Memoirs of A Beta Tester – Tumult Hype 4 Review

Hype 4 LogoHype 4 is now officially available. 595 days earlier was when I first launched the Hype 4 beta. Considering that the final version was supposed to officially launch in the first quarter… of twenty-eighteen …this major Hype release is a little late. I’m partially responsible for the delay. You see, I didn’t like Hype 4 at first. I made my grievances well known. Surprisingly, unlike what I’ve seen from other software companies, Tumult went to work. Today, Hype 4 is one of the best upgrades ever.

Now sure, I can write a bunch of words about the awesomeness of Hype 4, but what good is that? Hype is animation software. So, let’s see it in action…

Did you notice the advanced techniques? Those were objects that were drawn into the scene, then they switched into dynamic Physics objects. These are concave and convex shapes. They’re interacting with each other. See for yourself. The three shapes can be dragged around the scene. The Physics interaction is buttery smooth. No really… LOOK CLOSER… the point of the star can be wedged in-between the petals of the clover. That’s insane quality for HTML5 animation software. And while I could have used JavaScript to add advanced features, this demo was created without having to write a line of code. These features move Hype 4 into game development land. It also further cements Hype as leading animation software.

Hype felt naked without without vector drawing. It’s a feature from early days of Flash. That’s the previous millennium. But finally, today you actually draw vector shapes in Hype. It’s a critical turning point for the software. Hype lets illustrators effortlessly access advanced HTML5 animation techniques. Lots of people might not know that SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics, but even a five year old can pick up a pencil and start drawing.

With macOS 10.15 “Catalina”, it could get even crazier. With Sidecar, an iPad could theoretically be used as a drawing surface. That’s potentially pro-level digital illustration and animation. Yet, the cost is inexpensive. Hype 4 Pro is $100. That’s trivial considering that Hype is HTML5 animation and game development software in a single app. The most expensive cost of Hype 4 is the macOS only software restriction, but that makes Hype 4 a strong argument for owning a Mac.

Getting back to game development, this was the real point of contention with Hype 4 beta. For years, I had been waiting for Tumult to unlock the full potential of the matter.js physics engine. In Hype 4, elements can be programmatically moved and rotated with velocity, creating dazzling visual effects and game-like interactivity. But in the beta, there was this awful twitching. Every few frames… bzzz… the element would… bzzz… stutter its movement. It really killed the enjoyment of Hype 4.

But now, wow. There’s so much potential. Soon after Tumult fixed the stuttering problem, I had a side-scrolling game running at 60 frames per second – with minimal drain on the CPU.

Jump Template – Minimal CPU Usage

That screenshot is from a Hype project running in Xcode. It was the moment I realized that I needed to reactivate my Apple developer account. Surely real iOS hardware wouldn’t run this game demo at 3%. No, it was more… but only 5%-8%. While the CPU usage increased, the memory usage was less than half. Xcode reported no trouble with the performance. The gauge was well in the green territory.

Xcode Energy Impact Report

Power usage is one of the reasons why Flash no longer reigns supreme as web animation software. It gained a bad reputation for spinning up CPU fans. That drain on system resources just didn’t work well in the land of mobile devices. Apple pushed the world toward HTML5 animation, but the world didn’t have a good replacement for Flash – until now. While Hype was great for creating banner ads and website widgets, it wasn’t ideal for building games. Hype 4 changes that. This could be the start of a new golden age of web games.

Recently, I made a profound statement in the private beta forums…

Hype 4 is… well… I don’t think we’ve fully realized how powerful this update has become.

That’s not to say Hype 4 is 100% problem free. While Tumult did resolve most of my issues with the software, one major problem remains. It doesn’t import vector artwork. (Fortunately, you can view the HTML source code to export artwork created in Hype.) That means drawing perfect circles or donuts is a challenge. That’s one of the few Flash features that I miss. There was an eraser tool for vector shapes. But when Hype 4 beta first launched, there wasn’t even a pencil tool. That freehand addition dramatically changed the feeling of the app. It’s just so natural. It feels real. Hype 4 moves beyond the mechanical, where placing boxy elements is a mundane chore. Now, Hype is more curvy.

Some of the more shrewd viewers of this website might be thinking, “Mike, who are you kidding? Hype 4 can’t be that great. Aren’t you the guy that wrote the Hype book? You’re probably trying to sell more books.” Well, I thought I was out of the book publishing game. It takes a lot of energy to write a book. I was seriously burned out after the last one. If Hype 4 was a disaster, I wouldn’t have to write another book. Instead, I’m looking at the magnum opus of Tumult. They did the work. So yeah, I’m probably going to write “A Book About Hype 4”.