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Game Design Concepts

What kind of games can Flash be used for effectively?

Game Design Concepts Overview

The number of online web games nowadays on the internet is increasing by the day, Orisinal (my personal favourite), Yahoo! games, Miniclip, Mochimedia, Popcap, Big Fish, among some of the more popular ones. With easier and faster internet access globally, and the coming of age for casual gamers, such online web games are gathering greater attention from the community at large. With social networking sites like Facebook supporting games as applications seamlessly, now termed Social Gaming, the influence of games has grown tremendously.  62% of all gamers have been reported playing games online, breaking away from the traditional standalone PC or console systems. There are 217 million online gamers worldwide in 2007, and the number has escalated eversince.

Flash games have taken a slight hit in recent years since the advent of mobile gaming. iOS devices such as the iPad and iPhone, among the most popular devices, do not support Flash games per se. While Android supports it, the entire gaming experience is sub-optimal. Adobe has also renounced its support for Flash on mobile devices, choosing to focus on PC or Mac web plugins. It is perhaps their strategy to transit over for Flash-to-Apps development, or HTML5 altogether.

But still, Flash games remain one of the more approachable gaming platforms online. In recent years again, we have seen Flash being able to handle 3D gaming, and advanced physics modules such as Box2D. However, I feel that Flash is still much more suitable for casual 2D gaming.

This site aims to teach you how to create Flash online games. I believe Flash online games dominate most of the web games you see out there so far, so this should come as no surprise. HTML5 is the future, I believe, but performance and cross-browser incompatibility still threatens its dominance. Flash games, if done optimally, come with a low game size footprint, hence making it very accessible even for people with low bandwidth.

This site also aims to spend greater attention on casual games only. Do not expect to learn how to create a World of Warcraft in Flash, because that would definitely go beyond the scope of any online tutorials. Instead, let's focus on casual games where the overall casual games industry is estimated at $2.25 billion a year. According to the CGA 2007 market report, it is growing by about 20% annually.

While we focus on casual games, and some of its "rules", I believe most of the concepts and philosophies you learn out of here may very well help in other genres as well.

What Defines a Casual Game

I would classify a casual game as having met the following criteria.

  1. Easy to learn. Period. Ideally, the player should not plough through thick manual or gaming guides to know how to play your game.
  2. No complex controls. I would ideally expect the game to be playable just by using the mouse itself, but keyboard commands are generally fine for the right type of game. What crosses the line would be complex interactions between mouse clicks and keyboard presses being a necessity in the game.
  3. Short Time Commitment. 5 to 20 minutes would be good for a span of continuous play. After this amount of time, the player should be able to see the results of his gameplay displayed.

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By Joseph Tan