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Is HTML5 a legit language for developing game?

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Developing mini game has been a hobby of mine for quite sometime. I did make some games on Java before, but I'm more familar HTML & javascript so I really love the idea of developing game using html5.


But since html5 is still quite new I'm a little bit worried. It is not well-supported yet even in web development - which is what html5 was born for. Is it ok to make games using html5?


I saw some engine says it can port its game to html5 and even put it in Android/iOS wrapper. The boast seems quite questionable but also brought me some hope...

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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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Let my share my small experience here.


Here is the game I made in HTML5:


Write once, run debug everywhere!


I think that, despite HTML5 intentions are ideal (write once, run everywhere), it is in practice very differently from theory.

The problem is the sheer number of devices * browser. First, you have to make your game look nice on a variety of resolutions, aspect ratios and device performance, which is a challenge in itself. Making your game run well on a small low-end device and look good on a big screen ideally requires different sets of graphics (low-res, hi-res, etc.).


However, the real problem lies in the fact that the technology is not mature nor homogenous. On some browsers, you'll have to play ogg files, on others mp3 ...and detect and load the appropriates files accordingly. Same goes for all other APIs, some browsers support it, some don't, and some do with a twist. Even simple things like "window.orientation" to detect portrait or landscape work completely differently on the various devices ...if it works at all.


Things go even deeper, as mobile browsers are not even stable. For instance, on my Android device, the game runs fine in the default browser, but chrome and FF crash (reason unknown). For iphones, the game mysteriously stopped to load at some point. No error, nothing, it just stopped. It took me a long time to discover it's because of a built-in limitation in safari mobile that images can only be 5 Mega-pixels big. In the end, it requires a lot of testing, a "per device / per browser" attitude to fix things one after another, if possible at all.


The tools and Ecosystem ...we're at the very beginning


...oh well, I think I don't have to go into details for that one. The web is a boiling place and there are a lot of initiatives emerging everywhere, but it's still very young.


You are not native


The great thing about HTML5 is that it can run almost everywhere. However, you still have the drawbacks that you don't have native performance (big gap), don't have the same look and feel, and limited phone features support.


My preferences


Despite all my bashing, for casual games I think HTML5 is a nice pick and I would probably continue using it. I think the thing I like the most is that you can simply put it on the web and people can play it by the click of a link ...the only problem is that nobody does. For my games, I used HaXe and createJS. It was a good choice and I can highly recommend them. For game makers, I heard a lot of good things about construct2.

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