Posts Tagged ‘Javascript


Reasons to be Creative 2012

‘Reasons’ is a festival for creative artists, designers and coders. Bringing together the best minds from the worlds of art, code, and design.

Reasons to be Creative is the evolution of the amazing Flash on the Beach conference. It has a more inclusive focus, now covering all web technologies. This helps bring together an amazing set of speakers from JS/Mobile Web App guru Jake Archibald to the creative code behemoths who rose from the Flash community Mario Klingemann and Joa Ebert. The tone will be one of celebration – a festival for the creative mavericks of the world.

The sessions are split into three tracks. Speakers cover design, code, illustration, animation and the creative process – but the conference is about much more than that. Inspiration sessions are designed to refill the tanks and send delegates away from the event with drive, enthusiasm and ideas to last the whole year – this alongside a whole list of new contacts and friends that could help build the next web masterpiece.

My ‘must see’ sessions:

    Eugene Zatepyakin – Actionscript Computer Vision
    Ahmed & Gill – The Random Adventures of Internet Explorer
    Conrad Winchester – I’ve got a super computer and I know how to use it!
    Mario Klingemann – Better Livign Through Lasers
    Jake Archibald – Application Cache: Douchebag
    Frank Reitberger – Highly Illogical
    Rob Bateman – Forward to Foundation
    Joa Ebert – Abstract Abstractions
    Mike Jones – Designing Game Interfaces
    David Lenaerts – A Trick of Light
    Jon Howard – Box of Delights. Fun for all the family <– Of course!
    Grant Skinner – Building Fun (with CreateJS & HTML5)


HTML5 Game Dev. Removing elements from the screen. Finding the fastest method.

Using removeChild to clear off a few in-game elements I noticed a bit of lag when testing on some devices so thought I’d better have a look at what the fastest removal methods are.

The three methods I selected to test were removeChild, display=”none” and a simple hide the element offscreen. Again, testing has been carried out at

My first test was on Chrome 16 and the results were pretty conclusive. display=”none” was very slow, and hide the element was by far the fastest – over 4 times faster than display=”none”.

So, conclusive proof – I should just hide my elements off the screen.

Err, no. I next tested Firefox 9.0.1. Ah, here removeChild was 2.5 times faster than both display=”none” and hiding the elements.

IE7.0 then. display=”none” and the hiding elements method were nearly 3 times faster than removeChild.

What about devices?
With Android 2.2 (Galaxy Tab 1) display=”none” was the fastest method, but only marginally so over the other two.

Safari on iPad #1 (4.2.1) flips the results on their head again with removeChild() being nearly 3 times quicker than the other two.

So how do we interpret this data? A chief decision to make would be what the target devices are. Then choose the quickest method. If we wanted a more generic approach then a series of conditionals would allow for all three methods to be present, using the most relevant one for the current browser.

For the prototypes I am working on, number one target is the iPad. A lot of my focus has been on trying to avoid using the Canvas element (entirely due to horrible performance on Android with it).

Element removal.

The (very simple) code used is here (for simplicity’s sake I use the inverse method as well to bring the element back onto the stage for subsequent removal):

var testDIV = document.createElement(‘div’);
testDIV.innerHTML = “Hello World”;

function displayIsNone()

function removeChild()

function moveVideo()

Try the tests yourself here:


HTML5 Game Dev. Flipping a DIV – Horizontally Inverting content with Javascript and CSS

As I prepare for my talk at FITC Amsterdam (Feb 2012) I’m building a web game in both Flash & HTML5.

I’m aiming my HTML5 build at the mobile web (but will try to reach as many desktop browsers as possible) – so it will need to run optimally across Android & iOS.

I’ve discovered a few issues so far that for the purpose of record and reference I’ll post here in game lab.

First up. I have a player character that I’m animating via a spritesheet. I need the character to be able to face left and right.

I made the assumption that I could drop the sheet into a div (as background image) and then apply a scaleX transition to the div when I need to face left, and remove the transition when I need to turn right.

I’m applying the horizontal flip by adding a CSS classname to the div.

The CSS:

-moz-transform: scaleX(-1);
-webkit-transform: scaleX(-1);
-o-transform: scaleX(-1);
transform: scaleX(-1);
filter: FlipH; /*for IE*/
-ms-filter: “FlipH”;

Then when I need my character to face left I add the class name to the character div:

function faceLeft() {characterDIV.className = “flip-horizontal”;}
function faceRight() {characterDIV.className = “”;}

So, is this good? Works fantastically on the desktop browsers and really well on Android.

BUT, on iOS (iPad in my tests) there is a BIG lag when the webkit transform is applied.

I mean big – in my game there can be up to a second long hang. Totally unacceptable for any game usage (unless as a one shot on initialisation).

The answer? Unfortunately I couldn’t come up with a technical solution. I had to resort to putting the reverse animation on the spritesheet. This gives me the performance I want – but at the expense of more weight to the game.

If my game has many characters then I am essentially doubling my asset weight for those characters. Boo.


Creative Javascript – 3D Tree with Leaf-fall

A HTML5 prototype…

Finally getting around to have a play with HTML5 Canvas – enabled by attending Seb Lee Delisle’s excellent CreativeJS course.

I’m impressed with performance from Canvas nowadays – my first sight of it many moons ago left me pretty disappointed – but now it actually feels useful and some pretty impressive visual effects can be achieved without resorting to WebGL.

The prototype I threw together here demonstrates a growing tree, in 3D with numerous branches, leaves, leaf fall, faux-shading and colour phasing. The demo will re-grow a tree on mouse click, and will allow for left and right rotation by means of mouse position (left/right).


3D Tree with Leaf Fall

To talk through the code a little: The tree is constructed using a recursive buildBranch function. Every branch spawns two new branches, or in the last generation it has a 90% chance of spawning a leaf. The branches are coloured from brown to green related by the recorded generation of the branch.

No 3D libraries were used in this demo – all of the 3D is via a simple scaling calculation for 3D points [ fov / (fov + point.z) ]. This allows for any 3D point to be translated (scaled) onto the 2D canvas.

The Painter’s Algorithm (priority fill) is applied via the sorting of all branches and leaves on their mid-point. This means that those furthest away are drawn to screen first.

Shading is applied by mapping colour to the z value of a branch’s position. This is very simply applied. There is a related alpha to add a fog effect to the furthest away elements, this gives some subtle but nasty artefacts and could be improved.

When a branch is fully grown the leaves will then appear and grow to their full size. When they fall a sine value is applied to rotation to make it rock as it falls. Leaves will collect on the ground.

Performance is pretty good here, but I did have to restrict the number of branch generations to 9. Of course some of the out-of-the-box features that Flash has such as Glow and Blur filters don’t exist – which means work-arounds or approximations have to be used – sound implementation isn’t very consistent across browsers – it is still early days, more and more JS will be used across the web, as it is the browser manufacturers will hopefully drive their products into more useful areas and consistent implementations.

The demo is a fast turn-around ‘prototype’, so not optimal or well formed. Feel free to have a play with the code, offer improvement suggestions or adapt in anyway you wish.

No attempt has been made to cover HTML5 cross-browser issues – so don’t expect this to work in IE!

Direct Link: 3D Tree with Leaf Fall


Reasons to be Creative 2012

FITC Amsterdam 2012

Flash on the Beach 2011

Flash on the Beach 2010

Flash on the Beach 2009

Swingpants at FOTB2009

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