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DirectX 11 Coming To Browser Games

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the see-the-stubble-on-your-stick-figure's-chin dept.

Graphics 200

arcticstoat writes "Forget Farmville, Flash puzzlers and 8-bit home computer emulators. The next generation of browser games will be able to take advantage of DirectX 11 effects, not to mention multi-core processing and both Havok and PhysX physics effects. A new browser plug-in called WebVision will be available for Trinergy's new game engine, Vision Engine 8. This will enable game developers to port all the advanced effects from the game engine over to all the common browsers. Of course, any budding 3D-browser-game dev will face the problem that not every PC has a decent graphics card that can handle advanced graphics effects. Not only that, but limited bandwidth will also limit what effects a developer can realistically implement into a browser game. Nevertheless, this is an interesting development that could result in some tight 3D programming, as well as some much more interesting browser games."

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Slashvertisment? (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31256894)

Will it work on Linux?

I'm pretty sure there's been 3D plugins before. One from Adobe springs to mind - it even had Havok physics engine....

Re:Slashvertisment? (1)

slart42 (694765) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257040)

I'm pretty sure there's been 3D plugins before. One from Adobe springs to mind - it even had Havok physics engine....

Though Adobe never had decent Hardware 3d support, and Shockwave does not seem to be going anywhere these days.

But Unity [unity3d.com] has been around and gaining momentum for a while, and offers 3d acceleration, PhysX support, and much more. You can check out the latest installment of EA's Tiger Woods [ea.com] for a decent Unity browser game.

Re:Slashvertisment? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257090)

I'm not aware of Unity having a Linux port.

It's actually pretty irritating, because they get a ton of free press (and free code) from the open source Mono community, but they can't be bothered to support open source operating systems.

Re:Slashvertisment? (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257426)

We're seriously looking into using Unity where I work. We still get asked to do browser-based 3D stuff and are forced to use Shockwave.
There's O3D, the Google browser plugin (Windows and Mac OSX only, no Linux AFAIK) which works quite well, but suffers from being controlled by Javascript and thus is slower in everything that's not Chrome (funny that)

There are some serious steps in the right direction though. The sooner we have Canvas 3D contexts though the better

Re:Slashvertisment? (2, Insightful)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257052)

That is what I was thinking as well.

It will be like the "old" days before firefox where site after site asked you to upgrade to IE 6.

Re:Slashvertisment? (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257532)

wasn't there some purposed standard and platform independent proposal some year ago? something about 3d canvas and such. I think opera and firefox where the ones pushing for it, using opengl, while google was pushing for the O3D plugin which at least is not based on dx11 and already available for mac windows and linux.

http://code.google.com/apis/o3d
https://wiki.mozilla.org/Canvas:3D (now it's called webgl, and I find no trace of the Opera effort for 3d canvas, but I fairly sure they tried it once)

Another pointless plugin? (5, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31256904)

Why bother when we have WebGL [wikipedia.org] (the 3D canvas API) that doesn't require any plugins at all?

Really, the whole browser plugin idea is a grand, failed experiment. Instead of a fecund atmosphere of competing web extensions, the plugin mechanism has just resulted in one or two players achieving dominance and vendor lock-in.

Browsers themselves implementing experimental, then standardized functionality is a much more viable approach. It's given us all the real improvements to the web to date.

How long will it be until we can kill the plugin mechanism entirely?

Re:Another pointless plugin? (0, Flamebait)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31256992)


WebGL can't use DirectX which I understand both has more features than OpenGL and is more suited to fast, game-style graphics rendering. I'm partly playing Devil's Advocate here as I'd love to see purely Free Software solutions, but this is a reason that this new plugin has an advantage, is it not? I'm not an expert and interested in counter-arguments, though.

On the subject of plugins, amen to that, but I don't think it will play out that way. OS, applications and browser will increasingly merge, I think. We wont give up on plugins so much as the concept becomes increasingly ill-fitting. Time was when I would be downloading all sorts of programs to carry out my work, these days anything that can be is becoming a web app, and what "can be" is becoming a broader definition every year.

Mind you, in a few years time, there will be quad-core DDR3 machines all over the place, pretty much all your applications will be a horrible pile of javascript with a HTML renderer on top and someone will come up with the radical notion of creating downloadable binaries written in C++ and the world will be revolutionized by the amazing speed and power of it - and we'll come full circle. ;)

Re:Another pointless plugin? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257060)

What features in D3D doesn't OpenGL support? OpenGL has a history of supporting MORE features than D3D via vendor extensions. And I doubt OpenGL is not suited to fast game-style graphics rendering, because GAMES ON OSes OTHER THAN WINDOWS EXIST. See Halo on Mac, Everything Blizzard on the Mac, Quake 4, etc.

Re:Another pointless plugin? (1)

am 2k (217885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257298)

What features in D3D doesn't OpenGL support?

That's easy to answer: Microsoft's Marketing Department

Just consider, many people actually believe the FUD the GP wrote.

