Some longtime gamers will tell you they got their start on some of the greatest classic consoles of the 20th century: the Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis, Super NES… you get the picture. Others, however, will tell you that they garnered a love of gaming from early to mid-2000s Flash games on sites like Armor Games and Newgrounds. It was a sad day for the latter group when Adobe announced that they would stop updating and distributing Flash Player by the end of 2020. Adobe figured that the rise of HTML5 and the like meant that Flash had a definitive lifespan. A couple of programmer/developers, namely Mike Welsh of The Behemoth and Tom Fulp, founder of Newgrounds (and co-creator of The Behemoth), didn’t want to settle for that.
The duo has been working on a browser-based Flash emulator called Ruffle for a bit now. What was originally supposed to be a surprise release for the users of Newgrounds was announced on the site a few days ago. “Ruffle is being written in the Rust programming language and targets desktop and the web using Web Assembly,” reads the post. The project is open source and has already attracted new contributors. Through the hard work of Welsh, Fulp, and their contributors, as well as a little bit of programming magic, eventually a browser extension of Ruffle will be able to identify “old Flash embed code and [swap] it with Ruffle, meaning you could visit any old website and the Flash will (eventually) just WORK.”
Since the developers of Ruffle have ties to Newgrounds, they will be implementing it right on the site without the need for an extension. “The initial rollout will cover animated content, then gradually expand to cover more and more games.” In addition to web Flash content, the team will also be paying attention to which games and videos are touch-screen responsive, meaning they will be able to play on mobile as well. While Flash games may not be the prettiest compared the AAA titles of today, they are undeniably fun, and it’s wonderful that a strange piece of gaming history will be preserved.
You can keep tabs on the project via the Ruffle website, download the source code, and even try out a demo.