I've got a lot of work ahead of me...

Shawn Tanner @Afro-Ninja

Age 38

Game Developer


Joined on 3/2/02

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10y 3m 22d

I miss making web games

Posted by Afro-Ninja - November 6th, 2020

H-hey guys. It's been a while, huh?

A couple days ago @mike messaged me to let me know that my first game, Escape From Elm Street, was now fully functional in Ruffle. If you haven't been following the development of ruffle, it's an amazing flash emulator developed by mike and a number of talented contributors:


You've probably already seen a number of games and animations running right here on Newgrounds with it, even if you didn't realize it explicitly. Ruffle was able to get flash animations up and running pretty quickly, but anything involving actionscript was tough due to... well, a number of factors. A lot of actionscript is loose and inconsistent behind the scenes, and the way in which it can mix with the flash timeline makes it very complicated. I browsed the ruffle source and for a short period of time considered trying to contribute, but I found myself in over my head almost immediately. So I figured I'd leave it to the experts.

Anyway, mike messages me and I go play my old game for nostalgia's sake. The surreal part is that it functions IDENTICAL to the original flash version. Every janky 12 fps animation is in sync, all the sound effects where they should be, every line of code that keeps parts of the scenery hidden until they are needed. Even the text input boxes, which mike informed me was something they recently fixed (hence him notifying me)

With the insanity of 2020 I keep forgetting that flash "dies" at the end of the year. We'll always have access to offline flash player tools of course, but the removal of the plugin means nobody is going to go out of their way to play an ancient, terrible game like "Escape From Elm Street."

It made me feel guilty because I kind of just accepted that all of this content was destined to be forgotten. All of these old games and animations that consumed my teenage and young adult years. The entire basis of my own website, afro-ninja.com. Everything that, in one way or another, is the reason that I'm still able to work independently in games today.

Today is a bit different of course. Web games were my lifeblood. But If you take a look at my Newgrounds profile you can see a steady decline of new submissions, ending in 2017. When flash games exploded you could make good money from ads, sponsorship deals, and other arrangements. I was fortunate to be able to make that my career. But as the viability of web games changed, so did my career with it. Today I work in the mobile and (hopefully soon) console space, which doesn't leave me much time to work on web games anymore. Even if I do create something for the web it just ends up being a demo for something I've already released elsewhere (See: Soda Dungeon lite). Hell, I don't even have a copy of flash installed on my current work PC.

I've really enjoyed watching the recent success of Friday Night Funkin from @ninjamuffin99 and his crew. It reminds me of the time when all that mattered was chasing down those daily and weekly awards. The community support here is greater than ever and it's really motivating to see it in action. I'm not sure when I'll be able to make a web game again. But when I do, I hope I can still channel the spirit of small, scrappy, and fun.

The flipside to all of this of course is that my career path over the years HAS afforded me new and unique opportunities. Even before Newgrounds the thing I wanted to make more than anything else was an honest, sit down with a god damn controller in your hands, console game. I'm closer now more than ever to being able to make that happen. While I'd love nothing more than to take a break and crank on a game jam for a month, I'm also compelled to push full steam ahead on other projects now that I see a clear path. And in all fairness, that's not really something I can complain about.

But I'll be back for my daily awards eventually, @tomfulp



"The Return of the King"

Just take your time getting backed up. We will be all waiting for ya'.

You are legendary! I still remember you and your snazzy suits at Pico day, what an honor it was to meet you. Escape the phone booth is still my favorite, I need to go back and play it again!

thanks bud! hope to keep up that pico day tradition

Hit me in the feels. I am making games in Gamemaker right now and I have also let my NG account slide. Planning on a steam/console game with a web demo myself. Let me know if you are interested in some help on a project. I've always loved your work.

thanks! it'll take some time, but I'll get there soon enough

Flash was able to fill a niche that no other competitor was close to matching. Not Shockwave, not Java Applets, not even HTML5 for a good while after Jobs swung haymakers at it. And it wasn't perfect, but it was glorious while it lasted.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. I'm no great content creator but like you, I have also slowly stopped developing games in Flash as time passed on.

Nevertheless, to achieve a feat like what Flash did is nothing short of a miracle by Internet standards.

And I'm happy I was there to witness it.

Nice to see you posting here! Many similar sentiments inside of me. I am working on a "web" game, but already second-guessing whether to make it "only" web.

One thing I wonder is if there will come a day that I can go back to using "Flash" to create a game designed to be played only through Ruffle!

