Q: Can you tell us about your background and initial steps in the field of game development?
from a commerce background, it’s amusing to say that I spent most
of my college free time playing games on the computer and consoles
rather than reading economics and finance. It was also during that
time that I started my tryst with coding using simple programming
languages, and being a self learner I relied on the internet for
information and code samples.
My move to
Flash gaming happened coincidentally due to the market demand for
small sized and rich interfaced games. And now it’s been more than
6 years since I have been developing Flash games.
What was your first Flash game?
Flash game was a web based game developed in 2002 during the Chinese
New Year. The game had a simple game-play but used a lot of color and
Chinese symbolic props. The intention was to use the game only as a
platform for invoking a message of wishing the Chinese and not
providing an intuitive game experience. I remember enjoying
developing the game, because with it, I realized the potential of
Flash and the benefits it offered like easy scalability and richness
Can you tell us a bit about your latest Flash Lite projects?
difficult to talk about unreleased products, but I would like to say
that I am building a very interesting application and a series of
games in Flash Lite 2.1 & 3.
What's the current status of the Flash Lite penetration? Which
version seems to be the most popular today?
to Bill Perry, evangelist for Mobile and Devices at Adobe, currently
there are 60 Nokia, 36 Sony Ericsson and 13 BREW handsets that have
Flash Lite versions 1.1/2.0/2.1 pre-installed. It will be difficult
to predict about Flash Lite 3.0, as it was only launched recently,
but I am assuming we can expect devices with this version to be out
2.x is probably the most popular for content development because of a
good handset support available. Almost 30 Nokia handsets and all BREW
handsets support this version of Flash. Moreover with Flash Lite 2.x,
developers can use Actionscript 2.0, and develop content that can
have backward compatibility with newer versions of the Flash Lite
many developers shying away from Flash Lite 1.1 because of the
limited syntax capability, but now with 2.x, the capabilities to
develop content are a lot stronger.
How does Flash Lite compare to J2ME in terms of diffusion?
no doubt that J2ME is really big and has a higher adoption in the
market as compared to Flash Lite. We can partially attribute this to
the operator’s lack of understanding of Flash Lite and its
advantages. Moreover, security and backward compatibility of content
with every new release of the Flash Lite player, operators are
finding it difficult to come out with a fluid model of delivery.
is slowly changing with the onset of many content distribution and
aggregation networks like Handango,
Software Market and Verizon.
There are also operators like Telenor
in Sweden and Iguana Mobiles in Asia launching Flash Cast and Flash
Lite content. My prediction would be that as operators will realize
the true potential of Flash Lite and its capability to offer better
experiences, it won’t be long before this technology completely
takes over the market.
There's also a Flash Lite player for Brew available for developers.
What are its advantages?
Lite now being supported on the BREW
network, opportunities for development to a new market
place have opened for mobile developers.
biggest advantage of this is that BREW handsets do not need to have
the Flash Lite Player pre-installed for a user to download content.
The BREW platform provides the ability to download extensions
directly to the handset thus enabling the added functionality of
Flash Lite on the device. This means, when a user selects a piece of
Flash Lite content, the BREW extension is automatically downloaded
over the air, immediately enabling the handset of the player. The
platform also prevents repeated downloads of the player for every
content download after detecting the player existence.
Do you also use J2ME for game development?
use J2ME for game development because I think I’ve got my hands
quite comfortable with Action Script coding. However, I would like to
add that I have been exposed to the J2ME gaming scenario and am aware
of the techniques and methods used for development. But currently I
use only Flash for gaming.
are the main differences between the two environments?
many differences between J2ME and Flash Lite. Not highlighting the
technical differences because it has already been covered in a
detailed article comparing J2ME
and Flash Lite on the Adobe Developer Connection, I
would say the development time for Flash Lite is way lesser than
J2ME. This means better resource management and higher revenues.
provides a complete environment for designing, developing, and
testing content as compared to J2ME which has a separate environment
for coding, designing and testing. With Flash, a designer and
developer can work independent of each other, which is not the case
Adobe has recently announced Flash Lite 3, which will bring video/flv
streaming to cell phones. Are there any other interesting features
for game developers?
enhancement that Flash Lite 3 provides is the use of flv files in
comparison to only device videos in the previous versions. In
addition to the video feature, Flash Lite 3 also has significant
improvement in the performance of content. I consider these as big
additions as it will enable the developers to push the edge of the
technology to another level.
Given the large variety of phones available, how do you make sure
that your application will behave correctly on most of them?
Device Central of course! It is not possible to test
the content individually on all handsets. The practice I follow is to
divide the handsets according to the screen sizes, color support and
memory. I then club similar handsets together and make sure that I
have at least one real handset from each group for testing.
concerns one can have during handset testing is crashing of
application due to memory limitations, as all other issues can be
solved on the emulator.
Have you experimented with multiplayer mobile games? What are the
biggest issue with multiplayer games is latency of mobile networks.
Most multiplayer games today are turn based and not real-time, and
this further aggravates the latency because players have to wait for
the other players to make their move. Further-more, the limited
bandwidths only prevent the game from being constantly alive. For
instance, once a player goes offline,
his state quickly becomes stale and the replica becomes
network usage also makes it difficult to convince users to adopt
Are there specific game genres that work better for the mobile
games are doing well in the market. What people want is simple
one-button games that can appease a varied age group.
normal people have limited time between their highly hectic lives,
and casual games work the best with them. A good casual mobile game
is generally simple, intuitive and easy to get into and play for 10
minutes at a time. One can catch a few moments of a casual game
between meetings, while traveling or waiting for a friend to arrive,
as compared to hard core action or adventure games that require time
And which one don’t seem to work?
the days of side-scrollers are long over. This game view has been
exploited to the maximum and I have yet to see a recent adventure
game which offers something different. Making another side-scroller
title would be nothing but just another title.
lot of independent developers are probably hesitant about the mobile
game market being profitable for them. How do you see it?
developers for any mobile technology would be hesitant about their
content being profitable because of the difficulty to connecting with
carriers. One also cannot blame the carriers because it is not
possible for them to review content from every developer who
approaches them. Thus they reach out to the companies that can offer
a continuous flow of content to put on their deck.
market for Flash Lite is smaller compared to J2ME or BREW. And the
limited aggregators that are existing in the market are also wary
about the games they accept from independent developers because the
operators want unique titles. However if a developer is capable of
creating content that has a bar raised much higher from the rest,
there is no way he would not be profitable.
What are the channels that a developer or small game company can use
to distribute their games?
are the best medium for small developers to get their content out to
the public. There are a number of aggregators like Smashing
etc who review games from independent developers and launch it on the
network. There are also direct to consumer channels like Handango
and the Nokia
Software Market that accept content from independent