MDN Hackday London - Open Web Games with HTML5 & JavaScript


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In this talk I will give you an overview of the new role that browsers are adopting to support games and the technologies and processes that are helping that happen. This includes areas like 2D graphics with canvas, console-like 3D games with WebGL, gamepad support, immersive full-screen experiences, multiplayer games with WebSockets, and much more.

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MDN Hackday London - Open Web Games with HTML5 & JavaScript

  1. 1. ES M t A rip G B avaSc E W L5 & J es EN TM bH aw k OP ing H Ro s UHi, I’m Rob Hawkes and I’m here today to talk about creating games on the open Web usingHTML5 and JavaScript.
  2. 2. I work at Mozilla, a non-profit fighting for a better Web. The guys who make Firefox.Unsure about how much I like Mozilla? This here is a beautiful chicken and leek pie with extraFirefox goodness.It was made by my talented girlfriend and it was delicious.
  3. 3. I’m not sure how much time we’ll have for questions at the end, but feel free to grab me inperson after the talk or on Twitter.These slides will go online after this talk.I’ll put all the details up at the end.
  4. 4. Before we move on I just have a quick disclaimer.This whole talk is about HTML5 and JavaScript as technologies for the creation of games.They’re technologies that are intrinsically linked to each other by nature, but saying HTML5and JavaScript every single time makes my head hurt.So instead I’ll just be saying HTML5.Just bear in mind that whenever I mention HTML5 I’m also referring to JavaScript as well.
  5. 5. So let’s go back in time for a moment.Now I don’t actually remember when I first started playing computer games, although I knowthat I started with consoles.
  6. 6. My first experience was with the ZX Spectrum and its amazing noises and epic loading times,which I sorely miss…
  7. 7. Then there was the SNES, which really got me addicted to gaming.Although it turns out my SNES was stolen when I was a kid. I did wonder where it went…
  8. 8. My parents replaced it with the Megadrive which, although not quite as awesome, was just asfun.From there it has been a constant stream of consoles, each smashing the performance andfunctionality of its predecessor.The N64, the Gamecube, the Dreamcast, the Playstation, the xBox.You get the idea…
  9. 9. And spread throughout that time I dabbled in PC gaming, starting with games like Sim City…
  10. 10. And Megarace.Who remembers this one?
  11. 11. And playing multiplayer Doom at my Dad’s Internet cafe.What I’m getting at here is that gaming has been a big part of my life growing up, as it hasbeen with a lot of other people as well.They’re fun to play, and they’re surprisingly fun to make.
  12. 12. ow is n e cool tim thing he om e T do fs ol resh ThToday we’re now on the threshold of something cool; being able to create awesome andaddictive games with nothing more than the technologies that we normally use to makewebsites, namely HTML5 and JavaScript.Since I began developing on the Web I really can’t remember a time when so many people areworking together to achieve something like this.
  13. 13. es g a m ing ples ist exam Ex he be st ft eo SomThe number of HTML5 games out there is growing every day.I’d show you a selection of my favourites, just a tiny amount of what’s out there.
  14. 14. Quake IIFully-functional multiplayer Quake II port.
  15. 15. Cut The RopeCut The Rope, ported from iOS.
  16. 16. BejeweledBejeweled is a massively popular game on a whole variety of platforms.Popcap recently released a purely HTML5 version.
  17. 17. Command & ConquerCommand & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances is a HTML5 game from EA that is part real-timestrategy, part Farmville.
  18. 18. GT RacingGT Racing: Motor Academy is a 3D racing game by Gameloft and Mandreel.
  19. 19. BrowserQuestBrowserQuest is a massively-multiplayer RPG that Mozilla recently launched to the public.It works great on mobile and desktop devices but what’s even better is that, aside from beingan addictive game, the entire source code is on GitHub.http://browserquest.mozilla.org
  20. 20. It’s clear that HTML5 is something that is really becoming a contender for games on the Web.It’s an open technology stack that is plugin-less, doesn’t require compilation, and works thesame across devices and platforms.
  21. 21. g y o lo chn es Te L5g am TM fH so cene s he dt hin BeThere are a few key technologies that are involved in the development of HTML5 games.Here are some of my favourites.
