Where to start with flash for games?
March 14, 2010 12:34 AM   Subscribe

I want to learn to program simple games. What book(s) would you recommend for learning flash/actionscript 3 from scratch?

Some additional information:

I want to program games and from reading other AskMe questions it seems like flash/actionscript3 is the right answer for what I'm looking to do.

I learn best from real honest to god heavy paper books (as opposed to web based or video based tutorials).

I know there are other questions along these lines, but either they seemed a few years out of date or they had good general recommendations but no specific book recommendations or sometimes a specific book was mentioned but it is clear I wasn't the target audience (primarily because I don't already have a programming background).

I have zero background in flash, actionscript or any other programing language.

I taught myself a fair amount of PHP, so I have at least *some* some background in scripting and basic programming concepts. And this experience has given me confidence that I have the patience and drive to sit down and learn pretty much whatever I need to given the right book(s).

So, the question is where do I begin? Any good books you've used to learn these skills? Should I start with just a basic flash book then work up to a dedicated Actionscript 3 book, or a both in one solution? A game development specific tome or just a general introduction? Do I need to back up and learn another programming language like C#, Python or Java first (and if that is the case what specific book do you recommend for that)?

Basically, what has worked for you?
posted by Jezztek to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Actually, I would recommend python and something like Pygame to start with. Actionscript 2 was one of the worst programming languages I've ever used, and I don't know how much better AS3 is. According to Wikipedia the syntax is similar.

I haven't used Python but it's a language that people really enjoy programming in, and is (supposedly) a good language to learn to program with. There will be a lot more resources out there for new programmers Python then AS3.

Of course, writing your app in Flash makes it easy to distribute, you just put it on the web. With python, people will need to download your program. But for teaching yourself, it will be a lot easier.

2-D video games, depending on how ambitious you want to get, are actually really easy to program. A lot of people (probably most, I would bet) learn to program writing video games.
posted by delmoi at 1:37 AM on March 14, 2010

(What's worked for me? The first game I wrote was in C++ and used Windows device contexts for drawing. Then I moved on to Java. This was all over a decade ago, but the concepts are all very portable)
posted by delmoi at 1:40 AM on March 14, 2010

This tutorial on making a top-down plane-shooter in Flex (Actionscript + XML-config) is pretty good
posted by gregjones at 4:41 AM on March 14, 2010


Flixel Flixel Flixel!

Getting Started.

More Tutorials.

Flixel is probably the easiest and most applicable game creation api that I've used in a long long time. It's simple, solid community, good tutorials, barrier to entry as far as setup is near 0, and it's all free (flashdevelop).

I'd pick something simple and sidescrollery. It's all setup to support that out of the box. Top down requires a bit more work so I'd skip that for the meantime.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:55 AM on March 14, 2010

Best answer: (I program Actionscript for a living.)

Friends of Ed is the company for you. They publish tons of books on Flash/Actionscript, including their Foundation series for beginners. Here's the one to start with: Foundation ActionScript 3.0 for Flash and Flex.

Once you get down the basics, I recommend:

-- Foundation Actionscript 3.0 Animation: Making Things Move!

-- The Essential Guide to Flash Games: Building Interactive Entertainment with ActionScript

Once you get through these and are at a more advanced level, I highly recommend you read Advanced Actionscript 3 with Design Patterns, which will show you how most professional programmers approach the language.

Actionscript didn't mature until version 3 (the current version). It is now very close to Java in terms of power and syntax. Previous versions were like clunky, bastardized versions of Javascript. So make sure that any book you get is teaching AS 3.0 and not an earlier version.

Good luck!
posted by grumblebee at 1:27 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks much folks!
posted by Jezztek at 8:40 PM on March 15, 2010

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