Mozilla web tech enables 'native-like' cross-platform play

Mozilla web tech enables 'native-like' cross-platform play
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

March 14th 2014 at 12:30PM

Plug-in-free web tech means the potential reach of games could surpass that of any app store, says the web firm

A new title from indie outfit Nom Nom Games is among the first to use a custom web technology that enables cross-platform 3D play without concessions to performance or visuals.

Playverse allows games to be run directly from the player’s web browser, offering “native-like” performance – instead of being streamed from the cloud.

This has enabled multiplayer shooter Monster Madness Online to be played across PC, Mac, Android, Linux and iOS via the matchmaking and content delivery service.

“The hardware landscape is becoming ever more fragmented,” Nom Nom director Jeremy Steiglitz told Develop. “For an online game developer seeking to reach as many players as possible, it can make sense to try to bridge the gap between devices with cross-platform play.”

Mozilla’s asm.js web technology was the key catalyst in making Playverse’s cross-platform multiplayer abilities a reality.

Vladimir Vukicevic, engineering director at Mozilla and inventor of WebGL, told Develop: “With the advent of asm.js and the Emscripten technologies, developers can quickly port their native C/C++ games to run directly in a web browser. The potential reach of these games surpasses that of any other technology or app store.”

Nom Nom contacted the web development firm after seeing work Mozilla and Epic Games did to bring Unreal Engine 3 to the web – yesterday the duo gave a sneak peak at UE4 on running in a browser.

“They saw an opportunity to bring their game to web browser users, without plug-ins or any installation steps, but still maintaining a high quality feel,” said Vukicevic.

So far, streaming technologies such as Gaikai and OnLive have been leading the way in enabling consumers to access all their gaming content from specific connected devices, many of which have to contact specific applications or plug-ins. Steiglitz believes offering native-like 3D graphics and sound through the web makes it far easier to “achieve a critical mass of online players on over eight-plus platforms”.

Playverse is already being used in the studio’s own titles Monster Madness Online and Dungeon Defenders 2 from its parent company Trendy Entertainment. The studio will be demoing the technology at GDC next week.

Steiglitz added: “Online cross-platform functionality opens a whole can of daunting technical worms: synchronised content delivery, matchmaking, server hosting, social interactivity, etc.

“I think platform-abstract game development is the wave of the future, and we at Trendy and Nom Nom believe that our technology can enable developers to connect and leverage a far larger combined player-base than they could reach on any one device alone.”