With an eye to game programming.
Someone recommended Flash MX 2004 Game Development by Glen Rhodes, but I’d like a second opinion before I part with $30.
First opinion: always buy used copies via Amazon.com if you can, it’s a good way not to get burned (as much) by shitty books.
Question: do you want to write in AS2 or AS3? AS3 is fairly new, and if you’re willing to endure beta-ness, hit up the Adobe Labs Web site for their latest Flex2 beta. Flash 8.5 supports AS3, and it’s the future.
The book from Adobe/Macromedia (Flash 8 Programming) is my favorite so far with a lot of real helpful stuff.
For compilation, I’ve seen some open source compilers (MTASC) and SWF builders that look like a decent alternative to shelling out godawful amounts of cash for a shitty IDE.
Flash games are most of what I do (plug! http://www.thup.com/ ), so finally a question in this forum I can give a decent answer to.
Book: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/actscript2/ is the one to get, imo, although moock’s other book ( http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/0596006527/ ) is pretty helpful too. I don’t think you need a game-specific book, but I have also heard good things about the book you are considering.
If you’re looking for an IDE, Eclipse + FDT is great, but I’d just stick with a basic text editor while you’re learning.
What’s your take on AS3/F8.5 for games?
Malph pointed out the right books (I’d recommend both). I’m an eclipse / flashout / mtasc person myself, though mtasc is not as compatible as it should be; it’s just faster, which is nice in large projects during dev work. I’d never deploy its code though. The beauty is it’s all java, and it runs great on my intel iMac (much unlike the Flash IDE itself under rosetta).
I haven’t messed with 8.5 yet.
http://www.osflash.org is a good starting point for info on cutting edge flash work with open source tools.
I’ve only done sandbox stuff yet, because my clients obviously prefer to aim for compatibility. For example, I’m still pretty excited to do some stuff with the Flash 8 bitmap handling stuff, but I’m only just now proposing my first games targetting Flash 8.
AS 3.0 itself is chock full of awesome stuff for developing games. I’m probably most excited about all the stricter handling of types and improved error handling (runtime exceptions, less silently failing, yay!). Other cool features like automatic depth handling and regular expressions are handy.
I haven’t delved into the new graphic classes (Sprite and Shape), but they sure look like they’ll be useful.
So overall, yes, AS3 looks like a big jump up, but for someone coming into developing in Flash, I think AS2 is a fine place to start, it’s not like it’s that big of a jump between the two, and there are better references for AS2.