Poki on preserving your favorite flash games
Bubble tanks 2. Learn to fly. Racing 2 platform. For many players, these are titles they fondly remember. For others, they can be extremely obscure and unfamiliar. Many people like me grew up with Flash games as a great alternative to those expensive AAA titles. Flash games were free, after all, and there was no shortage of new titles to play every day. Sadly, part of my childhood, along with many others, will be gone this year when Adobe ends support for Flash for good.
Yet, there are many dedicated people who make a point of preserving these games, so that part of video game history is not lost and forgotten. One of those projects is called Flashpoint, which has so far saved thousands and thousands of games from death and loss for good. Another company dedicated to this cause is Poki, run by a team of people with a hard job tracking down Flash developers and bringing games to the Poki platform. We spoke with Game Developer Relations Manager Joep van Duinen about how he and his team are preserving Flash games, one title at a time.
The origins of Poki and the challenges of Flash preservation
The internet was not as robust as it is today, so it was always difficult to find a new flash game site. Newgrounds, Kongregate and ArmorGames were a few must-sees. Like many of these sites, Poki also started in the early and mid-2000s. Surprisingly, its mission remains largely unchanged then. It was, as van Duinen describes it, an easily accessible collection of Flash games. Many of these platforms are moving into other forms of business as the end of Flash draws near; for example, Kongregate and ArmorGames are now largely focused on developing and publishing games. Poki is still Flash focused and has been very successful.
“We firmly believe that the web is, and always has been, a fundamental destination for games,” said van Duinen. “This belief was the springboard of our determination to develop what is today the leading gaming platform on the web, reaching over 30 million monthly gamers worldwide, with a diverse community of over 200 developers. games from around the world. “
Indeed, while Poki has collaborated with over 200 game developers, there are many more. For collaboration, the company has a process. The developers can submit their game for review, and if it is successful, there is money to be won. Poki is a business after all, but it also seems to offer developers a chance to get paid for their work.
“If the game meets our criteria,” said van Duinen, “we give the creators ownership of the outcome, offer a lifetime share of the game’s revenue and allow them to reach our 30 million players on the platform. . As our technology handles the conversion from Flash to large-scale modern browsers, we are now preparing to open it up to many more Flash game makers. “
Once a game is accepted, it must be transferred to the Poki platform. Flash won’t be a thing for very long, so a game has to have some sort of base to be played. The Engineering Challenge is handled by Poki as well as Away Studios. Challenges specific to this process include resolving the issue of load times.
With some engineering work, the payloads are now much shorter, and van Duinen said that technologies like HTTP / 2 have avoided those long waits that many Flash players can experience. However, van Duinen admits his team’s biggest hurdle was getting these games to work on a mobile platform. Game Tech Engineer Eric Sombroek addressed this issue by mapping a game’s inputs to a button and joystick overlay.
As to whether Poki can preserve every game submitted to the platform, van Duinen said:
“For the past two years, along with Rob and his team at Away Studios, we have worked and invested in AwayFL. It is an open source technology that can record Flash content for the web. Using this technology, We pride ourselves on having the ability to run 90% of Flash games (AS2 and AS3) close to their original Flash performance. “
Reflecting on the Legacy of Flash with Poki
The year is drawing to a close, and for the Flash platform, 2020 is. When Flash stops, thousands of games and the websites that contain them become obsolete. If these disappeared, much of video game history would disappear. Poki saw how it became a dying platform that had to be kept alive.
“Over the years, the goal of bringing this cultural heritage to our Poki platform has become clearer and possible for us,” said van Duinen. “We really wanted our next generation to be able to play the games we played growing up—The impossible quiz by Splapp-me-do, Tank problem by Mads Purup, or Dinosaur race by Pixeljam. By doing this, we can make developers and gamers happy, making the web a better place for games. “
The impact of Flash games is quite vast. Van Duinen highlights two games—Super Meat Boy and Extraterrestrial hominid—as having origins as Flash titles. Others, like developers Terry Cavanagh and Toge Productions, have taken what they learned from Flash and created new titles for Steam and mobile platforms.
It’s probably surprising to a lot of people, but there are probably plenty of other games and developers that are finding mainstream success, largely due to their involvement and experience with Flash. Reflecting on the future, Poki is optimistic about keeping these works alive. Van Duinen concluded with these words:
“When we organize these games there is an element of nostalgia, we think fondly of our time in school avoiding teachers to play with our friends. But also, we know and see that these games are still loved by the children. children and will be loved by the children of future generations. That is why we are working hard to ensure that future generations can enjoy them, as we have. “
What are your favorite Flash games? What do you think about stopping Flash? Let us know in the comments below!