Upgrade to Pro — share decks privately, control downloads, hide ads and more …

The Future of HTML5 Games

February 07, 2012

The Future of HTML5 Games

In this talk Rob will highlight the key technologies and events that are going to affect open Web game development in the near future. He will also demo some of these new technologies and show how easy it is to share your game and make money from it using the open and distributed Mozilla Labs Apps project.


February 07, 2012


  1. OPEN WEB GAMES Using HTML5 & JavaScript Rob Hawkes Hi,

    I’m Rob Hawkes and I’m here today to talk about creating games on the open Web using HTML5 and JavaScript.
  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 extra Firefox goodness. It was made by my talented girlfriend and it was delicious.
  3. My official job title is Technical Evangelist, but I prefer

    what it says on my business card. Part of my job is to engage with developers like you and I about cool new technologies on the Web. And for those of you with no idea of what a rawket is, I made a multiplayer game called Rawkets in which players fly around in little rockets and shoot each other in the face with the latest Web technologies. It’s quite addictive! http://rawkets.com
  4. I’m not sure how much time we’ll have for questions

    at the end, but feel free to grab me in person after the talk or on Twitter. These slides will go online after this talk and they’ll be available from my personal website. I’ll put all the details up at the end.
  5. 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 HTML5 and 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.
  6. 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 know that I started with consoles.
  7. My first experience was with the ZX Spectrum and its

    amazing noises and epic loading times, which I sorely miss…
  8. 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…
  9. My parents replaced it with the Megadrive which, although not

    quite as awesome, was just as fun. From there it has been a constant stream of consoles, each smashing the performance and functionality of its predecessor. The N64, the Gamecube, the Dreamcast, the Playstation, the xBox. You get the idea…
  10. And spread throughout that time I dabbled in PC gaming,

    starting with games like Sim City…
  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 has been with a lot of other people as well. They’re fun to play, and they’re surprisingly fun to make.
  12. The time is now Threshold of something cool Today we’re

    now on the threshold of something cool; being able to create awesome and addictive games with nothing more than the technologies that we normally use to make websites, namely HTML5 and JavaScript. Since I began developing on the Web I really can’t remember a time when so many people are working together to achieve something like this.
  13. Notable events Important goings-on in HTML5 gaming Recently there have

    been some particularly notable events surrounding HTML5 gaming.
  14. Acquisitions HTML5 game engines being bought up The acquisition of

    HTML5 gaming engines by large companies. Like Aves being bought by Zynga and Rocket Engine bought by Disney.
  15. Recruitment HTML5 game developers are wanted The recent recruitment of

    HTML5 games developers for well-known gaming companies, like Crytek. http://crytek.com/career/offers/overview/frankfurt/programming-engineering/html5- game-dev
  16. Funding Investing in the pioneers The huge amounts of funding

    being made available to games that help prove the Web as a gaming platform. Like the Game Lab from Bocoup and Atari’s general sponsorship of HTML5 games. http://gamelab.bocoup.com
  17. Conferences Discussing the future of HTML5 games The two large-scale

    HTML5 gaming conferences last year; onGameStart in Poland and New Game in San Francisco. Each attended by hundreds of game and Web developers alike. And rooms like this at other events are becoming much more common.
  18. Browser involvement Providing the tech for HTML5 games The investing

    of time and resources by Google, Mozilla and Opera into the creation of technologies and services for the benefit of gaming on the open Web. Some of which we’ll be looking at in a moment.
  19. Facebook involvement Bettering performance The involvement of Facebook in HTML5

    gaming performance. http://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/454/
  20. Porting hit iOS games Showing HTML5 is more than capable

    And the recent port to HTML5 of massively successful iOS games like Angry Birds, Fieldrunners, and Cut The Rope. http://chrome.angrybirds.com http://fieldrunnershtml5.appspot.com http://www.cuttherope.ie
  21. Existing games Some of the best examples Now there aren’t

    a huge amount of HTML5 games just yet, although that number is growing every day. In any case I thought I’d show you a selection of my favourites; some full blown games, others demos of the technologies available to us.
  22. Quake II Multiplayer Quake II remake with Google GWT (Google

