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Future of flash

September 6, 2010

Growing up alongside the internet has allowed me to watch the emergence of new platforms in both web content and gaming content. Flash now owned and distributed by Adobe used to be a simple way to deliver interactivity to a website. Weebl and bob were my earliest memories of it with their hilarious animation clips. It was highly unstable, often buggy across systems and many speculated that this platform would soon die out when internet speeds got quicker.

However, this was clearly not the case. Flash has established itself as a solid platform for gaming delivery and is easy enough to use that laymen hobbyists can develop and deploy advanced games without requiring massive funding from commercial software companies.

And this is a fantastic thing because money basically ruins everything, just ask Electronic Arts. I grew up with this company and watched it turn from an amazing innovative gaming pioneer, to the dullard bully that releases the same bland pap year after year with the same formula and cost cutting in order to maximise profits. And watching my favourite software companies being bought, sold and shut down always made me sad with the heartless way commercial profiteers were raping the industry and driving out all the major innovators.

That’s a pretty big accusation to make, but financial rape is exactly what happened to the gaming industry. It was not one persons fault, but instead a collection of behaviours from companies whose sole agenda is making money. This conflicts directly with the experimentational nature of video gaming. There is no way that every game will please everybody, in fact you can’t really determine if it will work and be enjoyable until after you’ve invested time/money/love into a concept and have a working version of it. Yet, successful commercialism requires on steady non changing formula for success. You can see how this conflicts.

Flash will not succumb to the fate of smaller companies because it’s a delivery system, nothing more. The content is left up to the public to create. They may privatise the content themselves, but they cannot touch the delivery system of Flash and there will always be more people with visions for games willing to give it a go and do the coding and design at home for free as a hobby.

So you’ve got the winning formula here, which is: a piece of software that gives power to individuals creativity, total freedom from economic interference with creativity and you’ve got audiences ready and waiting for the final product. These collectives of gamers are huge and there are many out there. ArmorGames and NewGrounds come to mind immediately, but these are just the ones I occasionally visit. There are so many more communities out on the web.

What about the communities that spring up around flash delivered multiplayer games? Sherwood Dungeon is a great example of this, but there is a whole plethora and range of games available to which whole websites and communities are solely dedicated to.

Maybe I’m wrong, after all I have become very disillusioned by the shallow crap available to purchase on most consoles these days. Besides Patapon and Monster Hunter (by my favourite company Capcom) there hasn’t been much released in the last few years that has impressed me. While at the same time, I’ve been consistently impressed by the free games people create with their own imaginations over commercial money risk assessment evaluations.

I guess at heart, I’m saddened by the loss of potential multi-deliverable games like the Homeworld series because of patented idea trading. Ideas and concepts are now bankable commodities, which only serves to kill them. Look what happened to the GTA series, or Need for Speed. Though they are still going, they certainly don’t have the vigour and pizzazz that originally made these titles great.

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