Historical Flash Games?

Let’s get something out of the way up front. The idea of historical Flash games is pretty ridiculous, given that most of the internet still believes that Wikipedia is true.

But then a little gem came out called High Tea; You play a British merchant, in charge of providing tea for the empire. You do that by buying and selling opium from the Chinese. This is like your typical “lemonade stand” type game that people learn how to make flash with, except beautiful and expertly subtle. Buy low, sell high, don’t get caught by the authorities.

History video games in general are nothing new. Many an hour was wasted by my youth-self typing away on the Oregon trail. While only vaguely educational, or only educational in a very strict sense, games like these at least give an inkling feeling of productivity while gaming. High Society made high tea as part of their educational exhibit on the history of illicit substances, to chronicle a questionable, if not dark, time in history.

There are other examples of games with a historical purpose, but I’m far too sick to go into them.

FlashGhetto has a dubious collection of purportedly historical flash games. Because nothing says history like ripping out guts with tongs. Actually…


Blog-a-day Week overview

Yeah, I will not be keeping this up for an entire month. The last six days, I have been doing a blog-a-day week thing for the last six posts, and though I don’t think the quality dropped, I couldn’t keep it up much longer.

To be fair, it did get easier over time. You can’t be expected, as a blogger, to come with completely original ideas every day. I’ve learned that what we do is steal ideas and run with them in our direction, with our own words.  Or, show respect to other bloggers and creators of media by showcasing what they have found or made as conduits of knowledge.  This isn’t selfless promotion; I’ve never met the people I dig on. But if a company releases a product I have faith in, they will get my press.

They may not want it. But that is the disadvantage of the internet: information cannot be controlled, or really even deleted. Press is press, but it would be nice to stick the metaphorical fingers in our ears and drown out naysayers, or even agreers who misuse their enthusiasm.

I tried to stay away from garbage, less-than hundred word posts, because in my research for the blog that was the trend for most dead blogs. Plus, that isn’t fair to the readers who are used to at least a little substance when they click a link. The best ones show something innovative, have a video or picture, have some informative or humorous conversation about, then offer ideas on said content. These are the people I have respect for.

Overall, I learned consistency.  You force yourself, in a generation of general malaise, to have something of value to add to the collective each day. It may be painful, but it is invigorating to force yourself to be worth something.

Experimental Flash- Art

No, I don’t want to go to a Super Bowl party. I’d rather blog. Anyway.

I thought I would point your attention today to experimental flash. The definition for experimental is hard. Takes many forms: flash that shows something we’ve never seen before , or makes us think of something familiar in a new way, or sometimes are just plain weird and uncategorical.

I will once again link to Newgrounds, the wild west of webflash, as it has quite the collection of experimental pieces. Most of these fall under the banner of really weird.

A few of the best:

  • Ryu– a beautiful journey through a Korean painting with fitting music that emphasizes flow.
  • Paper Sky– An interesting story told in cardboard that has an uplifting, albeit strange, message.
  • Oxygen– Truly disturbing visuals. Of course, the message is about our slow destruction of the earth, so…

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a video. There was an amazing game called Shift that changes things drastically. Like so.

And then some games can turn your brain upside down. Like Time F***. That game is about, umm, time and spatial recognition and… just play it. It defies logic.

That’ll give you something to do with your time. And maybe give another perspective on Flash.

Flash Gaming Summit 2011: Wish I could go

All of the leaders of the flash gaming world are soon to be meeting at the Flash Gaming Summit in San Fransisco.

It looks amazing. If I weren’t on the wrong coast.

There are set to be a multitude of influential figures in the field. Just a little over 20 days.

This is a significant event for a number of reasons. For one, the scope is huge; 30-odd speakers and over 500 developers from an incredibly diverse cross-section of the flash community, an intensive mochi awards competition (think the Oscars but for Flash games), and all the keynotes and speeches and panels to make any convention a good one. Surprisingly, all this is packed into a one-day event.

This is the third year for the Summit, and the only one sponsored by Adobe themselves. Granted, there aren’t many Flash developer conventions in the world. But it actually seems like a fun time, when they have all the potential to make it a boring conventional meeting. Seriously, check out the video overview. The footage from last year was all DJs, cocktails at after parties, game makers socializing like old buddies and catered food. Of course, for either 100 or 200 dollars, you would expect a little service.

A subject they will shine a bright lens on is something I touched on a few days ago, facebook and social games. The ever-important topic of monetizing will show up, as well as conversation on bridging the future to smartphones.

If I were a famous blogger, I would totally ask for press tickets. But, that may well lay in the future. I just hope this conference opens new doors for some Flash innovation.

Here’s a video of last year’s mochi’s contestants and winners: Some fine, fine games.

I believe I may have to follow this up next month.


