My terrifying realization

That title sounds like the name of an episode of Scrubs. I wish it were. No, the horror that has befallen my psyche is this: I am a Flash consumer whore.

I complain about people like me all the time. The people who say “Hey, I recognize the thing that this is a tribute to or parody of, and that is all I am going to watch regardless of quality because I am too stupid to realize the value of creativity and original content.”

But then I realized that when I surf over to newgrounds and look at the front page featured movies I immediately click on my favored content: Lately, Minecraft.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Addiction^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

By the way, I realize this isn’t a “gaming blog,” but I feel I should document what this is so they too can further understand my pain. Plus, it has made an impact on flash culture.

G4 has a decent explanation, but I can try to sum it up as well: It’s like legos, but with monsters that try to eat your soul. It is so epic, that it led me to become a mindless sheep and watch flash videos without discretion.

I suppose I do just watch the handpicked best, not bothering with the not-featured garbage animations. I can take some solace in that. But that is simply an excuse.

There is nothing wrong with fanaticism. The normal consumer can view only Super Mario flashes and get on with their lives. Knowledge, in this case, is a Pandora’s box that leads to a loss of time. Specifically, I know what is possible with a medium, and I enjoy a variety that extends past what I know.

There is no word for this trend, and perhaps I can’t explain exactly what I mean without rambling. If anyone else can put a title on this digital disease, leave me a comment. I’m ashamed of myself.

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The permeability of Flash in the long-run

Half of the comments I make on the internet (at least those pertaining to my favored media platform) are composed of bitching out those who call flash dead. These are not a few fringers on the outskirts of web and technology. but social thinkers and techno-pioneers. Do I have any right to argue with the people who create real substance using this program? Absolutely. That thought process belongs in the past before mass media became available to the masses. With all the Flash I have enjoyed for the last eight years, and with the truths I have acquired about the many sides of Adobe, I have every right to defend the use and digital divination of my content.

What brings joy to my heart is those who do defend, like Scott Schiller who made a single page site called isflashdeadyet.com, using HTML 5. I love that a simple website exists just to prove a point, and he makes it eloquently and succinctly. His ideas on staying relevant and evolving to a technological middle-ground are certainly valid.

But there are many others touting the open protocol. For obvious reasons, Adobe themselves have some words on compatibility. Like the inherent irony of blocking Flash from a tablet when it was made for tablet PCs 15 years ago. Lordy. Lee Brimelow snipes the Ipad with dead aim below:

(For the interested, the removed image was a screenshot of pornography, added for a little comedy. Adobe did not approve. Ahem.)

This is not to say this is a new debate. Jakob Nielsen introduces the idea of contemporary flash hating back in October 2000, just 10 months after the proposed destruction of the world. This article is laughably outdated, written about the earliest form of a somewhat flawed system. His comments made sense 10 years ago; now the evangelists preaching the bad news of ol’ Adobe seem misguided.

This debate/fight for supremacy is getting bigger. Wall street journal reports that Flash will remain a key video format for all adobe systems, and if they get more buddy-buddy with Google, things could turn into a major brawl.

Yes, I have a bias, as I haven’t posted any recent articles specifically stating that flash is utterly obsolete. Yet none of these pieces tout Flash as the single answer. I believe in the stakes of my viewing property, and call for constant evolution. Some people have the testicular fortitude to stick to their guns in a dark age; some crawl into a hole and hope that what they can’t see doesn’t actually exist. May not lose them a sense of profit, but it could detract a wealth of audience and credibility. The war rages on.

The importance of long-running series

I can’t believe that in the two months I’ve been writing a blog about Flash, I have never once mentioned what is easily the most-watched flash animation content on the web: Homestar Runner.

Or, as is often the case, the emails of one leather-pantsed ladiesman, Strong Bad. Seriously, it was a life-changing little cartoon series that became amazing. To learn about the site, there is a fan-made HR Wiki with almost 2700 articles to tell you far too much about the series. I suppose it slipped my mind due to the lack of consistent updates in the past 6 months.

Let’s just say that in the dark days of Flash 1, the brothers chap (HR’s creator) were young and burgeoning, but quick to learn. And while some will say they learned of internet animation from the god-awful and childish (even by my standards) Joe Cartoon, I was a middle-schooler and smiling as Strong Bad answered his emails. Unlike many flash cartoons of the early era, HR was very funny while being tame and relatable, with most sites featuring sensationalist media fueled by teenage lust for violence and sex.

That’s not to say that the early Homestar Runner content wasn’t laughably bad. But all artists must hone their craft. A comparison would be an early strip of the popular gamer comic Penny Arcade [ in the beginning ] and [ lately. ] When you have 12 years of practice, your skill with the digital arts grows substantially. Yet how much more difficult are consistent animations of quality? Much more difficult, that’s how.

Since 1999 they have been making Homestar flashes, and I pray for a return of the long-term flash. I want a theme that goes on for 200 animations. I want humor without being trite or disgusting.

I want full series.

The irony of epicness: Flash games

First off, I’ll explain what I mean by the title. Be forewarned, there’s not really anything of social value or integrity today. I’m just talking about things I enjoy.

