Google Now in the Casual Game Ads Market

Google has entered the flash gaming ads market.  Right now that is pretty much owned by MochiAds for flash game devleopers at least pre-game ads anyways.  Advertising can be annoying but MochiAds has pulled it off where the ads are usually advertising other games or interesting things and it monetizes game development for Flash, Unity3D, Director and others, which is a win.  There are many flash gaming sites that are great fun that use ads almost stylistically like Nitrome and typically the ads are pretty fast when they are during the game loading.

Although advertisements in games have long been a scurge on gamers fun when they are trying to insert them into fat client, immersive MMOGs where it totally takes away from the experience, that doesn’t work.

What does work is stuff like MochiAds and possibly Second Life type sponsorships, where advertisements are almost nostalgic or fun and integrated. Developers and publishers have to make money somehow, the better the experience the more impactful and the more games for all. The key is making the integration a good user experience.

We shall see how Google plans to do this.  This might go along with their Lively strategy. The ad market entrance in games is possibly what started the rumors that Google was going to buy Valve for Steam, rumors which quickly died down.

Anyways, the one good thing about this announcement is advertisments go to where the eyes and crowds are going or already at, they are apparantly going massively to online web games and causal experiences make for easy advertisment integration. TV, Radio and many other industries have been supported by advertisement interest due to consumers using and buying the content.  So online gaming is just another one of those entertainment industries and it will grow further with this news.

Flash App Photo Editor Picnik Integrated with Flickr

Picnik is an excellent application that makes believers out of RIA skeptics made with Flash/Flex.   Today Picnik is now integrated with Flickr bringing user friendly photoshop essentially to the masses

This is a pretty interesting market direction as more photo companies like photobucket and flickr add to the competition for photo editing. As flash based uploads, photo editors, word processors, presentation creators, conference systems, office apps, planning apps and many others all over the web does this mean the services model is really here and RIA is not just a fad?

The model of software is changing, again. The one competitive edge that web applications, and specifically RIA apps have over desktop is that many desktop apps are bloated, have legacy evolution that caused heavy, busy interfaces and absolutely no abstraction of the possible user level in many cases. Web applications are for a broad audience so these applications will see many benefits in making simplified versions of applications for lower skilled users, and then for advanced users more features.

The model is entirely different. They also have the ability to embed in sites like flickr, photobucket, social networks, office product offerings, small business servers, etc.  They could even compete on these sites.  The install base will not be millions of client computers but networks and clusters of users at online places and services.

This was a dream with ASP applications and software as a service.  The problem was before RIA some of the limits of the web were preventing web apps from overtaking and beating out the features of desktop apps. RIAs and the web, web services, user controlled  environments are changing the way software is used. is   We aren’t entirely there yet but RIAs are reviewing their schematics, late at night, and are slowly taking over the software world and changing the model.  Like a ninja is Picnik.

Regarding Picnik, I can’t say enough about the simplicity, clean design that they have pulled off here.  The website and application have an identical brand.  The application is extremely responsive and acts like html sites would when it comes to text and forms. The integration of services, webcam, all filters in flash, on and on.  They really have a great team and it seems like they are both a great product team but also have the right quality. The new market is extremely agile, the paradigm is shifting.

Flash 10: Hydra and AIF (Adobe Image Foundation) and Hardware Rendering

Adobe has announced the release of the inital developer views of AIF and Hydra in “Astro” the next version of the flash player (10).

AIF (Adobe Image Foundation) like AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) is a new technology just out of the gate but it does show that Adobe is into innovating and the vector wars. AIR is beta2 and Flash player 9 “moviestar” updates for video are coming along nicely but here we have more news out of MAX in Chicago that AIF is now available.

What is AIF? It is a new imaging and effects technology to help people create their own filters for Flash (blur, drop shadow etc are defaults). Hydra the new language for this is reminiscent of processing.org (if you haven’t been to flight404.com since the 90’s then processing is all it is about there) and Cg from nVidia to write and test shaders. The fact that it is based on GLSL (OpenGL Shading Language) will help it easily port shaders coming in 3d gaming into Flash which is really sweet. The direction slowly is that Flash and maybe Silverlight will become more of gaming platforms and this is a nice point in that direction.

From Adobe here is what AIF is:

Introduction to the Adobe Image Foundation Toolkit Technology Preview

The Adobe Image Foundation (AIF) Toolkit preview release includes a high-performance graphics programming language that Adobe is developing for image processing, codenamed Hydra, and an application to create, compile and preview Hydra filters and effects. The toolkit contains a specification for the Hydra language, several sample filters, and sample images provided by AIF team members. The AIF technology delivers a common image and video processing infrastructure which provides automatic runtime optimization on heterogeneous hardware. It currently ships in After Effects CS3 and will be used in other Adobe products in the future. The next release of Flash Player, codenamed Astro, will leverage Hydra to enable developers to create custom filters, effects and blend modes.

