Forgot your password?

Comment: Adobe, what are you up to? (Score 1) 57

by Tronster (#48131151) Attached to: Flash IDE Can Now Reach Non-Flash Targets (Including Open Source)

The IDE with the name "Flash" (or "Flash CC" in it's current version) is by far the best 2d animation tool in the industry. That said, despite an ever increasing IDE set of feature, it's horrendous for coding and debugging. The OpenSource project "Flash Develop" ( ) made AS3 usable by the many hobbyists writing games, as well as the AAA's doing UI work via Scaleform's Flash player.

For those not on the Flash/AS3 scene: there was the meme "Flash is Dead" that started about 3-5 years ago. It's not dead, as-in not at 0% usage, but for about two years it hasn't been a viable tech for most indies to use. (Flash via Adobe's AIR technology does work great on mobile but for some reason, perhaps due to the need of "Flash Builder", this doesn't have as great as a traction amongst indie game devs.) Most indie/AAA devs who really did a stellar job leveraging the low-level bits of Flash, ended up going to HTML5/Javascript or C#/Unity ( ) . A few did jump over to HaXe ( ), and the award winning "Papers Please" game showed HaXe is viable for indie commercial projects... but it's unproven for larger scale projects and the smaller size of the dev team working on HaXe, has some companies hesitant to explore it.

So it's great Adobe is adding these hooks to allow OpenFL / HaXe to become more accessible, and thereby help out both the Flash community and their own communities. ... but what about "Flash Builder"? The other Flash IDE, built upon Eclipse that is so broken that if you delete a local project through the Finder, it prevents the whole IDE from even starting up? Is Adobe dropping it? Are they adding the functionality to it? Are they going to make it as friendly to use as FlashDevelop? (I'd love to not have to boot Parallels, just to use a Windows-only IDE.)

Half of the (former-)Flash blogs I follow, sound as-if Adobe is transitioning away from Flash, putting resources into HTML/Javascript tools instead. And then occasionally, I hear about some new (usually game industry-related) features Adobe is installing in their Flash tools. But even when 100's of indie developers were making a full-time living, selling Flash games, there wasn't a single year at the Game Developer's Conference (GDC) that Adobe had a Flash presence and talked about games with their technology (with the exception of one year showing off "Adobe Director".)

Depending on if/how the sale of Unity goes to Google, or Microsoft, or whoever... this may be the one opportunity where Adobe can enamor game programmers with a Flash-based development environment (maybe other business sectors as well.)

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Comment: Re:Why Do You Accept This? (Score 1) 232

by Tronster (#47929091) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?

We do this too; we have a "producer" (akin to a manager in the non-game software development) in the stand up. If someone takes an inordinate amount of time or goes off topic, the producer snaps the stand-up back on track. If a pattern of this occurs, they'll talk to the individual after the meeting to work out a solution.

I agree with those who talk about FDD being a cultural problem as the arrangement outlined above could transpire poorly if the standup meetings repeatedly derail and/or the manager has horrible soft skills when requesting a developer to be more succinct.


Google: Indie Musicians Must Join Streaming Service Or Be Removed 364

Posted by Soulskill
from the our-way-or-the-highway dept.
Sockatume writes: In a statement to the Financial Times and reported by the BBC, Google has confirmed that it will remove the music videos of independent artists unless they sign up to its upcoming subscription music service. Many independent musicians and labels have refused to do so, claiming that the contracts offer significantly worse deals than the likes of Spotify and Pandora, and that Google is unwilling to negotiate on the rates it offers artists. A Google spokesperson indicated that the company could start removing videos within days.

Data Center With a Brain: Google Using Machine Learning In Server Farms 26

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the skynet-online dept.
1sockchuck (826398) writes "Google has begun using machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze the oceans of data it collects about its server farms and recommend ways to improve them. Google data center executive Joe Kava said the use of neural networks will allow Google to reach new frontiers in efficiency in its server farms, moving beyond what its engineers can see and analyze. Google's data centers aren't yet ready to drive themselves. But the new tools have been able to predict Google's data center performance with 99.96 percent accuracy."

Controversial TSA Nudie X-Ray Machines Sent To Prisons 108

Posted by timothy
from the at-last-a-proper-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The controversial TSA backscatter X-ray machines are being sent to prisons. According to Federal times, 'The controversial airport screening machines that angered privacy advocates and members of Congress for its revealing images are finding new homes in state and local prisons across the country, according to the Transportation Security Administration.' 154 backscatter X-rays have already ended up in Iowa, Louisiana, and Virginia prisons. TSA is working to find homes for the remaining machines. Per the article: '"TSA and the vendor are working with other government agencies interested in receiving the units for their security mission needs and for use in a different environment," TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein said.'"

Comment: Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (Score 2) 92

by Tronster (#46941467) Attached to: What Was the Greatest Age For Indie Games?

History disagrees with the sentiment that it was easier to "make money" as an indie in the 1980s, or 1990s than today....

