3d canvas in browser on its way

 Posted by (Visited 11317 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , ,
Mar 252009

I have been commenting to people that for me this GDC is slightly dull partly for an odd reason: I no longer seem like a crazy prophet in the wilderness preaching about all the changes coming. The changes kinda just came. And now I wander around the halls and all the buzz is about digital distribution models, UGC, playing in a browser, microtransactions, web models, that traditional publishers are dinosaurs in trouble, iPhone indie games… you get the idea. The controversial talks of 2006 are today’s hallway gossip, and I need fresh new controversial material. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The latest bit to come true is the prediction that the battle for 3d in a browser would keep heating up. Flash, of course, continues to push. I mentioned Silverlight’s remarkably high penetration numbers not very long ago, and now the shoe finally drops on the Mozilla efforts, with the announcement that Mozilla and Khronos plan to have OpenGL ES through Javascript in Firefox 3.5.

The intense focus on Javascript performance over the past year has seen tremendous improvements across all browsers. Raw language performance is getting to the point where it can keep up with the raw computational requirements of 3D. It will only continue to improve, spurred on by 3D and other use cases. Second, the hardware required for accelerated 3D is becoming pervasive; hardly any desktop computer ships without some form of hardware acceleration, and the latest crop of smartphones almost uniformly have at least OpenGL ES 1.1, if not 2.0 available. Starting this work now ensures that a standard will be ready when Web developers want to take advantage of the capabilities available in hardware.

— Vladimir Vukicevic of Mozilla

So, the war is on in earnest now.

  32 Responses to “3d canvas in browser on its way”

  1. But this is just another linear improvement. I wonder what the next massive jump will be… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. That sounds to me like we’ll see a lot more “best viewed in X browser” notices.

    On a personal level, what I could really use would be things like standard native JSON support in browsers.

    I guess it’s wait and see who wins the battle… or move to Flash… or deal with it and put “best viewed in X browser”.

  3. Let’s not forget about Unity! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s on Windows now, which means: Windows, Mac, iPhone and Wii deployment. All of those are web-enabled, and I think Unity has a chance to become *the* 3d platform for web games (unless Flash 11 is a true quantum leap beyond Flash 10).

    And now Javascript. But it’ll take time to build libraries and tools to make it accessible to “normal” people. And I wonder if browser fragmentation will harm this effort? Can we count on Microsoft to continue to ignore standards and mess it up for everyone else?

    Things are heating up, indeed.

  4. I think true reverse product placement will eventually be controversial and successful, unfortunately Edery’s version is still in the pipeline clogging up the works.

  5. I think it’s a good idea.

    1. If IBM buys Sun, they get control of Java which has a dodgy standards status.

    2. Opening up the API to OpenGL level makes it straightforward to do X3D. That won’t matter to some; to some it will. Collada gets a boost.

    No downside from this seat.

  6. Well, we have to think about the uses this might have… just because we have the tech to go to the moon, doesn’t mean we have to go there everyday.

    Who can design a useful and practical interface with this ? People still work in 2D environments… Vista’s “3D” scrolling is a nice addition, but not that practical ( alt-tabbing is way easier )

    3D browsers would be useful in 3D content… lets see an example: Social Networks… imagine a facebook app where you could pick your friends from the crowd (a-la Wii)… organize them in a 3D space ( by the way there are some webtools that do this, but they still need some graphic interface redesign )… but for this to be really practical, useful and efficient we would need a 3D HID… else wise this would be not that different from a 2D version of the app…

    I think Wii can prove the best platform to start practicing with this ideas.

  7. Hmmm… using Javascript and the DOM (with all the DOM’s baggage) for real-time 3D events?

    I quite like the idea, but is getting a practical performant universal 3D browser out of that possible? I don’t build engines so just asking….

    The claim I see repeated is the plugin approach isn’t working. Is it the case that ubiquity of plugins really is a highlander dilemma or simply that content drives adoption?

