In 2012 HTML5 games made a big step forward. We finally realised that we don't need tech demos or examples anymore - we all know that HTML5 has matured enough. Also, players don't care about the technology; they want games. We need those players and those games to prove that open web technologies can compete with any other technology used in game development.
All the titles presented in here are equally important for HTML5 gaming – they pushed the limits of the technology, and proved that it's possible to create real, enjoyable games. That's why all of them take ex aequo the same, first place.
01. A Grain of Truth
A Grain of Truth, made by the Rudowscy Brothers from Poland, is a marvellous point-and-click adventure game with beautiful, handmade graphics and deep gameplay. Help a young traveller in the world of The Old Tree that Sleeps find the Wiseman – a man as old as the time itself, who knows all the stories in the world. Based on jQuery with a UI made with DOM, A Grain of Truth shows that great HTML5 games don't need to be technically complex.
02. Dune 2 Online
03. Cut the Rope
Cut the Rope was created in 2010 by ZeptoLab, a game dev studio from Russia. This year it was ported to HTML5 as a showcase of the new Internet Explorer browser for Windows 8. You can read more about the process itself on the official blog.
04. Hex GL
HexGL is a Wipeout-like, futuristic racing game created using the Three.js framework on top of WebGL. This HTML5 game enables players to choose video quality, and so works smooth even on older computers (but it still needs WebGL).
05. Lux Ahoy
Will Eastcott and Dave Evans never wanted to create an HTML5 game. Their goal was to finally create tools for HTML5 game developers. Earlier this year they presented PlayCanvas, a browser-based, visual editor for WebGL games and apps. To prove that their project works, they created a Counter-Strike like, multiplayer third-person shooter, called D.E.M.O. They describe what is going on behind the scenes in this blog post, and they've presented the game at this year's onGameStart conference.
08. Save the Day
Save the Day is a simple HTML5 game in which you need to rescue survivors hidden on a map with your helicopter in a given amount of time. It was created using Turbulenz – an HTML5 game platform that offers the ability to build, publish, iterate and monetise HTML5 games, with support for Social APIs, WebGL and real-time physics.
Bombermine is a real-time, massive multiplayer online Bomberman game, with tens of original features and bonuses: different types of bombs, 'eagle view' (Q key) or simple RPG elements like speed or HP. Be careful – it's highly addictive!
BrowserQuest is a classic, massive multiplayer RPG game with beautiful, pixel art graphics, made by Little Workshop and Mozilla. It's all about exploration: help your young warrior, driven by the thrill of adventure, visit most dangerous places in BrowserQuest's world for the best rewards. It uses most of HTML5's features – a tile-based graphics engine that renders on Canvas, web workers for map initialisation without slowing down the UI, localStorage for saving the progress and HTML5 audio for sound support. You can read more about this HTML5 game in this blog post.
And last but not least:
onGameStart 2012 & onGameStart US 2013
onGameStart is the first large-scale HTML5 gaming conference, originally organised in Warsaw, Poland, with a new, additional event in New York on 15 March 2013. Since there is no point in creating a regular, boring site for a gaming conference, every year we present different games with the same goal: explore the world (a spaceship or planets with stars and moons), find speakers and talk to them – they will introduce themselves and their talk's abstracts. We are trying to push the bar as high as possible, so our simple, ImpactJS-based platformer from this year was replaced by a fully 3D WebGL platformer built with Collin Hover's kaiopua engine.
So is HTML5 really the future of games? A lot of facts say yes – big gaming companies are opening their own HTML5 departments, we have more and more great tools and services emerging all the time, together with outstanding games.
With GamePad and Fullscreen+Pointer Lock APIs you can transfer user experience from desktop or gaming consoles directly to your browser. And with the soon-to-be-released Firefox OS, our web games will run on mobile devices as native apps as well. I'm really excited about what happened this year in HTML5 game dev, and I'm looking forward to seeing what 2013 brings.
Michal Budzynski is a Tabasco fan from Poland, addicted to TV series and working at Mozilla on FirefoxOS, the mobile operating system formerly known as Boot2Gecko. He organises onGameStart, the world's first large scale HTML5 gaming conference, with the first American edition planned for March 2013. He currently lives in Paris, where he eats snails, frog legs and croissants.