The real problem with WebGL is that all of your client-side logic has to be distributed in Javascript. This means that you're forced to release your source (even the code produced by the Javascript compressors is legible enough for determined people). That's something most game developers most likely don't like.

What's the alternative? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257456)

Download a native.dll file with the game logic in it? That'll work out well...

Re:What's the alternative? (5, Informative)

am 2k (217885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257498)

Hmm you'd probably have to put it into some kind of sandbox [sun.com] that doesn't allow stuff like local file access...

But still, you'd need support for 3D graphics [lwjgl.org] . If only such a thing would exist [jmonkeyengine.com] ...

Too bad.

Re:Another pointless plugin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257334)

Are you saying that WebGL will support vendor extensions to OpenGL? I thought the whole point of the "use OpenGL instead" argument was that it *didn't* require vendor-specific extensions.

dom

Re:Another pointless plugin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257380)

OpenGL has a history of lagging behind Direct3D when it comes to official extension. Sure, you can write a game today that would use DX11 tesselation on AMD hardware (and even that only recently became available, long after its D3D availability), but it will not be able to use this feature on NVIDIA hardware when it comes out. That's one reason you won't see any cutting edge game using OpenGL.

Re:Another pointless plugin? (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257932)

OpenGL has a history of lagging behind Direct3D when it comes to official extension

I thought the official extensions were normally a vendor extensions before, later granted the official status?

but it will not be able to use this feature on NVIDIA hardware when it comes out.

Not an OpenGL specialist, but I have seen before nVidia OpenGL implementation reporting support for ATI/Matrox extensions and vice versa.

Unless of course nVidia decides to break the tradition.

Re:Another pointless plugin? (2, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257582)

While all that's true, the comment you've replied to said that WebGL can't use DirectX, not D3D. DX most definitely does supply many features that OGL does not.

Whether any of those are relevant to this discussion is another matter of course.

Re:Another pointless plugin? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257056)

I googled for any WebGL demo I could find, tried couple and.. they don't work.

"doesn't require any plugins", eh?

"click here for instructions how to enable webgl in firefox" -> "you need latest nightly build blah blah".

Where's the damn difference between requiring plugin and requiring something that user need to download and install anyway?

Re:Another pointless plugin? (1)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257148)

The difference is that in 1-2 years WebGL will be built into your browser and enabled by default; not only on your PC but your Mac and your iPhone and your Android devices, whereas this crappy Windows-only plugin will still be a crappy Windows-only plugin.

Re:Another pointless plugin? (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257530)

Yeah, but Adobe is in its fight with Apple and thought "Hey, I know! What we need is more platform-specific games." O_o

Re:Another pointless plugin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257080)

For some reason we Anonymous Cowards don't get mod points, otherwise Id mod you up even further.

Having tried X3D and O3D and peeked at Web GL. I just want something that works everywhere, and I think Web GL is the best way to get there.
X3D is plug-in hell, with different plug-ins supporting different sub sets of the standard. O3D still (last I tried) fails on common graphics cards.

That being said, I wouldn't complain if someone implemented a Web GL plugin for IE.

Re:Another pointless plugin? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257632)

If you want something that works everywhere now, you're out of luck. JOGL probably works in the most places, but I've not seen many things use it. WebGL has a lot of potential. When I visited Google a couple of weeks ago, one of the guys there showed me a port of Quake 2 to WebGL. It was pretty impressive; the game is quite old now, but it was running in Chrome on a Mac without needing any extra plugins. All of the resources were loaded on demand, which produced some interesting effects (the walls were flat shaded when you started the level and only became textured a few seconds later, as the server provided the textures), but you can fix that with precaching.

Re:Another pointless plugin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257312)

I agree that WebGL will eventually make 3D more accessible in browsers (once it's supported in mainstream browsers). I doubt, however, if any commercial developers will use it, because it's based on scripting, so offers a way for everyone to view the source code, something that commercial publishers tend to dislike. I also imagine that its scripting nature will mean that WebGL games won't have access to advanced gaming technology such as physics, and so relegate it to more casual games.

Re:Another pointless plugin? (3, Insightful)

Eivind (15695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257754)

Agreed, sorta.

Browser-plugins for supporting media-formats have indeed been precisely what you say, a disaster. Java Applet here, Flash-thingie there (version such-and-such required) ActiveX-shit up left, and Shockwave there. Every one of which attempts to do, more or less, the same thing.

Security-holes abound, as do incompatibilities and performance-problems. (hands up everyone who's experienced multi-second browser-freeze, even on modern hardware, because some website is loading some ad that happens to be a flash or java-applet!)

On the other hand, browser-extensions for non-standard behaviour seem to work fine. Stuff like Xmarks, Adblock, various tab-tweaks etc. But these are extensions that are there because the USER has selected to install them, not because the website-developer has decided that you need SpecialPlugin version 7.0.321.9 to seee this page.

I pretty much switched off (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31256910)

after reading DirectX in the title. Why oh why do people insist on using single platform technologies for the web when the web in general is moving in the direction of open technologies?

