The Rise & Fall Of Flash

in Steem Gaming4 years ago

Today we are not doing a review. Today we are going to do something I rarely do. A story piece. We will talk about the rise and fall of Flash games.

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Allow the webpage to run Flash? That is something you can get often asked on the internet. Usually, it comes in the form of a small gray box in your browser whenever you want to play a Flash game. You click allow or run and the game launches. For now. But this year the situation will change. The well-known piece of software from Adobe will no longer be supported by the majority of the big browsers. The final destination of Flash games is coming.

Software of the future

The story of the Adobe Flash Player started in the nineties. More precisely in 1993 when Jonathan Gay, Charlie Jackson, and Michelle Welsh started the company FutureWave Software Inc. The first two met each other at a meeting for Macintosh users. Both had a common interest. Developing software for Apple computers. Later Welsh joined them and he took care of marketing.

The first goal of the company was to create a graphical editor from the Mac operating system that would be specially optimized for tablet computers. The result was SmartSketch. The program tried to compensate for the less natural feeling of using a digital pen with a combination of easily usable shortcuts and a simple and direct user interface. During the testing phase, many of the testers noted that the software is nice for animation and rotoscoping. That was the reason why FutureWare added animation capabilities before launch.

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Look The Internet

But SmartSketch came to the market at a point when the tablet computer almost fell into oblivion. Nonetheless – a new phenomenon just appeared. The World Wide Web. Not many tools for graphical design existed for the Internet at that point. FutureWave decided to change that. That is why they created an animation tool called FutureSplash and used SmartSketch as its basis. That happened in 1995.

This new software comprised of two separate but interconnected products. FutureSplash Animator was the core program that allowed to animate. The second was FutureSpalsh Viewer that allowed to take the animations and add them onto webpages, play them and kept their size at a minimum. But the user also needed to download this program as well to be able to play the animations.

After a few months from the release, Flash Player became one of the recommended add-ons for the Netspace web-browser. And because of the close to no competition in 1996 many users downloaded the program straight through Netscape. Later that year even Microsoft itself contacted FutureWave to add the player onto the Internet Explorer homepage.

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Thanks to all the attention the software was getting Macromedia came to the scene. In December of 1996, they bought FutureSplash even though they were trying to succeed with their own web-animation technology – Shockwave. But, as the bought the software the renamed it to Macromedia Flash and for decades to come they would be the ones in charge of it.

The true revolution came in 2000 with the fifth version of Flash. It brought ActionScript – a programming language made especially for Flash. In combination with a previously added function of adding buttons into animations, designers were capable of creating so far unseen interactive experiences. Websites with animated intros were being created and even websites built fully in flash with the Flash Player being inserted into them via HTML.

The biggest problem was search engines. Search engines were incapable of figuring out what Flash files had inside of them making it hard to find them. And since everything had to be preloaded into memory Flash webpages were slower. Yet, it allowed developers much more than early HTML and CSS. That is how Flash started a new web design era.

The new and previously unseen possibilities quickly game Flash a large user base. And it wasn't just web designers. Soon simple games and webpages that specialized into Flash games appeared as well.

Rise and Fall

In 2002 Macromedia added full support for video into the sixth version. That was the time when it was really hard to work with video online. This was especially because of the bad compatibility of different browsers and operating systems. This is where Flash MX helped as the videos were added straight into the animations and thus could be played on many different platforms.

In 2005 Flash became the core for a video sharing platform called YouTube. Maybe you have heard of it. A year later Google bought it and Flash celebrated 10 years of its existence. At that point, most users online just took Flash as a part of the Internet that would never go away. In the same year, Adobe got Macromedia and the Adobe Flash Player was born.

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And another revolution was just around the corner. Smartphones came to the market and the world was to become a much different place for Flash. Months before the introduction of the iPhone Adobe was trying to get a simplified version of their software onto the phones. But in the end, this version just showed to be not powerful enough and was cut from the iPhone. Another problem was flash was the fact that many internet browsers started to band together with new HTML technologies such as native support for sound and video replacing the need for Flash.

