an Object Using X and Y Values

If you are going to be creating games in Flash, you will need to learn how to allow the user to move an object around on the screen. While we could use drag and drop, but where's the fun in that?? You will learn in this tutorial how to move an object across the screen by using the arrow keys in your keyboard.

You will have created something like this by the time you reach the end of this tutorial:

[ Click anywhere in the animation and use your arrow keys to move the circle around. ]

I will first tell you what code to input to create something similar to the above animation, and I will explain the logic behind the code near the end of the tutorial.
The following instructions will help you in making an object (movie clip) move around in the screen:

  1. Instead of making you create the interface, I will provide the interface for you: Download the partial source code by clicking here. Don't worry, the FLA you just downloaded does not include the coding and other goodies. You will do that yourself by following this tutorial.
  2. Once you have opened the FLA file, we can begin! Select the circle and select the Instance panel. Give the circle the instance name: mover


  1. Now, right click on the circle and select Edit in Place. You will see the circle again, except this time, as a button instead of a movie clip.
  2. Right click on the button (circle with the Edit in Place command) and select Actions. Press Ctrl + E or select the right arrow from the Objects Actions window and select Expert Mode. Copy and paste the code found in the following text box:

  1. Once the code has been entered, click the Scene 1 tab found on the top-left corner of Flash. You should be back to the main timeline. Right click on Frame 1 and select Actions. Copy and paste the following code (make sure you are in Expert Mode [Ctrl + E]):

var h;
var v;
h = mover._x;
v = mover._y;

  1. Preview the animation and you will be able to move the little circle around by pressing the arrow keys.

Why the Animation Worked
Because you copied and pasted the code, I will explain why the code worked so you can replicate this cool technique in your own animations. I will explain each line of the code:

var h;
var v;
h = mover._x;
v = mover._y;

What I have done with above code, is that I got the x and y position of the movie clip. The movie clip is called mover, and the property for generating the y value is designated as _y. The property for generating the x value is designated as _x.

Why would I want to get the X and Y values? The reason I want this information is because when the movie clip is moved, there needs to be a method of knowing where exactly to start moving from. If you didn't have this code, when you press the Right arrow, the movie would start at 0 on the X axis and then move right; even if the original movie clip was located in the center of the movie. The same is true for the Y axis movement. Without a starting point, the movie clip's Y position would start at 0 regardless of where the movie clip is originally placed.

I declared the variables h (horizontal) and v (vertical) so I can refer to the x and y values of the movie clip when coding for the button.

on (keyPress "<Left>") {
  var x;
  x = x-2;
  lr = _root.h+x;
  _root.mover._x = lr;

This is the first section of code that was added to the button. While it may look complicated, the code is really quite simple. For proof of its simplicity press Ctrl + N on your keyboard for Normal Mode. Most of these commands could be accessed from the point and click Normal mode.

The first line is basically a mouseEvent statement. You can access this by going to Basic Actions | On Mouse Event. While normally, you would select Release or Rollover, I selected the Key Press checkbox. I then inserted the mouse cursor in the Key Press field (text box) and pressed the Left arrow on the keyboard. You will see something like this:

I declared the variable x in the second line of code. Flash doesn't care if a variable is declared prior to use, but I declared it anyway. The third line of code is what is called an accumulator. This number will increase or decrease according to the commands given to it. Hit counters on Web sites work similarly except they are set to: x = x + 1 where x is the number of visitors. In this example, the value of x will continue to go down as the user pressed the left key. The reason is, in a 360 degree circle, right of the y axis is considered positive while the left side of the y axis is considered negative. Because the left key is being pressed, the value has to be negative.

The fourth line of code introduces you to another variable, lr. Note that I did not declare this variable prior to use. In this line of code, I am basically assigning a value to lr that is the value of h (the horizontal value of the movie) added to the value of x (the number of times the left key was pressed). _root is added before declaring the variable, h, because the variable h is stored on the main timeline. The final line declares what lr is to the movie clip for positioning. Notice that because we are dealing with x values in the first frame, the _x is displayed on the end. _y would be displayed for actions corresponding to the up and down arrows, or vertical motion.

The remaining lines of code work similarly, except there will be fewer lines of code because there will be no need to re-declare the variables. For the code that involves vertical motion, you will see the variable v from the main timeline declared as _root.v.

Instant Replay: Animation Walkthrough
This section will help jog your memory on how this animation works and why it works the way it does. In the first frame of the timeline, the x and y values of the movie clip, mover, is received. This is to ensure that, when we code the movements, Flash knows where the exact starting location of the movie clip is.

Edit in Place the movie clip and view the actions for the button. In the first line, an accumulator script checks to see how many times the left key was pressed. Directly after that, another variable comes in to check the value for the horizontal value by adding it to the x value generated from the accumulator script. The final line of code, assigns the position for the horizontal value and x value to the movie clip, mover.

Just a final word before we wrap up. If you have a question and/or want to be part of a friendly, collaborative community of over 220k other developers like yourself, post on the forums for a quick response!

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