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began to change as some brave souls, such as the developers behind GameQuery ( )
began putting together larger, more sophisticated game frameworks.
As the canvas element started to appear in more and more browsers, developers turned their attention to it
as a potential game development tool. Early tools such as gameJS ( ) , based on the popular
Python PyGame library, tended to provide a thin wrapper on top of canvas.
Into this mix a game engine called Akihabara ( ) appeared in early 2010. More a
loose collection of tools than a full game engine, the magic of Akihabara was that it ran on just about anything
that supported the canvas tag. This included the iPhone, iPad, Android, and newer desktop browsers as well as
the Internet Channel inside of the Nintendo Wii.
As the Italian creator of Akihabara wrote:
The Akihabara which you can download here is my personal dream too. It is a set of libraries, tools and pre-
sets to create pixelated indie-style 8/16-bit era games in JavaScript that runs in your browser without any
Flash plugin, making use of a small small small subset of the HTML5 features, that are actually available on
many modern browsers.
By targeting classic pixelated indie-style games at lower resolutions, Akihabara hit a performance sweet spot
but also provided a glimmer of what could be when browsers and devices caught up with the needs of HTML5
game developers and provided a speedy, stable platform for games.
Since then a large number of engines have appeared on the scene, both commercial and open-source, each
with its own philosophy and supported platforms and technologies (Canvas, DOM, and WebGL).
The JavaScript Wiki has a page dedicated to HTML5 game engines that is updated on a regular basis: ht-
tp:// .
Every engine has a target market and target developer demographic, so picking an engine that matches your
requirements and needs is important.
Using a Commercial Engine
Although there might seem to be a little incongruity to the idea of using a commercial engine on a platform all
about standards and openness, there are significant benefits to using a commercial engine over an open-source
one: a dedicated team working on the engine and better and more up-to-date documentation and tutorials (in
The most obvious downside to commercial engines is that they cost money; however, the currently popular
HTML5 engines are relatively inexpensive (the cost of 1-2 console games if you want to put it in perspective)
or will take a percentage of revenue once your game is making money, so cost shouldn't be the largest concern
you have.
The primary downsides of commercial engines revolve around the restrictions placed on development and
distribution. Most of the HTML5 engines are licensed per developer, which means that anyone who helps you
on your game needs to have a license as well. Second, although the nature of HTML5 means that you always
have some sort of source code for the engine you could theoretically modify, for engines that rely on an IDE to
build and export games, you may not have code that can easily be modified. Instead you need to work within
the limits of the functionality baked into the engine.
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