In what is one of the most ambitious preservation projects in the world of gaming, a number of independent game enthusiasts and volunteer coders have successfully begun the cataloging of thousands of web-based Flash games, making them playable once more for the general public.
The group, known as the Archive Team, has been furiously scrambling to preserve flash-based content since software giant Adobe announced they would end their support for the long-running Flash plugin by 2020. Current web browsers, such as Chrome, Safari, and Edge have already begun the process of phasing out Flash, meaning an untold amount of games and creative output will begin to disappear. The archive itself has been collecting flash games and animated projects found across the internet for the past 20 years.
"Spanning literal tens of thousands of games over a period of twenty years, the library of Flash games, breadth and depth, outlives any other game console on the market." stated Archive Team member Ben Latimore back in May.
The latest update, version 5.3, added a total of 1,100 games to the archive, with regularly monthly updates planned to continue to archive games all across the internet. The biggest innovation from the past year of work on the project has been the consolidation of these flash games to a new launcher able to hold tons of data in the form of Flashpoint Launcher.
Touted in an update article by Latimore, Flashpoint Launcher is a faster, leaner program that cuts down on megabytes of bloat from the previous launcher, adds home tab supports and playlists for players, and is made entirely of open source components. Per Latimore, "The Launcher, Redirector, web server (out-of-the-box Apache) and browsers (Pale Moon / Basilisk / K-Meleon) are all open, with the only closed-source programs being the binaries for the webgame tech, and the optional Fiddler Redirector replacement."
Currently, nine web game technologies are supported by Flashpoint Launcher. These technologies include Adobe Flash, Adobe (which you may remember better under its Micromedia name from the former owners) Shockwave, Utility Web Player, HTML5, PopCap Plugin, Java Applets, 3DVIA Player, Microsoft's Silverlight and 3D Groove GX, a long-dead browser plugin that only works on Internet Explorer 6.
Flash Games are an important part of the growth of video games. Since the early 2000's, flash games have been a constant fixture on the internet thanks to flash-based websites such as Ebaumsworld, NewGrounds, and Kongregate. Some of these games are flashes in the pan, while others become the launchpad to mainstream success, such as Alien Hominid and SuperHOT.
The work by the Archive Team is open to the public, who can freely join their Discord server to help contribute to the project. "Our Discord was flooded with thankful pilgrims and former developers, giving us the leg up we needed to keep working. We went from one man maintaining the archive to over fifty people contributing in some way, from adding games to new features and testing." stated Latimore. "And that was just the first month. Through a constant influx of new members, requests and ideas, Flashpoint has been evolving at a rate I didn’t believe was possible."
What are your thoughts on Flashpoint? Glad to see that these games are being archived? Leave your comments below.