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Open-source Flash Game Engine Now In Open Beta

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pbe_logoWhen it comes to gaming, the most popular platform isn’t the Nintendo Wii, but Flash, the interactive browser plugin that now boasts 99 percent market penetration on nearly a billion PCs. (Flash game advertising network Mochi Media currently counts 100 million players across its system alone.) That huge audience has led to a lot of games, but most of them are rudimentary at best, the product of amateur enthusiasts working with limited resources. That’s why I was excited to hear about PushButton, a Flash game engine from a team of seasoned game developers that’s free, open source, and associated with an innovative revenue model that should help spur its adoption.

Quietly released in open beta to friends and family last week, it already seems to be gaining an enthusiastic following; Ada Chen of Mochi told me she’s also heard a lot about it from developers at Sunday’s Flash Gaming Summit, and “the feedback has all been overwhelmingly positive.” It comes from Push Button Labs, a new startup led by Jeff Tunnell, founder of Dynamix and co-founder of GarageGames. (The latter company was acquired by IAC to become InstantAction, the web-based 3D gaming platform we wrote about last month.)

Tunnell and his team briefed me on PushButton at this week’s Game Developers Conference, including explaining their business model: Since the engine is free (and distributed under the extremely liberal MIT license), the company will instead make money by selling premium components and assets that PushButton users can buy to improve their games. Developers can also sell components they made on PushButton’s open market — sort of an App Store for Flash game makers — with the company collecting a 30 percent cut on each sale. Sounds like a smart way to leverage and empower a growing community of Flash developers and other startups interested in making a living from casual games. For consumers, that should also translate into better games coming to their browsers soon.

22 Responses to “Open-source Flash Game Engine Now In Open Beta”

  1. I wouldn’t say that AS3 is that much easier than C++, it really depends on how you program. Sure you can hack some code together and get things up and running, but if you want to be a successful developer and actually maintain a library or reusable classes, AS3 offers that as well. I myself program in AS3 with OOP, we make sure everything is incredibly optimized and makes sense, that way we can use it for future projects to increase production time.

    As for the engine, I haven’t tested it myself, but I personally prefer to do things myself, it pays off in the long run.

  2. making games in flash can be easy.
    learning flash can be easier thanks to communities like

    making good games can be difficult.
    thanks to open-source developers
    like those at box2d-Flash
    can drastically help the quality and speed of good games.

    push-button should be able to help in the same way, and i like their sales model

    -> i agree about needing to see demo’s (so far their site boasts just screen shots last i checked)
    -> i have yet to try push-button-engine but I’m keeping my eye on it for now.
    -> they don’t support flash IDE, they require the use of the flex sdk, which supports all but the flash IDE : )
    — not a big hurdle, but enough to keep me from it for a few more weeks. most other developers don’t use the Flash IDE anyway.

    any start-up that has attempted to remove the need for programming all together ends up very limited, and have all failed so far as i know. also many of the one’s I’ve seen have operated poorly and sloppily at the few things it was designed to support.

    for now I’m more looking forward to companies that help improve the quality of the average flash game, rather than making it so the average person can make low quality games.

    three cheers for push-button and best wishes.

  3. chipset

    Flash ActionScript is pretty easy to learn (especially if you know Java), but powerful because it is very dynamic and statically-typed. I recommend trying Flex Builder (free 30-day trial) or the open-source FlashDevelop IDE.

    The Push Button Engine is not trying to remove the need for ActionScript.The Push Button Engine provides significant game infrastructure: 2D physics, efficient network message protocol, asset loading/management, and an extensible game entity and component framework.

    I don’t really play games myself, but I downloaded the Push Button Engine to experiment with Sims-like sandbox worlds. :)

  4. Mark Young

    No demos? Seems ridiculous to be hyping a Flash game engine and not be showing off some interactive demos that give some indication of its graphical cleverness.

  5. Flash game coding is ludicrously easy compared to almost any other game development toolset. PopCap for instance does all their games in C/C++, which is a much more complicated scenario. Mobile games require complex Java or C coding to be competitive.

    There are a million good books and tutorials on Flash game dev, and you can get a basic game up and running in just a few lines of ActionScript. Honestly, if you view Flash/AS3 as having a steep learning curve, you may not want to be in the business of programming games. :)

  6. I ended my gamedev “career” in 1990. I developed “doors” — basically single player text based online games for BBSes. Those were good days.

    I came across Mochi yesterday for the first time ever. I’ve never played an online game, surprisingly, but have ideas for decent gameplay. I was thinking about the steep time investment to learn Flash game coding not 8 hours ago.

    Thanks to GO and PushButton I can now waste profitable hours of my life hacking away at vectors, if-then statements, and debugging scripts.