July 4th., 2004
Run 'n Roll is a funny single player and multiplayer game created
by the French game developers @ Yamago.
It features great cartoon-like graphics, lots of game modes, user
registration, chat, realtime multiplayer challenges and much more!
(We also have online the Run'n Roll review by tomsamson, read
A great example of what Flash can do when pushed to
Here follows the interview with the Yamago guys:
Q: First of all we'd like to know a bit
more about Yamago. When did you start the company?
Yamago is a multimedia creative studio specialized in web entertainment
(games and animations). The company was founded in 2000. Our work
is mainly based upon flash and we focus on creating multiplayer
flash games (Hypraspeed, Poulaga Challenge, Run'n'roll, Yaballon).
We also work on offline projects, for instance we created a CD-ROM
game (" Equipe Actimel contre les Megakrasses ") for
the company Danone, the game was entirely made with Flash. It was
distributed more than one million exemplaries in France, Belgium,
Poland, and soon Ireland.
We also work on mobile gaming with Java, Flash and other upcoming
On top of creating Flash games and animations, we also work as
consultants or expert actionscript developers for some companies.
Q: Can you introduce the members of the
Yamago is a team of 5 persons : Stephane (aka abym), flash and php developer,
Pierrick (aka polo), flash, php and java developer, Fred (aka MagicFred) our
favorite illustrator and animator, Virgile, our musician, and myself (aka mama),
flash and php developer.
Q: What were the first games you worked on?
One of our first work was a game called " ViaRally ", a car game concept
created for the french company Michelin. Then we created Hypraspeed, in collaboration
with our friends from Globz. Hypraspeed was one of the first real-time multiplayer
Q: We've been playing your nice "Run n'Roll" game
and really enjoyed it. Can you introduce the game and talk about its general
Run'n'roll is our latest creation, and we are quite satisfied of it. It was a
huge project and we managed to bring it to the end. Beyond the original gameplay,
the friendly characters and universes created by magicfred, Run'n'roll also has
build in new features and tools like YOGA and YoServer. YOGA is a player's management
system, that will keep score tracks and player's profile for all of our upcoming
Once players have registered a Yoga profile, they can access all of our games
the simpliest way, and be sure to have their scores saved. The aim was to encourage
the birth of a community around our games, thus in the future, each game will
also have its own board to allow players to share tips and tricks, meet each
other, create teams, and post useful feedbacks to improve the games.
YoServer is a Java-based multiplayer socket server. We developed YoServer to
fit the requirements of real-time multiplayer gaming.
Q: Was "Run n'Roll" a project for a client?
No. Run'n'roll is a complete autoproduction, entirely financed by Yamago. We
have had the idea of the game about 2 years ago. Yamago was founded as a creative
production company, we always try to divide our time between working for our
clients, and creating our own games, like Hypraspeed, Xtrem Snowboard or Yaballon
(still in progress).
Q: How much time did it take to develop and how many people
worked on it?
Around 6 full months. It seems to be a lot of time, but it's due to many changes
as we advanced on the game's conception. Several game's principles had to be
modified to ensure the best multiplayer gaming experience.
How much complexity is added by the multiplayer factor?
The main difficulty was to deal with real-time issues. You really have to pay
attention to this when creating a multiplayer game. There are two major issues
: synchronization problems caused by network lantencies, and the differences
between each client's computer performance. There are important losses of framerate
on older and slower computers, which adds another synchronization problem. The
challenge is always to find tricks so each player still has a chance to win.
What kind of technology did you use for the multiplayer side?
We have our own socket server, called YOServer , a home-made server developped
in java.As far as data flow is concerned, XML is treated as string on the server-side
(for best performance and to reduce memory use), on the client-side, messages
are parsed as XML, using the standard XML class methods.
Q: What were the difficulties (if any) that you had to overcome during the development?
As i said, the synchronization issue was a big part of the development. The " tap-tap " phase
of the game (don't know how to say in english, the part of the game when you
press alternatively 2 keys as fast as possible) was relatively difficult to setup.
We had to use a multiplayer station for the testing process (several weeks testing
with 2 computers side by side, watching 2 screens at a time :))
All along the development of the game, we had to adapt the gameplay (for example,
we decided to add the ability to brake during the run), both single and multiplayer
parts were constantly changed, as long as we were not convinced that the game
was fun and addictive enough.
We spent a lot of time working on this project since we have had the idea of
the rotational scrolling, two years ago. We also sometimes had some doubts and
hesitations about our ability to bring the project to its end.
Working on this project was also a good exercise to discover some subtle bugs
and misdocumented features of Flash, and to try and find custom solutions to
the problems we met.
you use Actionscript 1 or 2.0? Which one do you prefer/use?
Most of time we work with Flash MX, which we consider as the ultimate Flash version,
at least the most robust and reliable. We find it a bit painfull to work with
Flash MX 2004, and actionscript 2 doesn't significally improves performances.
