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We're losing our Flash game history but we don't have to

I spent a lot of time as a kid playing games. Sure there was a lot of Pokemon and N64 but I also fell in love with Flash games during my formative years. In many ways the Flash community of the mid-2000s laid the groundwork for the indie renaissance of the late-2000s and the indie community that we know and love today. Flash games allowed smaller developers to make games with low overhead and easy distribution which may seem familiar to anyone who regularly uses itch.io.


We owe a huge debt to the flash community but we’re facing a crisis: Flash has been depreciated and these games are facing extinction. There’s a short time left in these games’ lives and once the clock hits midnight these games will become literally unplayable. Unfortunately there isn’t an easy method for saving these games.

Earlier this month, (I Fell in Love With) The Majesty Of Colors was released in an updated and remastered form. The original Majesty of Colors was a beautiful look at love, humanity, and sea monsters but it was also one of the first games I remember tackling these concepts in a very un-game-y way. Let’s call it one of the earliest “art games.” The developers were able to save the game from the trash bin of history by investing time and money in recreating the game outside of the ticking time bomb that is Flash.


The Majesty of Colors is a game that is just as good today as it was a decade ago. The narrative of the sea monster holds up just as well as ever and it is similarly as moving. While the game has some of the limitations of its Flash roots intact --and has a little jank because of it-- the core gameplay loop engenders the same empathy as it always has. If you’ve never played The Majesty of Colors the remake is definitely worth exploring.

But porting a years-old game isn’t feasible for all developers. In addition to the time away from doing whatever it was that the developer was originally planning, there is also the financial cost. So what can you do to avoid this untimely fate? To be honest: there isn’t really a good answer. None of us can see the future but considering which tools you’re using is a good first step. Sadly this post is more of a PSA than a course of action. Maybe if we all think about this more often we won’t have to lose any more of our history than we already have.

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tankyou 

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I bet many of you know Newgrounds, and the website is in first line and will suffer directly from the loss of Flash, because games (and movies, and art, and music) have been made and imported there since 1999. And most of these games were made using Flash.

I don't recall Tom Fulp saying they would actively save these games from being unplayable in 2020, but he and many creators on this website sure feel deeply concerned about the upcoming death of Flash as well, and the loss that would mean for the gaming community.

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I don't have a direct quote, but Tom has been working with key people in the Flash scene to try and preserve everything they can! A few years back Newgrounds launched Swivel, which seamlessly converts Flash movies into formats that will be preserved. They have gone through almost every popular video on the site and converted it to offer both the old .swf format, and the newer format.

The larger issue is definitely the games though! I haven't heard any word on this lately, so I don't know the status. But the plan is come up with a solution to preserve these key pieces of internet history as well. If anyone is skilled at that sort of thing, or has any sort of contribution to make, definitely reach out to Tom!!

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Except for a few exceptions it seems like the solution is to write an emulator in JavaScript or Web Assembly that can load a flash file. Maybe the Internet Archive is working on something like that as they've already done for DOS, Commodore 64, Apple 2, etc. There are libraries out there that claim to run Flash (not sure to what level) so maybe compiling one of those into Web Assembly would be a start. Another is to petition Adobe to open source what they can.

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It's really a shame. Even more so considering it's was the cradle of the indie scene that nowadays is so successful.  There were a zillion of incredible games and what bothers me most is only a handful of people gives a shit.  It's really frustrating to see all those great games vanish in front of our eyes and not be able to do nothing. 

I remember the first time I played (I Fell in Love With) The Majesty Of Colors. It was quite the experience. I don't want to see these games disappear!

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Last night I had a dream. I floated in darkness, immense, squamous. Then I fell in love with the majesty of colors.
Adventure