In the 1980s the distribution channels were being established which meant either you scored a deal with a bricks and mortar retail store, such as Sears, Babbages or Toy's R Us, or you ziplock bagged your PC game and tried to sell them at swap meets and computer stores.

In the 1990s there were more direct retailers and amalgamations of bricks and mortar stores occurred. The shareware model emerged and ziplock bagging disappeared. If anything, the 1990's were a bit of a dark ages for indies as either you had a publisher to get into a store or shareware.

From the 2000s onward we have an increased number of target platforms, and increased demographic of game players (from kiddos to those who grew up playing games for 30+ years... see: (warning: Word doc)) , and increased number of channels (e.g., bricks and mortar persists (barely), online services like Steam, bundles, etc...)

If you (have aspirations to) develop indie games, it may seem likely everyone is creating them and the market is saturated but it's the same mentality as a musician at a "Guitar Center" thinking everyone in the world is now in a band; no, it's just the community they choose to surround themselves in. The signal to noise ratio is such that indies can succeed if they spend time build a great game and heed the lessons of other indies in how to market it through these channels. (GDC Vault has many free videos on this topic, such as: )

I even have a personal example of a AAA dev who use to work with me, but left years ago to start his own 1-man shop. He was a graphic programmer who taught himself to become a better artist and has been making a living, creating games, for a few years now. Check out his studio: And can also site Discord games ( ); larger than a 1-man group but by making an awesome game and marketing it appropriately, have an opportunity to sell Chasm to eager players, an opportunity that would not have existed 20 years ago.

Comment: Re:late 80s into the 90s (Score 2) 92

by Tronster (#46941071) Attached to: What Was the Greatest Age For Indie Games?

tl;dr: Accessibility has always been a concern and, there is more innovation happening today than 30 years ago.

I also miss the (video game) days of my youth; learning about games from friends, or by going to an arcade and seeing what new machine was front and center...later making ANSII ads for BBS's so I could obtain a high enough credentials to get access to their warez section and learn about the latest games.

That said, I chock my emotions of those days as nostalgia and recognize an indie in the 80's/90's had a much more limited set of options than today. From middle school to college my options went from Applesoft Basic with the Beagle Bros compiler to Turbo Pascal/C++ with the XMODE library. That's it. Innovation in game design, and mechanics was regulated to a task that could be accomplished only after you figured out how to get a framebuffer up, sounds playing, and all the other nit picky things required to build a game.

Don't mistake accessibility with complexity. I make games for a living and some of my co-workers have been doing this for 30+ years; accessibility has always been at the front of the games developers build. When 4k of memory was a lot, the best games could do was have paddles, a ball, and text written on an arcade cabinet to describe how to play. Later on we introduced demo mode and how-to-play screens, which worked particularly well with most games as they didn't scroll and limited play modes and/or mechanics to demonstrate.

And when games became more complex (powerups, scrolling screens, etc...), the games people played were the ones that continued to innovate on how they were accessible. A great example that codifies this early push for accessibility by design is in "Sequelitis - Mega Man Classic vs. Mega Man X"

If games haven't always found a way to be accessible, demos, tutorials, etc... they wouldn't be played because only a handful of us die-hard geeks are willing to read through the manual. So as awesome as it was making games in 320x240 with 256 colors with my own game engine, I know what I was able to produce then pales in comparison to what an eager indie can create today.

To see this innovation just poke around Newgrounds or go to any global game jam site or just look at the entries from one of the quarterly Ludam Dare's ( ). At the Game Developer's Conference this year there was a whole section of alternative input games ( ). And there are plenty of other sources showing innovation game play mechanics, some fun, some not, but plenty of experimentation.

Comment: Now is the time, seize the day... (Score 5, Informative) 92

by Tronster (#46938435) Attached to: What Was the Greatest Age For Indie Games?

What constitutes indie is one questions (and AAA is even harder to come to a consensus, even among my work peers) but that said...

As a child of the 80's, who adamantly played video games (e.g., Apple ][, arcade, 2600, NES, etc...) and got into professional game development over 10 years ago (I work for a AAA studio and my have my own gig for nights/weekends) I'd agree with those who say now, 2014, is the best time for indie game development.

Powerful engines and Middleware tools are accessible with licenses that fit indie budgets (e.g., Unity3d, Unreal4, etc...) as well as a swatch of free software for development. (e.g. Phaser: Blender Love Flixel Haxe )

The internet, as-is, provides indies with a way for
- distance-collaboration (Skype, E-mail, Groups, etc...)
- community building (Twitter, CMSs, Facebook, etc...)
- fundraising (IndieGogo, Kickstarter, HumbleBundle, Paypal, custom web-based donation system, etc...)
- advertising (game communities, news outlets, etc...)

Organizations, such as the International Game Developer's Association (IGDA, ) and events like the Global Game Jam, PAX (IndieMegabooth), and MAGFest also contribute to the community of indie game developers.

It is a great time to be an indie game developer in terms of accessibility and ability to achieve a sustainable income.