  22. 22. vas an C tfo rm pla ics raph g 2DCanvas is a 2D graphics platform that uses both HTML5 and JavaScript.It’s quite amazing what can be done with such simple drawing and image manipulation tools.
  23. 23. Silk is a stunning example of what can be achieved by combining the simple drawing toolsavailable in canvas.
  24. 24. Canvas <canvas id=myCanvasElement width=400 height=400></canvas>Using canvas is very straight forward.The first thing you need to do is add a canvas DOM element to your HTML page.
  25. 25. Canvas var canvas = document.getElementById(myCanvasElement);   var ctx = canvas.getContext(2d); ctx.fillStyle = "rgb(200,0,0)";   ctx.fillRect(10, 10, 55, 50);      ctx.fillStyle = "rgba(0, 0, 200, 0.5)";   ctx.fillRect(30, 30, 55, 50);From there you can then access the canvas through JavaScript to draw on it and do other coolstuff.This is small canvas demo that draws a solid red square underneath a blue one with halftransparency.‘myCanvasElement’ refers to a HTML <canvas> element that you’ll need to place in yourHTML file somewhere. In this example, I’m assuming that you’ve already done that.
  26. 26. GL eb W form lat sp hic grap 3DWebGL brings the ability to provide advanced 3D graphics directly within the browser.
  27. 27. HelloRacer is a little game that lets you drive a Formula One car around your browser. It’s abeautiful example of WebGL in action.
  28. 28. Rome is a music video created with WebGL. It’s an amazing example of what the technologycan achieve in a real-world situation given a large team.
  29. 29. Tinkercad is probably the best use of WebGL that I’ve seen in a production situation.It’s a Web app that allows you to create 3D objects in your browser using WebGL, then getthem printed and sent to your doorstep in just a few simple clicks. It’s seriously awesome.
  30. 30. Both Google Maps and Nokia have recently added support for WebGL. The Nokia version isparticularly impressive because they fully render and texture 3D shapes of buildings.
  31. 31. I’m not going to lie, WebGL isn’t the easiest thing to learn. Then again, no raw 3D code isthat simple.Instead, I recommend checking out a library called three.js which abstracts WebGL and makesit much easier to implement.
  32. 32. m e Fra on ps ati ati on loo nim d anim estA timise qu Op rerequestAnimationFrame is the new, better way of managing animation in JavaScript.Instead of constantly running a setTimeout or setInterval function, which lack performanceand spike CPU usage, requestAnimation frame puts the browser in control of things andkeeps things running smoothly.Right now you can’t easily set a specific framerate when using requestAnimationFrame but solong as you use time-based updates (not frame-based) in your game then you’ll be fine.
  33. 33. requestAnimationFrame function update(timestamp) {   // DO SOMETHING   window.mozRequestAnimationFrame(update);   }   window.mozRequestAnimationFrame(update);In this example, I’m only using the Mozilla prefixed version of requestAnimationFrame. Inreality, there’s a really good shim by Paul Irish that handles cross-browserrequestAnimationFrame.
  34. 34. d io a u L5 usic TM nd m H grou ck ba nd ctsa effe nd SouHTML5 audio allows for plugin-less game sound effects and background music.Audio data APIs implemented by Mozilla and Google allow for manipulation of audio andmuch more fine-grained control.
  35. 35. This is something I made especially for the ASSEMBLY 2011 event in Finland.It’s an audio visualiser that uses WebGL and the HTML5 Audio Data API.
  36. 36. Audio <audio id=myAudioElement controls>   <source src=audiofile.ogg type=audio/ogg> </audio>Like canvas, using audio is also straight forward.The first thing you need to do is add an audio DOM element to your HTML page.
  37. 37. Audio var audio = document.getElementById(myAudioElement);; audio.pause();From there you can then access the audio element through JavaScript to control it.
  38. 38. e ts ock bS ation e W omm un ic yerc ltipla MuWebSockets can be used for the real-time communication between a player and the gameserver.With WebSockets you can create multiplayer games with relative ease.
  39. 39. WebSockets var ws = new WebSocket(; ws.send(This message is sent to the WebSocket server); ws.onmessage = function (event) {     console.log(;   }WebSockets are created entirely from JavaScript without the need to add elements to theHTML page.A new WebSocket connection can be opened by calling the ‘new WebSocket’ constructor andpassing it the URL to the WebSocket server.From there you can call the ‘send’ method to push data to the server.Or listen for the ‘onmessage’ event to handle data pushed to you from the server.
