Monday, October 22, 2012

And Now Back to More Important Things: Why I Have Chosen the Web Browser As My Next Platform

I am not particularly fond of browser games. Granted, I spent a lot of time playing them in my youth, but as I grew older the less seriously I took them. There was just something about downloading an executable file; a game located directly on the hard-drive seemed to offer so many more possibilities than a web game. They looked better, they were less bug prone, and they allowed for modification. Today, though, it seems as if many of these shortcomings have largely been overcome in the browser game space.

The ways in which browser games are developed are many and varied. Flash, Unity, Java, HTML5, Javascript, and other tools all provide their own advantages and contribute to the variety of web games. For all of my previous projects I have used Game Maker as my primary development environment, a program that creates stand-alone executable files that must be downloaded. While it has served me well, I feel as if it limits the potential audience I could reach. Finding a link to a download, waiting for megabits to travel across a pipe, placing the .zip file somewhere on the hard-drive, and then extracting the game files presents quite a barrier. Anyone can open a web browser and direct themselves to a website, and with the Internet becoming increasingly faster, this process delivers no pain.

Though I am not completely acquainted with the bounds of the technology yet, I also suspect that browser games are far easier to create as cross-platform. In the two times I competed in Ludum Dare, I often found players vehemently upset that they could not play my games on a non-Windows computer. Surely this is a valid complaint, and one that, when addressed, would benefit all parties involved.

Not only does using the web as my platform allow me to access a far larger audience, but it also pushes me out of my developer comfort zone. I cannot create games using Game Maker forever, and browser application development seems like a reasonable path to pursue.

There are other interesting possibilities in regards to making a browser game, but I will need to give them more thought before fleshing them out in text.

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