Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why I Hate Flash

I could apologize for this being the first post in two months, but I won't. This is my third rewrite, mostly due to my incompetence, but frankly it's beginning to wear thinly on me.

I'm currently taking a game design course at my university along with two of my friends. Woo and yay. A class that actually may have some bearing on what I might actually do with my life. Don't get me wrong, but I don't see any time in my future when explaining if the character in John Updike's A&P will be required of me in the line of work. Anyways, I love gaming, I love game design, I love talking about game design, and I like several people in the class. However, after our first meeting, I feel a little down. Why? This sentence:

"2D Games will be done in Flash."

Well, there's the chandelier made of rabbit droppings. I despise Flash, and apparently most people cannot understand why, so I'm going to lay it out here, as much for me as it is for the half-dozen other people who will read it.

First and foremost, I don't like Flash because I have to pay to program it. This, if you didn't know, is a bit of an anomaly in the programming world. With the exception of Flash, there isn't a single other programming language that you have to pay to use. Even Microsoft's .NET languages have an open framework, and if you'll really itching to do some Mac-Based VBscript, you can use the (open-source, no less) Mono project headed by Miguel de Icaza.

As a student, the cheapest I could get flash for is around $250. If I wasn't a student, this price point goes up to $700. I have no problem with Macromedia Adobe wanting money for their code, that's all well and good. However, there is NO WAY to do anything in flash without using their IDE. Microsoft's Visual Studio is a great IDE. It comes with lots of awesome tools built in, and that's effing sweet. It also costs around the same amount as Flash. I couldn't find the exact price point, mostly because I was bombarded with offers for trial and free versions. There is a free edition of almost every Microsoft Developers product. They're called the "Express" editions, and though they lack the bells and whistles of the paid versions, they still get the job done. In fact, if you're a student, you CAN get free versions of the full product. Yes, that's right, you can get Microsoft products for FREE, if you're a student.

The reason for this is that Microsoft wants to get students used to using their products and their languages. It's a little sinister when you think about it, them baiting you with freebies when you're a poor college student, but Adobe doesn't even attempt to do the same thing, and basically just flips you the middle finger.

When I bring this point up, most people say "Why don't you just pirate it? Problem solved!" No, you vacuum-craniumed dolt, I'm a programmer. I want to get paid for the programs I write. If someone wants to charge for their program, that's fine by me. I love open source, but hey, someone's got to make a living somehow. If I don't want to pay for their development environment, then that should be their problem, not mine. My problem is that I cannot do Flash development without buying their product. Stealing it would be similar to a wheat farmer stealing potatoes. It's just wrong. Hell, I'm sure that half the reason Flash is so expensive is to offset the lost profits from people pirating it.

The other big pro-flash reason I get is this: artists use it. Well you know what, screw the artists. Last time I checked, a game artist should be doing artsy things, like drawing or modeling or whatnot. My job is programming, not theirs. If some beret-topped punter is going to tell me that he likes using Flash because he can program in it, that let me get my paintbrush out, cram it up my bum, and start "composing assets." Images are all the same. A JPEG in Flash is a JPEG to PyGame, or OpenGL, or DirectX. You want vector graphics? Awesome. Fireworks does SVG. I checked. If artists want to start doing programming, then I might as well go fly helicopters, because apparently I'm not needed anymore.

As vitriolic as I'm being, there would be one simple thing that Adobe could do that would make them a-ok in my book. Don't sell the platform, sell the IDE. If I can program Flash using a text editor, I'd go for it. Eventually, once I'd made some cash, I'd see the benefits to using the IDE, and purchase it. Having an up-front cost is nothing but an unnecessary barrier that is a relic of a bygone era.

Also, I'm hoping my artist friends take my slurs against them as being all in good fun. ;-P

1 comment:

Kristen Leigh Ward said...

So am I woo or yay?

--The beret-topped punter

PS- Fireworks is also MacromediAdobe. And furthermore, nice post.