Why I Don’t Use Flash Much Anymore

As the author of Flash books as well as Director books, I get a fair share of email questions about Flash. But these are getting harder and harder to answer because I am using Flash less and less. Why, you might ask, would I be using Flash less and less while it is growing in capability and popularity? Well, there are several reasons.
First, I no longer feel that Flash is a tool that Macromedia is gearing toward people like me. I’m a game developer. But the last two versions of Flash have added tons of features more suited for corporate enterprises. Things like components and ActionScript 2 won’t help me make better games. Other features like the Flash Comm server cost too much for me to use on the type of games I make. These features may be great for Flash and Macromedia’s bottom line, but they aren’t suited for what I do.
Second, Flash is slow. This was OK for a while, because Web games were expected to be slow. But now the audience has matured and they expect more. Shockwave is up to that challenge and Flash is not. Sure it has become much faster in recent versions than, say, in Flash 4. But things like parsing a dictionary of words for a word game or detecting collisions among multiple objects just aren’t practical. Sometimes things like that are possible if you spend a great deal of time optimizing that one task, but if Shockwave can do it with a few lines of code, then my ROI with Shockwave is that much greater.
Third, it is too easy for people to steal my Flash movies. I don’t mean just take the swf and place it on their site. I can protect against that. I mean they can take the swf, use 3rd-party “utility” software, and convert the swf to a fla. Then they can pull out my security, modify the game, and use or sell the game as their own. It has happened to me already. Add the fact that they can do this overseas, in coutries where IP is laughable, and you have a real problem. I have to consider anything I do with Flash to be open and vulnerable. I’ll fight to the best of my ability to protect my IP, but the best thing I can do is to develop in Director, where it will take me less time, work better, and be protected.
Has anyone else worried about Flash security issues like this? Or the fact that Macromedia seems to be taking Flash in a “business-only” direction?

Posted on January 18, 2005 at 11:07 am by site admin · Permalink
In: General

7 Responses

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  1. Written by Fraser Campbell
    on 1/19/2005 at 9:06 am

    I agree with most of the comments above, although I must take issue people in regards to Flash v Director. Director will always be faster than Flash, even with the new bitmap rendering (it caches bitmaps and so I don’t know how much the bitmap has to change in order to force a change in the bitmap cache). The speed at which Lingo runs is much quicker than Actionscript, even 2.0, and there is just no getting around that. Imaging Lingo is also an often overlooked asset that Director has when comparing the two (and the new filters in 8-ball, from what I have seen, doesn’t come close). The only thing that hinders Director in the realm of the Internet IMHO is the ubiquity of the plug-in.

  2. Written by Jim Coleman
    on 1/19/2005 at 5:39 pm

    I’m glad to hear someone else is not a 100% Flash cheerleader. I tried Flash 5 and Flash MX and was not impressed. Comparing Flash to Director is like comparing a scooter to a fighter jet. Flash was useful when i-net connections were relatively slow but broadband is negating the benefit. The only reason Flash is so popular is “marketing hype” and “pricing”. Lower price appeals to the masses, mass sales = bigger profits for Macromedia. I am baffled as to why Flash users fumble for hours devising workarounds to add features to a program that would take 10 minutes in Director. Flash users are quick to say “wait until the next version” – Flash will have even more of Directors capabilities. Why wait when Director can do the job right now. I would like to see Macromedia spend their resources equally on Flash & Director. Instead of wasting development time on advanced Flash features they should be encouraging Flash users to graduate to Director. Keep Flash as a low overhead, entry level program and pour resources into the more robust Director. Trying to take Flash in a “business” direction is a big mistake. Flash is perfect for small memory, handheld applications, not client/server business applications. It would also be nice to see Macromedia develop one universal player that serves both Flash & Director/SW.

  3. Written by hoyin
    on 1/22/2005 at 10:45 pm

    i agree with Coleman.
    i seem that everyone is saying “flash is great” but not compare with director. i am also making game with both tools. i need much more time to make it in flash then director with the same level of complexity. actually, i waste all my time on material preparation like construct a right mc, give them a right id/instance name/AS2.0 class/conponent definition etc.

    someone may say “the conponent is great!”, but time spend on development is too much(compare with director behavior).
    “the JSAPI is great!” but you need to understand this whole new stuff first. unless you have already known AS and just want to do some automation to “speed up” the workflow but all the time is spend on studing JSAPI!
    “learn new thing is great! it will have reward in future” but as you can see, thing is changing in every new version. don’t you remember smart clip, onClipEvent in flash5? _prototype, v1 conponent in MX? in flash side you are just keeping to learn new thing (and most important you need to forget the old one). i don’t understand someone seem that it is not problem and love to do it. crazy!
    “industrial standard is great”. listener modal, pirvate method, EMCA, {}();…….. ok! i stop here.

  4. Written by Casey Jones
    on 2/8/2005 at 4:45 pm

    Mr. Rosenzwig, I couldn’t strike up a conversation here at my offices, or on the MM forums to Anark’s 3.0 release of it’s realtime 3D engine, so I’ll throw it at you. 😉 My original post below. Thanks for any extra time you have.

    Well, I hope Intel and their U3D format can make it into a second revision of the SW3D engine for DMX 2005.

    What I saw as real comp. for SW3D, Anark Studio, has really left the door wide open again. With the Anark’s release of Studio 3.0, they raised the price from $999 to $3499 and dropped the Mac side as a development environment (Windows only now).

    Has anyone else out there used Anark? If so, what did you think? It has a nice GUI/Timeline interface to work with your 3D resources, which I think SW3D needs too.

    Web 3D will take off, and I hope SW3D is still viable when it does. I also hope it is still in Director, as I have a feeling MM may be waiting until the Flash Development Environment is robust enough to handle real-time 3D. With the possiblility of bitmap manipulation and real time effects ala Imaging Lingo in the next release of Flash, I see it being geared to handle more and more of what used to be Director-Only capabilities. Any thoughts?

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