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Thread: Introducing Pixelwave, a Flash-based iPhone framework

  1. #1
    Senior Member ozmic66's Avatar
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    Introducing Pixelwave, a Flash-based iPhone framework

    Hey,

    Oz here, we've been working on something really cool for the past few months, and I'm really excited to finally introduce it. I think (and hope) any Flash dev who likes iPhone development would appreciate this.

    It's called Pixelwave. Pixelwave is an open-source 2D game-oriented framework for the iPhone based on the Flash API, written in Objective-C.
    It provides the same interface as Flash when it comes to managing the display list, listening to events, loading files, animating things, playing sounds, etc.

    So if you know AS3.0, it should be very intuitive to pick up.

    This whole project came out of the need for a better 2D framework for the iPhone back in mid-2009 (Nostalgia: http://board.flashkit.com/board/showthread.php?t=797815). And since we love Flash, this is the only direction we could have taken it in
    It all started as a small internal project, and evolved into a serious framework, and I think the community can take it even further.

    Our main focus has been ease-of-use and performance.
    - We pretty much implemented the core display architecture of Flash in C, and named all of our classes and functions after the AS3 API... can't get much easier to use.
    - We also made a lot of intelligent optimizations on the core OpenGL level, so it's FAST.

    Some big features:
    - Flash-like API (using addChild, displayObject, x/y/rotation, graphics, etc...)
    - Super optimized OpenGL rendering.
    - Simple event dispatching model, just like Flash.
    - Handles native iPhone features with style. (ex: Listen to touch events just like you would mouse events in Flash, very intuitive)
    - Native vector drawing (via the Graphics class)
    - Text rendering support
    - One line texture loading, supporting many different texture types
    - Simple sound playback

    We'll also be including PixelKit, a sub-framework which contains game-related classes like a resource manager, a tweening engine, box2d bindings, etc.
    On top of it all we've been working on tools to help convert Flash MovieClip over to an OpenGL-friendly format, but we'll be releasing that later on.

    I just put together a long post on our blog explaining everything in much more detail, and giving some code examples. Read more here

    This framework is going to enter private beta soon, so we're looking for Flash devs who know some Objective-C (Or are willing to learn) to help us test it out. PM me if you're interested, or email us.

    Do post your thoughts, and if you plan on attending 360|Flex (In March), or 360|iDev (In April), I'll be speaking at both and demoing all of this, so say hi if you'll be there, or just drop by (always nice to meet fellow members in person).

    Cheers,
    Oz
    Pixelwave Flash-based iPhone framework
    iPhone Games: Flyloop | Freedom Run

    Twitter: Oztune

  2. #2
    Hype over content... Squize's Avatar
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    This sounds excellent.

    I wish I could offer up to beta test, but Objective-C looks like drunken php to me

    I've just had my first Flash iPhone app published, so if you'd like some benchmarking comparison let me know.

    Squize.

  3. #3
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    Have you guys heard of Sparrow? Sounds like a pretty similar goal and implementation.

  4. #4
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    This will be very valuable for developers. I also have not been happy with the 2D engines out there have contemplated building something similar... but it's just too much work for me Thanks so much for starting this, I can't wait to see how it develops.

  5. #5
    Senior Member ozmic66's Avatar
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    @squize: thanks for the retweet I honestly wasn't a big fan of Objective-C in the beginning, but as I got passed the odd syntax I really grew to appreciate it... but not more than Actionscript or Java of course. Would be great to get some sort of comparison running. You used the cs5 converter for this right?

    @redjac: Yea, I actually learned about that last week. It's funny how two groups in two different parts of the world have such a similar idea.. but then again a lot of people like flash and want to do iphone. The main differences I see right now between the two is that Pixelwave is really planned to deliver an all around solution for transforming flash assets + actionscript into the iPhone, and have extra game-related utilities than just the core engine.
    An even bigger one is performance.. although the two interfaces look similar the core is very very different. We've been spending a lot of time on doing intelligent optimizations which can be up to 10x faster than the simpler, non-optimized solution everyone seems to use.

    @dandylion: Thanks!
    Pixelwave Flash-based iPhone framework
    iPhone Games: Flyloop | Freedom Run

    Twitter: Oztune

  6. #6
    Hype over content... Squize's Avatar
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    "You used the cs5 converter for this right?"

    Yep.

    ( Sorry about the crap answer, my hands are NDA tied about what I can say on an open forum. Feel free to give me a shout @gamingyourway.com if you have any questions I can help with ).

    Squize.

  7. #7
    Senior Member ozmic66's Avatar
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    Will do, thanks. It'd be much appreciated.

    Btw I checked out your game, really nice work. Love the retro feel
    Pixelwave Flash-based iPhone framework
    iPhone Games: Flyloop | Freedom Run

    Twitter: Oztune

  8. #8
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    Sounds like a good idea. It's not something I would use, but does look interesting, and would surely be a great help to Flash devs looking to do some iPhone work.

    Incidentally Squize - how did you get to play with CS5 beta? What do you think of it, especially the iPhone converter?

