About Flax

The Flax project is a website (among other things), brimming with a passion for programming and technology in general. Heading this up are two Irish Game Development students, Ciarán McCann and Carl Lange. We’re trying to expand our knowledge and share what  knowledge we have with the world, so expect many tutorials and tech demos on a bunch of topics, ranging from web-based technology like GWT and HTML5 (+CSS+Javascript) to GNU/Linux and Mac OS X. The blog here will host these tutorials and posting which will be added to on a weekly basis.

Now, on to the main focus of this project, the Flax Game Engine. Today’s computing is evolving with new devices, new platforms, and new markets. Perhaps the most obvious of these is the internet. Through new advancements in browsers, application on the web are becoming as rich and as functional (if not even more so) as their desktop counterparts. Though gaming in browsers has been around nearly as long as the Internet itself, browser plugins such as Adobe Flash or Unity’s Web Player are often required.

The Flax Engine is to be a 2D game engine for the web, using features introduced in HTML5, specifically the canvas and audio tags. Flax will be developed in Java using GWT 2.0 to cross compile the code into robust JavaScript code which will run across all mordern browsers and is intended to be a native framework for developing 2D browser-based games. Adobe Flash is used to program the vast majority of browser-based games (with Java applets coming distant second), though Flash is not supported on many mobile devices (specifically, any running Apple’s iOS) and is also rather heavy on hardware requirements. Also with the upcoming release of an operating system which completely depends on the Internet for its applications and data storage (Chromium OS) we are very excited about being able to develop games for these type of mobile devices.

Where we got the name

After many different ideas about projects to work on for the summer, we decided to develop a native web game engine. With most of HTML5’s features currently being implemented in modern browsers we thought it would be exciting to take a crack at developing a web game engine. One of the first drawing technologies we identified was canvas, which we thought was magic. Types of physical canvas are made from the Flax plant, and that’s how we came up with the name Flax.