  40. 40. PI n A re e ul Sc we rf ull et po F im ple ,y SThe Full Screen API allows you to expand any HTML element to fill the users screen, even ifthe browser isn’t running full screen itself.For games, this is great because you can make the small canvas element fill the entire screen.Outside of games, this is useful for video elements and Web applications.
  41. 41. Full Screen API var canvas = document.getElementById(myCanvasElement); canvas.mozRequestFullScreen();The Full Screen API can be requested from any DOM element.In this example you’re asking a canvas element to expand to fill the screen.One thing to note is that you can’t just make any element fill the screen whenever you want.Right now, the user has to click or press a key to initiate the Full Screen API.
  42. 42. P I A o ck ace r L pl te ne oin rso rino P cu he gt ockin LThe Pointer Lock API is an attempt at improving the mouse as an input device.It would be used in situations like games and 3D visualisations where the mouse positionrotates or moves you around a 3D space.As it stands there’d still be a cursor moving around the screen causing all sorts of troublewhen you want to click on something in your game.With the new API you can lock your mouse position and stop it from getting in the way andbeing a nuisance.Both Google and Mozilla are working on an implementation of this right now, it’s available ina custom build of Firefox.
  43. 43. Full Screen API var canvas = document.getElementById(myCanvasElement); canvas.mozRequestPointerLock();The Pointer Lock API can be requested from any DOM element that is already in full screen.
  44. 44. P I d A p a eb me he W Ga et ot ol ns co he gt gin BrinThe Gamepad API is one of the major improvements to input that is coming.Both Mozilla and Google are working an an implementation of this and there is actually anexperimental build of Firefox available to the public that has it working. The API is also in thedev build of Chrome.What I find most interesting about the Gamepad API is that it might be just the thing we needto finally justify HTML5 gaming on a TV or console.Who wants to use a keyboard and mouse while sitting on the sofa?
  45. 45. Gamepad API demoI’d like to show you a quick demo of the Gamepad API working in Firefox Nightly and GoogleChrome.In this example I’ve connected my Logitech controller to my Mac, but I could also use a PS3controller or practically any other USB controller.
  46. 46. This is another little demo that I put together to show off the Gamepad API implemented inmy game Rawkets.
  47. 47. Connection function onGamepadConnected(e) { var controller = e.gamepad; console.log("Gamepad connected",; } window.addEventListener("MozGamepadConnected", onGamepadConnected);MozGamepadConnectedIt passes an event object that itself contains a gamepad object in reference to the connectedgamepad.
  48. 48. Disconnection function onGamepadDisconnected(e) { var controller = e.gamepad; console.log("Gamepad disconnected",; } window.addEventListener("MozGamepadDisconnected", onGamepadDisconnected);MozGamepadDisconnectedIt passes an event object that itself contains a gamepad object in reference to thedisconnected gamepad.
  49. 49. Button events function onGamepadButtonDown(e) { var button = e.button; console.log("Gamepad button pressed", button); } function onGamepadButtonUp(e) { var button = e.button; console.log("Gamepad button released", button); } window.addEventListener("MozGamepadButtonDown", onGamepadButtonDown); window.addEventListener("MozGamepadButtonUp", onGamepadButtonUp);MozGamepadButtonDownMozGamepadButtonUpEach pass an event object that contains a button property.The button property is the index number of the specific button, respective to the entire arrayof buttons on the gamepad.
  50. 50. Axis events function onGamepadAxisMove(e) { var axis = e.axis; var value = e.value; console.log("Gamepad axis move", axis, value); } window.addEventListener("MozGamepadAxisMove", onGamepadAxisMove);MozGamepadAxisMove is fired on movement of a joystick or analogue trigger.Passes an event object that contains axis and value properties.The axis property is the index number of the specific axis that was moved, respective to theentire array of axes on the gamepad.The value property is a -1.0 to 1.0 float. For example, an x-axis on a joystick when fullypressed to the left would have a -1.0 value.