Hydra is a programming language used to implement image processing algorithms in a hardware-independent manner. Some benefits of Hydra include:

  • Familiar syntax that is based on GLSL, which is C-based
  • Allows the same filter to run efficiently on different GPU and CPU architectures, including multi-core and multiprocessor systems in a future update
  • Abstracts out the complexity of executing on heterogeneous hardware
  • Supports 3rd party creation and sharing of filters and effects
  • Delivers excellent image processing performance in Adobe products

Reaction is that this is a strong Adobe direction to move towards more capable technology as in AS3 and Hydra and allow more customizable possibly hardware rendered and accelerated shader like technology for Flash filters. The new AVM2 and AS3 allow for faster processing and pixel based operations that you need for buildng filters and or shaders.

This is pretty interesting, it isn’t full blown hardware rendering which would just be excellent. So far hardware accelerated full screen stretching in Flash 9 Moviestar beta and now filters will have an element of hardware capable rendering, it should help performance. Full hardware acceleration seemingly will not happen in Flash 10 so the 3d engines and new 3d elements from Adobe are all software rendered still. However dual and multi-core processing will help rendering of 3d in flash BUT video cards are more prevalent than dual or multi-core for some time. Basic hardware rendering even for a low bar could greatly change the flash platform.

It is still a while off yet but it was good to know that performance and shaders/filters are getting attention but hardware rendering not just yet for 3d and basic drawing/rendering. One thing is for sure, in 2007 developing interactive for the web is being shook up and changing rapidly.

Here’s a video taken by Aral Balkan of the Astro presentation at MAX

Adobe AIR Apps Starting to Appear

Adobe AIR apps are starting to pop up more. After the Grant Skinner AIR app for digg.com it appears Kevin Rose has launched pownce which is a twitter/email/friend/social sharing site/service. The desktop app for pownce.com is built with AIR. I believe AIR will really take off with these types of apps succeeding on it. Pownce is only alpha but it is hard to see it not being successful with the amount of digg users that will spill over.

Pownce (you have to be invited to private alpha)

Other apps for AIR so far that are usable and ready:

FineTune
Competitor to last.fm. I wonder how long til a last.fm air app.



Digg Desktop Widget (from Adobe sponsored digg API contest)

Other AIR apps can be viewed here including kuler, a twitter app and more. And also here at Rob Christensen’s blog.

Best Of Commercial Flash Papervision3D (yet)


Here’s some of the best commercial Papervision3d projects so far
(all commercial papervision I have seen so far has made theFWA):

1)  The Brahma Bus interactive project
       by Russian firm PARK Studios.


Customize your own VW Bus, received theFWA recognition.

2) Eye Project
      by
Takayuki Fukatsu aka fladdict

This is a killer use of pixel color mapping to video overall color.  It has papervision in the archives where it uses some more really well done pixel manipulation effects, received theFWA recognition.

3) The Net Eye interface (based on pv3d sample PaperCloud)
      by Neteye


Nice interface based on a pv3d sample project, received theFWA recognition.

*** The authors of papervision3D also have some of the coolest demos with it as well listed here.

Carlo Ulloa (based on pv3d sample Focus – by far the best)
      by Carlo Ulloa


Papervision3d homepage Shark Demo (wait for it, wait for it…)

Very First Papervision3D Star Wars Game by John Grden.


Also the original shader demos by Ralph Hauwert were killer.

About Vector/Web 3d

Papervision3d created by Carlos Ulloa Matesanz, Ralph Hauwert, and last but not least John Grden has really hit a development and design nerve, along with AS3 finally being ready for primetime. People are really excited about projects like this and it just goes back to my point that in the Vector Wars (Adobe vs Microsoft (haxe making a little noise in dev circles as well)) whoever rolls out cross platform 3d harware rendering in their plug in they will pwn.

Whos the Next Leader of 3d on the Web?

Director has been abandoned for new released until 2008 at least for any 3d updates (if we ever see another version).  But Flash could implement OpenGL (which would lead to it maybe being open one day) and Silverlight would implement DirectX but woudl probably stop at implementing OpenGL.  Flash *could* own with hardware rendering but it opens it up to many more plugins which lead to Director being maxed out at 50% market saturation. 

Anyways, it probably won’t happen but today we have some nice 3d engines in Flash that are fast enough in AS3 with its new shiny VM and there have been some nice commercial successes of the wise early adopters of this technology. Papervision3D, Away 3d (possible merging of code), and Sandy have all helped to add to the buzz around AS3.

UPDATE: Check out this Mech Demo that is making the rounds.  The demo has working hit detection and projectiles from the mech as well as animation on the 3d model.

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