The story of Adobe AIR and game development

Will Flash ever be able to get rid of it’s tag of being a quick prototype and animation tool? In India where we have a large developer base working on small games and animations for the web, the stereotype that a lot of people hold about Flash will probably always stay true.

Whenever the word Flash appears, people expect magic and quick turnaround times with development. At such times, the fact that “Flash” is going to be used for a more a sophisticated development on limited memory devices is completely ignored.

Whenever we begin work on a game on iOS or Android, my first suggestion is that if technology is not a restriction, we can provide game development services using the Adobe AIR platform. Most of the times there is never an argument on that because we are trusted to know our work well and deliver projects according to the brief given to us irrespective of the framework or tools.

The trouble comes when I explain what Adobe AIR really is. The fact is that Adobe AIR is a cross platform runtime using Flash and AS3 to write applications across platforms. But on hearing the word “Flash”, there is an instant expectation of quick results even for complex games.

So I’m sharing a list of of points that I felt kept coming up during AIR development on mobile/tablet game.

  • Development with AIR may be familiar ground because of AS3, but the development workflow is the same as with other technologies, especially with good OOPs practices.
  • There are plenty of frameworks available which provide support to Adobe AIR to enhance game development. A developer who wants to give the best to the project considers the time he/she will be spending on including those frameworks in the game.
  • Development of game logic or controls is not about copy pasting code from different places. Each game logic has its flow and limitations which cannot be solved by existing code (unless if it is a port of a game owned by the developer).
  • Mobiles have limited memory. There is a possibility of the game taking up too much runtime memory thus leading to crashes and low frame rate. Optimization of code and graphics is top priority when developing for non-web platforms.
  • Sprite sheets, no matter how much fun they may be to work with, are not easy for replacing the graphics in a game.
  • Compilation of game for devices take time. The workflow of deploying and debugging a game on devices is a time consuming process.
  • Comparison to an existing game is fine, but assuming that the game could have been developed in 2 days and wanting the same time frame for a new game development is an unheard story.
  • Any existing game code of a web game cannot be picked and pushed on Adobe AIR. If the game was developed using AS2, the process of converting the code to AS3 is tedious. What’s even more tedious is optimizing badly written code.

I’m ranting about the way game development with AIR is thought of by some people in India and it really saddens me to think they take it for granted. I know this will change over time, but till then we have to bear the brunt and keep educating people about it.


About Mariam Dholkawala 188 Articles
Part geeky part quirky, I love writing games, travelling the world, trying new food and learning new languages. I am sometimes the designer, programmer and artist for some of my own games.

4 Comments Posted

  1. Hi

    I just want to know if you have done games with JS and flash. How is the performance?? Flash really isnt been used anymore lately I have seen, neither are clients asking for it or developers.

  2. @jinx

    Done some games with HTML5 and JS but mostly for the web, not so much for devices. Web performance has been good on most browsers.

    When developing for AIR on desktop or mobiles, the IDE can be Flash Builder or Flash Professional, and that seems to be the confusing point for many.
    Flash is a platform with runtimes on web (the Flash Player) and AIR (on desktop and mobiles) for standalone apps. AIR has extra native APIs which are not available with Flash Player. Both use AS3 for programming.

    Content for the Flash Player still has substantial market although many are now inclining towards HTML5.

  3. Hi Mariam,

    I am from India Hyderabad,and having 6 years exp. in flash and as3 gaming,

    Just started developing games using Air and native extensions for Android and IOS.

    Used many Air extenstions like Admobe, Chartbooster, Revmob, Notifications..

    What is your thought about scope of Games with Air in future.


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