KB120: "Missing Character" bug on Flash 11.4

In the fall of 2012, Adobe released a version of the Flash Player (version 11.4) that caused all Realistic and CG Toon characters to disappear. Media Semantics immediately released a new version of the Character Builder, as well as an alert with a patch tool, to work around the problem. Soon after the release of 11.4, Adobe released 11.5, which corrected the problem.

At this time we don't recommend doing anything special with regards to the "Missing Character" bug, as most users who had auto-upgraded to 11.4 would have upgraded to 11.5 soon thereafter. It is theoretically possible that some of your users might still see the bug, at which point it would be appropriate to ask them to upgrade (or downgrade) their flash player. The original text of the alert follows, for reference.

Normally when you publish content for a given flash player, e.g. 9.0, then that content will also run on all newer versions of Flash, such as 10 and 11. Not so with certain types of Character Builder content published using a Character Builder version prior to 5.3.6, when running on the new Flash Player 11.4.

If your content includes Realistic or CG Toon characters, then users upgrading to 11.4 will not be able to see those characters. They will still hear the audio, and all navigation controls will still work correctly, however the characters themselves will be transparent. The problem also affects JPEG background images.

While it is possible that Adobe will correct the issue in a subsequent version of the flash player, the only reasonable course of action is to redeploy updated versions of the Flash files before the bulk of your user upgrade their Flash players.

There are two options for dealing with affected materials.

You can upgrade Character Builder to 5.3.6 or higher and re-render and re-deploy the affected SWF files. As of version 5.3.6 the Builder generates JPEG compression (used in backgrounds and by realistic and cg toon characters) in a slightly different manner that makes it compatible with all versions of Flash, including 11.4. Updates are free, and you will likely be asked to upgrade when you launch Character Builder. If not, you can download and install the latest from http://www.mediasemantics.com/download.htm.

We have also released a small tool that lets your recursively scan through an entire tree of files for any Flash SWF files that will exhibit the "missing character" bug on Flash 11.4. The tool will modify each affected file so as to extend compatibility to Flash 11.4.

You can download the tool from http://www.mediasemantics.com/FixMissingChar.zip.

The tool is safe and virus-free, however as always when running a tool of this nature, we do recommend that you make a backup of your files. You will also want to spot-check the resulting files on a browser with the Flash 11.4 player before deploying them.

To use the tool, unzip it and place it somewhere on your hard drive, such as C:\Users\<username>. Then open a command line (enter "cmd" at the Windows Start menu), and type "FixMissingChar <path>", where <path> is the root folder where you would like to begin scanning, e.g.

C:\Users\Joe> FixMissingChar "C:\Users\Joe\Documents\Character Builder Projects"

Paths that include a space must be wrapped in double-quotes. Remember that you will need to redeploy the files that have been changed, and that you may need to clear your browser cache when doing your spot checks.

Character Server output is also affected. If you use the Character Server to generate dynamic Flash materials, then you should upgrade to the latest Character Server and clear the Flash cache.

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