Adobe cancels Flash: Remember the good old days of Flash gaming?
Soon, .SWF files will be a distant memory.
The big tech news this week seems to be all about endings. First, there was the news that Microsoft were going to axe Paint after more than 30 years -- although they kind of walked this back after an outcry (you'll still be able to download Paint). There has been considerably less of an outcry however, at the news of Flash's official demise -- by December 31st 2020, all browsers will have phased Flash out completely. It sure means a lot of work -- anything that still uses Flash will need updating and so on, otherwise it's going to stop working pretty soon.
Of course, the ramifications of all this are less my concern -- I'm more keen to reminisce about the cruder, earlier days of Flash, back when it was still Macromedia and not Adobe. In the time when I first started properly browsing the Internet (we're talking 1998-1999 here), something that was based on Flash was, in theory, going to be pretty freaking cool...mind you, in the days of the 56k modem it also usually meant that it'd take an eternity to actually load depending on how complicated it was, so Flash sites were actually terrible even if they looked fancy as hell (MTV2 UK's site? I'm looking at you here). I well remember spending over half an hour loading up this flash animation here -- you can see how dated it is due to it being all about Metallica and Napster. It's still amazing to think that today, nearly 20 (oh my god) years later, this loads up in a second.
Of course, Flash games were big back then too -- more so in the early '00s, and usually when you were at school or college or whatever and you had a decent Internet connection around, and a well-positioned computer so that it's tricky for the tutor to see what you're doing. It's hard for me to actually remember any really good ones, but then a lot of them weren't good to begin with -- they were mostly designed to be quick distractions where you might, say, play a crude volleyball game with a mate, or a "tribute" to a more famous title filled with crudely ripped out sprites, or the infamous Unfair Platformer, or -- my own favourite -- a game called Little Master that just threw endless cricket balls at you which you batted away with the mouse. Some game designers got their start here, mind you -- although plenty more didn't. But suddenly gaming was always available -- just search something like "online free games" and away you go! Before you know it, you're playing some shite.
Of course, eventually these days faded out, and people figured out how to make a lot more cash. It's not like the websites of old, the Miniclips and Kongregates and all that, have gone away -- they publish, they earn millions, and they probably switched to HTML5 -- the main reason behind Flash's decline and fall into what is now little more than a security risk -- a fair old time ago. Generally speaking, the games that you can play online and in your browser are considerably more complicated than they were back in Flash's heyday -- jeez, even something like slither.io would blow the mind of someone who'd only ever fooled around pretending to assassinate celebrites or punch President Bush on Newgrounds back in the day. Still, you can look at the early work of a designer like Terry Cavanagh, or RedLynx -- who used Flash to make some of the original Trials games -- and see how important the Flash days were to their own development as well as saying that, indeed, Flash has now become retro. There's just one problem -- with Flash about to be phased out of the Internet forever, how will we be able to play all of that stuff again? Who's going to preserve it? Who knows, I might want to play Little Master or Roberto Baggio's Free Kicks or The Negotiator in 2030. It would be nice to at least have the option to, anyway.