XNA, Flash and CD-ROM Graphics

I remember a conversation I had in about sixth grade, when CD-ROM was relatively new technology.  My friend Andrew was trying to convince me that “CD-ROM Graphics” was, well, something that only a CD could bring you.  Games like The Journeyman Project and 7th Guest definitely did things that you couldn’t do on 3.5″ floppies, but a graphic is a graphic, whether it’s stored on a CD, hard drive, laserdisc, etc.  Anyway, the dialogue would go something like:

“The background in Diamonds looks good, but it’s not CD-ROM graphics.”

“You know a 1 MB image will look just as good if it’s on a CD as it will if it’s on the hard drive?”

“Well, it’s still not CD-ROM graphics.”

When the term “Flash Games” gets thrown around to describe anything on the Xbox Live Indie Games channel (and, ugh, yes, The Dishwasher, which, for the last effing time, is an Arcade title, thankyouverymuch), I am reminded of Andrew and CD-ROM graphics.  It’s basically the guy who has seen one thing, seen another thing, and, with scant knowledge of, well, anything else, has decided that they are the same.  Adventure game on a CD?  That’s CD-ROM graphics.  2D small scope game?  That’s a Flash Game.

The more logical aspect of the argument is that Flash games are free, so why pay for Xbox Indie Games of [apparently] equal or lesser value?

Well (obvious setup here), they’re not of equal or lesser value.  Content aside (and sure, there’s some questionable quality on XBLIG), let’s talk specs:

  • I don’t like playing games on a keyboard, unless it’s a mouse+keyboard shooter.  XBLIG means you’re using an Xbox360 controller; Flash means you’re using a keyboard and/or mouse.
  • XBLIG is multiplayer-friendly.  Most games that can support 4-player couch coop (like Z0MB1ES!) do; some support multiplayer on Xbox Live (like ZP2K9!).  I can’t speak for all of Flash, but couch coop is out (no-brianer) and when there is a multiplayer effort, it seems like it’s part of a larger business effort, which means we’re going to be paying that value in one way or another (advertising, sneaky advertising, and maliciously sneaky advertising)
  • XBLIG games get to use Xbox360 hardware.  Z0MB1ES in Flash?  Not possible!  Not all things that take place on a 2D plane are created equal; to port Z0MB1ES to Flash I’d have to cut a bunch of stuff and the game would still run poorly on lower end systems (and, let’s face it, do the God Box builders really make their systems to play Flash games?)
  • XBLIG games don’t play in a little box in the middle of a browser surrounded by banner ads.

(And where’s the outrage at having to spend $3 on a Flash-to-iPhone port that crashes all the time?)

Of course, I don’t hate Flash.  I made my site with it.  Heck, I was once technically a professional Flash developer.  I just prefer XBLIG to Flash as a games platform.  XBLIG is a platform that can offer gamers much, much more.

Also, I keep forgetting the definite possibility that all of the “Indie Games = Flash” sentiments are from PS3/PC fanboys and/or disgruntled XBLIG developer hopefuls who gave up because it was “too stupid.”  In which case I shouldn’t care.  Because there are insecurity issues at hand which I am not adequately trained to help with.

And please, someone, slap me a few times the next time I start to read Internet comments.