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.
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.