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Thursday, January 7

Why Flash is Not a PBBG

A lot of folks ask me what "games" I develop. I tell them I make Persistent Browser Based Games (PBBG), their eyes promptly gloss over and I promptly move along.

However, there are some few folks who know what I'm talking about. This post would be for those select few.

Flash games are not Persistent Browser Based Games.

A PBBG is the defined as the following (from
A persistent browser-based game, or PBBG, is a computer game that satisfies the following two criteria:
  1. It is browser-based. The game is played over the Internet using only a web browser.
  2. It is persistent. Progress in the game is achieved over multiple playing sessions.
PBBGs merge the depth and longevity of an application-based game with the accessibility and portability of a browser-based game. PBBG can be spoken as pee-bee for brevity.
Notice the explicit use of the word only .

Flash requires a plug-in, regardless of which browser a user uses. Thus it is out. Even if the game itself is "persistent". Now, flash can be an added bonus/feature to your game. But if a user needs flash to play your game then its no longer a pbbg.

Flash stay in your genre or make your own.

Why is this important to me?
PBBG is a different art from flash development. I like the fact that PBBG development requires you to understand all the three levels of web development. It also assist you in growing skills that can be used in a more "professional" environment.

Flash on the other hand, can more easily blur the lines in the three levels of web development as well as cut some corners on some fundumental development skills that professionals need.

If someone comes to me and says I've developed a PBBG...I can assess thier skill set pretty quickly. If someone says they've done a Flash game...well...I know a lot of easy ways to throw a flash game together.

Is it important to you that Flash games be excluded from PBBGs?


ZDI said...

Quite frankly, trying to define something that resides inside the amorphous entitity known as the Internet is a losing battle. Take Web 2.0 for instance. I can't count the number of times I've battled other techies on the definition of what it really is.

I've come to realize that it's not about defining the term for yourself; but for your customers. Will calling your new game made in flash, A Persistant Browser Based Game, be more attractive? Yeah. Will touting your website, bursting at the seams from its ajax-roids, as Web 2.0 make it sound cool? Probably.

With that being said, I do agree that Flash allows developers to cut corners and take shortcuts. But in the end, if you're developing a commercial product, it's going to come back to bite you eventually.

If you haven't already, take a look at Adobe Flex. It's basically Flash with a more developer oriented focus.

Anonymous said...

Even if don't use flash because i like the easy way of using js i think you can create the front end for a pbbg in flash... not the way i really like it, but sometimes it is a better solution, for example if you have cpu expensive animation or lots of data you need to process and visualize. Today js capacities are not big enough for some of these jobs even if it has been developed a lot (chromes v8 for example)

And by the way: flash is something that runs primary in your browser even if there some examples out there where you could use it as a standalone program (air), but it's mainly used in the browser and with its spread about 98% (silverlight sucks ;)) it's something you normally have in your browser if not being a part of it.

Anonymous said...

I'd say that point number 2 is more often the one that disqualifies Flash from PBBGs. The lack of persistance.

Although persistance in Flash is certainly possibly and is sometimes used, the vast majority of the Flash-o-sphere is occupied by short-form casual games which don't persist.

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