Why Poki Partners With Nitrome And More To Preserve Flash Games | Pocket Gamer.biz

For some of us, Flash games were one of the first introductions to the gaming world – short, silly titles played in browsers around the world, often created by hobbyists with a brilliant idea and a little bit of time. free.

The world has changed dramatically since then, and now Flash games are a dying breed – not least because most modern browsers no longer support them. It hasn’t been available on mobile for eight years since Android dropped it in version 4.1.

But all hope is not lost. Flash game preservation efforts are well advanced and the online gaming platform Poki is dramatically stepping up its own efforts by partnering with Nitrome, now a respected mobile studio, and adding 100 of the developer’s old Flash titles to the platform.

To learn more about why he preserves these games, we spoke with Poki co-founder Michiel van Amerongen and other team members – as well as Nitrome’s Mat Annal – about the technical challenges of saving. of these games and why it is a good deal for everyone. implied.

PocketGamer.biz: We last spoke to you about four years ago, after Color Switch launched on your platform. How has Poki grown and changed over these four years?

Michiel van Amerongen: 2012 – 2016 was a tough time for web games. App stores had exploded, Flash was on the verge of dying out, but its HTML5 successor was still a niche game development technology.

The launch of Color Switch on Poki was a turning point: We had been experimenting with HTML5 as a multi-device game development technology for years, so we knew what it was capable of. But with Color Switch, we now had a first major game with proven success in the App Store endorsing that potential as well.

It’s amazing that these games still attract and inspire new generations of gamers across the world.

Michiel van Amerongen

This partnership has paved the way for more collaborations with game developers big and small. Our playground has since featured a mix of some of the most successful games of the past decade like Subway Surfers (by Kiloo), Crossy Road (Hipster Whale), and Stickman Hook (Madbox), alongside true web originals like Raft. Wars (Martijn Kunst), Life – The Game (Ohmaigawd) and Duck Life (Wix Games) which recall the early days of the Web.

We are delighted to be able to nurture this original vibe, while tapping into the quality games that have evolved with the success of the mobile application ecosystem.

Why is keeping old Flash games good for you?

In 2017, we hired Erik Sombroek, a former freelance Flash game developer, to work on the development tools part of our platform. Through his game developer friends, we met Rob Bateman from Way Studios, who was a Flash PM at the BBC at the time and had started working on a set of libraries that had the potential to run content. Flash in a modern environment. Internet browsers.

Over the years, we’ve looked for ways to preserve the Flash classics we grew up with. Original and diverse creations like Dino Run (Pixeljam), Tank Trouble (Mads Purup) and The Impossible Quiz (Splapp-me-do) which have been around for 10 years or more. It’s amazing that these games still attract and inspire new generations of gamers across the world.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with Rob and invested heavily in emulating the Flash classics, preserving titles one at a time while bolstering Rob AwayFL’s conversion technology with every supported game.

For an example of what it looks like, here’s a screenshot:

Here is a video showing the game on mobile:

Or play it yourself here!

What you see here is the result of a successful collaboration: Nitrome released their Bad Ice Cream series on Poki, Away Studios did the conversion to HTML5, all stuck with the Poki SDK which provides virtual touch controls on devices. mobile.

We are delighted to see that the partnership is a success both creatively and commercially: the new HTML5 version of Bad Ice-Cream reaches the second most played game on our platform just days after its release, which shows that players still appreciate it. game in the mobile age on the web.

Besides keeping their games alive, how does preserving Flash games on Poki help developers?

Unlike in the early days of Flash (where license sales were the main source of revenue for developers), we have developed a transparent revenue sharing system that comes with a lifelong revenue stream for game developers. who decide to keep their game with us.

It’s great for all of us that technology advances, allowing us to solve challenges that were until now difficult to overcome.

Michiel van Amerongen

Depending on the game, this income stream can be anywhere between a little and a lot; for us, it’s not just absolute numbers, but the idea that developers have a sense of belonging, that they are the only ones who benefit from their creation.

