Clock Day 2017 and the future of Flash games

[…] I’m still working on the ‘B’ee Game despite having put it on hold every year without fail.

Well, I fully expect 2016 to be the last time I do that, and I fully expect this Clock Day to be the day I finally finish the ‘B’ee Game and submit it to the Newgrounds Flash Portal. (Whether it passes judgement is another story.)

The problem with setting expectations is that you end up expecting two things: the thing you were expecting, and the disappointment that comes with the expectation not being met.

The ‘B’ee Game has been a work-in-progress since 2007, a year after I made The ‘B’ee in 2006 in celebration of five years of B. If you’re not familiar with my activity on Newgrounds, you can find traces of mentions of the game dating back as early as 2008, then in 2009, 2010 and 2011. And finally something long-form in 2016.

A classic case of development hell. And this year is no different in that regard.

What is different is the fact that this comes shortly after Adobe’s announcement of Flash Player’s EOL. This might well have been my last chance to make it up to 15-year-old me as major browser vendors begin phasing out the Flash Player, and with it the thousands of Flash games already on Newgrounds.

I’m not sure what I’m madder at myself for: having dragged this out for a decade, or having blown this possibly last chance.

I can only hope against hope that this isn’t my last chance and I’ll still be able to make up for it next year. The roadmaps set forth by Google, Microsoft and Mozilla suggest somewhat optimistic implications, but I’d only be slowly killing myself by holding my breath here.

One thing I am proud of, though, is that I’ve actually made more progress on the ‘B’ee Game in the last 10 weeks than I have in the last 10 years. Just to prove that I’m not fucking with you, here’s a screenshot:

Screenshot of the first level of the 'B'ee Game
Look like a finished product, don’t it? (There’s actually one thing missing here, but I’m not going to say what.)

Sadly, that doesn’t mean much when it doesn’t in fact culminate in a finished product.

Thanks to GoldenClock for his fervent and unrelenting encouragement on the CC Discord server, though; it has meant a lot, because friendship means a lot <3

The Flash Games Postmortem by John Cooney

Zach Saucier shared a link to the following nostalgic GDC talk by John Cooney of Kongregate that I don’t know how I missed:

He’s no Tom Fulp, but he does a bang up job covering every high-level aspect of Flash game development imaginable, from stats and monetization with Mochi Media, to collaborating with other talented individuals, to getting your content stolen — the latter two of which have happened to me, and I’m no game developer (other than the ‘B’ee Game): I participated in no fewer than half a dozen collabs, and somebody once had the audacity to steal an animation I made for a national competition — which Tom personally handled for me.

Welcome to the world I was in for the 5–6 years of my life before I became active in software development and Stack Overflow.

Newgrounds on the Flash EOL

Tom Fulp posted his thoughts shortly after the Flash EOL was announced earlier this week. In retrospect, I should have waited until the next day so I wouldn’t have to make a completely separate entry about it now, but I really wanted to get my own thoughts out the door ASAP, and so I did.

As I still consider myself to be an active Newgrounds Flash artist — just not a super active one — and for any others who might be reading this from a search or something, I wanted to quote the things he said that are most relevant to me and, well, share my thoughts on his thoughts, I guess.

Flash to reach end-of-life at the end of 2020

It’s finally happening.

A year and a half after rebranding Flash Professional to Animate CC (and, hilariously, just days after I posted this self-answered Q&A about Flash), Adobe has announced that Flash will reach end-of-life at the end of 2020. Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla have shared their plans as they work closely with Adobe to move the web to a post-SWF era. At the end of 2020, Flash content on the web will no longer run on any major browser. This includes all of my work on Newgrounds (who, by the way, have yet to release a statement on this as of this writing) over the last decade.

This entry will detail my near-future plans as a Flash author in light of this announcement, but before that, allow me to wax lyrical about my past experiences for a moment. After all, as an individual who started out learning Flash animation alongside HTML during my childhood, and Flash having been a huge part of my adolescence, obviously this is a bittersweet moment for me.

Replacing the thermal compound from a boxed Intel CPU fan

Intel processors have not exactly been known for spectacular thermal performance with the included fans, but the issue I recently had with my soon-to-be-four-year-old Intel Core i5-4570 (Haswell) just about takes the cake.

I noticed that my processor was hitting its maximum operating temperature of 100°C when playing CPU-intensive games such as Dishonored 2, Grand Theft Auto V and Battlefield 1, and generally staying well above 90 degrees during gameplay. My PC never shut down in response to this — not even once — but it was throttling quite significantly, going even lower than its base clock of 3.2 GHz, once all the way down to 2.7 GHz at the very worst according to Core Temp:

Screenshot of Core Temp 1.7 reporting a heavily throttled CPU clock speed of 2.7 GHz and temperatures of up to 100°C
Core Temp reporting very worrying clock speeds and temperatures on my CPU.

I thought perhaps the fans and the heat sink needed dusting off, but besides the non-trivial amounts of dust on the case fans and the CPU fan, there actually wasn’t much dust on the heat sink itself at all. Still I had them dusted, and I checked the temperatures. No dice: my processor was still capping off at 100 degrees. My big brother suggested that I replace the thermal compound that came with the boxed fan.

There are numerous articles and videos out there that demonstrate

and generally these work the same way no matter what CPU cooling solution you’re using. Except they’re all disjointed, meaning you have to connect the dots yourself, which can be intimidating if you’ve never done this procedure before.

Fortunately, Intel has illustrated guides for removing and reattaching a boxed CPU fan as well as replacing thermal compound on an Intel CPU on their website. The former also appears in the manual for my Intel Core i5-4570. (Bet you didn’t know that processors came with manuals.) But what if you really just wanted a single point of reference detailing the steps from start to finish?

That’s why I decided to write this post in hopes that it will help others who, like me, don’t use aftermarket CPU coolers for any reason (budget constraints, lack of interest in overclocking, etc), and, albeit not quite as much like me, prefer a single, complete guide. Granted there is a bit of storytelling in this one, but I hope it makes things interesting rather than distracting.