I'm amazed every day at what the Ruffle guys are doing when I peek in on their Discord channel. I honestly think @Mike is one of a handful of people in the world that knows Flash (and is experienced with its nuances at a deep level) well enough, AND has the traditional CS chops to make Ruffle viable. It's some serious black magic what they're doing.

creating flash games just so that they could be emulated by rust, now that's dedication ;)
luckily a lot of tools these days allow us hit up multiple platforms with a little bit of elbow grease, which was much harder back then.

Beyond happy for you that you were able to ride that Flash heyday into a development career that's allowing you to support a family. It's sad that it's not part of your life now, but it's cool that it was at one point and that it allowed you to make a name for yourself and bless all of us with some cool ass content. For everything, there is a season.

I have no doubt that you'll reach your goal of successful console game development. I'll probably play it and bitch to you in private about a part that I think is too hard in it, too. ;)

looking forward to it!

I agree. Totally miss it. We never realize the good times until they have passed, in retrospect.

What a time to grow and im thankful we had it. Curious to see how it shapes the future

I've always been a huge fan of your work--- I wondered what you'd been up to! Glad to hear things are going well and that you're considering giving us more!

Thanks, that means a lot! and good to know some of the old guard is still lurking here.

Hope you're doing well, dude. You've been a huge inspiration to me.

It was nice to hear your thoughts on all of this, and great to see you visiting the site and reminiscing of the ol' days, so to speak. It would be a big loss of entertainment history for your stuff to vanish.

I would love to see part of the web remain in that hackish scrappy "made in Flash" feel, but if that is bound to trickle away, I think preserving that era to some degree is a good enough deal. Ruffle's doin' wonders there.

@JackSmack @Afro-Ninja You bet. Just let me know. We could do a game jam or something.

First i jus wanna say man I been a fan of urs for at least 10 years at this point and I didnt even know it, playing Territory War Online at my grandparents house with my younger brother.
It surreal to me that 10+ years later the dude who made it is talkin about the game I made now. Just wanted to say that before I say thanks for sum lov hehe.

man the number of people that played that game still amazes me :o much appreciated, keep up the good work my dude

I like Bomtoons’ concept of ruffle being black magic. It kinda makes people having old versions of flash kind of like prohibition era bathtub gin makers. And I love gin.

luis you are the best luis I know

Beautiful post... I wrote @tomfulp a couple of months ago, thanking him for Newgrounds.
I still recall my pure awe when I first used the virtual camera script for Flash, directly from the NG vaults... I also miss my old NG friends like AloneInTheDark, Fierras or Heretik; all of them artist I deeply admire! I still laugh out loud watching Sqeezy's or AlanTheBox's short films... And this site is still the home for incredible games and very original short films, in which every author used the tools we had back in the day! Series like Combat Instinct or Stick Slayer (rest in peace Ben!), I still remember also how deeply they inspired me to make my own shit, it was and still is amazing...
"Welcome back" , Rubba Ninja! Although you never left, your art was here keeping it real!

When are we making SUPER Defend Your Keg? LETS GOOOOOOOOO!!!!

we hop generations straight to DYK 64, they don't even know what hit em

@PsychoGoldfish @Afro-Ninja IF we're doing that let's jump to DYK Wii and have it 100% motion controls! That's where the money's at!!!

Awesome to see you're still alive and lurking and contemplating greatness again no less! :) For a very brief moment it seemed that first embedded link might lead to something new entirely though! Though no doubt you've been working on plenty elsewhere.

Been stopping by the site every year or so lately half-hoping there'll be some grand revival there/half-fearing it'll have been vanquished and/or replaced by some much simpler splash page showcase of whatever you've been up to the last few years now.

Curious if you've been considering such, or if the plan's more to preserve the collection/community as is; maybe bring it back to life some day when such opportunity arises? Could implement Ruffle there too in time. :) With even the Internet Archive on board now it really feels like it might eventually becoming the goto replacement for all.

Inspiring post here, inspiring times!

hah, funny you mention the splash page idea, I've thought about going that route before. Most of my content is available here on NG so I don't feel bad archiving the current site. I suppose a lot of REALLY old content would be lost, so I could maybe look into implementing ruffle for that. At any rate, I can't say I'm planning a redesign of any sort.

Godspeed, dude. You made part of my childhood. Hell, a lot of our childhoods. Good luck in your future endeavors, whatever they'll be.

So my splash page fears did hold certain legitimacy! XD An archive seems like a sensible alternative to straight-up deleting it should the need to renew present itself... good to hear you're not just considering purging the old and starting over though. Some real gems there. Probably. Good knowing.

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