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July 4, 2014

The move to HTML5 Game Development

So the past few months have kept me away from keeping this blog up to date. One of the biggest hold backs was a new job, a job finally related to what I want to do – game development. The past 6-8 years have been more custom web site and e-commerce development. All game development time and research was on my own time. Well, with this new game development job, the amount of learning, understanding, and better practice of game development has been a huge overhaul, eye opener, and welcoming – so warming I am switching to it.

At the time of employment, the company were seeking either a HTML5 or Unity game developer, but they needed someone on HTML5 “asap” to convert a Flash game to HTML5 to meet a deadline. For the past 3+ years I have developed in Unity (before that, I was in Flash). But of course, its what the client wants, lawl. So I was assigned to dive straight into HTML5 to reach a 2 week deadline, and it was, stressful and interesting. It was hell – not going to lie about that either. I was “trying” to understand how the game engine we were using to development the game, while at the same time pushing back time to experiment and study and prototype and all that fun tech-nerdy number stuff, to get the best performance. I am very comfortable in Javascript though, I understand it very well, but it was still stressful to development a game (something I haven’t done in Javascript before) in it to reach the deadline. Well, as the weeks turned into months and project after project more and more HTML5 game development, I have gained a vast knowledge and understanding of developing games in HTML5 – and I don’t want to development in another environment.

HTML5 by all means, is no were near as powerful as other engines and/or platforms, and it will probably never will be (though, WebGL is starting to get broader, so there :P). But we all know great and cutting edge graphics aren’t needed for a great game, its a want. Tetris, Mario, Pac-Man, Flappy Bird, can I say Minecraft even though its in 3d? Those games are great because of the game play and mechanics, not graphics. You can read my last article before I go on a rant and off topic… and if you are the type who wants cutting edge graphics, HTML5 will be as powerful eventually – with time – some year. Maybe not next year, or the following, but soon (it terms of availability to the market). I am starting to stray, let me back up on why I love HTML5 game development and don’t plan on going anywhere else for a while in the fewest amount of words possible:

It’s Free

Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Flash had a price tag, but it was limited in terms of performance (at the time before Stage3D) and availability (not being on mobile). Unity killed Flash in my eyes, but the price tag is still around it. And other engines have a subscription fee. HTML5 is available without a price tag. HTML5 on the mobile desktop has already proven to be steady and ready for the next level in terms of performance. Most browsers do have WebGL enabled, and with the latest iOS this fall, number 8, WebGL will be available in mobile Safari. But again, stunning graphics aren’t a need to make a game. HTML5 is also easy to port to be a mobile app with CocoonJS, and/or to a standalone desktop game with Node-Webkit.

The one drawback I have with it though: there is no IDE. There is no solid and reliable Flash or Unity GUI where dragging and dropping objects onto the scene and animating it along a timeline. I know there are a few wanna-be apps out there that try to achieve this, but I can’t recall their names off hand. Mainly because none of them can deliver.

So with that, I end my Unity development and go forth with HTML5.

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