The web is changing around us, and it’s forcing a re-think of how we do software. While traditional web applications have been gaining traction in the last few years, the domain of browser based gaming is still primarily based around Flash.
While Flash is fine for some purposes, it’s tied to one company who ultimately owns the direction and licensing of the product. It’s expected we’ll see a shift from the Flash browser plugin to an integrated fully web based platform with the introduction of a number of new APIs in HTML5:
- Allows drawing and 2D manipulation of images on screen, generally using hardware acceleration to make the process extremely fast.
- A new protocol (mostly backward compatible with HTTP), implemented in the browser to allow a sustained real-time connection to a remote server.
- An implementation of OpenGL in the browser to allow sites to create and display 3D graphics.
- Web Storage
- A new method of storing data in the browser for off-line use.
- Audio & Video
- Native audio and video through the <audio> and <video> tags respectively. Browsers are also offering (currently proprietary) APIs for audio manipulation.
The down-side is the long tail of browser upgrades. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and some older versions of Firefox are currently still very widely used on the net, and as of July 2011 less than half of the browsers in use are suitable for web-based gaming. This will change in time, of course, so it will be useful to be ready for when that time comes.