Web: Flash before your eyes

Hosting a diverse range of ideas and talent, Quinton O’Reilly looks at the world of flash gaming

For a pastime once confined to consoles, the web has opened a lot of doors for games. When once there were cartridges and floppy disks, we can now just download games from services such as Wiiware and Xbox live arcade and on our phones.

Another area that has benefited greatly from this technological advancement has been flash gaming. While not an area that immediately springs to mind, it’s quickly becoming a melting pot for new ideas and talent with games being released on a daily basis.

While some are retro games given a new lease of life, the majority of flash games originate from simple or curious ideas, and scratching the surface will uncover a wide collection ranging from the traditional to the bizarre.

Among the collection of games released regularly, one of the more prolific flash developers would be Armour Games whose collection includes Achievement Unlocked. The game parodies the Xbox system of the same name by awarding you for every action made including moving, dying and opening up the hints page. You’d probably complete it in less than ten minutes, but that doesn’t make it any less fun or enjoyable than games released now.

For developers, the advantages of creating flash games are twofold. Firstly, to produce a game for any console, you require a significant amount of funding and manpower to create a credible product. With flash games, it’s entirely possible to create a polished title by yourself provided you don’t rush it.

The second is that the scope for creativity is much higher as there’s no financial risk in making something offbeat or being hamstrung by consumer demand (there’s a very good reason why many average games get sequels). Yet considering the format in question, the production values can be quite high in some cases.

Ultimately, flash games have been more about experimentation with new and existing ideas and the work and dedication that such developers put in normally shows in the finished project, an aspect that’s normally lost on high-end releases.

It also gives budding or veteran programmers a platform to showcase their talents, potentially leading them onto bigger and better things. The Behemoth’s Alien Hominid and Team Meat’s Super Meat Boy are examples of console games that once started life on flash and looks like it will be followed swiftly by others.

The easiest place to find these games would be Newgrounds.com, which hosts an active and vibrant community for both flash gaming and animation, and kongregate.com. Yet the best thing about them is their accessibility meaning you can try out many games in a short space of time. Just be sure to kiss your sense of productivity goodbye before you do.