    Web Toolkit). http://code.google.com/p/quake2-gwt-port/
  23. Minecraftian worlds Minecraft map viewer, using WebGL. This isn’t really

    a game, but it’s not a long way from becoming a JavaScript port of Minecraft. http://alteredqualia.com/three/examples/geometry_minecraft_ao.html
  24. Minecraftian worlds WebCraft is an attempt at a port of

    Minecraft Classic. https://github.com/Overv/WebCraft
  25. Angry Birds There isn’t much to say about Angry Birds

    really, most of you probably know about it. The HTML5 version uses WebGL for accelerated 2D graphics.
  26. Fieldrunners Fieldrunners was ported from iOS to HTML5 by Bocoup.

    Like Angry Birds, it also uses WebGL for accelerated 2D graphics.
  27. Bejeweled Bejeweled is a massively popular game on a whole

    variety of platforms. Popcap recently released a purely HTML5 version that uses WebGL for accelerated 2D graphics.
  28. Created by Phil Banks (@emirpprime) It’s clear that HTML5 is

    something that is really becoming a contender for games on the Web.
  29. HTML5 & JavaScript What is all the fuss about? But

    why is it important? Well to put it simply, HTML5 & JavaScript are the underlying technologies behind everything related to the future of the Web. Pretty much every new technology that is coming out within the browser-space is connected to HTML5 and JavaScript in some way. And what’s great is that every major browser has invested in them, so they won’t be going anywhere any time soon. But there’s more to it than that.
  30. Open technologies Anyone can view the source code They are

    open technologies. Anyone can get involved in their creation; through browser developers like Mozilla, or through standards organisations like the W3C. Not long ago I was in a W3C meeting to explore what is needed for making games with these technologies. What was cool was that anyone was allowed to take part; which included everyday developers, employees of major browsers, and games companies. Also, these technologies are open in that anyone can view the resulting code that is used within Web pages, which is a fantastic way of learning.
  31. Free technologies Free to use. Free to develop with They

    are free technologies. Anyone can use these technologies without having to pay anything, both for using the technology and developing with it. This is unlike closed environments like Flash where you have to pay to use official code editors and production environments.
  32. Plugin-less No more reliance on third-party software They are technologies

    baked directly into the browser, which means no more plugins! No longer do you have to rely on users having third-party software installed to use rich media.
  33. No compilation Save time with development and testing HTML5 and

    JavaScript don't require compiling, so development and testing can be extremely rapid. These technologies allow for quickly hacking stuff together to experiment then tidying things up later. It’s this rapid nature of JavaScript and HTML5 that make them so fun to develop with.
  34. Interoperable They are built to work across platforms These technologies

    are built to work across platforms; whether that’s desktop, mobile, TV, or anything else! This makes it great to develop this way because you can be sure that it will work on any platform that has support.
  35. Cross-browser support Most major features are supported As with any

    technology on the Web it’s important that you can use it across all the major browsers. Fortunately the bigger features of HTML5 like video and audio are supported by all the major browsers, with some of the newer and smaller features getting better support as time goes on. The situation isn’t perfect but we’re definitely in a position where these technologies can now be used in production. There’s a fantastic website called Can I Use? which lets you know what browsers support each technology. http://caniuse.com
  36. But it’s not all rosy with HTML5. Why might you

    not want to use it? Here are just two of the major issues that are floating around right now.
  37. Full compatibility Not all browsers support everything Not every browser

    supports every part of HTML5. For example, canvas isn’t supported out of the box by any IE below 9. Although, you can use ExplorerCanvas to replicate canvas functionality, but it’s not ideal and as doesn’t perform as well. WebSockets is only support in IE10 and has poor support on Android. But again, you can fake this by using Flash for the sockets, like with Socket.IO. WebGL also has patchy support with absolutely no support in IE, and Safari and Opera requiring a development build.
  38. No DRM It goes against these technologies If you need