Re:I pretty much switched off (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257130)

Because the bloated mish-mash of open technologies forever chasing an impossible equilibrium is not something that users want.

Bandwidth is a killer (4, Interesting)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | more than 4 years ago | (#31256924)

3D graphics is bandwidth intensive, especially for textures. 3D accelerated postage stamps just won't be that compelling. Procedural textures are vastly smaller but are rather labour intensive to create. While this is a nice concept it won't be replacing downloaded 3D content anytime soon. I have enough trouble convincing people to wait for a 2MB Java applet that's downloaded once and cached with WebStart.

Re:Bandwidth is a killer.. And latency too (1)

LordAzuzu (1701760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257012)

Here in Italy (at least in South Italy) latencies are very bad. Guess it won't be possible to play FPS easily.
As QuakeLive [http://www.quakelive.com] does, prefetching the game levels makes loading quite fast if you have enough bandwidth, but the latency problem persists.

Re:Bandwidth is a killer.. And latency too (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257078)

Is latency what fucked up your font?

Re:Bandwidth is a killer.. And latency too (3, Funny)

ubersoldat2k7 (1557119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257144)

He's writting in Italian you insensitive clod!

Re:Bandwidth is a killer.. And latency too (2, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257212)

Latency is not an issue for single player games if you're precaching everything.

If your issue is with latency in multiplayer, then you will have the same issues no matter what platform you are using for your gaming.

Re:Bandwidth is a killer.. And latency too (1)

LordAzuzu (1701760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257410)

Well, QuakeLive is a multiplayer FPS, so I guess latency rules. We are talking about online gaming, have you ever played an online fps alone?

Re:Bandwidth is a killer.. And latency too (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257624)

We're just talking about browser based games - that does not automatically imply online multiplayer. And like I said - latency is really not an issue with browser games, it is a connection issue which you'd have no matter what method you are using to play your games.

Re:Bandwidth is a killer (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257028)


Can't textures be cached? What if my OS comes with 200MB of standard texture files? What if I can get a debian package of them and just keep it updated? I don't actually know how large texture files are so I'm genuinely open to persuasion on this. However, if people are willing to accept "you must download Silverlight / Flash / Codec X to play this movie", I can well see them installing a textures file. Even 500MB is insignificant for a lot of users as a one-time download or differential updates. And hard drive space for this is mostly irrelevant.

Re:Bandwidth is a killer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257274)

The problem with this is nobody is going to agree on what "base" textures you should have. Everybody is going to want their own custom textures that are specifically suited to what they need.

Perhaps a better way to do it is to have everything procedurally generated. This way the server just sends you some tiny amount of information with which it can generate high resolution, custom textures and world geometry.

Re:Bandwidth is a killer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257836)

Ok so basically you want to completely download the game, install it and then run it in a browser as if it wasn't a desktop game... with all the limitations of browser... knowing that you've just installed it... as a desktop game... freaky...

Re:Bandwidth is a killer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257242)

Procedural textures are vastly smaller but are rather labour intensive to create

Hey, you never know, it could re-kickstart the "procedural algorithm compiler" thing again, the ultimate goal of compression.
I remember seeing one a few years back, wish i remembered the name of it. All i know is it just crashed when i tried opening an image...
But i doubt this will happen anyway, it would need to be tested in trillions of use cases to make sure it doesn't break.
And internet connections would probably be decent enough by the time it was actually usable...

What will probably happen is LocalStorage is extended upon so that games (and applications) are allowed to download larger chunks of files to client at once.
This will be a user prompt, "This Application requires X MBs of space, Okay, Cancel". (and the usual "download speeds, blah blah 3 million years on 56k")
Currently, the spec only mentions a prompt if the storage is low. (which is set at 5MBs at the moment)

HTML5 Webstorage [w3.org]

Re:Bandwidth is a killer (1)

gizmod (931775) | more than 4 years ago | (#31258132)

What you say about postage sized textures and bandwidth intensity is true. Also you make a good point about convincing people to wait for the plug in to download and all, BUT... I can think of one browser plug in based game that has had fantastic success so far. Take QuakeLive for instance. The only other thing to be said for QL maybe is that Quake was already a popular game to begin with. Will unknown games that are unproven but run with similar plug ins have similar success? Maybe Id Software will sell the plug in architecture in the same way that they license their 3D engines. Maybe they'll open source it altogether. Just a thought.

Linux support? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31256950)

The real advantage of the Web to games is its cross-platform support. Technology that won't work on OSX, Linux, iPhone, Android, Maemo, and the majority of other emerging devices is just wasted effort.

Not convinced (4, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#31256964)

So, it'll be like a normal game, only take ages to load, have terrible performance and be full of interstitial adverts? Though I realise with a lot of games these days those terms are relative.

Re:Not convinced (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257176)

It's not just like a normal game, it _is_ a normal game. This is merely another way of distributing windows binaries.

