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Is HTML5 a legit language for developing game?

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Flame war not intended ... I just don't like what Jobs has done to computing (Steve Wozniak kind of backs me up on this). But that wasn't the bulk of my point.

 

I don't want to imply that HTML5 should be tossed in the bin because, as I said, it has many good uses. I've seen some impressive 3D demos, and some great 2D game ports, but unfortunately those were browser-specific (which to me is a limiting factor), and didn't always perform well mobile devices (which to me is also a limiting factor, especially for games). It's been my experience that unless there's some sort of overarching uberagency to IMPOSE standards, we're not likely to see them coming to an apex, instead, development of individual standards will continue in parallel (with a bunch of common overlap, as today). That includes Microsoft, of course -- Internet Explorer is always a special challenge to work with (especially a couple of versions back).

 

I agree that workarounds exist, and that working on the wild frontier can be fun and rewarding, but developing a game in HTML5 is a challenge and for me requires too much effort on things that are elegantly implemented in Flash (AIR on mobile).

 

There is currently a debate happening about implementing a closed Digital Rights Management regime into the open HTML5 standard -- is this a start down that slippery slope to closed and proprietary? Or are we there already? There are many forces competing for access to web standards and I'm not sure that'll go away any time soon. Proprietary software standards are nimbler and faster and so I can't see those not being implemented in browsers as new features (but only for those browsers, of course).

 

Basically, I don't see this horse race coming to an end any time soon, so while I don't doubt that eventually most HTML5 features (which are still being discussed) will be implemented in most browsers, there will continue to be those nagging differences. Maybe I've just gotten pessimistic over the years :)

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@PatrickB Obviously, you haven't seen what Flash does to my Macbook Pro. So I guess this is where Steve was coming from... if it does it to MBP, imagine what happens to iPad (iPhone).

 

As to the original poster, HTML5 is OK for simple interfaces but once you get to "real" game development, it could be cumbersome. Keep in mind that a ton of people are stuck at IE9 which has problematic support for HTML5 and (as we found out) WebSockets. 

 

I wouldn't say we're pushing the envelop, but Riftforge is a pretty good example of a game that is well-suited to HTML5. It's turn-based and it doesn't have unit animations (only effect animations): 

https://riftforge.com

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Overall my experience using HTM5 has been positive. That being said, the issues I have experienced are due to the Canvas not cooperating with what I want it to do (for example, no way to disable min/mag filter when scaling images), JavaScript performance which is overall quite good on the desktop, but varies wildly on mobile as you could imagine. And also the difficulty in managing a large codebase in a dynamic language.
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HTML5 is okay for basic games with minimum animations for Desktop. Its mobile support is very poor and kills mobile battery as fast as Flash did. If you want something really performant, cross platform and as easy to develop as JS - you always have Flash here. Stage3D and ability to make as performant as native games on mobile due to underlying OpenGL-based rendering system is astounding. It won't go anywhere anytime soon, despite everything doomsayers have been telling us for 10 years.

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HTML5 is the closest development setup that I have found that resembles the good old days of programming in BASIC on computers like the 48k Speccy or the Commodore 64.

I can just switch on a device write a couple of lines refresh the browser and see instant gratification.  I can even write code on my iPad or iPhone (not really that useful or productive but still fun).

 

As for cross platform issues I haven't had any major issues other than the ones mentioned by previous posters which are well documented and well known issues so they really shouldn't hold anybody back or be a stumbling block.

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@PatrickB Obviously, you haven't seen what Flash does to my Macbook Pro. So I guess this is where Steve was coming from... if it does it to MBP, imagine what happens to iPad (iPhone).

 

As to the original poster, HTML5 is OK for simple interfaces but once you get to "real" game development, it could be cumbersome. Keep in mind that a ton of people are stuck at IE9 which has problematic support for HTML5 and (as we found out) WebSockets. 