  51. 51. Gamepad state function checkState() { for (var i = 0; i < controller.buttons.length; i++) { console.log("Button state", i, controller.buttons[i]); } for (var j = 0; j < controller.axes.length; j++) { console.log("Axis state", j, controller.axes[j]); } }If you don’t want to use events you can also poll the entire gamepad state whenever youwant.The only pre-requisite is that a gamepad is already connected and you’ve stored a referenceto it somewhere, perhaps in a variable or array.Once you have reference to a gamepad you get the state by reading its buttons and axesobjects. These are both arrays that contain data about every single button and axis available.The value of each button in the buttons array is a boolean that tells you whether the button ispressed down (true) or not (false).The value of each axis in the axes array is a -1.0 to 1.0 float that tell you exactly where ajoystick is or how far a trigger has been pulled.
  52. 52. P I n A a t io es n t de vic ri e ob ile n O on m ree ha ve Sc M ust-The Screen Orientation API allows you to do things like changing and locking, you guessed it,the orientation of the screen.Before now, it’s been incredibly difficult to lock orientation on a website or game usingnothing but JavaScript.
  53. 53. Screen Orientation API screen.mozLockOrientation(landscape);The Screen Orientation API is another relatively simple one.It just landed in Firefox Nightly on mobile.All you need to do is call the ‘lockOrientation’ method of the screen object and pass it aorientation string.It’s important to note that you also need to be using the Full Screen API for the orientationlock to work.
  54. 54. n s tio plica bsite ap yw e eb ta fanc W ot jus NThe concept of Web apps is something that is gaining a lot of traction at the moment.HTML5 games are effectively glorified Web apps.It’s no doubt this this traction is as a result of the success of native applications and gameson the desktop and mobile, particularly with iOS and Android.
  55. 55. It’s something we’re spending a lot of time on at Mozilla.We envisage Web apps to run on any device, any browser, and to be distributed through anystore or website.https://apps.mozillalabs.com
  56. 56. nce erie exp scre en like ho me p- op or Ap eskt thed from ch un LaSomething that needs to be tackled with Web apps is how to make them feel like realapplications rather than glorified websites.One way that is being considered is completely removing the browser chrome and runningthe application in it’s own window.This will effectively mean that you have full control of the app UI and it won’t look like it’sbeing run in a browser.
  57. 57. At Mozilla we call this WebRT, which stands for Web Run-Time.By using WebRT you can install a Web app directly into the OS just like you would a nativeapplication.The WebRT app will look and feel like a native application when launched but will actually berunning a browser rendering engine behind the scenes.
  58. 58. e s gin e n ay e m game st od Ga ML5 HT te CreaIf you haven’t already then I encourage you to give HTML5 game development a go.And you dont have to create an entire game infrastructure from scratch, you can use some ofthe existing engines that are proving popular.
  59. 59. Impact. A 2D game engine.I used this recently, and it’s really well made and has a good level editor and developmenttools.The documentation is great and the author is active and very helpful.
  60. 60. Crafty. Another 2D game engine.It’s a free engine and is doing much better than other free engines out there.
  61. 61. Isongenic Engine. A 2D to 2.5D game engine.One of the most promising engines out there today.Massively multiplayer networking built in, uses Node and MongoDB, and has canvas or DOM-based graphics.
  62. 62. u p g in zon eep ri K e ho th ff on tu uchs m SoI’ve really only touched the tip of the iceberg here.There is much more coming in the near future.Here are a few ways to keep up with things and get yourself prepared, particularly the thingshappening at Mozilla.
  63. 63. Are We Fun Yet?
  64. 64. Firefox Aurora“Get a first look at the latest developer tools, security features and innovative HTML5 andother Web technologies.”
  65. 65. Firefox NightlyBleeding edge functionality.Testing only.
  66. 66. Rob Hawkes @robhawkes Personal website and blog RECENT PROJECTS MORE COOL STUFF Twitter sentiment analysis Rawket Scientist Delving into your soul Technical Evangelist at Mozilla Slides HTML5 & WebSockets game in touch with me on Twitter: @robhawkesFollow my blog (Rawkes) to keep up to date with stuff that I’m working on: http://rawkes.comI’ve recently worked on a project that analyses sentiment on Twitter: is my multiplayer HTML5 and JavaScript game. Play it, it’s fun: http://rawkets.comThese slides are online at