Re:Not convinced (1)

slart42 (694765) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257238)

Think of it this way:

Once bandwidth is fast enough that you can stream 3d data roughly as fast as computers display them (and it is getting there - some decent caching may also help here), you will be able to have browser games with live updated in-game worlds much huger then feasible through downloaded content.

Check out FusionFall [fusionfall.com] for a browser based 3d MMO based on the Unity plugin, which downloads it's content on the fly as you move through the world. It does take a while to initially load on small connections, but, as I wrote, the tech is getting there.

Re:Not convinced (4, Insightful)

ErroneousBee (611028) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257254)

So, it'll be like a normal game, only take ages to load, have terrible performance and be full of interstitial adverts?

Don't be ridiculous.

It will be a massive security hole too.

Flash Redux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31256970)

No one wants Flash and I suspect no one will want yet another browser plugin. WebGL is a much nicer option:

http://hacks.mozilla.org/2009/09/webgl-for-firefox/ [mozilla.org]
http://hacks.mozilla.org/2009/09/three-more-webgl-demos/ [mozilla.org]
http://hacks.mozilla.org/2009/10/webgl-in-the-wild/ [mozilla.org]
http://hacks.mozilla.org/2009/12/webgl-goes-mobile/ [mozilla.org]
http://hacks.mozilla.org/2009/12/webgl-draft-released-today/ [mozilla.org]

And here's WebGL combined with Theora video to create a 360 degree interactive video:

http://bjartr.blogspot.com/2010/01/long-delayed-webglu-update-some-360.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Flash Redux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257354)

No one wants Flash
lol - talk shit much?

Re:Flash Redux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257400)

Flash is a dying technology. The only ones who can't see that are Flash developers who make their paycheck off of it.

Re:Flash Redux (1)

rugatero (1292060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257740)

Flash is a dying technology. The only ones who can't see that are Flash developers who make their paycheck off of it.

And the people who pay them, one would assume.

Re:Flash Redux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257784)

"Flash" and "developers" in the same sentence? How strange...

Spyware on my GPU (4, Interesting)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257004)

Shaders these days are fully programmable and DirectX allows access to them. I can't see any reason why a shader run off of a webpage couldn't do whatever it wants.
Graphics cards don't have any privilege ring security like x86s do. They simply trust that whatever shader that is sent to run on them is as trusted as the application running on the CPU that sends them the shader.
With this plan your browser will be sending your graphics card shaders to run from whatever website you visit.

Either they are going to have to prune the API down a lot before it is safe (without shaders you may as well be using an earlier version of DirectX), or they are going to have a security nightmare.

Re:Spyware on my GPU (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257070)

It won't be long until all of your specular highlights are replaced with Cialis ads.

Re:Spyware on my GPU (1)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257104)

You've obviously never written any shaders before. Basically, they take a fixed set of inputs and output a fixed set of outputs, there are no system calls, no filesystem access, and no network access. The most malicious thing you could do would be to write an infinite loop in your shader, which wouldn't actually be infinite, because the video card will terminate that shader after not particularly long.

The actual gaping security hole here is that the plugin will thunk to DirectX, which means it's basically just ActiveX all over again.

Re:Spyware on my GPU (2, Interesting)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257324)

I have made DirectX games a long time ago but apart from simple examples i haven't looked into shaders much. I actually had a look just then and you are right. Obviously by design they don't allow any shaders (even the compute shaders) to access memory using pointers. So you can't arbitrarily write to some memory location on the system bus as i feared. It's obvious they wouldn't allow that even on trusted applications as your could break the whole trust system locally even. I feel silly now.

I still have an issue of the DirectX API as a whole running through the browser though.
Let me put it this way; this game API allows you to write a game, get inputs from the user, presumably via DirectX's direct input (it does imply full DirectX11 support in the blurb) and send out network outputs based on those inputs. Now i know for a fact Direct Input is very useful for capturing all keyboard input, if a key is down direct input can record that even if the current application is running in the background. Perfect for a keylogger.
There's so many little things like this they'll have to deal with before exposing the DirectX API to the web.

Re:Spyware on my GPU (1)

slart42 (694765) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257126)

Er, what?

Security is very critical for these kinds of plugins, sure, and focus should be given to the scripting engine they use - but how you plan to write a malicious shader with today's tech is way beyond me. A shader is basically a program which takes some input values, and outputs a vertex position or a pixel color. Now how would a hacker abuse that? Make a shader to output pixels in that evil brown color which makes you shit yourself?

Re:Spyware on my GPU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257310)

Or maybe throw up a parallax mapped, HDR version of the goatse guy. Just look at that depth simulation!

Re:Spyware on my GPU (1)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257376)

It's true that theoretically shaders can't do much, but shader compilers are imperfect, and since GPUs have no hardware memory protection, compiler or driver bugs could easily result in read/write access to arbitrary video memory, allowing a shader to directly read/write the contents of your screen, or corrupt important data structures to exploit the kernel-mode part of the video driver and gain complete system access.

Video drivers are complex and notoriously buggy gobs of code which run partially in kernel mode and were designed for speed, not security. Allowing any random webpage to make DirectX/OpenGL calls directly (even without shaders) is a huge security concern.