In addition to this monthly salary, we are also looking for ways to improve the gaming experience for end users, for example through experimental features of the Poki SDK such as virtual touch controls on mobile devices.

We allow developers to customize the look of this virtual gamepad with custom graphics, or modify it with custom code. We prefer to view our developer partnerships as an ongoing creative collaboration, rather than a one-time publish contract.

How did the partnership with Nitrome come about?

Michiel van Amerongen: My co-founder Bas and I first met the founders of Nitrome Mat and Jon at their London office in 2014. At the time, Mat and Jon reacted to Flash’s demise by pivoting their development activity of games to mobile application stores.

They had great success doing this, even though the app stores were getting more and more crowded. Nonetheless, this decision forced them to abandon their original catalog of Flash games that made them famous in the first place.

It’s great for all of us that technology advances, allowing us to solve challenges that were until now difficult to overcome.

Mat Annal, CEO of Nitrome: Over the past few years, we’ve been in contact with the Poki team from time to time to explore the possibilities of preserving our catalog of Flash games for the web. Until now, we had not been impressed with the solutions available, as they were limited to more archival purposes.

We think Poki and AwayFL’s approach really stands out in terms of the quality of experience for gamers, allowing them to play the games in the online browser as originally intended. It is even possible to play the games in mobile browsers for the first time with the addition of virtual controls if needed.

The current solution allows the developer to offer in-game monetization and information on player revenue and data, as well as the ability to further expand versions of the game (e.g. by adding new levels) through their platform. -self-service development form.

Why do you think Nitrome’s first catalog of Flash games is a good choice for Poki? And you plan to launch over 100 Nitrome games on your platform. What is your plan to deploy them?

Joep van Duinen, Head of Game Developers Relations: Nitrome’s catalog of Flash games is a great fit, as they offer a diverse set of games with a recognizable artistic style, and they are fun to play for a wide range of users.

For mobile in particular, the main challenge for us has been to convert the keyboard controls into a good UX on a mobile touchscreen.

Erik Sombroek

Several of their IP addresses, including Bad Ice-Cream, Rubble Trouble, and Twin Shot, have been among the most popular games on the web for years. We’ve always believed that the web is first and foremost about easy access: if it’s technically possible to give fans around the world an instant Nitrome experience on any device, why look less?

We will encourage our users to discover Nitrome’s games and explore from there, switching between them, without having to install any plug-ins or apps.

In terms of emulation, with every other game comes a different bunch of technical challenges. But as we move through the Nitrome catalog, at some point we’ll be in a place where Nitrome’s frameworks and design patterns have been fully converted to HTML5.

At this point, Nitrome might even continue to use Flash as its primary development tool to release additional content packs for these games. Who would have thought that with Flash’s condemnation of mobile irrelevance, 2020 was going to be the year it would be used again as a tool to develop mobile content?

Was it difficult to ensure these older games worked on your platform? Are there any special issues to make sure these games work on mobile?

Erik Sombroek, game technical engineer: For mobile in particular, the main challenge for us has been to convert the keyboard controls into a good UX on a mobile touchscreen. To date, we’ve done this for a dozen Flash games, and so far each game has come with a unique set of requirements. Getting all of this to work consistently across all devices has been a challenge.

That said, we do try to address issues in specific games generically, so the more developers we work with, the stronger the web game stack gets for all of us.

Good vibes at Poki headquarters, when Poki hosted the JSNation Amsterdam pre-party in 2019

What are your goals for Poki for the rest of 2020? Do you have any other major ongoing partnerships that you could talk about?

Michiel van Amerongen: In 2020, we hope to keep more great Flash creations for future generations, as Erik, our Game Developer Relations Manager, Joep van Duinen, and the rest of the team work closely with the developers. behind these titles to build on their former as well. as new IPs. Together, we believe we can make the web a better place for games and game developers.

We will keep you posted on future partnerships!

Interested developers can contact Poki through developer.poki.com or directly at flash@poki.com.

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