Posts Tagged HTML5

Optimizing Flash for the iPad

You might know that I am making a game for the iPad and it’s nearly done. The thing is, I also want to publish it on the web, you know, make money from sponsorship too. Actually, I think it might be the only way I make money with the game as the iPad app market seems really hard. Plus it will also cost me money to publish in the Apple app store (developer account), so I think I might be loosing money going that way. Anyway, I was testing my game for the web first and everything was working fine. I tested on the iPad after and that is when things started to get hairy.

Yeah, an iPad (iPad 2) is not a full fledged computer (funny to say this considering my first computer was a 486), so it is not as fast. Well I have seen some pretty crazy shit on the iPad, like the Dead Space game so I guess it can be pretty strong. This only means that the Flash player isn’t that great on it, probably because it doesn’t use the GPU. So as I was testing my game on the iPad, it started out working really great, but as the game went on, more and more objects got drawn onto the screen and that is when the performance started to go down. So I set out to optimize my code.

Object pooling

Object creation in Flash is an operation that is costly and since I hadn’t optimized anything yet, I was recreating every object on the screen every frame. There is a possibility of having 240 objects on the screen at the same time, so that’s a lot of object creating every frame. To minimize this, you can do object pooling, which is having a pool of already created objects and change their properties instead of creating new ones. I did just that and it went really fast to implement. The thing is, when I tested it on the iPad, it made no difference at all.

Blitting

Another thing that is heavy on the CPU in Flash is updating graphics, so I tried to optimize that part. Blitting is a technique by which you compress all your visual into only one Bitmap that you draw on the screen. So instead of having multiple display objects being redrawn (in my case 240), you only have one. Read more about blitting here. Blitting doesn’t fit well with every project (like those relying on vector graphics) , but mine was based on Bitmaps and didn’t have a lot of rotations (it did, but only 90 degrees one) so I could easily do it. I was pretty sure that this would help a lot, but it actually did nothing noticeable. I was a bit baffled here, maybe my redrawn zone is too big… It is a game for iPad so I have a full resolution of 1024 x 768, maybe that is too heavy for the Flash Player.

Code Optimization

So if it wasn’t the creation of objects or the graphics, than maybe it was the code. I had used Arrays everywhere cause it is just simpler to use than Vectors, so I changed them all. I also did some loop optimization and replaced some divisions by multiplications ( like /2 to *0.5). Also didn’t change anything…

Last Resort

My last resort was to change the game dynamics so that the game is less intensive on the CPU and that is the only thing that made any impact on performance. My game is a puzzle, so I removed 3 rows and 1 column from it thus reducing the possible maximum number of object on the screen (and also the redrawn region size, and probably also the number of computations) by 20%.

Conclusions

I’m pretty sad at this point, changing the game dynamics to optimize is not a really good decision, it’s kinda like saying let’s make the game less fun to make it run faster. What I liked about Flash is that I could compile for the web, iOs and Android with limited changes (in this case all I changed was different layouts based on size (height and width) of the game). Turns out it is not fast enough on iOs (iPad). Maybe when they put Stage3D on iOs that will do it, but till than there is no true cross development platform. I meant to look into Corona, but it does only mobile. And I really don’t want to fall into the HTML5 mess. I would really like to hear about a dev story about HTML5 and a game built for web and mobile and most importantly how much time it took to do.

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Comments


Why Flash is not disappearing

All the debate about Apple vs Adobe really got me thinking lately. Last night , I woke up at 4 in the morning with the idea for this post. It suddenly hit me. Most of the latest trends on the web happened because it was allowed by Flash. If you think about 3D, Augmented Reality and ChatRoulette; all of those could not have happened if Flash didn’t exist and are currently not possible to implement using HTML5.

3D

3D really picked up when Papervision3D ported there library from ActionScript 2 to ActionScript 3. ActionScript 3 made it faster so you could actually do some interesting 3D without automatically killing the user’s CPU. Right after that we saw a wave of Flash website all using 3D in them. I’m not saying that was good; plenty of sites used the 3D for no reason at all except for the fact that it was cool. Now that the hype on 3D as dimmed down, we see better uses of the library. My point is that Flash opened up new possibilities. There are now a few more libraries for 3D (Away3D, Sandy3D, Five3D, etc) and I don’t think those would be possible with the current state of javascript. Right now everybody speaks about HTML5 and the Canvas but, boy, JavaScript is so not on par with ActionScript 3. jQuery makes it better but still. Here is a good example of a site that uses 3D.

3D models in Flash

Augmented Reality

AR was all the buzz last year and 3D is what really made it possible in the browser. AR is a concept that has been around since the 90s but it never picked up until it came to Flash because it made it accessible. For AR you mostly need 3D and a camera. The webcam is easily accessible in Flash and since Flash is so ubiquitous. Now video is possible with HTML5 but webcam won’t happen; maybe HTML6. So as AR evolve we will see tons of new applications coming our way.

GE augmented reality

ChatRoulette

Now ChatRoulette is really interesting. I don’t know if it is going to last or if it is going to disappear or change, but it definitely showed an interesting facet of the internet ( not talking about the impressing number of male exhibitionists out there). ChatRoulette could use the webcam and a media streaming server, but that is not what is happening here. Already all that is not possible in HTML5. What ChatRoulette is using is the new P2P service Stratus by Adobe integrated FlashPlayer 10. That is a new feature in the Flash player that most people are not aware of. What it does is that it connects users directly to send the video without going through the server ( in this case the ChatRoulette server) so it save a lot of money in bandwidth. Is this a cool feature? fuck yeah. Is this close to being included in HTML5? Not in years.

Chatroulette interface

The general conception is tying Flash to video, but that is not all that Flash does right. 3D, AR, and P2P are just some examples I took to illustrate the fact that Flash is pushing the web forward; I can easily think of many more: microphone access, Pixel Bender, ActionScript 3 (so much more fun to work with than JavaScript), AIR, etc. And that is just what is available right now in Flash Player 10. I can’t wait to see what will be available in the future.

, , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments