Sunday, August 22, 2021

homestar runner and the power of flash

Really good video praising both Homestar Runner and Flash as a medium in particular.

Flash's ignominious end is a tragedy! I never quite understood what happened. The reasons usually given for its demise are
1. "it's insecure". Like with Java applets, for some reason companies just couldn't get their acts together to batten down the hatches? Which is really weird, because it seems like stuff it would be very easy isolate in a virtual sandbox, especially relative to the trend to make javascript do everything.

2. "html5 is much better for video". I mean this is true, but as the video shows being "a wrapper for live action video" was a johnny-come-lately trick for flash

3. "it's hard on processor/battery life". I mean, I guess. But even in Steve Jobs' Thoughts on Flash letter, he's talking about video codecs, not the lightweight interactive animation that made Flash so powerful.

I think it's right to blame Apple for much of this. In that Jobs letter "Oh it's all mouse-centric, with rollovers, and our touch devices don't do 'hover'" is pathetically short-sighted - but it gets into the real reason, control of content. I think it's less "these Flash apps won't be good enough" and more they'd be too good.

Eventually, html5 technically picked up most of the capabilities that were lost when Flash went away, but there just isn't the community built up around it.

I feel bad that I didn't get into Flash... "Processing" was good enough for most of my stuff I wanted to build and then share via web, and now P5 plays that role. I took a one day class in Flash but it mostly dealt with animations that were easier to teach, not the type of interactive game stuff that I found most interesting.

I'm not sure where the action is, in terms of interactive content creation but especially community. P5/Processing has a little of that, "Scratch" probably has more - and Minecraft and Roblox, I think? And "Mario Maker". But much of the energy has been sapped off my either content creation community for non-interactive stuff, like Tik Tok.

In a related note I started playing around with Nintendo's "Game Builder Garage", pretty cool stuff as well... but it's always challenging to use a system where I feel a bit hobbled, especially at the beginning, relative to what I can make using traditional programming.

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