    DRM or have a burning desire to hide absolutely everything about your code. Remember, the code isn’t compiled, so where would the DRM go? The beauty of Web technologies is that they can be read as plain text by simply viewing the page source. However, DRM isn't bulletproof in itself and you can still crack into things like Flash. You can obfuscate and minify your code if you think it will help, but even this can be worked around with relative ease.
  39. Technology Behind the scenes of HTML5 games There are a

    few key technologies that are involved in the development of HTML5 games. Here are some of my favourites.
  40. Canvas 2D graphics platform Canvas 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. https://developer.mozilla.org/en/HTML/Canvas
  41. Silk is a stunning example of what can be achieved

    by combining the simple drawing tools available in canvas. http://weavesilk.com
  42. WebGL 3D graphics platform WebGL brings the ability to provide

    advanced 3D graphics directly within the browser. https://developer.mozilla.org/en/WebGL
  43. HelloRacer is a little game that lets you drive a

    Formula One car around your browser. It’s a beautiful example of WebGL in action. http://helloracer.com/webgl/
  44. Rome is a music video created with WebGL. It’s an

    amazing example of what the technology can achieve in a real-world situation given a large team. http://ro.me
  45. This is a rather freaky example of how interesting WebGL

    is. It’s a demo that shows just how realistic WebGL can render materials, like skin. This isn’t much unlike the quality of modern games consoles! http://www.everyday3d.com/j3d/demo/014_Head.html
  46. HTML5 audio Sound effects and background music HTML5 audio allows

    for plugin-less game sound effects and background music. Audio data APIs implemented by Mozilla and Google allow for manipulation of audio and much more fine-grained control. https://developer.mozilla.org/en/HTML/Element/audio
  47. 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. http://robhawkes.github.com/webgl-html5-audio-visualiser/
  48. WebSockets Multiplayer communication WebSockets can be used for the real-time

    communication between a player and the game server. With WebSockets you can create multiplayer games with relative ease. https://developer.mozilla.org/en/WebSockets
  49. Node.js Game logic and network communication Node is often used

    as a multiplayer game server, controlling the logic and handling the WebSockets connections to the players. It can be used for player authentication and the storage of data so gameplay can persist over multiple game sessions. This is all made relatively easy with great third-party modules, like Socket.IO for WebSockets, and others that handle Redis and MongoDB for storage, for example. http://nodejs.org
  50. Local storage Storing data on the player device Methods like

    the application cache, Local Storage, and IndexedDB are great for storing data locally on the player device. This way you can cache game data and allow the game to pick up where the player left off. https://developer.mozilla.org/en/DOM/Storage https://developer.mozilla.org/en/Offline_resources_in_Firefox https://developer.mozilla.org/en/IndexedDB
  51. Full Screen API Simple, yet powerful The Full Screen API

    allows you to expand any HTML element to fill the users screen, even if the browser isn’t running full screen itself. The Mozilla implementation is not perfect yet because you can’t use the whole keyboard in full-screen mode without a message popping up, but it’s in the latest Nightly builds and works in all other respects. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=545812 http://blog.pearce.org.nz/2011/09/mozilla-full-screen-api-progress-update.html https://wiki.mozilla.org/Platform/Features/Full_Screen_APIs
  52. Gamepad API Bringing the console to the Web The 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 an experimental build of Firefox available to the public that has it working. The API is also in the Canary build of Chrome. What I find most interesting about the Gamepad API is that it might be just the thing we need to finally justify HTML5 gaming on a TV or console. Who wants to use a keyboard and mouse while sitting on the sofa? https://wiki.mozilla.org/GamepadAPI http://www.gamepadjs.com https://github.com/jbuck/input.js
  53. I’d like to show you a quick demo of the

    Gamepad API working in Firefox Nightly. In this example I’ve connected my xBox 360 controller to my Mac, but I could also use a PS3 controller or practically any other USB controller.
  54. This is another little demo that I put together to

    show off the Gamepad API implemented in my game Rawkets.
  55. Mouse Lock API Locking the cursor in one place The

