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Flash MX Games: Actionscript for Artists

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Adam Tracksler looks at Flash MX Games: Actionscript for Artists
A Creative COW "Real World" Book Review



Flash MX Games: Actionscript for Artists
Adam Tracksler
Adam Tracksler
Kittery Point, Maine, USA
©2002 Adam Tracksler and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
Adam Tracksler takes a look at Flash MX Games: Actionscript for Artists by Nik Lever and published by Focal Press. Adam concludes that this book is a must have for those people who are interested in how to make games and how to improve their coding, it is a worthwhile investment.


I first got into actionscript when I was working with Flash 4. I learned to like it a lot and actually use it in effective and timesaving ways. It could do things with Flash that I couldn’t do with any other program. I was a big fan. When Flash was updated to Version 5, my trusty actionscript was changed (a little) and I had to learn some more. Flash MX blew my doors away. I didn’t know how to use actionscript any more. Almost all of my favorite commands were depreciated, there was a very slim printed manual, and I pretty much gave up on using Flash MX. I stuck with Flash 5. Nik Lever’s book Flash MX Games - Actionscript for Artists is changing my mind.

Nik begins the book by explaining how to use flash, although it definitely assumes that the reader has some knowledge of Flash. He goes on to explain the logic of actionscript and the way that Flash’s programming language works. You begin by making a PONG-like game using Flash MX and actionscript to control the bat and balls.

Flash MX Games: Actionscript for Artists moves on to examine the drawing tools that come with Flash and some of the basics of animation. The book continues by taking the principals of animation and putting them to work in a basic walk cycle and improving the walk cycle to be more fluid and more interesting. Nik continues by giving a very broad overview of Lightwave and how he uses it to create CG characters. He does go on to illustrate how to bring your 3D images into flash and optimize them without rendering them to flash using a plug-in or other program. Another chapter is devoted to creating background images for your animations to exist in.

The book moves back into Actionscript and programming. Nik explains a lot of programming concepts and the logic behind each of these concepts, just when you get tired of reading the theory, he puts an example in and you get to see the concept in action. The book continues to give examples of games and the programming behind them from Quiz games to mazes and board games all the way up to sports simulations. He explais how to do things and the ways that he has developed for creating graphics. The book finishes with some pretty heavy-duty concepts, like sockets and C++. The book also covers integration with Director, and making Flash Screen Savers.



If you are looking into how to create online games and getting a better understanding of the powerful language that Actionscript is, you could do a lot worse than this book. The examples and explanations are clear and thorough. Although the pages of code can be a bit dry, Nik does a good job of keeping the pace upbeat and making the reader feel involved. Flash MX Games: Actionscript for Artists is not aimed at people who are not comfortable with flash and the expert mode in the actionscript window. But for those people who are interested in how to make games and how to improve their coding, it is a worthwhile investment.

I give it 4 cows.




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