  9. #9
    Hype over content... Squize's Avatar
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    I kissed the right asses

    I've only touched the iPhone part, I don't use the IDE anyway ( And I'm not sure I can talk about what it can and can't do, so I'm going to err on the side of caution in terms of the NDA ).

    For what it does it's really impressive, although it's not a totally straight forward publish to iPhone thing. In terms of code, it's virtually a 100% straight as3, it's not as3 lite or anything, but it's not a case of getting your old fla's and just hitting publish, it's not going to happen in terms of performance.

    You'll be looking at blitting and pooling and stripping everything right down to run at a decent framerate. On a 3rd gen iPod touch my game runs at 24fps pretty much all the time, but on older machines it's unplayable.

    To just knock out some as3 and have it running on the iPod within minutes is very sexy though.

    Anyway, back to the thread

    Squize.

  10. #10
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    Yep, apologies for hijacking the thread :P

    Sounds interesting though Squize. I'm used to stripping everything down to an extreme degree for max performance anyway, so that's something I would do without thinking.

    Having said that I'd probably want to do 3D stuff in Objective C anyway.

    For curiosity's sake, I would be interested to see the performance of this framework. Although you have the overhead of it being an API, it's using Open GL for the rendering, so performance should be pretty good.

  11. #11
    Hype over content... Squize's Avatar
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    Yeah I'm a fps whore too, and I thought I wouldn't have any issues with this as it's all the things I do as best practice anyway, but you have to go that extra step further than normal.

    Oz, so sorry mate, I promise I'll stop now

    Squize.

  12. #12
    Senior Member ozmic66's Avatar
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    @squize Im always interested to hear about adobe's technology. Honestly Ive been pretty disappointed with the performance of what I've seen so far (haven't tried it though). I've talked to some people involved and it seems like performance for games is barely decent. It definitely may have a lot of uses in different fields though.

    Quote Originally Posted by rumblesushi View Post
    Having said that I'd probably want to do 3D stuff in Objective C anyway.

    For curiosity's sake, I would be interested to see the performance of this framework. Although you have the overhead of it being an API, it's using Open GL for the rendering, so performance should be pretty good.
    I wouldn't say the API's overhead is very significant, and the core stuff is in c so it's pretty low level. We've actually done some tests and I was surprised to see how much faster we can get it to go. We do a lot of caching and batching automatically which really speeds things up, and saves the user a lot of time (speaking from experience with prev OpenGL projects). It was actually really interesting to see that some operations OpenGL offers to do for you (like transforming points) can be done x2 faster with custom routines.
    Last edited by ozmic66; 02-24-2010 at 02:41 AM.
    Pixelwave Flash-based iPhone framework
    iPhone Games: Flyloop | Freedom Run

    Twitter: Oztune

  13. #13
    formerly hooligan2001 :) .hooligan's Avatar
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    Nice project oz. I've worked with objective-c and app dev so if you need any more testers then the hundreds you probably already have let me know.

    Do you have a date planned for an official release? Or way to early to tell?
    World Arcade | Facebook | Twitter - Follow MEEEE! or not......

  14. #14
    Senior Member Alluvian's Avatar
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    How similar is the iPad sdk, and will this (does this?) work with that?

    There is a game idea I never pursued because it involves the user drawing freehand lines to interact with, and I HATE drawing with the mouse so I never bothered pursuing it. The iPhone was just too cramped for it as well. The iPad is a great fit for it. Also, I had wanted to make it multiplayer, but hotseat on a pc is a pain for the end user, and drawing on a notebook/netbook with tiny pad and/or mouse nub is a nightmare. Passing an iPad back and forth to play a multiplayer game would seem very natural.

    I am actually pretty interested in the iPad possibilities for developers, but it is missing too many features to get that interested in it as a consumer. Needing the dongle thing for an SD card and usb floored me, what a cludge.

  15. #15
    Senior Member ozmic66's Avatar
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    @hooligan That would be great. Could you pm me your info? I'll add you to the list. We don't have official word yet, but aiming at March.

    @Alluvian The two api's are so similar that I didn't think to mention it, but yeah it'll work just the same on the iPad. I've tested it in the simulator and it had no problems.
    Pixelwave Flash-based iPhone framework
    iPhone Games: Flyloop | Freedom Run

    Twitter: Oztune

  16. #16
    Senior Member Alluvian's Avatar
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    Forgot to ask, what sort of license are you planning on using for this?

  17. #17
    Senior Member ozmic66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alluvian View Post
    Forgot to ask, what sort of license are you planning on using for this?
    Well... we want this to be used by as many people as possible for any kind of projects they like, but we wouldn't want someone to take it and turn it into a commercial project (if we wanted that we'd do it ourselves, but we want it to stay open source), so I'm leaning towards the LGPL open source license.

    The general idea is that the framework and any derivatives will always stay open source, whereas applications using it can be closed-source and commercial.
    Pixelwave Flash-based iPhone framework
    iPhone Games: Flyloop | Freedom Run

    Twitter: Oztune

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