Xbox: a new arena for your Flash design skills

The advantages of Flash on consoles

Flash is now used on a wealth of console titles. It's noted for its streamlined workflow, which gives designers greater control, ensuring their original vision appears as the finished product.

"I act, more or less, as a middleman in console games development," says freelance Flash interface developer and console games veteran Matthew Davison, explaining the workflow process. "The original UI design is roughed up by a concept artist and art direction teams. These wireframes and 'scamps' – rough layouts drawn or realised in Photoshop – are then given to a Flash designer, where the whole piece is made 'Flash-friendly'. Once the designs are completed, the designer produces an animatic to show functionality. An animatic consists of an ActionScripted free Flash animation produced directly on the timeline, which shows the animation styles and functionalities. Once we have a fully worked-up and designed animatic, it's time to send it to me."

Davison takes the animatic and creates ActionScripted versions of the transitions, fades and blurs: "All timeline animations are converted to ActionScript using the tween class and dynamic data imported into the UI using XML classes." This functional prototype also has ActionScripted methods, which are then used by C++ developers when it comes to hooking the prototype up to the Scaleform GFx engine.

It's this that gives you greater creative control, says Matthew Doyle. "UI work, which previously had to be custom-coded, can be built using Flash," he explains. "This is a huge saving in man-hours, and thus the bottom line of the project."

For the aspiring designer or developer, Doyle advises mastering Flash and ActionScript, as well as heavyweights such as Photoshop and Illustrator. "Be sure to play a lot of games, with a critical eye. Pay close attention to how they do things, and ask yourself, 'Why did they do that?'"

The next step is to start thinking about how they do that. With Flash and ActionScript as your tools, you're well on your way to finding out.


First published in .net magazine, Issue 185