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Making History II on your browser

January 8th, 2010 by Troy Goodfellow · 9 Comments · Tech, WW2

I’m not enough of a tech head to really make much sense out of the details here, but the announcement that next month’s Making History II will be played in a browser strikes me as something different for PC gaming. A 3D engine running in your browser?

There is a great discussion in the comments, where the piece’s author, Matt Seegmiller, explains that this idea is a fusion of ideas that are constantly mixing at Muzzy Lane.

Something that probably didn’t come across in the article is that this technology was not developed specifically for Making History II. We additionally have about a half dozen serious games currently in production using this same technology, including a DARPA funded project to create games for middle school science. We were originally founded on the idea that 3D multiplayer games could teach people something. To that end, we found integrating our games with the web almost a necessity, allowing for much more intuitive multiplayer lobbies and much easier install paths. Plus you end up with integration into existing web infrastructures, like social networks and learning management systems.

So is this tech a big step forward? If anyone here can really explain how this is an advantage for the gamer, I’d love to hear it.


9 Comments so far ↓

  • Punning Pundit

    Creating games for a cross-platform, low-spec engine seems like a huge win. It might be the thing that finally decouples gaming and windows, which would be nice for those of us who want to try mac or chrome…

  • Angry Gamer

    Oh wow this is interesting news

  • Alan Au

    Hmm. Hmmmm. Hmmmmmmmm.

    Well, it certainly decouples the technology from the content, for better or worse. I’m of the school of thought on serious games that worries that educational games need to be careful about competing with entertainment games. Mostly it’s a money issue, and even commercial studios have a hard time competing in the marketplace.

    Advantage? I guess the biggest advantage is accessibility, which is essential considering the challenges with deploying hardware into any educational setting, whether it’s a classroom or a living room or even an OLPC in a third-world country.

    Disadvantage? Well, you’re developing for the lowest-common-denominator from a technology perspective, and you’re subject to the limitations of an engine over which you have no control (er, and I’m disregarding open source browsers). Last I checked, browser 3-D support was still pretty primitive.

    I could easily envision trying to develop a series of DS-based games, or maybe XBLA or PSN games. (Yeah, or iPhone, but that’s differently problematic.) However, that shifts some of the burden onto the end-user, at which point you’re again competing with entertainment products. Therefore, I think browser-based is a good move, but of course the real success or failure will depend on how the actual execution lives up to user expectations.

  • James Allen

    Isn’t this a lot like InstantAction and Fallen Empires: Legions?

  • George Geczy

    Good luck to them, but there will be always be much more you can do (in terms of performance, stability, features) in a dedicated product versus a browser product. There’s a big debate about the future of mobile development with the “browser camp” versus the “app camp”. Even though both Google and Apple have encouraged devs to go the browser route (though not sure if that’s Apple’s current policy now that the app store is a revenue stream), on my iphone I find dedicated apps to always be faster, more stable and more reliable than their browser-based counterparts. The PC world is different, but many of the same obstacles exist.

  • Michael A.

    I think I’ve seen a couple of 3D browser games, so I’m not really that impressed (isn’t there an MMO RTS on the web that does this… can’t recall the name now).

    Big step forward? Ultimately, it is all about the game and the gameplay. Playing in a browser doesn’t really open up many incredible possibilities compared to playing online with a dedicated application (more the opposite). So no.

  • Chris Nahr

    Browsers don’t support 3D graphics natively. You’d either have to use Flash (not available on iPhone at all) or build a 3D engine on top of the SVG standard for 2D vector graphics (which isn’t all that well supported across browsers). Either way it’s going to be pretty primitive in every respect compared to a native implementation.

  • Zer0s

    I’d assume it could be something similar to Quake 3 Live (‘s engine), which AFAIK runs off the browser.

  • Chris Nahr

    Quake Live uses a custom ActiveX plug-in that only runs in IE or Firefox on Windows. So it’s basically a native engine attached to a browser, and not cross-platform at all. Certainly a possible solution if they just want to focus on multiplayer integration, though.