Sunday, April 25, 2010

A sneak peak at May 2010

Next month is going to be interesting as Blazing Games will be updated daily for 27 days. Sometimes a project turns out to be far larger than it seems. Other times, as is the case with the project that will be revealed next month, feature-creep causes a simple project to balloon in scope. There is an easy way of accomplishing this project, and then there is the more thorough way which is the road I foolishly decided to take. In the past, I would have taken the easy road with the idea of having regular content appearing on but my more relaxed release schedule and willingness to release projects iteratively, I have no hesitation in building this project to the more ambitious specifications. The scary thing, is even when I have reached all the development targets for the 1.0 release, there is a lot of room for expansion so this new project may be revisited many times in the future.

The version of the project that will be released next month is the 0.1 version, as it is not close to the final goal of the project. This is really about a quarter to half the way towards the project completion, but the remaining portions of the project will be posted in three other months. While the second month of releases will be June or July, the other two parts that lead to the 1.0 release may be delayed by a number of months. This is being done so other stuff (hopefully stuff that people not interested in next months project will like) can be released.

From a programming perspective, next month's release is very simple. From an asset creation point of view, this is a monster project. This is actually a rather nice change for me as I am spending a fair bit of time doing creative writing. Still, I want to be coding and am hoping that a third-party project that seems to be in a perpetual delay loop will see the light of day. If the delay continues, I will probably re-start my equivalent to Duke Nukem Forever. The difference here is that my DNF project hasn't been continually in development but simply continually goes through fits and starts then gets shelved when paying work or other crisis happen.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

CS5 is coming

Right now I am using Adobe Creative Suite 3 to aid my development, not bothering to update to CS4 due to the fact that while it had a lot of nice features, I didn't think those features were worth the hefty upgrade price. While I can not say whether it is worth upgrading from CS4 to CS5, It seems like it will be well worth the price to move from CS3 to CS5. While I am slowly going to be migrating from Flash to HTML 5, I still think there is enough life in Flash to make one final upgrade. Getting Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Fireworks, and Illustrator also helps but the biggest addition to the package was Flash Builder 4 (formerly Flex Builder) and its integration with Flash CS5.

As I have said in the past, I think that Flash will slowly fade away as HTML 5 starts to take off. Still, there is a lot that you can do in Flash that you will not be able to easily do using HTML 5. Until the still dominant browser is HTML 5 friendly, which IE8 is not, Flash is still important. Even after this point, Flash will still be a good prototyping tool. Especially when you consider ActionScript and JavaScript are both based on ECMAScript.

Adobe, obviously, will not just stand by and let Flash die. The question is what will they do to salvage it? Some suggest turning it into a tool for creating Canvas or SVG code. Others think that new compelling features will be added that the various HTML 5 additions simply can't support. AIR is certainly a factor. While I haven't created any AIR applications yet, that could possibly change. The key question for me, however, is does the added features of a proprietary platform out-weight  the open standards enough to warrant its use? HTML 5 is a balancer, but more weight on the Flash side could tip the scale. It seems we are still living in interesting times.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Does Apple hate Adobe or Developers?

I was thinking that perhaps I should wait until tomorrow to make a post. April 12th is when Adobe is going to officially announce the Creative Suite 5 lineup. I am hoping that something big is going to be announced tomorrow but think that perhaps the iPhone OS 4 rumors may have dampened Adobe's plans. One feature that they were planning on having for Flash CS5 is an iPhone exporter that would convert Flash apps into iPhone apps. Sadly, the iPhone SDK license agreement (required to use the iTunes store) may be specifying that apps must be written in Objective C or C++ and that API features must not be accessed through third party libraries. This effectively rules out using Flash to develop iPhone apps. It also rules out other tools like Unity.

I think the real reason for doing this is to force developers to develop specifically for the iPhone/iPad. Flash being able to export to iPhone would circumvent this requirement making it easy to develop cross-platform applications. While Unity also allows this, it has a much smaller developer base as compared to Flash so Apple probably didn't even notice it yet. In other words, this attack against Flash isn't actually aimed at Adobe, but it is instead an attempt to make it much more work for developers to create cross-platform versions of their apps. Right now, the iPhone is in a dominant position, so developers pretty much have to support it. This is just like Windows is the dominant platform for PCs which is why there is so much Windows software.

With Android continuing to gain market share, one has to wonder if this is a good long-term strategy for Apple. Right now, the major player is the iPhone, but with all the hassle and inconsistencies with the approval process, how much market share will Android have to gain before it becomes the better choice for initial development? In the computer industry, Apple was the dominant player with the Apple II, but that quickly changed when IBM created an easy to clone PC that numerous companies copied (today's PC) resulting in Apple slowly becoming a niche player. When companies start developing for the Android and then deciding if they should bother porting their app to the iPhone,  we may again see Apple become the niche player but this time in the mobile market.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fools 2010

Here is the text of the April Fools message that was posted on Blazing Games. Note the first letter of each sentence and the date at the bottom. I (Billy D. Spelchan) am still president of the company, and as this month's release shows, we are still slowly transitioning to HTML 5. Flash will probably be our main development tool for the next few years, though.

At Blazing Games, we are proud to announce a deal between ourselves and Microsoft. Sadly, Billy D. Spelchan has agreed to sell his shares of the company and has terminated his position as President of the company, we wish him best of luck with his future endeavours. 

Part of the deal will require that all of our Java and Flash games be replaced with Silverlight versions of these games. Work on this transition has already begun and the non-silverlight games should be removed from the site by the end of this week.

Rich Internet Media in the form of Silverlight is the future of the internet. HTML 5 features simply do not match the power and potential of Silverlight. Our former president's views on open standards clearly are outdated.

Internet Explorer will become the browser of choice for viewing Blazing Games. While we will not be taking any moves to prevent users of other browsers from accessing our site, testing will only be done on Internet Explorer 8 running on Windows 7. We recommend that visitors upgrade their machines to Windows 7 as soon as possible.

Lots of people, such as our former president, have the mistaken feeling that making a deal with Microsoft is the equivalent to selling your soul to the devil. We hope that crazy superstitions such as that are not going to impact our existing visitors enjoyment of this site.

For those of you who feel you can no longer support the site, we thank you for your consideration for other people by making site bandwidth available for the countless new users we will be receiving from a high placement on the Bing search engine. Clearly Bing is vastly superior to that googol thing that our former president used.

Our open source efforts will continue, though we will be switching from the virus-like GPL license to the much more business friendly Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL).

OSX users do not have to worry about Silverlight as Microsoft has assured us that they will always support the OSX version of Silverlight. While not all the advanced features of Silverlight will work on the Macintosh, OSX users always have the option of purchasing a copy of Windows and installing it on their Bootcamp partition.

Linux users are urged to give up their anti-capitalist ways and install Windows on their computers as that is what their machines were designed for. Those Linux users who are running old, obsolete hardware should do their part to restore the economy by purchasing new hardware capable of running Windows 7.

Small changes to our games, such as changing the One of those Weeks' Blue Screen of Death into the Linus the Penguin of Doom and changing Coffee Quest into Clippy Quest will be done at the request of our generous corporate partner but feel that such minor changes will not alter the enjoyment of those games.

M. Caton
Blazing Games Inc.
April 1, 2010