Hey hey! I guess I’m making good on my aim to blog a bit more this year, starting with this very boring post about coding and tools and stuff. Here goes!
I learnt to code flash games in actionscript at the end of 2008, and since then, it’s been what I’ve done the majority of my work in. Flash is great, and maybe doesn’t get enough credit for just how great it is. So it really sucks to think that maybe it doesn’t have much of a future.
A lot of forward thinking people out there have been saying that for a while, but last year is when I really started to see it myself. Most big sites don’t use flash any more. When you try to update flash these days, it tries to install weird extra toolbars and other software. And unless it’s completely up to date, browsers warn you that it’s a security risk before they’ll run a flash game. I think flash probably isn’t going anywhere just yet, but, yeah, the writing’s on the wall. It’s time to look for alternatives.
So, this past week, I’ve been learning how to use something called Haxe! It’s a high level language that compiles into flash SWFs, but also, somehow, to HTML5, to native PC, MAC and Linux builds, to iPhone, to Android, and to a bunch of other weird stuff. And thanks to a pretty amazing project called OpenFL, it’s extremely similar to flash – not so similar that you can just copy and paste, but similar enough that I ported my entire framework in less than a week.
I regret that it took me this long to try it out – Haxe is kinda magic. Sure, it’s not perfect, some stuff doesn’t work on all target platforms – yet – but it’s still evolving, and working in Haxe feels like getting in on the ground floor of something really special. I’m kinda blown away by it.
If you’re a flash developer, I think you should be looking seriously at Haxe. Very seriously.
(Here’s a good place to start.)
Now that I’ve got the basics of Haxe up and running, I’m itching to make something small in it – but once I’ve done that, I’m thinking I’m going to take some time out to finally update Bosca Ceoil, and maybe make a substantially improved version.
I think the appeal of Bosca Ceoil is it’s restrictions: making music is scary and it’s hard to know where to even start. A lot of what makes Bosca Ceoil nice to use is that it simplifies lots of decisions for you: here’s an instrument, here’s a scale, don’t worry about such and such, etc etc. I think that’s pretty important, especially for people like me who find composing intimidating. That’s why I made it that way!
That said, there’s a bunch of stuff it restricts weirdly and unnecessarily, and I’d like to rethink that a bit and see if there’s another way I can approach things. If this ends up making it a substantially different feeling tool, then I might just end up making a whole new thing.
Here’s the thing: as much fun as learning Haxe has been, honestly, I’d rather not code at all. Mostly, coding has always just felt like it’s in my way, like I have to figure out how to express what I’m trying to do in this weird form. What I’d *really* like to do is just make my own game dev tool, and work mostly in that. And like with Bosca Ceoil, I have some pretty specific ideas about how that would work that I don’t see other people doing. I added the tools section to my sidebar recently as a statement of intent – it’ll probably be a while before anything happens with this – but it’s something I’m thinking a lot about.
7 thoughts on “Oh, you meant that thing about blogging more”
I’m pretty disappointed about Flash losing its reputation lately to HTML5 and other alternatives, even when Flash has such a surprising core power. AIR was a big step up, though I can’t imagine it lasting very long either. You gave Haxe such a positive review – perhaps it’s the place to go if Flash declines too much further.
I’m surprised you’re not much into coding – it’s my favorite part of the process! 😉 But hey, maybe that’s because there isn’t a good enough tool out there yet. I wish you the very best with your tools. Hoping they will help a bunch of people out, including yourself of course! You’re right, giving users optional limitations is a great way to appeal to both the beginners and professionals.
I’m glad you’re blogging more! It feels like you’re extra active, even if there’s nothing necessarily new.
Glad to see you blogging Terry.
Keep us updated on that dev tool, it sounds cool.
Yeah, flash is pretty amazing – I mean, it looks like HTML5 is finally starting to be a feasible thing, but it’s nowhere close to as powerful and universally compatible as flash. I guess that might change over the next few years, though.
Yay! Great to have you on board. Love your stuff and I’m sure the haxe community will be stronger for having you in it.
Naw, I don’t see it that way – when you think specifically about trying to solve the problem of being able to play games in a PC or Mac web browser easily, without major performance issues or basic broken features, Flash still has no real competitor. It’s so far ahead of the competition that it makes the competition look pathetic. It’s been the case for 10 years now, and it’s still the case today!
I hope that changes, because I care about the open source side of things – I hope HTML5 gets to the point where it’s even half as portable and reliable as flash – but it’s not even close right now.
Hey Terry, I’ve been using Stencyl to make games. It’s all built on Haxe, so I’ve used it to make Flash, iOS, Android, and PC games. You can use WYSIWYG or code, (I shy away from the code). It’s robust enough for my needs. Anyway, thought you might want to know. Also, I’d love to see what you do with Bosca Ceoil; I love it’s simplicity.