New to CS4, New to AS3, looking to get some pointers on a game

Mainly looking for pointers to the tutorials I am sure exist (but which I can’t find). But I am also very open to any general or specific advice you may have to spell out for me in the thread.

I am looking to build a PBBG (Persistent Browser Based Game) which, while single player, has some few multiplayer elements. Indirect interaction. One example of this is a commodities market - yes, the good old space trading, fly to one planet and buy, fly to another and sell scenario. I want every player to impact the inventory of each planet, and to have that inventory affect the buy/sell margins, etc. Other Indirect interaction would be bars et al, where players can chat, maybe (a BIG maybe) trade inventory and such. It seems direct, but it is not fighting one another or fighting at each other’s side, etc.; so to me it is ‘indirect’ to the game. But that isn’t why I’m here (feel free to impart any wisdom you have anyway, if you so desire); just an aside to explain a bit about the game.

The aspects I most desire help with are what I have seen referred to as ‘paper dolling’. I would like two systems, one to let the players design their character (so many different games/avatars/etc. out there have variations of this it seems like it should be simple). The other major paper doll would be in space ship design. I have found some AS2 tutorials on this, and I think I could port it into AS3 with little difficulty (but since I am new, I may be WAY off on that assumption); however I haven’t found any tutorials on preferred methods of saving the state of said paper doll.

I would prefer a more or less free-form design if possible, where a player can move the wings of the ship (or the ears of the character) up or down as they see fit, maybe even resize the elements to make one element serve a greater variety of designs. I would prefer having a way to ensure no elements are ‘free-floating’ but all are touching at least one other element at some point.

For the character, all I need is the overall image; though if I just take a snapshot, it would make editing the character later very difficult (I am not yet sure if I will be allowing editing, but why not?). For the ship, however, I need to know which components are selected; because they will affect performance of the ship in-game as well as the appearance. And since one needs each component saved, I may as well learn how to do it for both.

I plan on having various flash games where either the character or the ship are used as ‘sprites’ in the game - be it a race through an asteroid maze, a ‘shooter’ or a fighting game, etc. I need to import those designs (character and/or ship) into these flash games. The Flash portions will be a series of mini games which are linked by the main HTML game…so I need a way to move the designed characters and/or ships from one flash game to another. My guess would be to save them as individual .swf files; but that could fill up a server quick with a lot of players!

I know I have a very long way to go before I get this game designed. I have a very good outline, and have started coding some of the game elements (in PHP)… But I need to figure out how to do the flash portion before I get too far. Mainly, how to save the characters/ships, so that the returning players will have their avatar and their ships still, and indeed even so they remain from one mini game to another.

Again, while I appreciate any direct advice, I am mostly looking to get pointed to tutorials. I have a decent idea of what needs to get done, and a little less strong but still decent idea of how it should be done . . . I think. But I need to learn a lot more before I start tackling this. I just bought CS4 2 days ago, and decided it is finally time to learn AS3. And what better way to learn than by doing?