February 23, 2013

I have been working on a simple word game prototype and wanted to find a multiplayer solution that would be relatively quick and easy to setup. I researched SmartFoxServer, ElectroServer and Player.IO, and decided to give Player.IO a spin for a few simple reasons:

  • Their documentation is very well laid out and thorough. Honestly, the getting started tutorial looked too good to be true, almost as if it were challenging me to see if it was really that quick and easy to get started.
  • The free price-tag to get started is well within my budget
  • Hosting the game server code on the Player.IO game-servers is a huge time-saver for me. I don't have a lot of spare time to devote to my personal projects, so not having to mess around with setting up and maintaining the game servers lets me focus on the fun stuff, like implementing the game logic and mechanics.
I was skeptical. It is rare to find a quick setup guide where the demo source code actually compiles and runs on the first try. I had blocked off a bit of free time over this weekend and the next to get the development server and at least one demo game up and running. I walked through the Getting Started with Flash and Player.IO page, and I had the development server and client running in about 5 minutes. In 10 minutes, I had the Fridge Magnets game running live on their production servers, with the client portion being hosted on my own web server. I saved so much time I could write this post and have already begun porting my game logic into my Player.IO dev environment.

I did run into one small hiccup with the Fridge Magnets demo. The demo .fla was built for CS3, but font embedding has changed in later versions. I'm running CS6, so the first time I compiled it I could only see the letter M. A quick fix is to embed the basic latin character set, publish and you're golden!
A screenshot of the Fridge Magnets demo running on my server.

Of course, this is just my first impression of Player.IO, but so far I am quite impressed with the service. They offer just enough documentation to get you started, and once you're comfortable with the environment it's very easy to locate the meatier API docs. I am so excited at the prospect of being able to get some games up and running a lot more quickly than I could before. 

I'm taking notes as I go along, so I can write a more in-depth review of their services. I have noticed that all the examples require Flash Pro to compile the games. It is relatively easy to convert all of them to a FlashBuilder or FlashDevelop project so I may write up a post on how to do that if I see a demand for it.

I would also love to hear about other multiplayer game solutions, do you have a favourite? 


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