December 01, 2011

The Future of HTML5 in the Gaming Industry: Interview with DevCon5 Speaker

HTML5 continues to have a dramatic impact on the Web world, with companies like Facebook, Pandora (News - Alert) and even YouTube relying on the development language to deliver rich Web experiences to users.

One question that still remains, however, is whether HTML5 will have the same impact on the gaming industry, and if it could replace Flash as the preeminent design platform in the space.

To get the insider's perspective, TMC CEO Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) recently reached out to Monty Sharma, managing director at the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute, or MassDigi. The Institute was created earlier this year to bridge the gap between the digital games industry, academia and the public sector, the end result being more jobs and greater economic development in the space.

Sharma says that HTML5 could find a home in the gaming world because it has the ability to work across all platforms – something Flash is unable to do. However, he recognizes that HTML5 still has some challenges to overcome to completely replace Flash, including the ability to quickly render 3D images.

"While game developers are still testing the limits of HTML5 and struggling with early tools, they are clearly excited about the potential," he told Tehrani.

Sharma also talked about the impact that HTML5 has on the greater Web world, particularly for mobile and post-PC network devices. He believes that the development language brings both functional and aesthetic benefits, as it improves network storage, mitigates memory concerns and makes the Web a "more beautiful place."

In addition, Sharma gave his thoughts on whether HTML5 can eventually replace native applications and gave a quick preview of DevCon5, the preeminent developers and designers conference taking place Dec 7-8 in Santa Clara, California. Sharma will be speaking at the event, which will bring together some of the premier thinkers and speakers on this new revolutionary technology.

The full interview is below.

What is the most dramatic impact developers will see as a result of the integration of HTML5 and will the average browsing person notice? What role does Canvas play in displaying the web and will it be plain to the browsing public's eye?

There will be an explosion of Web applications that will come very close to the experience found in mobile apps. This will bring a richness to the Web that will have an order of magnitude greater than the impact of AJAX. Put simply, the Web will be a more beautiful and functional place.

Does HTML5 give any specific type of device an advantage? Specifically, should we expect tablets to become more popular than phones as a result of HTML5?

The advantage of HTML5, to post-PC network devices, centers on network storage. Instead of being limited by the amount of memory on the device a user can have a virtually unlimited list of “apps” that are pulled from the network. For developers who lose connection with a customer once an app is deleted to save memory, the net offers a chance to quickly and easily re-engage with consumers.

Gaming has been a very specific early adopter of the HTML5. What has been the driver for that industry?

Game developers have been frustrated by Flash and the inability to work across all major platforms. While game developers are still testing the limits of HTML5 and struggling with early tools, they are clearly excited about the potential. The biggest challenge in my mind will be the ability to render 3D on the fly and to manage the large memory footprint games required.

A while ago, pundits said the Web was dead. Is HTML5 the revenge of the Web or a detente with device-specific OS?

The win for apps over Web was the presence on the “desktop” of mobile devices and the ability to function better than a Web page. For HTML5 to displace these apps, the look and feel will have to match a native application. Once that happens, HTML5 will become the dominant development environment for both desktop and mobile products. I think Adobe’s (News - Alert) decision to move from fitting Flash on mobile to building better tools for HTML5 will be the start of a rich development environment that will place HTML5 on equal footing with native apps.

The adoption of technology is based on ease of use or reduction in costs. What pain is removed by the move to HTML5?

There is minor pain in porting to different platforms; the question is will HTML5 provide all the low level functionality to supplant native code. One big area is access to local resources outside of the normal security sandbox. If there is a secure mechanism to access low level calls or use local storage HTML5 has the potential to be equal to native code.

If you were telling your child what to study in IT where would you tell them to focus?

The beauty of technology is that radical change happens every day. It does not matter what they study as long as they stay current in technology. Clearly network-centered development will be the future, but what technologies will be used is still up for debate and will likely change many times in the next 10 years.

What is the most important reason to attend DevCon5?

HTML5 is in the early days of its development; everyone from business people to developers needs to dig into the key issues around one of the most promising technologies in play today. For game developers, there is a real opportunity to move from Flash to the next Web language, but can they get what they need today?

Want to learn more about HTML5? Then be sure to attend DevCon5 Developers and Designers Conference, taking place Dec 7-8, in Santa Clara, California. HTML5 has the potential to revolutionize user interfaces, challenge the status quo and change the future of both desktop and mobile web experiences..Join fellow web developers, designers, and architects, as well as technology leaders and business strategists who will gather in California to learn strategies and tactics to implement and execute HTML5. To register, click here.

Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves


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