Game talkWhere 3d browser stuff stands

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Jan 152011

Been awhile since I posted about how progress is going on this front. Everyone is very excited about HTML5, of course, but particularly with the latest H.264 news, Flash is still going to be pretty widely used. WebGL is going to be in Firefox 4, (basically, the OpenGL ES 2.0 API will be available).

To my eye, the WebGL stuff is behind the Flash stuff in terms of framerate consistency and performance — but it does have all sorts of nifty off-the-shelf integration with Web data on the fly, because it is literally “a 3d web page” made out of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Here’s a video of the “Flight of the Navigator” demo — if you have a WebGL enabled browser, you can actually try it yourself.

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Game talkGoogle 3D Web plugin

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Apr 212009

Add one more competitor to the race to create the standard for web-delivered 3d. This time, it’s Google, with a new API called O3D.

The O3D plugin leverages hardware accelerated rendering, which means that it is powered by the GPU and can deliver strong rendering performance. The API supports loading 3D models, much like Mozilla’s high-level C3DL library. Google has published several open source demos which show how the API can be used to build interactive 3D Web applications with JavaScript. One of the demos even features a JavaScript physics engine.

— Google joins effort for 3D Web standard with new plugin, API – Ars Technica.

It’s not compatible with Mozilla’s Khronos effort, but Google says they intend it to converge over the course of a few years. And yes, it is fully cross-platform. There’s a shader language (again, non-standard, doesn’t match HLSL or Cg), and of course it supports loading SketchUp as well as from Max and Maya. It also can run inside an OpenSocial gadget, or run offline in Gears.

It’s a developer release only, found here. But it’s very worth keeping an eye on. Google has to get it adopted, of course, and that will take using powerful distribution leverage, the way that Flash uses YouTube and Microsoft uses NetFlix and Windows Update to push Silverlight.

Here’s a video.

Game talk3d canvas in browser on its way

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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. 😉

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.

Game talkFlash on TVs and set-top boxes

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Jan 052009

A long while ago, I blogged about Adobe’s Open Screen Project, which is a big consortium pushing Flash onto as many devices as possible. Well, here appears to be some of the first fruit of it:

Adobe® Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) and Intel Corporation today announced plans to collaborate on the development to port and optimize Adobe® Flash® technology for the Intel® Media Processor CE 3100. This effort is expected to provide consumers with richer and more seamless Web-based and video viewing experiences through advanced Intel-based cable set-top boxes, Blu-ray Disc players, digital TVs and retail connected AV devices….

— Intel and Adobe to Extend Flash Platform to TVs.

They go on to mention plans to ship this chip within 2009, as well as an initiative around Air. We’ll see what comes of this… Intel has to get that chip adopted, after all.

In the meantime, I also noticed over the holidays that Microsoft is beta testing a new download center that requires Silverlight — that’s a way to push plugin adoption right there…! Of course, they also push it via pop-up on Microsoft’s front page… the war continues.

Game talkSnap-together games

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May 022008

This is certainly turning into a booming segment. The latest is Microsoft’s Popfly for Silverlight, which has been out for a while but didn’t have any game stuff. But now there’s Popfly Game Creator.

Today we’re adding something special to Popfly: an early version of our Popfly Game Creator. That’s right: Popfly is about more than mashups and web pages. It’s about making it fun to build things and share them with your friends. And one of the things we’ve heard loud and clear is that games are the kinds of things that people would like to try to build.

What kinds of games can you create? Just about any kind of two-dimensional game, a category that includes things like the original Super Mario™, Frogger™, Asteroids™, and a host of other old arcade games. To make it easy, Popfly is still focused on getting as much done as possible without having to write any code. The game creator has over 15 pre-built game templates for you to try, hundreds of images, animations, backgrounds, and sounds for you to use in the games you create, and, of course, a way for you to write code if you reach the limits of what the user interface can do for you. Since this is Popfly, you can still save, share, and embed your creations everywhere from your blog to your Facebook page to your Windows Vista Sidebar.

Just in the last few months we’ve seen this, and Gamebrix, and Sims Carnival

Game talk3d in Flash is getting better

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Apr 182008

Remember how I said that 3d in Flash was catching up? I got a lot of flak for it in some quarters.

Check out this demo. OK, it’s not 3d, it’s actually parallax. Still. 🙂 It’s apparently from this new platform called Alternativa, which looks quite promising and which does have quite a lot of 3d. Check out this interior or this exterior.

The way things are looking right now, 3d on the web is in a position where there’s multiple solutions coming down the pike, though none are fully baked yet. There’s Flash itself, which is the dominant platform. There’s Shockwave as well. Microsoft sees a strategic imperative and is doing Silverlight. And the open-sourceniks are not going to let something so critical be all proprietary, so there’s the <canvas> tag with OpenGL.

This is basically console wars for the Web. The Alternativas/Away3ds/Papervisions of the world are middleware developers for the Flash “console.” Heck, the latest Away3d demo even somewhat reminds me of the first time I saw Magic Carpet on the PC.

Is it “here” yet? No. But you can see it from here.