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Would you play (and pay for) 2D adventure games in the browser?

posted by hansschmucker on - last edited - Viewed by 353 users

First of all, this thread not meant to discuss the technological challenges a developer would encounter creating such a game. There are virtually none. In my 2nd year at university I created an engine for this purpose that ran on all then-current browsers fluidly using a 800x600 display window. It's just not an issue. Or at least not an issue that can't be overcome if a developer is willing to invest some time optimizing the engine.

A bit of background: An adventure game is at it's core simply a matter of layering images on top of each other and even InternetExplorer is very much capable of layerering the typical 4 full size layers and a number of splite-type layers without running into performance issues.

So here's a little FAQ about the technology first.

Q: Browsers are not able to render such a game fast enough
A: Browsers are very much optimized for the exact type of drawing an adventure game needs and can easily render most scenes even on slower computers.

Q: Browsers can't offer sound and video like a normal application
A: All current browsers include some form of video and audio playback. Sometimes this is in the form of a default video plugin that's available in the browser (Internet Explorer/Media Player plugin), sometimes it's a native engine (Firefox, Safari), but there's always something.

Q: You can't play these games offline
A: All modern browsers can by now via special offline storage (think Cookies on steroids). Internet Explorer needs the Gears Plugin in order to do it, though.

Q: Browser games can't run fullscreen
A: While web applications can't control fullscreen mode, all current browsers have one and applications can rearrange content accordingly when the user enters it.


The issue here is whether users would actually care about it and how it should be funded. (No I'm not planning on doing one right now, this is just scientific curiosity).

The benefits:
[LIST]
[*]Zero launch time
[*]Quick switching to other applications
[*]Available everywhere
[/LIST]

For me that would be enough to actually prefer it running inside the browser to a dedicated application, but that's because most of my work actually happens in the web browser.

So, what are your thoughts?

40 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • @hansschmucker said: I meant the game actually running inside the browser. Not just the launch page (TTG games actually only work with a browser to. The launcher is actually a InternetExplorer instance).

    You should really try Free Realm out. It does run out of the browser. Quite unique for a MMORPG.

  • @hansschmucker said: Compatibility, usability, integration, accessibility would be the key points.

    (I should probably explain further)
    Compatibility: Using Flash means that it will only run on Adobe certified platforms and that would directly conflict with one of the key benefits. You couldn't play it on the iPhone, not on Android, not on the Pre...

    Usability: Flash applications well, they just feel horrible. There are excpetions, but for the most part any Flash app feels first and foremost like a Flash app. The right-click menu does the rest.

    Integration: Flash doesn't include the behaviours your used to from applications. This ranges from text selection over font rendering to button designs. It just always feels wrong.

    Accessibility: Well, it's Flash. What else do I have to say.

    Having been a flash developer for 8 years, I disagree. Show me one non-flash browser application which doesn't "feel horrible".

    What do you mean by button designs? Do you think there is some kind of limitation of the design of buttons in flash?

    Text selection over font rendering? huh? Please explain.

  • @smashing said: You should really try Free Realm out. It does run out of the browser. Quite unique for a MMORPG.

    I've actually tried it... the interface seemed quite forced, seeing as the real game would run outside the browser anyway. Quake Live made me feel similar (eventhough the game at least runs inside the browser WINDOW. If the game needs a client plugin anyway, there's little point to running it inside the browser window)

  • @Toothless Gibbon said: Having been a flash developer for 8 years, I disagree. Show me one non-flash browser application which doesn't "feel horrible".

    What do you mean by button designs? Do you think there is some kind of limitation of the design of buttons in flash?

    Text selection over font rendering? huh? Please explain.

    Look at how Flash renders text. It always looks different. Out of place. And the behaviour is different too: You can't select text (unless the developer actually implements his own behaviour).

    And for text selection and other stuff your application simply won't feel like a "native" application. Same with buttons and other native widgets. Flash has its own widgets which don't match those of the hosting platform. Look at any webpage in comparison: A text input box matches the usual style of the host platform.

  • @hansschmucker said: Look at how Flash renders text. It always looks different. Out of place. And the behaviour is different too: You can't select text (unless the developer actually implements his own behaviour).

    And for text selection and other stuff your application simply won't feel like a "native" application. Same with buttons and other native widgets. Flash has its own widgets which don't match those of the hosting platform. Look at any webpage in comparison: A text input box matches the usual style of the host platform.


    Have you ever used flash? Making text selectable requires a complicated procedure of checking the "selectable" checkbox...

    Are you talking about anti-aliasing when you say text looks different? Again, just turn it off... or create a custom anti-aliasing scheme using different thickness and sharpness.

    What kind of game do you want to create that has platform native widgets? A game that looks like it's part of Microsoft Office?

    Very few developers, in any, use Flash's own "widgets" (By this I presume you mean interface components) as its very easy to create completely custom interface elements, which is surely what you would want for a bespoke game?

  • @Toothless Gibbon said: Have you ever used flash? Making text selectable requires a complicated procedure of checking the "selectable" checkbox...

    Are you talking about anti-aliasing when you say text looks different? Again, just turn it off... or create a custom anti-aliasing scheme using different thickness and sharpness.

    What kind of game do you want to create that has platform native widgets? A game that looks like it's part of Microsoft Office?

    Admittedly, it's been a while. The point is that Flash apps don't integrate as well by default. If you wanted the AA scheme to match the host system, you'd have to implement them yourself, then sniff the system settings and select the scheme that matches it. Same with buttons. And I was talking about Flash apps in general, not just games.

    Don't get me wrong, Flash does have its uses as a dedicated platform or as fallback behaviour, but while normal web pages can degrade gracefully across platforms and have sensible default behaviour, Flash does not. It's much easier to write a really bad Flash application, than a really bad webpage.

  • Sorry, I thought we were talking about creating games. I would never create a webpage in Flash just for the sake of it, but webapps and games are something different.

    Thought it may have been a while, you should definately look at ActionScript 3 and Adobe Air - you will realise how blinkered you are being towards the technology.

    As someone you comes from a design background, the idea of a webapp looking exactly the same across all platforms is benefit not a hinderance.

  • @Toothless Gibbon said: Having been a flash developer for 8 years, I disagree. Show me one non-flash browser application which doesn't "feel horrible".

    What do you mean by button designs? Do you think there is some kind of limitation of the design of buttons in flash?

    Text selection over font rendering? huh? Please explain.

    Not quite the same as it uses shockwave, but enjoy:

    http://www2.rasterwerks.com/game/phosphor/beta1.asp

  • @Toothless Gibbon said: Sorry, I thought we were talking about creating games. I would never create a webpage in Flash just for the sake of it, but webapps and games are something different.

    Thought it may have been a while, you should definately look at ActionScript 3 and Adobe Air - you will realise how blinkered you are being towards the technology.

    As someone you comes from a design background, the idea of a webapp looking exactly the same across all platforms is benefit not a hinderance.

    And coming from an application background, it's exactly the other way around: An application should feel native on all platforms. It's not ideal when your application is the only one that displays a "X" on the right for Mac users.

  • No-one tries to replicate the look of a Windows application in Flash.

    If the game was running in a browser, then the browser itself would be native. I just can't understand why you would want a game to look native.

    I'm not trying to say desktop applications should be built in it, but thats not what this thread is about.

    The only advantage a non-flash browser game would have is what you say about Adobe certified platforms. How many people would want to pay for a browser based game on the iPhone for example is extremely negligable considering how many other limitations you would have.

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