I made a little worm, ill post it if i get time (nothing too exciting).
Update, Branden has posted his entry, as did Christian, and here is mine (now you can see why i spend most of my flash time doing client / server stuff ; )).
ok, its late. I’ll post more tomorrow and wrap up the Flash Forward stuff.
Oh yeah, the next FlashForward will be in San Francisco in the Spring.

Star Wars in Flash: Developing for the Playstation 2 : Fred Sharples

I came in a little late.
orangedesign created the menus for lucasart’s starfighter games (2) for ps2. All of the menus were created within macromedia flash, and played back within a Flash player included with the game.
Have to conisder localization. They do the German version first since the german words tend to be the longest.
Memory considerations, only 32 megs of ram on ps2. compressed sizes of images doesn’t matter, it is the uncompressed size. reducing the number of colors. the butterflyed the images (symetrical, so they only have to load half of each image (and then flip it)).
design process
fred is showing some of the images they presented to the lucas arts to get an idea of the type of imagery they were looking for in the jedi starfigter menus. (just regular images they found on the web).
originally, they had a more dirty, mechaninal interface, but in the end it became more modern, clean look.
showed series of drawings of early menu prototypes. really cool.
tips and tricks
memory issues


  • use ntsc or pal on a television to determine how far you can compress bitmaps.
  • watch memory. major issue.
  • butterfly symetrical bitmaps whenever possible.
  • concern yourself with the unpacked size of images, not the file size.
  • Optimize your bitmaps before they are brough in.

framerate issues

  • try breaking text if it doesnt animate fast enough.
  • avoid using more that a paragraph of type on one screen.
  • build all of your alpha effects into your bitmaps.
  • give life to your art by animating smaller screen areas.
  • with vectors, try finding shapes that use the fewsest number of triangles.
  • don’t use a lot of thin vector lines.

Localization

  • design with plenty of space for copy. 150%.
  • localize early in german (long words, design issues)
  • test doubel byte comparison.
  • work with native speaker to avoid embarressment.
  • have experienced designer do the final layout.

Sony Requirements

  • memory cards stuff is more than half of the work. (what happens when the user pulls a card out, inserts it, etc…).
  • sony design documentation manual. very big.

card issues, example:

  • is card full
  • formatted?
  • saved data?
  • ps2 card or ps1?
  • damage?
  • is it being formatted?
  • being read?
  • did you tell the user how much space is required?
  • does the user want to format or save the data?
  • etc…

these all have to be asked and considered within the flash movie.
Middleware layer. the layer of scripting between the hardware / game and flash.

  • written by game programmer.
  • a simple script layer
  • communicates between game, flash and hardware.
  • almost all UI logic resideds in the flash later.
  • middleware never drives the flash movie.

example of setting something in the game’s middleware. this tells the game to play in stereo mode:
getURL(“callback://SetStereoStatus”, 2);

getURL(“callback://GetStereoStatus”, “variableName”);
this tells the middleware what variable name to use when it passed the data back to flash. you have to wait one frame in flash before you can reference the data.
Why should flash be on Playstation 2?
Currently not avaliable. playstation 2 is very popular platform.
three versions of flash player for ps2

  • generation one, used on starfighter. only supported flash 4. built by secret level. software only, very slow. doesn’t support loadmovie, so memory issues cause problems.
  • strobe : (gen 2) – used by lucasarts for some other games (they have in house flash team). supports flash 5, working on MX version. hardware enabled. also ported to xBox and Directx8. supports loadmovie command.
  • internet version for ps2 : developed by macromedia and sony. deomonstrated at E3 in may 2001. may be related to to linux os and network adaptor kit released by sony. did not play in browser.

showing pictures on ps2 linux kit. pretty cool. comes with harddrive and ethernet port.
website:
Fred wrote a chapter on Flash for the PS2 in Flash Enabled : Flash Design and Development for Devices.
orangedesign.com
secretlevel.com
lucasarts.com
future they want to be able to use the flash player within the games, overlaying the action and even showing video.
testing. worked on pc. they had firewire connection into test unit that they used to upload the entire game into the ps2, and then test it on the console.
orange did not do the sound.
end of session.