April 19, 2013

HTML5: A Blessing or a Curse for Games?

As the latest language of specification behind the Web, Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML5), continues to undergo development, game makers are speculating as to whether it will help or hinder their apps.

In the last few months, several HTML5 features have been brought in to the specification. Some developers are seizing the technology to increase the speed of their app offerings. HTML5 has JavaScript embedded in its scripts, so as to provide for more interactivity.

Some, like Bruce Lawson, coauthor of the book, Introducing HTML5, think JavaScript will be empowered by HTML5.

“We are seeing a lot of games using HTML5,” Lawson said. “And we are finding that JavaScript, which is what you need to power games, is ever faster across browsers now.”

In concurrence with Lawson is Nate Altschul, founder of the HTML5 Games Meet Up.

“Most of [the old] limitations are gone for casual games, so I think HTML5 is suitable for most casual 2D game types,” Altschul said. “I was at the [Games Developer Conference recently], and it looks like there have been some huge advancements in the area of WebGL, which enables 3D in the browser.”

But others familiar with HTML5 doubt it will improve app’s functionality. App developer Andrew Sinn points out that there are simply some games that will not work in HTML5.

Sonic Recall, a memory game that Sinn developed, that allows players to match sounds hidden in boxes, may lose its magic when using HTML5, as Sinn suggests HTML5 struggles with fluid and fast animation – ironic, since that’s exactly what HTML5 is meant to master.

Critics need be reminded that HTML5 isn’t a finished product yet and Lawson points out that “things are still being added to it.”

In the end, it’ll come down to each developer choosing what he/she feels is best for the app at hand.

“HTML5 isn’t a monolithic thing,” added Lawson. “If your app depends on fast drawing of pictures on the screen, then that is complete – that’s [a function] called canvas and it’s been in all the browsers now for years. If you are looking at generating sound on the fly then that is not yet complete as a specification and only experimentally implemented in a couple of browsers.”

Edited by Braden Becker


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