Yeah sure... (2, Insightful)

Fotograf (1515543) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257008)

all we need are more applications (yet less those performance demanding) depending on webbrowser. What happened with good old optimized desktop applications? Now even most people dont use the desktop mail client anymore

Re:Yeah sure... (0)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257062)


HTML + CSS make for a lovely and consistent (okay - consistent enough) interface that's easy (okay - easy enough) to develop. Maybe if it were more common to use a HTML renderer outside of the browser and had a nice way of manipulating the DOM other than javacscript, then web apps would be taking less of the local programs' turf. Or maybe there are easy ways to do these things and I just don't know about them.

We may see some come back when SVG gets more integrated into the OS desktop and some tools for this start to become more common. That would open up the look and feel and easy development of web-style apps to the blistering power of local, non-browser based programs. Can you imagine HTML+CSS+SVG running as a local C++ program? Beauty and power in one sleek package. If anyone knows more about things like this, let me know. I'm sure I'm not the first to speculate in this direction.

Re:Yeah sure... (5, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257316)

Can you imagine HTML+CSS+SVG running as a local C++ program? Beauty and power in one sleek package. If anyone knows more about things like this, let me know.

Yeah, C++ programs that run on your machine and render HTML+CSS (and some even SVG) exist. They're called Web Browsers.

Re:Yeah sure... (1)

precariousgray (1663153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31258092)

Where can I download one of these new-fangled "Web Browsers?" I've heard something about this Fox Fire, can you share some more information?

Re:Yeah sure... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257422)

Can you imagine HTML+CSS+SVG running as a local C++ program? Beauty and power in one sleek package. If anyone knows more about things like this, let me know. I'm sure I'm not the first to speculate in this direction.

HTML is interpreted and that's going to slow things down compared to having a compiled local application. You're going to basically need the equivalent resources of a webserver and web browser running on your machine. Besides, your browser is probably already written in C++! So why would you need a separate HTML renderer/framework for doing things.

I think technologies such as Java are a much better (and far more powerful) way of developing cross platform local apps of the form that you are imagining. I say this as someone who thinks that web apps are a great idea for certain applications, and as such I have spent a significant amount of time over the last 3 years building and maintaining some basic web apps (using PERL/SQLite/HTML/JavaScript) for the company I work for. I also maintain a couple of Windows only apps (though now that I think about it, one of these is only for in-house u se and could be a good candidate for turning into a web app as well!). Web apps are now good enough for most "desktop productivity" type applications, but if I was going to write a 3D game any time in the next 5 years, I really doubt that I would be considering a web browser as a platform.

IMO there is nothing particularly beautiful nor powerful about writing web apps (compared to writing local applications at least) apart from the fact that you can instantly update the application without your users having to download a new software client. I do like that a lot. But the hoops you have to jump through to render things the way you want or to function the way you want in a browser is just a PITA.. not to mention sloooow. We're running on multi-core, multi-gigahertz machines, and a local app on my original 5Mhz Amiga 500 could probably outrun a moderately complex web app..!

Re:Yeah sure... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257718)

HTML is interpreted

HTML isn't interpreted, it isn't even executed. It's not a programming language, it's a markup language which describes how to lay out some elements. If you use a GNOME application, then the UI layout is described using a different XML format. On OS X, every UI is stored in a nib file, which contains a serialisation of the objects used to create it. All of these are rendered in roughly the same way; something reads the file, parses it, and then creates a set of objects from the description the file contains. The only difference with HTML is that there are a lot of different programs that can generate roughly the same output from it.

Re:Yeah sure... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257788)

That really depends on your definition of interpret. A browser takes a HTML page and renders it into a different information format, which in my book is interpreting it. It's even analogous to language interpretation since different browsers interpret the HTML slightly differently.

Executing is a level above interpreting. You can interpret programming instructions or any form of instructions (written/verbal language) from one format to another without actually having to execute them.

Re:Yeah sure... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257868)

As for the differences between that and a local application, yes you will still have to read in the layout for any application window, although for local apps the format is usually a lot more flexible than HTML (and I'd say is much more likely to be WYSIWYG than anything that is going to be viewed on multiple browsers). I should have also mentioned that JavaScript is interpreted (even by your definition), and that even now the DOM is slow, messy and underpowered compared to what you can do with most local graphics APIs.

We'd be better off with something that has been designed from the ground up to do cross platform applications, and not something that has been hacked together on top of documents that were originally meant to simply be static pages. I accept that this is the best option we have for now though, and it does work.. in a twisted sort of way.

Not all browser games are ugly and slow. (2, Informative)

incognito84 (903401) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257022)

Not all browser games need to be 2D or an ugly sort of 3D that resembles something from the Nintendo 64 or worse. Here is an example of a 3D, browser-based FPS game that not only runs great (with Firefox) but also looks as good as any other modern FPS title:

http://www.interstellarmarines.com/ [interstellarmarines.com]

Browser games have enormous potential (with the exception of Flash based games).