  8. heh. just to pimp my friend adam’s 3d javascript, um. it’s here:

    and entirely in js.

    and i even took video of it running on my iphone just to show it works:

    with a little hardware accelleration, it’s totally doable in javascript.


  9. Dont any of you think “microsoft” will have any play in this? DirectX just going silently into the night? This sound awful Netscape of you all;)

    Will non multi- browser based 3D find enough eyeballs for the memer’s?, I think it can for some good business, but will the hive web3.0 advergaming mind think so? They didnt in the 1996 and 2006 web 1 and web 2 go arounds…:)

    Will be interesting IF this gathers traction among content makers and resellers.

  10. larryr: Silverlight IS Microsoft.

  11. Content drives adoption — Flash drove adoption thru Youtube, for example, and Silverlight through Windows update. But without the content draw, plugins struggle bigtime, so you need to either have the adoption already there, or have pretty damn killer content…!

  12. Unity is awesome. But has literally 1% of the penetration of Silverlight.

  13. First, I’m not against this. I have some paranoid illusions to work through. I agree about the killer content. That’s part of my reservation.

    I’ve been asking around and some of the engine developers say the DOM can do the job with scenegraphs. A lot of blood was spilled on the topic during the VRML vs XML wars and I’m interested in what has changed. Javascript engine performance is improved and improving, more better faster hardware and so on.

    My nagging bad dream is this is another of those chasms where to take a step forward making technical potential we take a huge leap backward in ‘expression’, that is, it took a decade or more of work to get from the first InterVista spinning globe to the rich scenes we can build now in the plugins. The HTML browser has an awful lot of baggage that has been baked into the standards now to satisfy the market zeitgeist of the day.

    When I see yet-another-we-will-build-THE-standard-for-3D-on-the-web announcement, my skin crawls a little not because of ‘The War’ which I think of as normal competition, but the potential that another initiative which looks great to the code monkeys (no offense) and riles up the monkey tree is really a cul de sac requiring yet another decade of tuning and tools development.

    This 3D content is expensive and we are supposed to be in the phase where investors are recouping not throwing away to chase another code adventure.

  14. “Unity is awesome. But has literally 1% of the penetration of Silverlight.”

    True, but content drives adoption. ๐Ÿ™‚

    There’s already FusionFall (Cartoon Network MMO) and at least two other MMOs (one from Disney and one from Funcom) which will use it. Those are big brands that will drive lots of adoption. There must be a reason these big studios have chosen it despite the low penetration. Kongregate and similar sites will be hosting Unity games in the near future, too.

    That said, installs for Unity doubled from 2007 to 2008, and that was before FusionFall and before the Windows version was released.

    Flash is really dropping the ball in terms of 3d gaming. That leaves a big hole for someone else to fill. I hope it’s Unity and not Silverlight.

  15. larryr: Silverlight IS Microsoft.

    Glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I read that.

    I’m more aligned with len’s feelings, atm. Unity impresses, but as some peeps have mentioned on CGTalk, it’s looking like a nice target for the Autodesk application-eating machine. There’s too much at stake for this to go smoothly.

  16. I hope Microsoft just buys Unity. Embed it in Silverlight and wire it up to DirectX. Spin off a smaller company that can serve the Mac/Linux needs that Unity plays to and call it a day. Work with the Moonlight folks to make sure all this new goodness plays nice on both Silverlight and Moonlight.

    There’s a Flash killer for you.

  17. ahem. please…

    Microsoft is DirectX.

    Silverlight isnt the first MS web3d path. It may not be the last.

    “Chrome” was once “MS not Google” too (right wildtangent?)… and Flash had “called” 99 % penetration on the web way before Youtube.:) It was bundled on machines since the late 90s.

