If a game runs on Web standards, it should run equally well on any device, whether that’s a giant gaming PC, a MacBook Air, or a smartphone. So says the Mozilla Foundation, which wants you to view the Internet as the future of gaming.
At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last week, the Firefox maker showed off several new and updated tools for developers to create games that can be played by anyone, on any device.
Chief among them is WebGL, a programming language that is akin to the HTML5 standard for videos. Games built on WebGL run natively in a browser window, which means they’re not only suited for play on multiple devices, but can also be used to multitask.
Of course, this isn’t the sort of multitasking that makes you more efficient at work. Instead, the idea is that because a game simply requires a browser window, you could have it and other apps open simultaneously while using a fraction of the GPU and CPU power you’d need from a traditional PC game.
Hard-core gamers may scoff at the prospect of playing Street Fighter V or Sleeping Dogs in a browser window, but Mozilla isn’t kidding around. It has lined up a slew of partners to support WebGL and its other web gaming languages, including a version of asm.js and even a virtual reality platform called WebVR.
“The web is a target,” said Mozilla VP of Platform Engineering David Bryant. He wants developers to publish titles for the web as naturally as they’d publish for a PC, PlayStation, or any other “target.”
Among the developers that have signed up is Unity, one of the most popular gaming engines, which started experimenting with a WebGL exporter in March 2015. After spending much of the year in beta, the company made WebGL an “officially supported build target” in Unity 5.3, released last December.
Getting Unity on board is one thing, but convincing developers to use its WebGL feature is another.
“It’s worth noting that work on WebGL as a platform is an ongoing work in progress,” Unity wrote in a blog post, “but we’re confident that our implementation works well within the current constraints of the ecosystem as a whole.”
Bryant pointed to indie developers that have released titles on the web to some success. But he acknowledged that Mozilla is having a hard time tracking the number of games built on web standards because developers don’t often share their plans for upcoming releases.
So Mozilla, which has some recent product missteps as it struggles to stay relevant in an intensely competitve browser market, has turned its attention to other web gaming efforts, including VR. Its WebVR API is still in infancy, but Bryant said it’s well suited for VR applications beyond gaming.
“VR is experienced-based in general,” he said. “It’s all about navigation and discovery.”
The WebVR team’s goal is to consistently keep frame rates above 90 FPS, significantly higher than the 60 FPS minimum Sony recently announced for its own PlayStation VR platform. If Mozilla can pull off VR at 90 FPS in a web browser window, it will go a long way toward proving its claim that the web is the future of gaming.
Source | pcmag