I have played many a flash game in my time, and special honors go to those games I have spent more than an hour playing. These are usually long-form role-playing games, or sometimes tower defense games, or random hitting crap so it flies across the screen for a long time…games.

What brought this to mind was a game I played today called Fantasy XFII, a sort of parody of RPG games in general, while being more of an homage. It is naught but ripped sprites, and it is buggy as all hell, but I enjoyed it for roughly an hour before I fell through a floor indefinitely.

Here’s a few more notable games for sucking up time(All at Newgrounds for ease):

There you go. If you tried each of these, you should be homeless… yesterday. Seriously. How is it possible for something designed to quickly and easily deliver creative content to the masses able to make something so astounding in under 10 megabytes? That is the question, and unfortunately I have not found the answer. All I can do is keep searching.

Flash MindMeld madness!

60 Experts. 60 Seconds each. 1 awesome collaboration that brings together tips on Flash from all corners of the internet in the form of MindMeld.

Just check out this press release. What makes or breaks a flash game? They discuss this in the first ever flash micro-conference.

I strongly suggest you to give it a listen, game developer or not; it’s only an hour, with small chunks with many artists and pros. Themes exist within, of course.  They tell developers to simply play alot of games, and keep making new things even when they get annoyed. Of course, I thought I might talk about a few specific people worth listening to especially. A-like-a-so!

Stephen Harris: This guy made the Bloons series, quite possibly the best monkey throwing darts simulator ever created. He reminds people that borrowing ideas is not necessarily theft, and remember play-testing is vital.

Tom Fulp: It should be obvious I worship this man for his site Newgrounds. He says to listen to the people, make your game playable, and don’t make your game specifically for monetizing-it will likely suck.

Edmund McMillen: Creator of so many vaguely experimental games, like the platformer epic Super Meat Boy.  His bottom line- Games are about gameplay. Make all the fancy graphical tweaks you like, it still comes down to how the game controls.

Jameson Hsu: This man has so much experience in the field it isn’t funny. From advertising to online gaming, this guy knows design, and argues the importance of the thumbnail and having a distinctive look for your flash game.

Jim Greer: Mr. Kongregate himself! Basically, kill a million ideas until you find the one that’s worth polishing and expanding. This guy is very much worth a listen.

Tom and Dim Vian: Otherwise known as the Super Flash Bros, these UK sibbies made the Detective Grimoire series, and work for Armor Games. They know that it is difficult to keep a player enthralled, and how easy to overwhelm the player. Also, the graphics will match the effect of the gameplay- a major pitfall.

These are just a few of the 60, and far from the only ones to listen to. You can get an mp3 of all the artists to listen to on the go at their site. Hope you enjoyed these talking heads, and happy gaming!

More Flash Events!

I talked a few weeks ago about the awesomeness that is soon to be The Flash Gaming Summit, and how I lived on the wrong coast.

I was not incorrect. In fact, there are other conventions and conferences which seem to congregate on the West Coast primarily. Either that, or different countries entirely, like Spain or Russia.

It would make sense that California would be the epicenter of technology for the U.S. given it’s reputation as Silicon Valley (breast implant joke here). There are not many conferences and events overall, and they are strangely laid out geographically, as shown by the map below:

Why Denver? I really couldn’t tell you, but there is admittedly an art scene there. How this art scene is making the transition to digital is anyone’s guess

Adobe Max is a pretty big deal with the multiple days and big-name speakers, but since it doesn’t happen until October things are a bit hush-hush.

Why could I only find five events for this map? Because there just aren’t enough people doing conferences. Get on that, people who make Flash.

Royalty-Free?

On this big wide internet ball of ours, there are tons of places to get free music for your flash production. Even I have submitted audio to the Newgrounds audio portal, where people vote on their favorites and can give direct credit for free.  You can pay for some generic tunes at a site like Stock Music or goto Incompetech for some free songs by giving musicians. Or another hundred places, seriously just do a google search.

<<<<THIS SYMBOL MATTERS

The point is, people still steal music for their videos and games when it is available a million places online! You can make decent music with little-to-no actual talent with free music creation software, or rather inexpensive paid software. Is this trend a matter of laziness, a matter of lack of creativity, or simply a lack of creativity?

Look, believe it or not, Flash games and videos can get HUGE. But they will never reach that level overall if you are piggybacking copyrighted tunes. You might get a few initial hits from fans of the music, but if this too big, let’s just say it will backfire. Big time.

Not to say there aren’t exceptions. There have been music videos created under direct eye of the musical artist themselves( Weird Al’s latest CD/DVD combo disc came with a few flash-created videos he asked internet artists to make for him) and also videos that were good enough the artists found them and enjoyed them. But throw the artists a bone sometimes?

Same goes for images used within flash, videos stolen, etc, etc. It just seems more grievous with music. Plus, have you ever paid a copyrighted music fine just for downloading a song? Try sharing said music, or displaying as your own.

It’s stupid, and I don’t understand the idea. I guess I should embrace the internet.