Re:Not all browser games are ugly and slow. (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257068)

Browser games will have the enormous potential to not run fullscreen and to be able to accidentally click the mouse outside the game area during a crucial moment.

"Gaming" is about more than just having a 3D renderer.

http://xkcd.com/484/ [xkcd.com]

Typing this while waiting for that interstellarmarines game to finish loading level 1. Had time to find the XKCD comic and everything....and am now sat twiddling my thumbs.

Re:Not all browser games are ugly and slow. (1)

incognito84 (903401) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257122)

In reference to the XKCD strip and your assertion about "gaming," I would say that it doesn't have much to do with this article nor my response.

The article concerns graphical capabilities of inbrowser games. Good graphics do not equal good games but they do allow for more creativity by developers which is a good thing. We have all played browser games that have that addictive/simplistic quality lacking in more advanced, demanding games.

The Marine game is a bit bandwidth intensive but I'd imagine it would be much more time consuming if you had to download an installer. Thirty seconds of wait time isn't terrible considering what it is.

Re:Not all browser games are ugly and slow. (1)

slart42 (694765) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257296)

Browser games will have the enormous potential to not run fullscreen and to be able to accidentally click the mouse outside the game area during a crucial moment.

In this particular game, you just right click -> "Go To Fullscreen". Voilà.

Re: right click - "Go To Fullscreen". Voilà. (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257472)

Yep, that works...until the mouse accidentally strays onto the second monitor and you click there...ooops!

Re: right click - "Go To Fullscreen". Voilà. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257806)

so you've found a bug. How is that relevant?

DirectX 11? DOA already I think (2, Insightful)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257066)

Unless I missed it, I'm pretty sure DirectX is Windows only. So that means any web game/app that is written in it would have to have be made for either Windows Vista or 7 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DirectX [wikipedia.org] ) as those are the only 2 OS's that support it. It also means that any and all OSX and Linux boxes wouldn't be able to use these browser games/apps. This type of problem has already caused strains with Flash not being better supported on those OS's, now we'll have a worse issue with this. Yeah, don't see it happening just for this issue alone.

Re:DirectX 11? DOA already I think (2, Insightful)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257132)

Windows is already the predominant gaming OS for PCs; those who get a Mac or Linux implicitly acknowledge from the beginning that very few games are released for their platform and a lot of Windows games won't ever really work, or get ported. As for the WDDM requirement (NT6 or higher), while it's true that there are still a lot of outdated Windows systems out there, Win7 adoption is picking up speed. By the time this capability is available, there will be a lot more DX11-capable boxes than there are now, and I'd argue that even now it's a worthwhile target.

Look at it this way: How many iPhone users are there? Lots, sure... but a drop in the bucket compared to the number of Windows users. Now consider how many simple, often pointless, and usually cheap or free games exist for the iPhone. With even crappy Intel Integrated graphics offering (slow) DX11, there's plenty of market for this kind of thing in the next few years.

Re:DirectX 11? DOA already I think (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257218)

DirectX is indeed Windows only, and in particular 11 is Vista and 7 only, which is ridiculous.

So not only all Macs and Linux boxes couldn't play these games, but all XP boxes too.

Sorry, I just don't see Dx11 becoming huge in browsers.

Unity anyone.. (2, Informative)

uberchicken (121048) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257072)

I thought Unity was going to be the One True Plugin for all platforms, and that games shops would focus there. I'm so naive.

A lot of engines are going down this road (2, Interesting)

pmfa (842853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257320)

The Panda 3d engine has a BSD license, and you use python to develop the games. They recently released a browser plugin too [panda3d.org] . Their runtime works in Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and of course the iPhone.

This is the way to go, to get the most platforms covered as possible. Everyone is drooling about their new iPhone/iPad or Android phone or whatever. Mobile is not the next big thing, it's the big thing right now. With a Direct X 11 browser plugin you're achieving very little, what's the use? Halo, the Internet Explorer edition?

Re:A lot of engines are going down this road (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257720)

Aside from Panda 3D, there is also the open source Intensity Engine [syntensity.com] , which is making good progress on a browser plugin [blogspot.com] .

The Intensity Engine actually scripts games using JavaScript, so it kind of makes more sense in a browser context. For example, due to using JavaScript, it has proper sandboxing for games, so you can run untrusted game content without risk - whereas Panda 3D, which uses Python, doesn't have that (Python is notoriously hard to sandbox), so users need to click to run untrusted content (and take the risks upon themselves).

But, bottom line, it is good we have open source (and cross-platform) alternatives to proprietary browser plugins for 3D games. Both Panda 3D and the Intensity Engine are much better than Vision Engine, Unity 3D, etc.

Quakelive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257102)

This reminds me of Quakelive.
It's a great idea on paper, but usualy DRM/anti-cheats come to play.

Look at QL, you can't just login and play, you need to install a plugin. And then you need admin rights (atleast on windows) so the plugin could install the DRM/Anti-cheat crapware.

