Adobe Flash, a multimedia software platform that was once the backbone of Internet audio and video content, will be discontinued next year. As a result, hundreds of Flash-based websites such as Miniclip and Coolmathgames will be unable to function properly. Newgrounds, which is one of the most popular hubs for Flash games and animations, will also be affected. Fortunately, the site’s developers have been secretly working on a way to play Flash in the browser via emulation.
Ruffle is an open source Flash emulation project currently being worked on by Newgrounds’ Mike Welsh. The emulator, which can be accessed for free at Ruffle.rs, aims to preserve the 15+ years of Flash content on the Internet. There’s also a browser extension that detects old Flash embed code and replaces it with the emulator.
As Newgrounds is directly integrating Ruffle into their site, visitors won’t need to use the browser extension. For other sites, however, the browser extension will be necessary. It’s still very much a work in progress, so expect a fairly long wait before you see the tool in action. However, as Ruffle is an open source project, other developers can pitch in and speed along the development process.
“The initial rollout will cover animated content, then gradually expand to cover more and more games,” reads the announcement post. “We’ll also be tracking which Flash games are touch screen friendly because they will work on mobile for the first time ever.”
Adobe Flash approaching its death is the end of an era, and Newgrounds isn’t the first to attempt to preserve its content. Flashpoint, a similar preservation project which kicked off in 2018, has saved over 31 Gigabytes of Flash games. With over 2 Terabytes of Flash dumps saved, Flashpoint’s already massive library continues to grow.
If successful, Ruffle will offer a much more streamlined solution than Flashpoint. Considering the sheer massiveness of Flash’s gaming legacy, the preservation effort is daunting, but also admirable.