 

I wouldn't say we're pushing the envelop, but Riftforge is a pretty good example of a game that is well-suited to HTML5. It's turn-based and it doesn't have unit animations (only effect animations): 

https://riftforge.com

 

Flash runs great on every device I have (including mobile). The problem is today the same as it was when Jobs made his pronouncement---slow, bulky Apple products based on a purposefully crippled OS (in the name of "user experience"), are the problem, not Flash. I've done countless side-by-side comparisons (many of them not involving Flash), and Macs have always -- no exaggeration - been far slower and crash-prone. I've had fanbois sitting next to me during these comparisons tossing out "explanation" after "explanation" about why OSX was slow here, or why applications were more prone to crash there, etc. End result: Apple products suck. That's why Apple has been shifting the blame from Flash to Java to Reader...did you ever stop to think that maybe it's not the rest of the world that's the problem but the hardware / OS?

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"Depending on what you want to make, HTML5 is ready now (audio, as mentioned, is extremely problematic, although usually not insurmountable).  Offline support is available, although unwieldy, multi-player 'support' can often be easier (this is admittedly a sweeping statement to be taken with a pinch of salt) and the ecosystem is thriving (although forerunners are not yet entrenched as industry 'standards').  The GPU is within your reach (with fallbacks in most cases, canvas is near ubiquitous although performance is perceived as sketchy often due to CPU limitations) although not across all devices, as said, fallbacks do exist but may not be good enough depeding on your use-case."

 

Let me see if I got this straight:

 

You can't really do audio, you can't reliably store data offline, maybe in the future there'll be multiplayer support, and you can get GPU acceleration and 3D but only with a bunch of caveats. Internet Explorer is a big JavaScript "gotcha" (who uses that dumb old Internet Explorer anyways?), and mobile support (isn't that what HTML5 was supposed to be all about?), is less than amazing.

 

"As a game developer the biggest challenge you face is not actually fragmentation (which is a major major issue) but performance."

 

There's more?!

 

"Whilst JS is often perceived as being a 'weak' language (partly through its loosely typed and interpreted nature but mostly due to previous employment of JS) it, when part of the greater web platform, is actually incredibly difficult to write properly and requires as much as skill as many other mature languages."

 

Well that's a selling feature. Incredibly difficult.

 

"However, JS is hard.  Programming on the web is very hard.  You have to write a lot yourself and there is a lot to understand about the nature of the web.  The games industry is learning, often the hard way (the graveyard of failed projects is large)."

 

Well I'm sold.

 

"HTML5 is still a maturing platform and parity is almost already active."

 

Right...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_HTML5_and_Flash

 

The same problems that plagued Flash in the early days are back all over again because lessons of the past are being tossed in the trash in favour of a bullheaded push for HTML5. Often CSS and JavaScript get forgotten, but they're an integral part of the whole. And overall, that adds a whole lot of complexity. Plus, unless you want to limit your audience, there's that cross-browser thing, which is still a problem.

You can do things like PhoneGap to app-ify your JavaScript/HTML5/CSS3, but it`s nice to be able to step into other technologies if it doesn't work out. In the browser, even more so. ActionScript is simply a more complex version of JavaScript -- it's not about 'slummin' it but it really is like the old days of Flash. I can't avoid HTML/JavaScript/CSS in my daily work, and I don't dislike it (remember that Flash runs in HTML and obeys the laws of JavaScript to some degree), but it's just not what it's promised to be. And considering JavaScript/HTML are older than Flash/ActionScript, they (HTML/JS) just never quite managed to make the same advances or penetration. Maybe that's a community open standards thing vs. single custodian thing, I don't know.

Edited by Patrick B
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I learned a little HTML5... The language is reasonably new but it is amazing and can absolutely be used to create games.

 

A very popular game you'd probably know about which has recently implemented HTML5 would be Runescape. Check it out http://www.runescape.com/beta/html5

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I learned a little HTML5... The language is reasonably new but it is amazing and can absolutely be used to create games.

 

A very popular game you'd probably know about which has recently implemented HTML5 would be Runescape. Check it out http://www.runescape.com/beta/html5

 How the hay does one port a Java MMORPG game into HTML5 ?!

 

 There has to be another back end language being used - unmodified JavaScript can not handle multiplayer in real time !

Edited by Shippou
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