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Thursday, June 30, 2011

HTML5 Versus Flash, Objective C(Apple) , And Java App(Google) Game Development Debate

Many game developers have decided to build their games in HTML 5 moving away from native platform development on Android,  Apple O/S and in Flash(Microsoft native app.) development. I have been encouraging my clients and  game developers to do the same.  My advice has generated a fair amount of controversy and  in some cases outright hostility or all out endorsement. The variability of the responses indicates that not everyone sees HTML5 game development  from the same perspective.

 Reasons For Endorsing HTML5 Game Development 

Build Once For Deployment On Multiple Platforms(Web, IPhone, IPad, Android, Facebook, etc.) - The world is no longer one dimensional allowing developers to only deploy a game in Facebook, on mobile devices or on the web. A game should be manifest in all of these environments and in many cases tied together to encourage people to play against each other on different devices and environments. HTML5 gives you some leverage to achieve this goal by decoupling game development form the operating system (OS). 

Keep The Cost Of Development Down - Clearly developing the same game on many devices can be costly from a variety of viewpoints. Development platform expertise, unique user interface design, connection to server methods, moneitzation mechanics, payment processing. etc. HTML5 does not solve all of these issues but it will solve many of them. Developers and web designers have become very efficient and cleaver developing a game first for a mobile device using HTML and then moving the game to other platforms. This allows the interface to undergo few changes as it moves up the user interface ladder.

Get To Market Faster - From a marketing perspective its makes sense to get your game on as many platforms as possible as soon as possible to capture market share in all of the environments and to build brand awareness for the game across platforms. There is a very short period of time to get a game recognized and growing. The more places it appears simultaneously the more likely that a referral buzz will be created to propel the game up to the charts in the mobile and Facebook environments.
Get On Multiple Platforms Faster - I have yet to find a game development organization that has not been asked to get the game on mobile, on MS, Apple, Facebook, etc. as soon as possible. To a large degree the developers are the ones pushing the HTML5 button to relieve development load on their organizations and to get the game to market.

Game Download Speed - It still amazes me that client side games exists and are still being developed. The download for these things is obnoxious if you do not have any of the game assets per-loaded even with broadband connects. They are also error prone given the constant updates that MS and Apple drop on your device. HTML5 goes a long way in eliminating this issue.

Objections For Developing HTML5 Games

The Games Do Not Look As Good - A product manager came up to me one day waving his Apple laptop at me with mock ups for the user interface of a new game on the screen. He asked me if I could make an HTML5 game with the rich graphic content of the example he showed me. I indicated probably not. First of all the quality of the graphic content spelled heavy download to me. Sure caching would help after the initial download. However, the game mechanics in a browser with all of these graphics moving in and out of the game did not encourage me to be positive. I told him we could build the game in HTML5 with some UI compromises to make the game more accessible and easier to access. He walked away fuming insisting that we have the rich graphic content and he wanted the game interface on mobile and the Facebook platform. I said sure  but you might regret that decision. I am sure this interchange occurs often and requires a producer or product manager to make some very difficult decisions about appearance versus user experience.

The Game Mechanics Are Not Sophisticated Enough On HTML5 - Well certainly native application development will give you a richer library of functions to make more sophisticated games.  In certain cases there may be good reason for this and HTML5 is not the answer. However, the question should always be asked are these functions really necessary and where else do you intend to post or display the game.

HTML5 Is Immature And Not Ready For "Serious" Game Development - I am not entirely sure what "immature" means in all cases. However, HTML5 is new, it is designed to be generic addressing a number of web development interests. This mean that there will be things that can not be done with HTML5 at this time. However, abandoning HTML5 because it does not support a function today may not be the best decision. HTML5 will evolve based on input from the user community. I suspect that if enough developers speak-up about a missing feature in HTML5 it will eventually show up in the specification. The last thing you want to do is to stay on a fading platform and miss a wave. If you do you it will be very hard to get back on the wave as it gets stronger and starts to move faster.

Game Development Expertise - Some game development shops are heavy staffed with with C, C++, Java and less with "web development" resources like Python, PHP, etc. talent. Certainly this does have an impact on a shops ability to build web based games and may require a team to start thinking about other resources to complement their teams to produce HTML5 games.  I would suggest that a game development team start investing in resources that can develop HTML5 games to build the skill set and expertise in their organization.

In conclusion, many game developers are now building games in HTML5 for the reason I have identified. Yes, HTML5 has it limitations. However, the multi-platform deployment ability should be taken into consideration when deciding on the game development platform. There are certainly times when HTML5 is not the answer. Certain sophisticated games in terms of animation, game logic, taking advantage of low level O/S functions and connection speed may discount the benefits of HTML5 and require a different approach. However HTML5 will evolve quickly for the simple reason that game developers would prefer to build once and deploy on multiple platforms. Socket connections are an obvious area that HTML5 and browsers will begin to do a better job at to allow for better communication between server and web client. I am sure their will be many more on the pure graphic creation and rendering side.

Kevin Flood is the CEO of Gameinlane, Inc. Kevin writes extensively about online games and their impact and integration into iGaming and E-commerce environments. Kevin is a frequent speaker at online game events and conferences in Asia, Europe and the US. Kevin and his Gameinlane team are currently working with online gambling, social gaming and e-commerce companies integrating social gaming with online gaming operations and integrate game mechanics into e-commerce applications.

1 comment:

garlie charls said...

HTML5 can be used to create an excellent content structure and a virtually enhanced interface thus making different websites easy to read and legible.
HTML5 Development