Newgrounds announced last Friday plans to preserve Flash content on the web. Used for everything from animations to games, Flash had a considerable presence on the site. Creators across the globe uploaded thousands of passion projects. Many of these projects became cornerstones of Internet culture, from the Numa Numa Dance to Metal Gear Awesome. Despite Flash’s deprecation as a program, sites still run it to this day. Their emulator, currently called Ruffle, seeks to preserve the technology and keep it accessible.
To preserve this content, Newgrounds has worked on this in-browser emulator for several months. Built using Rust, it acts as a Flash Player in most modern browsers. The project includes plans for a browser extension, allowing any website running Flash to work. Rather than being a closed system, Ruffle is entirely open-source, bypassing Flash’s inherent security issues.
Newgrounds will also replace any Flash code on their website with Ruffle’s, removing the need for said browser extension. Every project on the website will now have a true/false attribute assigned to it. This will track whether the emulation of the media is possible. Animations are at the top of the priority list, with other projects such as games to follow suit. The website will also determine which games are compatible with touch screens. This means the future possibility of playing them on mobile devices for the first time.
Tom Fulp, the owner of Newgrounds, is cautiously optimistic about successfully emulating online Flash projects with Ruffle.
There is a lot of work to be done on the emulation front and no guarantee it will ultimately emulate everything – it has to work it’s way through AS1 and AS2 games before ultimately tackling AS3.
Mike is super smart though and other smart people are getting involved, Ruffle is looking like the best chance.
At the end of 2020, Adobe will officially stop supporting Adobe Flash. With the advent of HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly, it is no longer a necessity to navigate online anymore. Until the end of next year, however, Adobe has pledged continued support and updates for the software.
Remember Macromedia Shockwave? Designed around making games, it fell out of favor years ago. Support for it ended just this past April. Preserving the hallmarks of Internet culture is a massive undertaking. It’s a lot of work, but this is definitely worth it. Thousands of artists, game makers, and other content creators relied on Flash for their work.