First, let's take a brief look at the three versions of the Flash Player available on the PlayStation 2 that have been shown or discussed by Macromedia, Sony, and Secret Level.
Secret Level is a development shop that develops tools, technology, and titles for the console game industry. Secret Level ported the Flash Player to Sony PlayStation 2 for LucasArts and Macromedia.
Generation 1: The Stock Scanline Flash Player (Flash 4)
The Stock Scanline Flash Player is a software port of the Flash Player that was completed in 2000 by Secret Level and was licensed to LucasArts for use in Star Wars Starfighter™. It does not take full advantage of the PlayStation 2 hardware and supports Flash 4 files only. It does not support the loadMovie command so we had to build the entire UI into one SWF file. Additionally, the performance of this player was an issue. We only had adequate frame rates when anti-aliasing was disabled and so we were only able to use very small and subtle animations in this interface. Although this player does support sound in Flash, we used the game code to play external sounds to keep the memory footprint low.
Generation 2: Strobe (Flash 5)
This is the code name for Secret Level's hardware-accelerated port of the Flash Player for Sony PlayStation 2. This is another port of the Flash Player for game developers, but is unique in that it utilizes a proprietary renderer developed by Secret Level. This renderer interprets Flash content into triangles that can be hardware accelerated by various 3D hardware. This version of Flash is capable of 60 frames per second and is the clear choice in further game related projects. It plays Flash 5 content and has also been ported to Xbox and DirectX 8x. It also supports loadMovie, allowing more bitmaps and larger files in general. Like its predecessor, the Strobe player supports sound embedded in the Flash movie, but we opted to use external sounds instead. This is the version of the player we used to develop the user interface for Star Wars Jedi Starfighter™.
Internet Version of the Flash Player
A precursor of the Internet version of the Flash Player was demonstrated at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) in May 2001. Sony made several announcements at the Expo relating to the Sony PlayStation 2 and the Internet.
Sony will be releasing a Network Adapter and Hard Drive that will allow users to browse the Internet. The Network Adapter will use a DSL or cable modem and utilize a dual stack of Cisco's IPV6 and IPV4 protocols. This will let older systems with the current Internet protocol connect to the device, as well as the next generation Internet Protocol V6-enabled device. The main advantage of IPV6 is that it will be faster and expand immensely the existing set of IP addresses. It will also have improved auto-configure capabilities and better security.
Sony has also announced a partnership with AOL, who plans to deploy instant messaging, chat, email, and a version of Netscape on the Sony PlayStation 2.
Finally, Sony announced that Real Network's Real Player would be the basic streaming media player for the Internet platform on the PlayStation 2. Additionally, a software development kit will be made available to licensed game developers that will allow them to create Internet-enabled game titles.
Sony has announced five game titles that users can play over the Internet:
At press time, there are a lot of unanswered questions for Flash developers who will use the Internet version of the Flash Player. These are some of the issues to be addressed:
Even with these questions unanswered, it seems clear that all the big players are behind this version and it seems to have the most potential and value for the majority of Flash developers.