March 17, 2014

HTML5 Gaming Just Got Faster with Unreal Engine 4

A huge new development has landed recently, and it's news that will bring hope to the gaming community and show off the power that HTML5 can generate. It was only a year ago when Mozilla (NewsAlert) brought Unreal Engine 3 to Firefox, and now Mozilla has taken things a step forward by bringing in Unreal Engine 4, giving a whole new power to browser gaming and opening up some significant potential in the field.

Though the move itself isn’t so different in terms of engineering—Unreal Engine 4 will run on JavaScript via the asm.js subset in much the same way that Unreal Engine 3 did—it represents quite an accomplishment in getting it to the browser in the first place. Brendan Eich, who serves as both CTO and SVP of engineering for the company, notes that putting Emscripten into play to cross-compile C and C++ allows for impressive speeds using HTML5, speeds Eich described as "near-native." This in turn allows, according to Eich, developers to treat the Web like just another platform, opening up a fresh new market.

This is a market that's already been seen a spike in activity; recently, NomNom Games brought out "Monster Madness" for browsers, using the power inherent in asm.js to bring the game to the Web. "Monster Madness" also represented the first commercial game powered by the Unreal Engine 3 engine that was published on the Web, which even then was a major stroke for gaming development and for HTML5 in general. Better yet, Mozilla will be out at the upcoming Game Developer's Conference showing off some of these new developments, so a look at one possible future for gaming will be on hand and ready to go.

While there are significant advances here for gaming, this development goes beyond just gaming. What the migration of Unreal Engine 4 to Firefox really shows is that HTML5 applications have the potential to be every bit as fast as native apps, and that makes HTML5 not only a viable alternative for gaming, but also for mobile apps of all stripes.

For some time, HTML5 has been considered something of a novelty, but with the successful translation of Unreal Engine 4 to Firefox, the speed and power capability of the Web browser is proven. HTML5 has traditionally had long potential as an excellent mobile platform, working well on Android (NewsAlert), iOS and Windows systems alike and offering developers the ability to create an app once and have it easily work on several platforms at once instead of having to port an app to other platforms. That allows faster time-to-market and the potential to develop more efficiently in general.

Only time will tell just what new apps come out of this development, or just how far-reaching the effects of near-native speeds in HTML5 will prove to be. But the groundwork seems to have been thoroughly set, and it's a safe bet that HTML5 applications will keeping gaining ground.


HTML 5 Demos and Examples

HTML 5 experimentation and demos I've hacked together. Click on the browser support icon or the technology tag to filter the demos.... Learn More

HTML5 GAMES is the largest and most comprehensive directory of HTML5 games on the internet... Learn More

The HTML5 test

How well does your browser support HTML5?... Learn More

Working Draft (WHATWG)

This is the Editor’s Draft from WHATWG. You can use it online or print the available PDF version... Learn More

HTML5 Flip Book

Free jQuery and HTML5 flip book maker for PDF to online page turning book conversion... Learn More