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Countdown to the End of Adobe Flash

Ixo

"This is not my beautiful forum!" - David Byrne
(Hi Guy)
(I debated on where to put this topic and settled here. If there's a better place for it, feel free to move it.)


So if you weren't aware, Adobe is finally sending Flash off to it's well earned retirement at the end of the year. Version 32.0.0.433 is still available for downloading until then, but nearly everything's already got it phased out ahead of that deadline though.

Flash used to be The Big Thing, man! Fancy intro pages, interactive web applets, a ton of games... There's been a herculean effort going on since 2018 to preserve as much of this soon-to-be-DOA content over at BlueMaxima's Flashpoint. I highly recommend checking it out! I feel like losing all those tens of thousands of Newgrounds or AlbinoBlackSheep flash games would be doing video game preservation a massive disservice, so I'm glad that team is doing what they can in the short time frame they've had.

I think it'd be a fun thing to reminisce with each other about our favorite Flash games and animations from years gone while there's still a chance to find them again. I've wracked my brain and done my best to track down the bits that I remember, so here's just some of my list to get the conversation going (and/or so you can openly judge Windows XP era Ixo for his taste in internet content.):

Animation & Websites
  • zombo.com The ur-Flash site that needs no introduction. Site's got it's own Wikipedia entry and an HTML5 conversion already, so no worries there.
  • homestarrunner.com "It's dot COM!" The Chaps Bros sure have hauled some butt to get the toons uploaded to Youtube, but I'm not sure what the plans are for the actual domain itself, which includes the menus, games, and character bios.
  • Kong Studios / Plastic Beach The fully interactive studio of Gorillaz. This thing ruled. Three floors, a basement, a parking garage, and grounds full of mini games, a scavenger hunt, demo songs, Jamie Hewlett art and more that changed to match the real time events of the band. It got replaced with an entire island to go with the Plastic Beach album. There's a group of mega-fans that have put a lot of work into reviving the old studios from bits of a working version of the site dug up through archive.org, but I think they're currently having hosting issues.
  • Eddsworld RIP Edd Gould, man. 23 is way too young. Eddsworld was home to fully voiced and animated cartoons & shorts animated by Edd, starring him and his friends. The site's still up, but it's just an Under Construction graphic, so here's a Wayback Machine capture instead. These have also made their way to Youtube.
  • Pianographique I can't find most of this website and it's upsetting, because it was so cool. The concept was to turn your keyboard into a multimedia creation tool. There were several different "pianos" to pick from, each with their own sound and look. You'd pick a piano, let it load (lol 2003 internet speed), and then each key on your keyboard produced a different sound with an accompanying animation that would drop in wherever you had the mouse placed. Some sounds repeated, others were just effects. Then you'd just create these amazing audio visual....things. There was a section to upload what you made to the site and you could browse other people's creations. The current site hasn't been updated in a decade, and all the pianos are gone anyway. Using the Wayback Machine got me here, but I can't get any of the swf I've found to work past the loading menu. Here are the only Youtube videos of it in action to give you an idea of how it worked.
  • Nickelodeon's Click-a-ma-jigs Oldest thing for last here. Dial up era. These were exactly what they said on the tin; little interactive animations that you could click on and things would happen. I've seen the download list of these things floating around tumblr and deviantArt (????) but these haven't been available on Nick's site since like....the early 2000s if I had to take a guess.
Games
  • The Escape Room Games of Toshimitsu Takagi That would be Crimson Room, Viridian Room, Blue Chamber, and White Chamber. There's a fan page currently hosting all four. Imagine an escape room party, but it's just you and the room's theme is flash game from 2004. I'm not sure how Crimson Room shakes out in 2020, since one of the in-game clues relies on part of Takagi's site at the time. I kid you not, the dang thing got a DS port. (If anyone knows how to get a hold of that, man lemme know.)
  • Squares 2 Control a black square. Collect as many other black squares as you can while dodging red ones. Really simple premise, but it's a lot more fun than I've made it out to be. Still up on albinoblacksheep.
  • Covetous THIS THING CREEPS ME OUT AND I AIN'T PLAYED IT SINCE JUNIOR HIGH. Here's the TVTropes for it. You're a....parasitic something....eating your "brother" from the inside out. There are a few sites that turn up when I search for it, but they aren't any that I'm familiar with.
  • Uninvited Someone remade the entirety of Uninvited in Flash for reasons beyond me. Also up on albinoblacksheep.
There's more that I want to share, but I don't want to dump them all in the intro post. Flash is Dead; Long Live Flash!
 

