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Mini-postmortem on the use of gameswf in Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath

gameswf was used for the UI shell screens in the game Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath.

gameswf was used for all the UI screens outside of regular gameplay, as well as the Inventory, General Store and Bounty Store UI. Things that did not use gameswf include the weapon-selection UI, the pop-up tutorial text, and the in-game HUD. I did most of the code side of it, and Gautam did most of the design side.

Gautam posted some screenshots & explanation of some of the UI screens: http://gbabbar.com/html/directionOther/systems.htm

I've graciously stolen these screenshots from Gautam's site:



Was it worth it? I think the results look good, but it's hard to say how much different a simpler system would have looked. Using gameswf consumed quite a bit more of my time than if I had done something simpler directly in C++, so in that sense, it was a mistake to use it. Some of that effort resulted in better and more debugged gameswf library code, but a lot of it was soaked up in proprietary engine integration. I'd say using gameswf did cut down on programmer/designer back-and-forth, although there was still a lot of that required.

Should you use it in your project? I would say that, like most other middleware, you should not count on it to shorten your schedule. It does introduce a big ball of code into your app that probably nobody on your team understands. On the other hand, ideally it gives you a fancier GUI and smoother programmer/designer collaboration.

NOTE: Scott Bilas wrote a great article on using Flash for game development: What About Flash? Can We Really Make Games With It? I think many of his points apply to using gameswf, so it's well worth reading. I wish that article had been available when I was working on the Stranger UI.

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