Useful application for NERDS

If you aren’t a meganerd, don’t continue on. If you are, you will likely enjoy my ode to Friday nights in Jazzland.

Since I am a meganerd, I often find myself needing simple and easy applications for various nerdity. So I turn, of course, to Flash.

Say, for example, you are making a character for a pen and paper roleplaying game. Mom refused once again to put bacon on your grilled cheese sandwich before coming down into the basement and you threw dice at her in a fit of childish rage, and now all your d20s belong to the beast in the storm drain (or the family dog). What do you do?

You get digital.

That’s why a program that is easily found online, like Chromite’s dice roller, can help you get those stats rolled out on the ‘puter box.  And as far as technological geekiness goes, the future would be bright for this amazing new product by Microsoft:

Except, the nerds who would have an actual use for a table computer are busy mopping the floor at 7-11. Probably not pulling a salary to plunk 10k on a tabletop to do what they already do every Friday night. On a wooden coffee table with miniatures.

Flash is great for calculators, visualizers, dice rollers, character sheets and all those other small applications that make up the bigger picture. And while they are surely held together by the glue that is HTML, the premise is rather the same. Could make a difference amongst the poindexters.

Anyway, to crown this scarily lame post, here’s a flash video of a typical game of dungeons and dragons.

Flash in advertising

Anyone can make an advertisement. It’s easy.

Are you alone in the house/dorm/apartment? Shutters closed so no one can see you? Then try it one of the most interactive Flash ads I have seen: Jabra Halo wireless headphones.

That’s right, it’s a dance simulator for your webcam. Almost like that Dance Central that the kids like on those XBoxes. Not as responsive, but it does make you want the product

Not every ad in Flash is cool. Shooting ducks and whacking moles is slightly interactive, but not interesting. Maybe an interactive story with webcam and microphone support, all designed to showcase the newest Lexus. Unfortunately, I came across a few technical problems, but it was otherwise a decent piece of short cinema and one hell of an experiment.

Viral advertising has been all the rage for the last few years, as companies try to grab a slice of exploding internet tech and overblown social networking. Seriously, my Mom’s on Facebook.

But selling can work in other ways. The Eco Zoo is trying to sell ideas about saving the environment and living green. A cute use of flash: you explore around this 3D tower in 360 degrees to learn tips about ecofriendliness from friendly creatures.

Because selling, at least for me, works like this: I will want an intriguing product, and if the presentation is unique and cool, I might shell out some cash for it. Just because you tricked me into clicking your terrible banner ad telling me to shoot the alien to win the prize of buying your terrible goods/services, and then implanted spyware to show me the ad over and over and over while bogging down my computer will not make me intrinsically want your bloody product. Geez.

Anyway, I like the idea of the interactive ad, the idea of being part of a campaign. In fact, here’s something that’s not even an ad: The Sistine Chapel in 3D. It uses Flash so well, it may inspire tourism. That may or may not be the goal, but whatever works.

One final thought: Please oh please let the talking embedded ad die in flames and without dignity. Amen.

A few notable flash artists

People that are intimately familiar with webflash will know these names well, but for the uninitiated, here a just a few of my favorite flash authors. And you know, I may as well put a big NSFW up here, in case someone easily offended winds up here.

Adam Phillips:  One of the greatest Flash animators on the web. With good reason, as he formerly animated for Disney. His flagship series, as should be apparent to visitors on his site, is the Bitey of Brackenwood series which features whimsical, humorous and often irreverent characters in beautiful backdrops and achingly smooth animation.  And he has some wonderful stories to tell otherwise. He is one of the main reasons I saw Flash as something viable and worthy of attention, or at least worthy of a blog. Follow his Twitter, and other activities on Newgrounds.

For the lover of video game parody, I can think of none other than EgoRaptor. Or Arin Hanson for you real people. All of his links can be found right here. Most of his videos (whether he himself wants it that way or not) are in the same vein: Video game name with Awesome somewhere in the title, fast-paced raunchy parody. Metal Gear Solid becomes Metal Gear Awesome, Gears of War= Gears of Awesome, Etc. These are all crazy, offensive and hilarious, even to those not familiar with the original games. His recent activities take to collaborating with other talented artists, and his Dragonball Z and anime spoofs Girlchan in Paradise.

Happy Harry/ Harry Partridge: This UK animator’s content is ostensibly pop culture taken to absurdity. For those familiar with the monumental comic The Watchmen, one of favorite flashes involves if that comic were instead Saturday Morning Watchmen. Other fodder includes disturbing Justin Beiber, Transformers and… coconut cake? He’s done work for Playboy and other big enterprises. Strangely enough, he doesn’t have an official website; but here’s an interview with the man himself.

These are just a few to whet the proverbial whistle. I may do this again later. Happy Groundhog day!