    Mouse 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 position rotates or moves you around a 3D space. As it stands there’d still be a cursor moving around the screen causing all sorts of trouble when 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 and being a nuisance. Both Google and Mozilla are working on an implementation of this right now, it’s available in a custom build of Firefox. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=633602
  56. Web applications Not just a fancy website The 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 games on the desktop and mobile, particularly with iOS and Android.
  57. Google are spending a lot of time on Web apps

    with the Chrome platform. https://chrome.google.com/webstore
  58. It’s something we’re also spending a lot of time on

    at Mozilla. Although we’re approaching things a little differently. We envisage Web apps to run on any device, any browser, and to be distributed through any store or website. https://apps.mozillalabs.com https://developer.mozilla.org/en/OpenWebApps
  59. Offline assets Who needs the Internet anyway One of the

    main differences between Web apps and native apps is that native apps can be run offline. New technologies like the application cache allow for a website or Web app to cache necessary assets to that it can still run while offline. This includes things like JavaScript files, CSS and images. Combining this technique with intelligent use of things like local storage will allow your game to continue working even if the Internet connection goes down. You just sync up all the changes when it gets connected again. https://developer.mozilla.org/en/Offline_resources_in_Firefox
  60. App-like experience Launch from the desktop or home screen Something

    that needs to be tackled with Web apps is how to make them feel like real applications rather than websites. One way that is being considered is completely removing the browser chrome and running the 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’s being run in a browser.
  61. 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 native application. The WebRT app will look and feel like a native application when launched but will actually be running a browser rendering engine behind the scenes. This is an example of Rawkets running as a WebRT app with the Firefox rendering engine. Notice the lack of browser UI.
  62. Game engines Create HTML5 games today If you haven’t already

    then I encourage you to give HTML5 game development a go. And you don't have to create an entire game infrastructure from scratch, you can use some of the existing engines that are proving popular.
  63. Impact. I used this recently, and it’s really well made.

    The documentation is great and the author is active and very helpful. http://impactjs.com/
  64. Crafty. It’s a free engine and is doing much better

    than other free engines out there. http://craftyjs.com/
  65. Isongenic 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. http://www.isogenicengine.com
  66. The future This is just the beginning It’s still early

    days with HTML5 games. There are a few things that I’d like to see in the near future that will help. Need better ways to benchmark browser performance, network connections and operating systems specifically for games. Better HTML5 audio. Right now things can be a little tricky, the ideal situation would be to have consistent support across browsers. Hardware accelerated canvas on Mac and mobile devices. This is a small ask but one that I feel will make all the difference. Better documentation for game development in JavaScript. This is something I’m working on with Mozilla, but more documentation is needed in general. I’d love to see more game developers sharing their solutions to problems that they encountered during the creation of their games.
  67. Rob Hawkes Rawkets.com HTML5 & WebSockets game Twitter sentiment analysis

    Delving into your soul RECENT PROJECTS Rawkes.com Personal website and blog MORE COOL STUFF Rawket Scientist Technical Evangelist at Mozilla @robhawkes ExplicitWeb.co.uk Web development podcast Get in touch with me on Twitter: @robhawkes Follow my blog (Rawkes) to keep up to date with stuff that I’m working on: http:// rawkes.com I’ve recently worked on a project that analyses sentiment on Twitter: http://rawkes.com/ blog/2011/05/05/people-love-a-good-smooch-on-a-balcony Rawkets is my multiplayer HTML5 and JavaScript game. Play it, it’s fun: http://rawkets.com
  68. Hand-picked experts @ASKMDN & #ASKMDN ON TWITTER Coming back this

    year Web development topics Great discussions Ask MDN ASKMDN And lastly, I’d like to quickly mention Ask MDN which is a project that I’m working on at Mozilla. The concept is simple; every so often we gather a bunch of experts to answer your questions about a particular topic. We’ve had a whole bunch of sessions to date and it’s going down really well. If you follow @AskMDN on Twitter you’ll be sure not to miss the next one when it starts again this year. http://twitter.com/AskMDN
  69. THANK YOU Any questions? Rob Hawkes @robhawkes Thank you. If

    you have any questions feel free to grab me on Twitter (@robhawkes), or email [email protected]