As far as animation is concerned, it is nearly impossible to work with MX2004,
since Macromedia removed the cancel/restore history feature of Flash MX, and
replaced it by a linear history. Even so we used MX 2004 with some custom JSFL
tools we made. JSFL is a very powerfull feature of MX2004, probably one of the
For Run'n'roll, i developed a tiny JSFL tool to convert shapes to movieclips
and automatically associate the resulting movieclips to classes. It was a very
time-saving way to prepare the characters (in fact split them into several movieclips),
to allow an easy color customization of each part of them. Considering the huge
amount of frames to build each character's animation, doing this manually would
have been a drudgery :)
Flash MX2004 can be very usefull during the debugging process.
Q: The flash player speed was recently enhanced with version
7. Do you think its performance is enough for games?
The Flash 7 player is actually faster than the flash 6 player, but it concernes
code execution speed above all. Most of time, the problem is to have good vector
rendering performances and a stable framerate. In some cases, vector rendering
can use up to 90% of the overall memory usage. According to us, it's a key point
on which Macromedia should really pay attention for the upcoming Flash versions.
Q: All your games seem to have a very well defined and
personal drawing style. What are your main influences in this field?
My influences are very diverse, from video-game to comics, and cartoons. I'm
very fond of the work of Toryama, especially Dragon Ball and Doctor Slump (not
Dragon Ball Z). Nintendo games are also a great source of inspiration, and i
love their colorized universes. On the web, i do like the work of Vooz and his
friendly characters (Pucca).
Actually, i have plenty of inspiration sources, but the list would really be
too long :)
Q: What about sound production? Do you create your own
sound fx and music?
Each music in our games are original creations. Musics and FX are composed according
to the graphical style and the spirit of the game. I think the music is a major
contribution to Yamago's style and identity.
Q: How do you fine tune the gameplay? Do you have beta testers?
The gameplay is closely linked to multiplayer issues, especially the real-time
part of the development. The improvement of the gameplay was possible after doing
a lot of versions of the game. The entire Yamago team was put to work during
the beta-testing, and we also had gentle beta-testers who spent many time sending
us useful feedbacks to fine tune the difficulty, and reporting bugs (and also
having a lot of fun:).
Q: In this work creativity is one of the most important
ingredients, how do you usually approach a new game project? Do you always
have a strict and planned workflow?
It really depends on each project, for huge project we usually have a very organized
workflow. For example, the concept of Run'n'roll was originally born from a magicFred's
idea, then we had regular discussions altogether, till the project was solid
enough, then decided to begin the development. All along the development, Pierrick
put his personal and great ideas to make this game the funniest experience as
For other projects it happens to be a gameplay principle which brings us to think
about creating a game. That was the case of Xtrem Snowboard, we first thought
about playing without the use of the keyboard, only with the mouse, the easiest
way to play a game for non-hardcore gamers. Then we had the idea to create a
snowboard tricks-game, a bit different from existing ones (commonly played with
Yaballon was first a query from a client, and also a real challenge to make a
flash real-time multiplayer soccer game. The client finally declined our proposal,
and we kept working on the project for ourselves.
Some other projects, like Supervache or Stomba, are much more complex and require
a lot of conception time, because they are essentially based upon a well-structured
scenario and an immersive universe. For now, these projects are in stand-by .
Q: What do you see in the future of the web gaming market
I think that the web gaming market is at its very beginning, because players
just begin to accept the idea of paying a small subscription to play online games.
Run'n'roll was meant to be a free attractive and original game. On top of the
free part of the game (which is a very important one), we are thinking about
setting up a subscription system (with an affordable cost of course) to access
brand new single and multiplayer levels, competitions and other goodies (for
those who are really addicted:)
Q: Can you unveil some of your future projects?
It's difficult to talk about new projects now, we are still very engaged in improving
Run'n'roll. We would like this game to become a real cool gaming experience :)
New features will come out very soon !
Several important projects are still under construction, Yaballon will probably
be the next one, but we still don't have a release date :)
We are also very interested in mobile games, and we have already made a prototype
version of Run'n'roll for the mobile. At the moment, we are testing several mobile
Q: And now for the last, inevitable question: what would
you expect from the next version of Flash ? Any wishlist ?
According to me, the most important is the flash player (maybe more than the
authoring tool), the faster the better to create rich graphic contents and impressive
effects. Rendering performance is really a key point Macromedia should focus
As far as the authoring tool is concerned, we think it's important to pay attention
to designers needs and wishes (since lots of new features for developers were
added in Flash MX2004).
Once shoud not forget that Flash acquired its world-wide reputation thanks to
designers and animators work, before it became a real powerful development tool.
It would also be great if the next version of Flash could be as fast, robust
and reliable as Flash MX. A full featured player for the mobile, with an extended
support of actionscript, would also be very interesting.