Sunday, January 14, 2007

Flash as the ideal tool for student game development?

Flash seems to have an awful lot of things in its favor as a platform, from a student perspective:
  • It's (relatively) easy to learn and work with, especially for non-programmers.
  • It supports a lot of common game behavior (capturing mouse/keyboard input, drawing sprites, playing sounds and animations, collision detection) right out of the box.
  • ActionScript is extremely expressive and powerful when you need it to be.
  • Content management (art, animation, sound) is absolutely trivial.
  • It's cross-platform, so it doesn't matter if some students prefer Macs and others use PCs.
  • The end result is playable in a Web browser, making it a nice addition to a student's online website/resume.

The only down sides I see:

  • It's definitely NOT priced for a student budget. But if the school already has some educational copies in their computer labs that are available for student use...
  • If you're a programmer, you should really be using C++ (or maybe Java) since that's what pretty much everyone in the industry uses. Flash experience won't get you a C++ Programming job, or at least won't let you prove your C++ skills. This can be mitigated by providing other code samples, and using Flash simply to show that you can work on a project with students from other disciplines. And if you're anything other than a programmer, then this does demonstrate your technical ability.

Is there anything I'm missing here?


Anonymous said...

Flash, I would say, has the drawback of being kind of lame.

True, you can do some neat things with it and true, it is most certainly the tool of choice for web games, but my students simply aren't excited by anything purely 2d. Their entire focus is on modeling, texturing, rigging, and animating 3d characters and environments. Working in Flash depresses them. We have the Flash development environment installed on every computer in the school; not a single student is interested in learning it. It doesn't make sense to them because it provides no link something they care about (RPGs and FPSs, *sigh*.)

So, that's one answer. It's not exciting to my students because it's just not 'cool' enough.

Anonymous said...

I get annoyed at Flash since there is no Linux development environment and since the development for the Flash player is so horrendously slow. We get a beta for 9 when 10 is about to be released. Linux never even got a Flash 8 player. If they solved this I'd be happier.

As a programmer I also hate actionscript. Way to many things don't flag errors when they should and they leave you debugging forever since Flash doesn't tell you anything was wrong.

I agree with the point about it providing most of what goes into a 2D game for free, it's a great step into the world of game programming.