The browser-based game has been a key goal of the interactive industry for many years. Leaving aside the tremendous commercial potential, the simple convenience of a game that doesn’t have to be installed or purchased is very powerful.
What Flash did is make two major technologies possible in a web browser. The first was synchronized audio. The second was streamable video and animation. The combination of these technologies and the logic to control them is what gave rise to the first browser-based games.
The history of Flash games can be divided into two brief eras. The first lasted about ten years from 2000-2010, and was primarily focused on adventure games. The Flash plugin made colorful, animated web content possible and also gave players familiar kinds of controls like links and buttons so they could explore game worlds. Because the scripting languages in these early games were not as sophisticated as they are now, they were used to provide minimal logic in game worlds that depended on animation, sound and music.
As Flash progressed and became more powerful, it’s Actionscript language reached a point where it could support complex programming features like object-oriented design, reusable libraries and networking. The result is what gave rise to the multi-billion dollar browser-based interactive industry that is still producing new titles on a regular basis.
Flash made it possible to take what would formerly require a download and often cumbersome installation process and turn it into something as simple and easy as a progress bar. Everything was delivered as a single package, and required almost no work from the player aside from making sure they had the right plugin.
The results speak for themselves. Thousands of games have been developed. Multiple billion-dollar companies have been established, offering everything from Facebook games to mobile apps and everything in between. There have been numerous successful Flash games in many different genres from action to strategy to cake decorating, and even now more are being developed every day.
THE FUTURE OF FLASH
There can be no doubt Flash, recently renamed “Animate,” will remain a foundational web technology for many years to come. One of Adobe’s crowning achievements is the Flash IDE, which can now be used to author Android, iPhone, Desktop and web applications in addition to Flash creatives. With a single codebase, a developer can now deploy their games or apps to a half-dozen platforms or more.
This kind of highly adaptive tool gives developers enormous flexibility and allows them to continue expanding on their previous work while migrating to new platforms, devices and operating systems. With new products like Adobe’s Creative Cloud, as strange as it may seem after so many years, Flash and Animate have never been stronger.