Flash Lite Diary: 1.3 The Journey Into The Lite Continues

After several experiments with it exporting swf’s to fla’s etc, I conclude that the flash decompiler still has some bugs but overall for a decompiler I give it 8/10 for being pretty good all the same since I’ve purchased the full version.

I eventually, after several hours playing with it and the flash IDE; get a good feel for how flash and flash lite actually works and the whole thing is now seriously starting to remind me of Deluxe Paint Animator on the Amiga from yesteryear heh, but with script actions attached. In fact it’s not unlike like a fairly complex sequencer or drum ‘event’ machine in many respects heh – ok so far so good I guess all the same. The way action script interfaces to the timeline is nothing like j2me or any other form of game programming I’ve tried to date come to think of it, and the whole experience has been a bit fiddly to use and somewhat painful as a newbie to flash lite from usual coding practices that are now well burnt in for me personally over the last 20 years.

Taking a break from screens of objects, timelines and scripts, I then start to think about what sort of game project I can do without diving in so deep that I drown and get bored. I first have a few ideas but heavily start to settle on Crazy Balloon 8bit inspired affair where you try to guide a balloon around lots of different increasingly harder mazes – should be a good test case to begin with I think, so I go with that.

After giving some thought of how this game could be implemented in flash lite 1.1 and still battling and debating whether or not I should switch over to 2.0, I finally convince myself that 1.1 is still the way to go at this time from all the input data I have available on the subject so for now it’s still 1.1. So far I’ve not met anything really terrible in 1.1 that would require the switch to 2.0 however, but I remain cautious at all times on my journey.

Graphics: OK which sort? As flash supports loads of stuff j2me developers like myself can only dream of… first up is the decision to design good old bitmap graphics (or) should I go for the vector based graphics? I spend a whole day in my favorite vector graphics package and churn out some basic test backdrops and graphics and then import them into my project library. Oh dear the swf now seems huge when I compile it!?… I guess my vectors are just too complex, so I drop back to the flash IDE to knock up some quick basic ‘tatty’ programmer vector graphics (you know the sort) and things start looking much smaller again – jeez for a minute there I though I would be stuck with bitmaps again (a route I don’t really want to use, as scalable vectors of course look nice on whatever end platform regardless of screen size).

I guess I can mix the two if I want which is great also, but I decide that I want to design graphics that have the clean look and feel and are scaleable to totally get away from the horrors of porting graphics as found in j2me development to speed up development later, although I’m now more than concerned about just how much memory they steal when they are very complex and imported as compared to say .png bitmap gfx.

Oooch! my head is starting to hurt a bit!… I think I will need to do some more size tests soon to check vector against bitmaps on mobile devices in terms of memory overhead for each.

Whilst in the FL IDE again I start to look at the way objects and frames are put to use to construct animation sequences (basically little movies) and look at the way that action script interfaces with these etc. via symbols. It seems ok really, but this part feels like the hardest part to date.

Currently in FL 1.1 I now have (in vector graphics) a new simple balloon sprite on a background made of cloud and foreground cave wall layers (the later being a large vector graphic also) the graphics are dire by any standards but will do for now 🙂 Interfacing the key input to the balloon sprite is messy IMHO and I had to resort to a tutorial some days back just to be able to do it – not easy if you only just about know what your doing
like me 🙂

At this point though I soon realize just how easy it has become to link entire screens into the development fla though and imagine after a bit of fiddling I will have the front and back end of the code done in no time later on – this is where flash lite shines brightest I feel – prototyping!, so for now I concentrate on the main game loop and the game itself.

At the end of the day it appears to me at least from experiments thus far conducted, that flash lite games offer richer content development from a vector graphic and possibly sound point of view as compared to j2me, but overall the game logic (scripting) side of things could prove a little limiting in terms of future games design. Whilst it is good for what it is, 1.1 has some missing components that could be worked around and are to be found in 2.0. This is why I conclude most of the flash lite 1.1 content thus far produced is a little ’empty’ feeling in terms of gameplay. As soon as you switch up to 2.0 based titles and indeed flash games in general, this limitation starts to disappear to a great extent. This is true from what I have seen to date anyway.

I feel like as with midp1 j2me before and because of the currently available FL 2.0 supported devices, that I am now stuck at this moment in time, being forced onto a backwards platform when I really want to go forwards to the next level. Oh well for now I will proceed with 1.1 and see how it goes with the current project test case.

I’ve been working in my spare time on FL for about 3 days and I’ve gone from 100% nothing to a input controlled x,y moving balloon sprite (that rotates if I want or not) on a multilayer backdrop – wow that’s not bad considering I only just got the SDK last Friday I think. Well my journey continues next week now as I am off for a few days break with my wife and quite honestly I think I need one after all this FL stuff which is still early days yet. I imagine it will be another several weeks or so yet before I can say I wrote an entire game but after the hurdle of the first one at least I will know what I’m doing next time… I hope 🙂