Zef

Find Your Reason
(He/Him)
I'm legitimately concerned about Flash going away, and the major browsers removing support from it, because the supplemental material for the workbook we use in my Japanese classes is entirely Flash-based. I suppose I can keep an old version of Internet Explorer around just to access this one site, but still.
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
Flash is an extremely mixed bag that was all too easy to build malware vectors into. It just poses too much of a security threat to keep around for any device, despite the loss of easy access to art and media created with/for it.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
Man, there's way too much for me to remember. The early internet was Flash for me.

Off the dome, though, I'll call out GROW. Remember GROW? They were cute little Japanese indie puzzle box dioramas where you had a bunch of icons to click on that would make cool stuff happen, and the order in which you clicked the icons made fun different little interactions happen.

I also remember the Warbears games fondly, and I know a played a couple of Flash Roguelikes that I enjoyed.

Anyway, there's way too many things for my garbage fire of a brain to possibly remember, so I'll just pour one out and stop there.

ETA: Oh, and there's Flash Flash Revolution, the DDR game where you press arrow keys instead of dancing. Their forums is where my ex-wife met the guy she cheated on me with. So... not so fond a memory, I guess!

Edit 2: Wasn't Puzzle Pirates a Flash game? That games was aces.
 

Ixo

"This is not my beautiful forum!" - David Byrne
(Hi Guy)
Off the dome, though, I'll call out GROW. Remember GROW? They were cute little Japanese indie puzzle box dioramas where you had a bunch of icons to click on that would make cool stuff happen, and the order in which you clicked the icons made fun different little interactions happen.
If we're thinking of the same thing, then I'll mention that the creator of GROW is still around and updating their website, with what looks like the games ported to Android.

 

Purple

(She/Her)
There is some artsy I think Japanese website blurring the lines between interactive menus, short films, and games, with this art style that's like halfway between Samarost and Brian Froud that I have been trying to remember the name of for literally like a decade now, which was all flash-driven.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
If we're thinking of the same thing, then I'll mention that the creator of GROW is still around and updating their website, with what looks like the games ported to Android.
Cool! I'm glad to know that he's still doing his thing!
 

Lady

something something robble

The games on kongregate.com were a great way to procrastinate in college.
 

Ixo

"This is not my beautiful forum!" - David Byrne
(Hi Guy)
The real trick is figuring out how to open .DCR files outside of Netscape Navigator...
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
Off the dome, though, I'll call out GROW. Remember GROW? They were cute little Japanese indie puzzle box dioramas where you had a bunch of icons to click on that would make cool stuff happen, and the order in which you clicked the icons made fun different little interactions happen.
Oh yeah, Grow was neat.
 
I'm legitimately concerned about Flash going away, and the major browsers removing support from it, because the supplemental material for the workbook we use in my Japanese classes is entirely Flash-based. I suppose I can keep an old version of Internet Explorer around just to access this one site, but still.
I think Rosetta Stone uses Flash too. A ton of microscopy demo sites I use as tutorials for new hires are built on it too. Honestly, the more I think about it the more educational sites (which probably don't have the budget to do whatever they need to do about this) are going to be defunct. Ugh.
 

Positronic Brain

Out Of Warranty
(He/him)
What I find ironic is that I've heard about Flash dying before and somehow it still lives. Not even Adobe is taking it seriously - for example, one of its services, in the year of our lord of 2020, *required* a web browser with Flash until May, when it was phased out in favor of a desktop app. That app? It's a standalone Flash client running the exact same code as the website it replaces.
 

Becksworth

Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
Windows 95 is “dead”, but that doesn’t stop enthusiasts from building Windows 95 machines from vintage parts or spinning off Windows 95 VMs in controlled environments. Flash being retired just means it’s no longer getting security updates, and as such no browser makers in their right minds would want to continue supporting the plugin. Making an old legacy flash web service a standalone flash application seems like a perfectly valid solution if it is self contained, since those vulnerabilities aren’t going to be exposed to malicious scripts off the internet.

I think the big problem with flash app preservation was people developed flash apps and animations with the naive assumption that browsers would never drop Flash support, so little effort was made to make stand alone versions of them available. Trying to go back and preserve ten of thousands of .swf files decades later was always going to be a herculean task.
 
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