Flash Gamers Summit, San Francisco

Adobe realise that there is now a bunch of money to be made in games and this event shows that they have a strong position in the area with the Flash developer community. Lee Brimelow and Thiery Thimbault gave the key note speech. They seem to have stepped back a little in their position on the relationship between Flash and HTML5. Toward the end of last year the story seemed to be that they were best friends. Now it seems as though Adobe have had some time to think. They listed all the benefits of Flash and some of the problems with HTML5; the standards variation, audio, javascript (that Lee likened to AS1 ?) etc. This does have some truth in it. With Flash about to be made available in new tablets, especially the Playbook which has Air built in, the use of Flash to make games is going to be one of the major tools. There’s a big market there and Adobe is pushing hard to be in the middle of it.

Flash 10.2 is now released, (10.3 is in beta) and brings some great facilities. There’s research happening on some of the performance issues left and the problems of accessing native features but the major step forward is in the use of the GPU. True bitmap cursors were interesting; stage video will be a really big improvement but the Molehill GPU features are what everyone is waiting for. 3D programmers have been desperate to increase rendering qualities for years and there are some great toolkits that sit within Flash to help.

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Luckily many of the 3D toolkit developers have been involved in testing Molehill, the new rendering engine. Molehill will have facilities to use the GPU to do both 2D and 3D but most of the demos showed complex 3D games, with great particle systems and shader demos, cube maps, reflections,etc. There was a quick 2D demo to show that even the 2D facilities give great CPU savings. There was some code examples of how to put simple triangles on the screen, but I would imagine most developers will use the libraries. Pixel Bender 3D will also be out shortly which will allow users to edit shaders easily. All sounds great. Inspirational. Just right for a keynote.

As if that wasn’t enough Adobe are implementing an incubator programme to allow people to see the next generation of software builds. (Isn’t this the same as the pre release programme?) This will start today on the labs as from 10am PST. All the 3D frameworks will have their versions available at the same time, Away3D, Alternativa etc. Pixel Bender will be made available March 4th.

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