  18. […] 3D Canvas in browser on its way Related Posts:InstantAction Another 3D Browser Competitor- But with a TwistFacebook-Firefox Toolbar PluginGoogle’s Native Client Project- The Innocent Giant enters the RIA GameFlash Infidelity All over the place-Unity3D is Taking Up more of your timeUnity3D vs Flash Or Not- Blogosphere RoundupPopularity: 1% [?] Share and Enjoy: […]

  19. Knowledge Adventure is using Unity for its current games online. Single player experience right now, but MMO features are coming. I’m involved with working on Wii ports of the online games at http://www.jumpstart.com right now.

    Knowledge Adventure has also been able to put the Unity player installer on retail discs to help increase penetration.

  20. I see a group of contractors furiously competing to build a deck while not letting the other contractors (or the homeowner) see their blueprints. To which I metaphorically shake my head, walk over to the guy who’s handing out photocopied deck plans for free, make any adjustments I see fit, and just start building.

  21. This looks nice but I wonder how much support for it we’ll see in IE which, like it not, is still currently the dominant browser. I grabbed IE8 just yesterday to see if it finally added the tag that Firefox, Opera and Safari have had for a while and it still doesn’t support it apparently. If they still can’t be bothered to add the 2D drawing surface, I don’t see them being in a huge rush to add a 3D surface either.

  22. @Drey: This time, that will be a mistake. The web artists are pushing harder to integrate all of the media they work in under their social network pages. This is critical to the main media they work in such as music to apply the others. As I said, the difference in iTunes and MyMusic is Friends. That is extremely significant to the sea change of artists getting rid of intemediaries and becoming shepherds of their fans. For example, if I could put River of Life directly into MyMusic or Facebook and not kill the load time, I’d do it instantly because the virtual reality album (emphasis on the music or the lyrical content integrated into the 3D events) is a really new kind of expression. The lack of interoperability holds that back among other things. The fact that Active-X objects are deprecated holds that back.

    So this is no longer a techno geek pressure. It is becoming an artistic/content pressure as the markets shift our sales away from labels and into self-selected self-managed style clusters driven by the very powerful concept of befriending. I can watch those play stats in near real time and prove the impact of posting a URL to Facebook or other artist forums. This works.

    The new generations of storytellers are here (eg, Felicia Day). These companies that are fighting the last war need to get with it or get out of the way.

    Again, my concern is the 3DCanvas won’t be as expressive as the plugin. This would be the third time in my 40 years I’ve had to take a ten year leap backwards to suit the code monkey’s agenda. It is becoming less important to be ‘in the technical now’ than to tell a better story as the migration of eyeballs away from TV to the web advances.

  23. My next Flash game is a 3d scrolling shooter, you can see a teaser from the alpha here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tM4MBpCSiNo

    I’m hoping it’ll be a push toward more established 3d in Flash. We’ve all seen a lot of tech demos and the possibilities, but no strong game developers have gotten behind it yet. I aim to change that. We’ll see how it goes!

  24. That looks nice, damijin! Which engine did you use?

  25. […] Koster notices that it’s all going digital distribution, casual, mobile, in-browser, everywhere away from […]

  26. Bleh, Javascript.

  27. Its a heavily modified version of Sandy.

  28. Trucegore = MrBloodworth.

  29. […] web-based gaming, social networks, etc.) are, at least from the conference’s perspective, old news now. Finally, an actual, profitable indie market is no longer a theoretical concept to be taken on […]

  30. As a follow on to my comment above, I note in Caroline McCarthy’s column at CNet the announcement that MySpace will be integrating Silverlight giving MySpace developers access to Adobe Flash.

    Integration into the social networks faster may be more desirable than another layer in HTML at this point.

  31. Next-gen 3D is real-time raytracing with Intel Larrabee.

    @damijin: cool. I also do 3D in flash, is your engine for Flash 9 or Flash 10?

  32. […] these figures coincides with the tone of this year’s Game Developer’s Conference which, according to industry prophet Raph Koster, reflected a concensus amongst attendees that “digital distribution models, UGC, playing in a […]

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