Good morning everyone, my name is James Simpson and today I&quot;m going to give a quick intro to hTML5 game development and how it is shaping the future of web-based gaming. First I'll just give a quick intro so you know who I am.
I've been building games and generally hacking on the open web since I was 13, I'm a speaker on the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour with the Empact Team, and I’m the founder of GoldFire Studios, which is a browser-based game development studio out of Oklahoma City.
We started doing work with HTML5 when it started to come of age around 2 years ago and have since dedicated our company to HTML5 and the open web. Our current games rely completely on open web standards, and we currently have a large scale HTML5 multiplayer game in the works. We also just released our social gaming platform that caters to HTML5 and is built with Node.js and MongoDB, which you can check out at goldfire.me.
The last decade has seen the proliferation of games across many platforms and devices, helping the industry to go mainstream. However, this fragmentation has made it exceedingly difficult for developers to deploy high quality games to more than one or two platforms.
However, thanks to emerging standards, we are at the edge of a major shift in the consumption and development of applications, where the open web will once again become the dominate platform over native applications. This won't happen overnight, but as you will see, the advantages far outweigh the negatives.
Another advantage is that the use of open web standards makes development easier, faster, and more cost effective. Fast prototyping and distributed development become much easier for teams from 1 to 100, making the open web an ideal development and deployment platform for a wide range of applications.
The final advantage I'll highlight is that of full control. For example, if you need to push a bug fix or new feature, simply push the new code to your server and all of your users are instantly playing on the same new version of your game. With downloadable and mobile games you have to rely on your users to manually download and install each update, which isn't something you want to rely on. The open web not only eliminates fragmentation across platforms, but fragmentation within your game itself. It also gives you full control over the product and the experience around that product.
This doesn't mean everything is perfect in HTML5 land, but the few roadblocks that do still exist have solutions right around the corner.
Currently, the biggest roadblock is browser support. For the most part, the latest versions of all the major browsers include all of the features under the current HTML5 spec. However, I did say &quot;for the most part&quot; because as you might expect, Internet Explorer doesn't fit that pattern. Luckily, IE10 will cover most of that later this year. However, not everything is perfect, even in the &quot;good&quot; browsers. Most notably, audio support is hit or miss, and can't be relied on for games without fallbacks. It'll be a few years before we can drop fallback support, but we are already at an tipping point where the majority of players are running HTML5 capable browsers.
The final roadblock for HTML5 is a lack of quality tools and engines compared to other platforms. There are actually quite a few tools and engines available, but for the most part they are still in early development and not very robust. However, this is already starting to change as more and more get into open web and HTML5 game development.
On that note, let’s look at a few of the tools and engines and tools that are available today.
The most common tools are currently conversion tools, which include Particle Code, PhoneGap, Spaceport, Game Closure, and more. These are mainly used to convert HTML5 apps to native mobile apps, but some can be used for desktop apps as well. While these are great for solving the browser support issue, I don't see them as a long-term solution since they negate the open web advantages.
That being said, there actually were two engines that emerged over the past year or two that had real promise: Aves Engine and RocketPack. Unfortunately, Zynga and Disney snapped up both engines before they were ever released to the public, which has done nothing but slowed the growth of the medium.
However, a new engine called Isogenic Engine is looking very promising. So promising in fact that we have chosen to use it for our upcoming game at GoldFire Studios. This engine is far and away the best available for HTML5 game development at this time, and includes all of the main features you would expect from a robust engine on other platforms like full 2D and 2.5D rendering, sprite animations, full multiplayer networking, and an in-game editor. The screenshot you see is of their demo game which you can check out at isocity.co.uk.
I strongly believe that the future of online gaming goes through HTML5 and the open web, and not just because of the unified development platform it provides.
The open web actually provides the world’s largest distribution channel by a wide margin. Research shows that by the end of this year, over 1 billion fully HTML5 capable mobile devices will have been sold, and that number will again double by the end of 2013. That right there makes it a larger addressable market than iOS or Android, and that doesn’t even include the hundreds of millions of HTML5 capable desktop users, which will also be rising into the billions over the next few years.
One of the knocks on HTML5 is that people think you can only make Tetris and Snake like many of the demos. However, most any type or genre of game is already possible or will be possible in the near future. We will see a progression like we've seen on other platforms, where we will go from Tetris to World of Warcraft and beyond, so don't just think Farmville clones will be possible.
I hope I was able to give you a brief, but informative look into the subject of HTML5 game development and what the future holds. There’s lots of resources out there on the web to dive into more detail onto all of these subjects. I also blog about these topics regularly at goldfirestudios.com, and if you ever have any questions you can always shoot me an e-mail or tweet me @GoldFireStudios. The slides will also be up shortly at bit.ly/html5games.