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

posted by hansschmucker on - last edited - Viewed by 385 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
  • Text and images mostly. They may not look modern anymore, but at least they work.

  • Believe me the cache isn't something you will rely on if you want it to be rock solid. Even if you define the streaming on a per object basis you'll still have to redownload if the chache is deleted or got broken, which as years of practice have shown, will definately happen.

    As i said it's no to a minor issue for smaller games but it can be annoying depending on how much data you have to stream each time, your internet connection and the distribution mehtod of the data.

    Beside of this it obviously depends on the quality of the game and how well it's working. Let's say you're doing The DIG II as a online only version, the game is great and the service is working, then most likely i would go for it, although i still would prefer having a downloadable version just for the sake that something gets broken on your side, my internet connection has problems or that your service isn't available anymore. And to be honest if such a version is available again, then i would prefer playing that version.

  • It's really a minor issue... it's not foolproof, but good enough. We're not talking about 100s of megabytes per room. The details depend on the game that is supposed to be implemented. In a mostly linear game, it's no issue at all, since the player usually doesn't revisit locations too often. In a game where he does, the number of locations would typically be limited anyway.

    Since cache problems like corruption (which is not a very common occurrence) are non fatal just reloading the data in that case is acceptable.

    If you want it to be 100% safe, you can use the offline storage and implement your own system, but I don't think it would be worth the trouble in this case.

  • I'm against browser gaming because it's Windows only 99% of the time defeating the freaking purpose of playing in you browser!!!

  • Use some reasonable middleware, at least if the project isn't plain simple, were people get payed for debugging and enhancing the tool for you so that you can concentrate on the game. If you don't have the proper ressources, anything else is almost insane.

    One thing you shouldn't forget is that all this flexibility in a system also brings in more complexity and so there are more bugs and issues to be taken care of. You'll have to ask yourself how much this feature is worth to you putting efforts in. If it's the core of your business then it might be worth it, if it's not then i would say, stay with a more simple approach. That's also the reason why most online games do a much simpler streaming or distribute even via download.

  • @harlequ1n said: I'm against browser gaming because it's Windows only 99% of the time defeating the freaking purpose of playing in you browser!!!

    ? That's exactly the point: A real browser game would be cross-platform. Anything from iPhone to Windows and beyond.

  • @taumel said: Use some reasonable middleware were people get payed for debugging and enhancing the tool for you so that you can concentrate on the game. If you don't have the proper ressources, anything else is almost insane.

    One thing you shouldn't forget is that all this flexibility in a system also brings in more complexity and so there are more bugs and issues to be taken care of. You'll have to ask yourself how much this feature is worth to you putting efforts in. If it's the core of your business then it might be worth it, if it's not then i would say, stay with a more simple approach. That's also the reason why most online games do a much simpler streaming or distribute even via download.

    Of course it would be nice to do a universal engine and sublicense it. But the exact economics of producing a browser-based game are not really the topic here.

    An adventure engine is a sufficiently simple matter that two persons can be done with the basic framework (rooms, items, moving, interaction) in a week or so. More exotic features would come later, but the basic logic is really quite simple.

    A game consists of rooms and characters.
    Rooms consist of floors, layers and items.
    Characters and items consist of multiple states

  • @hansschmucker said: ? That's exactly the point: A real browser game would be cross-platform. Anything from iPhone to Windows and beyond.

    Only if a browser really works the way it should or a certain plugin is available for that platform as well, and then you still can face those tiny but neat platform specific issues.

    Beside of this you'll have to take care of things like different resolutions, different media support, diffferent donwload speeds, different input capabilities, legal restrictions, ...

    But don't get me wrong, i don't want to discourage you, my point just is, there are things to be considered.

  • I'm not about to create this game. I know of the issues and I'm not saying that creating an engine would be trivial, I just wanted to know how players feel about web-based adventures (actually, I didn't want to discuss the technology either, but I guess you simply can not avoid it).

  • Nope, i guess not completely.

    But this business also is strongly content driven.

    Imagine TTG would have released TOMI as a pure online 3d game, which technically would have been possible, then i'm sure a lot of people still would have bought it. And if the service works, most probably more people would get used to it, just like with the episodic format.

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