Adobe published a white paper last month that outlined their plans for the Flash Player in the future. One of the things mentioned was that the company was going to put an increased focus on gaming applications for Flash and AIR. They took their first step in that direction yesterday.
Adobe announced yesterday the release of Flash Player 11.2 and AIR 3.2. These two software tools will help developers leverage Adobe's tools to create games across browsers and mobile devices. The real reason you're here though is for the specifics of what these updated platforms bring to developers.
Adobe AIR 3.2 brings more of the Flash platform to mobile devices and PCs. With this new update, developers can now play around with Stage3D graphics technology which enables 1000x faster native GPU rendering performance. This is the same tech that's in the desktop version of Flash Player, but now that power is coming to smartphones.
AIR 3.2 also has native support for multitouch, camera/mic and accelerometers. Adobe also promises that AIR will run across all Android devices, negating the need to build separate versions of a game for different devices.
Flash Player 11.2 is a few steps ahead of AIR 3.2 in that it already had Stage3D technology for a while now. The additions coming now are more about house keeping and making sure Flash Player can create core gaming experiences. The new features hitting Flash Player 11.2 include mouse lock, relative coordinates, and right and middle-click support. They are also extending hardware driver support back to 2008 so more computers can take advantage of the new features.
There's another feature coming to Flash Player 11.2 that should be far more exciting for developers wanting to create core experiences on the platform. Adobe announced a new tier for Flash Player that adds premium features for games. This allows Flash Player to render modern console-quality graphics in browser.
Alongside the announcement of this new tier for development, Adobe also announced a collaboration with Unity Technologies, creators of the Unity game engine. Unity is one of the premier game engines that can publish to multiple devices including consoles, PC, mobile devices and Flash. Developers can use these technologies to publish core games on browsers.
All these new features coming to Flash Player 11.2 must cost quite a pretty penny, right? Not so, says Adobe, as they are making all Flash Player premium features free for content published before August 1. Of course, you can't really make a triple-A browser based game built on Flash in just a few months. What about those who publish after August 1? Adobe is still going to cut you a sweet deal. You will have to license the premium features, but Adobe won't begin charging you until you reach $50,000 in revenue. Unity has a similar licensing scheme so it's a win-win for everybody, especially developers.
If Unity isn't your thing, Epic also announced Flash compatibility with Unreal Engine 3 in a demo video during GDC. With Unity and Unreal Engine both running on Flash and more most likely on the way, Flash could be the next big platform for the Web as far as core content goes.
With the announcement of BrowserQuest yesterday running on HTML5, I can almost see a divide coming to the browser gaming market. HTML5 is going to be used to power the casual and non-graphic intensive titles that we currently play in browsers, whilst Flash will be powering the core experiences like first-person shooters and expansive action adventure titles in full 3D.
What do you think? Is Flash Player leading the charge in core gaming content for the Web? Let us know in the comments.[h/t: The Verge]