Re:Quakelive (1)

teuluPaul (731293) | more than 4 years ago | (#31258076)

I loaded the QuakeLive plugin on Linux under firefox. Works great - no issues with latency or display fps. Very playable, IMHO.

A plugin ? yack. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257118)

Why would I want to install another plugin with security holes etc ?
Will it work with Safari on Mac OS ? iPhone OS ? How about LKinux and Firefox ?

Use HTML 5 instead of creating a new flash.

Cloud computing (1)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257128)

This may be the start of a major war to lock customers into DirectX.

Although I hate Flash, I would still rather have an open standard than replacing it with DirectX. At least Flash works on most of the platforms ...

I am surprised that such a move is not coming rather from a company involved in either graphics or cloud computing. The next step after putting DirectX in your browser is to move the complex and hardware intensive computations on a server and charge people on a monthly basis to access the games. This would solve piracy by requiring you to sign in to play a game !

Re:Cloud computing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257164)

This may be the start of a major war to lock customers into DirectX.

I'm glad I stuck with 3DFX Glide for all these years. I don't have to worry about DirectX, or even updating my card! As long as the game is older than 1997 I'll be fine.

I'm so lonely...

Re:Cloud computing (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257346)

The next step after putting DirectX in your browser is to move the complex and hardware intensive computations on a server and charge people on a monthly basis to access the games. This would solve piracy by requiring you to sign in to play a game !

And require a pretty beefy server with lots of bandwidth. In other words, it's expensive.

OpenGL (4, Insightful)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257184)

What made someone who made a browser plugin for the web even THINK about DirectX 11? How is that possible? How can someone create something for the web and choose a Windows-only technology instead of OpenGL?

Re:OpenGL (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257482)

How can someone create something for the web and choose a Windows-only technology instead of OpenGL?

Because Windows is the dominant PC gaming platform? Because the move to Win 7 is already well-advanced? Windows usage on Steam [arstechnica.com]

Re:OpenGL (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257802)

http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey [steampowered.com]

I see your dubious statistics and replace them with the *updated* statistics which are referenced in the article you posted itself (i.e. the Jan 2010 steam hardware survey). As of this minute, it paints a slightly different picture, but pretty much the same (i.e Windows 7 is still losing out to XP - a nine-year-old OS - despite being force-bundled with every machine sold in the last six months... and Vista didn't get that much of a shoe in the door even with its three-year headstart):

Your article: XP 42.78%, Vista 27.91%, Win7 28.53%
Actual hardware survey now:
Windows XP 32 bit 43.81%
Windows 7 64 bit 19.04%
Windows Vista 32 bit 18.39%
Windows 7 9.76%
Windows Vista 64 bit 7.75%
Windows XP 64 bit 0.51%

But also, you're basing that data on the Steam survey. I hereby bring up the fact that Steam only officially runs on Windows anyway (therefore biased) and that even when run through Wine, it appears as "Windows" on their hardware surveys. Steam is a Gold-app on Wine, and most of the Gold/Platinum apps are games, a lot of them Steam games - that amount of development effort isn't done for nothing or because "nobody" plays them using Wine.

Also, the latest games released through Steam produce "spikes" of gameplay on them that disappear over time... if those games *demand* Windows 7 / Vista, then the spike will translate into the hardware survey for that month, but next month will be a different story (the last few times I've looked, Call of Duty 2 was mostly losing out to the *original* Counterstrike in player-minutes, but the situation flip-flopped repeatedly as time went on. Both run on XP but there are other, more recent, games that don't and affect the statistics.) I'd also be interested to see stats on virtualisation, "Windows XP Mode" etc. because that would be interesting too.

I'm not saying that Windows isn't the dominant gaming platform, or that Windows 7 isn't "selling" well, I just hate biased statistics. It's like people who say "Well, no-one uses Opera to visit our website anyway, so it's not worth making it work in Opera..." I just want to slap them.

Re:OpenGL (2, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257486)

How could anybody possibly think of using Flash?? It doesn't run everywhere!

Oh wait, the web is *full* of flash pages - we even have extensions to block it because we're sick to the teeth of it.

Re:OpenGL (1)

dandart (1274360) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257628)

Hey at least Flash is platform independent, and where it isn't, we have Gnash and SWFDec.

Re:OpenGL (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257758)

Flash doesn't run everywhere, but it runs on a lot of devices. My mobile phone, my Mac laptop and my FreeBSD (x86) machine can all run Flash. My SPARC64 machine can't, but that's about it. You're also excluding the iPhone, but only from web delivery (you can package Flash games up as iPhone apps and offer them through the app store).

In contrast, DirectX 11 doesn't run on any mobile devices, any non-Windows platforms, or any versions of Windows older than Vista. Windows XP apparently still has around 40-60% of the Windows market, depending on which statistics you read. Windows has 80-90% of the desktop market. Platforms that don't support DirectX 11 but do run web browsers outnumber platforms that do support DirectX 11 but run web browsers. There are far fewer platforms that run web browsers but don't support flash.