While the first ten years were incredibly successful for Flash the second decade was a rough fall. During the second decade, it even lost the support of YouTube that originally used it. That is why in 2017 Adobe release news to the press that in 2020 Flash will no longer be supported.

Everything From Everyone

Flash made a huge mark on the design of videogames and many game developers and designers originally started with Flash. So let us take a look at the history of a webpage that is so interlocked with Flash. It may even be the first thing you think of when you hear Flash – Newgrounds.com

The founder of the portal is Tom Fulp – author of hit games like Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers, or Pit People. Apart from Newgrounds he also co-founded the videogame studio The Behemoth with Dan Paladin and John Baez.

The beginnings of Newgrounds date back to 1991 in the form of the Neo Geo fanzine. Back then the thirteen-year-old Tom Fulp published New Ground from the basement of his parents and sent it to the 100 members over the online service Prodigy. The name itself came from a Japanese gaming system. New is a synonym for Neo and Geo is another word for Ground.

The website itself was created in 1995. Since Fulp wanted to show how things have changed the name to New Ground Remix. On this page, he started programming games. Titles that brought attention to the page came just a year later with Club, Seal, and Assassin.

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In that same year, Fulp also became a student at Drexel University. But there he did not have access to a modem – just the university system. Thus he had no access to the New Ground Remix webpage and he couldn't update it. But his life without Newground was not destined to be long. During his studies, he created sequels to his games. But he did not have a platform where to release them to players. So, the second New Ground was created this time called New Ground Atomix – created on Fulps university webpages.

In the spring of 1998, Fulp moved to his own apartment and he finally had access to the public Internet again. He moved back to New Ground Remix pushing Atomix into retirement. At the same time, he started programming in Flash and also created the notorious interactive piece Telebubby Fun Land.

The next big step was creating a domain for New Ground Atomix. To have the webpage more memorable for users he called it simply Newgrounds. Since then new titles came to it rapidly. One of the titles that caught the attention of the public was Pico's School. This game full of violence was loved by many and is considered to be one of the best pieces of coding done in Flash version three. Other games like UFA or Samurai Asshole came onto the webpage that same year.

Fulp himself left his note on a few other titles including Dad'n'Me and several games from the Madness Combat universe. Together with Dan Paladin, he created Alien Hominid which was one of the first games that started as a browser game and later got released on consoles.

The Basement Collection

Another famous person who is connected to Adobe Flash is Edmund McMillen. hardcore platformer Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac. During his career, McMillen worked with many different programmers on creating more complex games to which he added his touch with design and scripts. Whether it was the platformer Time Fcuk, the experimental game The Coil or the puzzle-adventure game Aether.

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Many of his best Flash games were released in 2012 with the title The Basement Collection. If you want to try it it is available for Windows, OS X, and even Linux. The collection includes 7 base games and if you finish them each will open additional content.

In 2017 McMillen was behind the creation of the game The End is Nigh that took place in a post-apocalyptic world and his last released game is The Legend of Bum-bo with a designed based on The Binding of Isaac and graphics that look like cutouts from a carton box.

The Future

The end of the support for the Adobe Flash Player does not necessarily mean the end of Flash games. Newgrounds itself came with an interesting solution. They decided to create their own Newgrounds player that will let you play all Flash-based content even after 2020.

So, that’s it for today guys. Hope you like the review and if you did, please consider upvoting the review and following my blog. And comment, if you have something you would like to add. See you guys later with more gaming content.

Disclaimer: All the images have been taken directly from the Steam game page

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I remember playing Shockwave, Flash and Java games a lot when I was a kid! Not much on Newgrounds, as it was dominated by a tad too bloody / gorey games, but on many other alternatives like Y8 and Miniclip. Ah, those were the days... :D

I remember those things fondly as my childhood memories :)

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