A Bird For The Modern Web

Daniel Sperl on May 2, 2013

Starling has become extremely popular since its launch -- much more so than we could ever imagine! It is regarded as one of the best solutions for cross platform game development. Deploying games to iOS, Android and the web has never been easier!

We know, however, that the web is currently undergoing a major transition: away from proprietary plugins, embracing open standards. While we believe that this is a good thing to happen, we're also aware that it raises many questions for any developer relying on the Flash platform. Will the Flash plugin be around two years from now? Should I invest in that platform or switch to another one? Is JavaScript capable enough for my needs?

We believe we have found a great solution that answers all of those questions.

Starling Power Without Any Plugins

We are currently developing a new framework based on the same APIs that you know from Starling and Sparrow. It relies completely on open standards. Games built with that API run in all modern browsers, both desktop and mobile. Rendering is based on Canvas, but the long-term target is WebGL, because that will simply provide the best performance.

What's so special about this new framework is that we're building it especially for you:

  • Use the same API you know from Starling and Sparrow.
  • Code in TypeScript, a language you'll feel instantly familiar with.
  • Enjoy the usual loads of documentation.

Here is a small sample class, showing actual source code:

module game 
{
    export class Hero extends display.Sprite
    {
        private _body:display.Image;

        constructor()
        {
            super();

            this._body = new display.Image(Game.assets.getTexture("hero"));
            this._body.pivotX = this._body._width / 2;
            this._body.pivotY = this._body.height;
            this.addChild(this._body);
        }

        public jump():void
        {
            core.Starling.current.juggler.tween(this, 0.4, {
                transition: animation.Transitions.EASE_OUT,
                y: -50,
                repeatCount: 2,
                reverse: true
            });
        }
    }
}

Looks familiar, doesn't it? TypeScript allows you to use upcoming JavaScript features that are not available in browsers yet, like classes and interfaces; and it adds optional static typing, which greatly enhances IDE support and makes it easier to find errors. For this and other reasons, we think it's the perfect fit for our framework. (That said: if you like to use pure JavaScript, you can do so just as well.)

Head over to Area 51 to see the hero in action!

Area 51

What does this mean for Starling (AS3)?

Of course, the appearance of this framework raises yet another question: what about the AS3 version of Starling -- will it become obsolete? Will development continue?

I want to make this clear: Starling will not suffer at all from the additional framework. We're standing behind ActionScript just as we always did. As soon as I'm back from the Adobe MAX, I'll work full throttle at the next major update to Starling; and just days ago, we launched our game backend especially for AS3 developers.

Of course, time is always limited, we're perfectly aware of that. For exactly this reason, we extended our team at Gamua especially for this framework! Our new team-member is Werner Loibl -- a long-time, trusted friend of us with lots of experience in web development. He is working exclusively on the new framework. Just like you know that I'm there for you with any Starling- and Sparrow-related needs, Werner will be the main contact person for the new framework.

When will it be available?

Our current development version is already quite capable; however, it's not ready for prime time yet. We will release it as soon as we regard it reasonably complete. If you want to make sure you don't miss the official release, you can register here to get notified when the time has come. In any case, when it's done you'll have one more bird to choose from, ready to meet the requirements of your future games.

We're really excited about this new bird and I'm sure you share our enthusiasm! We're looking forward to any comments.