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Flash in the Pan? It's like Déjà vu (Mac 1984) all over again ...
by William Volk on 03/30/12 11:56:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

You probabily know this by now:

Starting from 1 August, all web games that use two premium features of Flash Player 11.2 will have to play Adobe 9 percent of net revenue (exceeding $50k). My immediate reaction was probabily the same as yours, what are they thinking? Sure, Apple takes 30%, but that 30% buys you a marketplace with discovery, digital delivery and an in-app commerce system.

I posted my comments on Facebook and one of my fellow oldtimers in the video game business reminded me of a situation that occurred on the Macintosh in 1984.

When Apple launched the "Insanely Great" Macintosh in 1984 the development system was a rather expensive LISA Computer ($9995 at launch, in today's $$$ that would be over $20,000) running Apple's own Pascal compiler. For many of us, this was simply out of budget.

Luckily there were some development systems available that could run on a 128K Mac. One of the best was a product called MacForth. FORTH itself was popular on memory constrained systems, the best way to describe it is sort of a macro assembler/interpreter for a stack based virtual machine. It's a language that could be described as the Haiku of Programming, but if you're good ... you end up with decent performing code that is even smaller than assembly (honest!). It's still in use today. PostScript is based on FORTH, for example.

MacForth was an excellent product, and fortunately I had been using FORTH since the Atari 800 days. So, when I decided in late 1984 to build a game for the Mac, it made sense to use MacForth. I purchased a 'FatMac' with some accessories for $3500 and created "The Pyramid of Peril", a 3D real-time adventure game, in MacForth:

Photobucket

With the first MacWorld coming up in Jan. 1985, we wanted to have the game ready to sell. With FORTH you package the app for delivery in a process called "Target Compiling". The idea is you want to remove all the programming tools and just deliver the app. The problem was that MacForth decided to charge for this. As a startup (Aegis Development) we simply couldn't afford the fees.

So what did we do? We found a local company that had a very basic FORTH for the 68000CPU (MicroMotion Forth) and worked with them to get it adapted to the Mac OS, and got it ready for the MacWorld show just in time (we were duplicating discs and heat shrink wrapping boxes the night before).

In the long run MacForth eventually modified its policies, but by then other development systems had taken most of the market. And "The Pyramid of Peril"? We sold a good number of them at the show, even got covered by the local TV news folks:

MacWorld 1985 (0:35 into the video)

So ... I think Adobe with this move ... is going to accelerate the existing move to HTML5, a move being pushed by Facebook and to a large extent Apple. Adobe is, in my opinion, hastening the demise of Flash.


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Comments


Lars Doucet
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Pretty much agreed. And I say this as a long-time flash developer and Adobe apologist.

William Volk
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Past is Present.

If Adobe had an extensive App Store driving millions of downloads of apps .. yeah, sure. But just to use the tool?

Not wise.

Ben Colwell
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@William,

First off my question to you would be: Are you planning on releasing a console-quality 3D game on the Flash platform? If the answer is "yes," then by all means go on complaining about Adobe's 9%.

But if you're like most of us, doing 2D Flash development, everything is going to stay royalty-free. Even if you plan on using Stage3D (like how Angry Birds uses Starling on their Facebook app), there's no royalty.

So this blog post, to me, is just incoherent rambling.

Let's review some facts:

- Apple takes 30% on the app store, but any project made with Stage3D "premium features" and AIR is royalty-free on mobile. Yes that's right, you're still only at 30% total.
- Adobe will take 9% (after certain conditions are met) only for browser based 3D games made with tools like Unity. Now you're only at 9% total.

What's the problem again?

William Volk
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Sorry for the delay in replying. (I've since noted that you have replied to all the blogs on this one issue ... hmmm....)

Apple's and Oranges.Adobe isn't offering an app ecosystem: Discovery, Billing, In-App Purchases, DRM, Auto Updates etc...

When they do that, actually launch a 'store' that has $Billions$ of revenue, than maybe this works.

All I'm doing is pointing out a historical analogy.

DRATS!

Now I'll never get to do that QUALITY port of ZOO RACE to Flash :-)


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