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Introduction

Introduction

People are always asking me about game development—how they can get into it, what's the best tool for it, etc. I answer questions like this wherever I go. And it got me thinking that if so many people had all these in-depth questions, there must not be a good resource out there….

This book brings you into the world of game development—specifically, game development in Flash, with the powerful ActionScript tool to help you automate, repeat, change, anticipate, and govern the actions of games from a simple word game to a complicated multiplayer game of pool. It is in no way a basic Flash tutorial, and a fair amount of familiarity with Flash is assumed, without which you might have a hard time navigating the terrain.

If you're new to Flash gaming, here you'll acquire the knowledge and techniques to build your own games and a good sense of the overall process and its pitfalls.

If you aren't new to gaming, you'll be able to see what you can do better (or worse) by using Flash, and you'll still come away with the knowledge and techniques necessary to build Flash games.

A book about games wouldn't make any sense without source material—would you rather learn how to create a platform game by hearing about it, or by playing through example files?—and this book is no exception. Each chapter is accompanied by Flash movie files and sometimes other supporting format files to emphasize and describe the point at hand, and allow you to see the function in action.

I welcome your input on this book; you can send me feedback at jobe@electrotank.com. I also encourage you to visit GameBook.net (www.gamebook.net), the Web site for this book, for updates, innovations, and inspiration.

Why Flash?

Macromedia Flash MX is many things to many people. In its few years on earth so far, it's been an animation tool, a Web site creation program, an application development program, and now a game development platform. In Part 1 of this book you'll hear more about Flash's strengths and weaknesses in this area, and in the course of this book you'll be able to see some of the many things it can help you achieve.

System Requirements

Windows

200 MHz Intel Pentium processor

Windows 98 SE, Me, NT4, 2000, or XP

64 MB of free available system RAM (128 MB recommended)

85 MB of available disk space

1024 x 768, 16-bit (thousands of colors) color display or better

CD-ROM drive

Macintosh

Mac OS 9.1 and higher, or OS X 10.1 and higher

64 MB of free available system RAM (128 MB recommended)

85 MB of available disk space

1024 x 768, 16-bit (thousands of colors) color display or better

CD-ROM drive

How to use this book

This book introduces you to the world of online gaming, shows where Flash fits into the larger universe of online gaming, shows what it is and isn't good for, and goes into great detail on how to create games using Flash.

Game development isn't all fun and games. It requires a lot of planning, projecting, and imposing logical structures on information. Part 1 introduces you to the general world of gaming, its terminology, and its basic genres. The chapters in Part 2 move through the important concepts that underlie the actual game creation. While not exactly in linear succession, these chapters proceed from the most fundamental of gaming tools (such as trigonometry) to the more complex topics such as collision reactions and the use of artificial intelligence to add complexity and interaction to your games. In the latter portion of Part 2 we introduce chapters on enhancements such as fine-tuning graphics for your games, creating optimal soundtracks, and using high score lists. We end Part 2 with a chapter on understanding (and writing and modifying) an online chat file, without which no online multiplayer game is possible. Wherever you start reading, we'll keep you apprised of what you might need to refer to elsewhere to be sure you are getting the most out of the material.

In Part 3 of the book, armed with the knowledge you've amassed in the several hundred pages leading up to it, you'll work directly with complete games and see exactly what went into them. You'll even see ways you can improve them on your own!

Some of the appendices will guide you through a few complex topics that are intertwined with game design and development but which are, in fact, distinct topics with other applications as well.

We use the following icons to call attention to special sections:

This indicates a helpful suggestion—advice that will help you get the most out of the subject at hand.


This means “Pay attention; important stuff here!”


Indicates that you should open a designated file from the CD to follow along with the text.


Suggests another idea you might want to try in addition to the main point that's being made.


This arrow refers you to a related section of the book, where the same topic is discussed in more detail.


This symbol warns you of pitfalls or disadvantages you may encounter in the process being discussed.


The CD-ROM component

The accompanying CD-ROM includes all the example and supporting files necessary to dissect and understand the games discussed in this book. There are also trial versions of ElectroServer and Macromedia Flash MX, as well as 8 additional full and partial games that are not actually dissected in Part 3, but that you can dig into yourself.

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