Re:OpenGL (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257884)

It worked for WildTangent... which turned out to be spyware. They interfaced to Direct3D as well. They were windows-only as well. A lot of people paid them for their technology and used it to make all kinds of crappy 3d games in a browser. When that turned out to be profitless people stopped and as far as I know it's been relegated to making crapware games packaged by Gateway and others with new PC installs... just one more piece of spyware in their crapflood. There's no particular reason to believe that this will turn out any different.

Meet next generation, same as previous generation (1)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257200)

Forget Farmville, Flash puzzlers and 8-bit home computer emulators. The next generation of browser games will be able to take advantage of DirectX 11 effects, not to mention multi-core processing and both Havok and PhysX physics effects.

Why does this sound familiar. Maybe because it reminds me of Macromedia Shockwave, the browser plugin from the 90-s. With OpenGL, Direct3D support and Havok for physics effects. Yet today we still play Farmville and Flash puzzlers, some of which make millions of dollars per month for their makers.

Every year another naive startup announces the next generation of gaming on the web. History is full of 3D plugins that failed to gain much traction beyond a small niche of devoted users.

The fact is browser experience should be light, compatible and ubiquitious among a range of devices, and Flash/Silverlight is already pushing the limits of what is practical in a browser plugin. If your app will be big, resource-hungry and platform-specific, then offline applications simply work better.

3D does not necessarily mean better games (1)

femtofarads (829796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257244)

The poster either doesn't know jack about the gaming ecosystem or is an employee of the so called plugin developing company. Its not 2D v/s 3D, its good game v/s lousy game. Its all about the gameplay! Unfortunately, a lot of people naively associate 3D with better gaming experience. See what happened to Sony who tried to go for killer graphics capability on the PS3 v/s Nintendo who didn't care much for the latest greatest graphics capability, but instead went for the user experience. In addition, the so called "Flash puzzlers" have a fast turn around development cycle, cost way less than 3D game development, are ultra-lite, and therefore have much better economic viability. (Even if your game flops, you don't end up losing a LOT). In short, NO, nobody is going to forget about the Flash puzzlers as the poster proclaims.

...is an employee of the company (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257502)

I'm going for the latter.

Plenty of 3D plugins have come and gone over the years. There's obviously no real demand, DX11 or otherwise.

PS: Why would DX11 be more compelling than (eg.) DX9?

MS only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257290)

Some one is thrilled whit the idea of making internet MS only!?

Uh... excuse me? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257326)

"... limited bandwidth will also limit what effects a developer can realistically implement into a browser game."

Why does OP claim this? Remember: browsers can also work with local resources. So maybe it could be used like other engines, such as in Everquest II. Sure, you are interacting online... but most of your graphic object definitions are local; there is no "bandwidth limitation" there. Same with some FPS games. Almost all the graphic resources are local, and the only "bandwidth" issue is the amount of interaction information that can go over the net.

Somebody will figure that out, if they haven't already. And there goes that bandwidth limitation. Bye bye.

Re:Uh... excuse me? (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257348)

Hint:
"Browser Game" implies a game that is started by visiting a web page.
No local installation existing before.

Otherwise it would be pointless.... if you already have it installed locally, why not just run an executable?

Re:Uh... excuse me? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257474)

Says who?

I think you missed the point of my post. Especially with DirectX11 supported in the browsers, there is no longer any reason for a "browser game" to be something you play on a remote website. In fact, that would be the worst possible utilization of hardware, software, and bandwidth. The paradigm will change. Sure... you might START a game by visiting a website (but even that would be redundant), but usually there would be no need.

"Otherwise it would be pointless.... if you already have it installed locally, why not just run an executable?"

I am amazed that you even wrote that. Uh... guess what? The POINT would be that you don't have to write your own graphics engine... by far the hardest part of doing most games. Duh.

Re:Uh... excuse me? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257488)

Correction: I mean that you would only have to use one graphics engine for all platforms. And, to be honest, I bet an open-source engine would come along soon.

I could be wrong. That could have been done already with OpenGL.

Re:Uh... excuse me? (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257606)

"Browser Game" implies a game that is started by visiting a web page.
No local installation existing before.

True, but even Flash objects are cached by browsers (assuming you don't disable the caching). I don't see any reason why this wouldn't load and cache resources on demand (or slightly ahead of demand); there would be a start-up hit, but that's pretty-much inevitable anyway.

What could... (1)

hoover (3292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257330)

Where's the whatcouldpossiblygowrong tag when you need it?

Far from the first ones to do this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31257440)

Such 3D plugins have existed for ages. There was Virtools, now Unity... nothing new here.

Bandwith? maybe not a problem... (1)

cbuosi (1492959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257746)

The bandwith used in 3D games would be mainly for its texture as the game logic and models arent so big. Procedural texture could be used, see www.theprodukkt.com/kkrieger for an idea.

WTF? (4, Funny)

muffen (321442) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257984)

Forget Farmville

...and start working when I'm at work??

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