Google Shifts Editing From Drive to Docs and Sheets In 'Confusing' Switch 89

Posted by timothy
from the conditionally-readable-headline dept.
GottaBeMobile offers a better explanation than many other reports of a recent Google upgrade (some users would say more of a lateral move) that makes offline document creation and editing a first-class option for users of Google's office apps, but removes editing capabilities from Google Drive per se. Instead of creating or editing documents directly through Drive, users will instead be able to do this (including offline) with a dedicated app called Docs and Sheets. The article explains a few ways in which the new configuration is confusing, including this one: "Splitting out the editing functionality from Google Drive into the new Apps certainly seems odd given that fundamentally there are no new or different editing features offered in the new Google Docs and Google Sheets standalone Apps. Some users won’t appreciate having to download the new stand alone Apps to replace previous functionality, especially limited functionality."

New US Atomic Clock Goes Live 127

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-real-time dept.
PaisteUser (810863) writes with news about a new, hyper-accurate atomic clock unveiled by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. "A new atomic clock, so accurate it will lose or gain only one second every 300 million years, was unveiled Thursday by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The NIST-F2 had been in development for about a decade and is three times more accurate than the F1, which has been in use since 1999. The institute will continue operating both clocks for now at its campus in Boulder, Colorado."

Happy Pi Day 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-we're-nerds dept.
mikejuk writes to let us know that today is Pi Day — 3/14 in American date notation. He writes, "This year, it feels as though we aren't celebrating alone. For the first time, it looks as if momentum has built up to the point where people have heard about Pi Day. There are even attempts to sell you Pi-related items as if it was a real holiday. But there is always some one to spoil the party so what ever you do to celebrate don't miss Vi Hart's Anti-Pi Rant video." Thus begins the yearly debate over Pi Day vs. Tau Day (June 28). Phil Plait has a post defending Pi Day's honor, and MIT isn't holding back their Pi Day celebrations.

The Rescue Plan That Could Have Saved Space Shuttle Columbia 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-only dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In February, 2003, space shuttle Columbia was lost upon atmospheric re-entry. Afterward, NASA commissioned an exhaustive investigation to figure out what happened, and how it could be prevented in the future. However, they also figured out exactly what would have been required for a repair and rescue mission using Atlantis. Lee Hutchinson at Ars Technica went through the report and wrote a lengthy article explaining what such a mission would look like. In short: risky and terribly complex — but possible. 'In order to push Atlantis through processing in time, a number of standard checks would have to be abandoned. The expedited OPF processing would get Atlantis into the Vehicle Assembly Building in just six days, and the 24/7 prep work would then shave an additional day off the amount of time it takes to get Atlantis mated to its external tank and boosters. After only four days in the Vehicle Assembly Building, one of the two Crawler-Transporters would haul Atlantis out to Launch Complex 39, where it would stage on either Pad A or Pad B on Flight Day 15—January 30. ... Once on the pad, the final push to launch would begin. There would be no practice countdown for the astronauts chosen to fly the mission, nor would there be extra fuel leak tests. Prior to this launch, the shortest time a shuttle had spent on the launch pad was 14 days; the pad crews closing out Atlantis would have only 11 days to get it ready to fly.'"

Comment: Re:If you need Flashbuilder, try Mac (Score 1) 155

by Tronster (#46148667) Attached to: Eclipse Foundation Celebrates 10 Years

I have FlashBuilder on my Mac, I only use it when deploying a project to iOS - it is awful. One example: With the latest version (4.7) I deleted a project through the OS X Finder on my hard drive, that I had previously built with FlashBuilder. Afterwards it refused to start up, immediately crashing/closing, even after a reinstall of the entire Adobe suite (a recommendation on various forums.) It took a few hours combing through posts to find a helpful one that mentioned some obscure user data directory that had to be deleted.

Who writes an IDE that crashes when a project on disk is gone?

It's for this, and various other reasons, I continue to use the free, open-source alternative FlashDevelop ( ) for my Flash IDE. It's the only reason I keep a Parallels partition on my MacBook Pro.


More Students Learn CS In 3 Days Than Past 100 Years 287

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-forth-and-write-half-of-a-hangman-clone dept.
theodp writes ", backed by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, boasts in a blog post that thanks to this week's Hour of Code, which featured a Blockly tutorial narrated by Gates and Zuckerberg, 'More students have participated in computer science in U.S. schools in the last three days than in the last 100 years.' Taking note of the impressive numbers being put up on the Hour of Code Leaderboards ('12,522,015 students have done the Hour of Code and written 406,022,512 lines of code'), the Seattle Times adds that 'More African American and Hispanic kids learned about the subject in two days than in the entire history of computer science,' and reports that the cities of Chicago and New York have engaged to offer CS classes in their schools. So, isn't it a tad hyperbolic to get so excited over kids programming with blocks? 'Yes, we can all agree that this week's big Hour of Code initiative is a publicity stunt,' writes the Mercury News' Mike Cassidy, 'but you know what? A publicity stunt is exactly what we need.'"

We don't know one millionth of one percent about anything.