Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Arguably, a game is an application, since it performs certain
functions based on user input. However, an application in the
traditional sense is used to create something or deliver informa-
tion; it receives input and gives output. The guidelines for produ-
cing an application like a word processor are very different from
those used to create a game. This must be understood so as not
to try to develop games like you would any number of other
applications. Although applications tend to be used for productiv-
ity, games are used for entertainment, or in some cases, educa-
tion. Games are experiential; they set a tone and create an
environment for the user to have fun (or occasionally teach a
concept or make a point).
Flash CS5 versus Flash
Builder
Adobe Flash Builder is a
tool for creating Flash
content outside the CS5
environment, based on a
preset framework of
components and a layout
language similar to HTML.
It excels rapidly creating
RIAs. It was conceived to
try to win over developers
to Flash from platforms
such as Java or .NET.
Flash CS5 stands out in
terms of animation and
motion graphics
capabilities, whereas Flash
Builder shines as a
programmer tool. It is an
outstanding code editor
and has many features
that make traditional
programmers feel right at
home, as it is based on
the popular Eclipse IDE.
The main reason I chose to
cover Flash CS5 instead of
Flash Builder as my
development environment
of choice is that I feel
Flash is simply a better
environment for making
most games. There is no
equivalent to be found in
Flash Builder for Flash
Web Sites versus Games
Another area where Flash has flourished is in Web site develop-
ment. I started using it at an ad agency, building branded Web
sites for clients. Flash includesmanyfeaturesforworkingonthe
Web, including streaming support for content, the ability to load
data from a variety of external sources, and of course, its browser-
based player that places Flash content alongside anything else in
HTML. Much like games, Web sites tend to be experiential, but
they are also usually meant to be informative. When they are
intended purely for entertainment, they can resemble a game on
many levels, short of a score or accomplishment-based outcome.
In fact, because of the similarities in how each type of content is
produced, the line between Flash Web sites and games nested
inside them has become very blurred.
Flash versus Traditional Game Development
Working with game developers coming from a background like C
or Java has been an enlightening experience; many aspects of
Flash
s workflow that I take for granted are real stumbling blocks to
outsiders. First of all, traditional game developers tend to keep all
the code for a game and all the assets (art, sounds, video, etc.)
separated completely. The code defines what assets are loaded and
how they are used. In Flash, the standard way of managing assets
is to import them into a single library file. To use an asset, you
simply drag it onto the Stage and start working with it, or you give
it a name that can be referenced later in the code. This interdepen-
dence of code and assets has often been of a criticism leveled
against Flash by more traditionalist developers, as too heavily tying
code to specific assets can render it hard to reuse later. Although
there is some truth to this claim, there are ways (which we will
cover later) to utilize the conveniences of Flash
'
s
'
animation toolset, but
Flash can be augmented
and used concurrently with
other tools like Flash
Builder to make up for its
code shortcomings. The
other reason to use Flash
Builder is the Flex
Framework, a set of
classes for easily creating
and skinning RIAs using a
markup language called
MXML, and it adds
'
s asset management
with largely reusable code.
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