HTML5: The new gaming platform

For many years HTML has simply been a way of marking up bits of text and images so that they are displayed attractively on the Internet. Now there is HTML5 and the long-standing mark-up language is no longer just about building websites.

With the new capabilities of HTML5, combined with some scripting, it is now possible to create anything from basic applications to full-fledged games that would otherwise have required Flash technology to work. As is so often the case, the boundaries of HTML5 are now being pushed by game makers that are exploiting every possible option in HTML5 to turn out impressive showcases for the new mark-up language. We look at a few of the better games on offer. Most of these will work across platforms but in some cases there may be some incompatibilities.

Pirates love Daisies

If you want an example of exactly what can be done with HTML5 then this is one of the better places to start. Pirates love Daisies was developed by Grant Skinner for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer team and, although he is best known for his Flash work, Skinner has turned out an impressive game. The game is beautifully illustrated but resource intensive and load times can take forever. Because it was developed for the Internet Explorer team at Microsoft it apparently works best on IE9 (we haven’t tried this) but it can be run on most other platforms. It’s a basic tower defence game and while a bit too resource intensive to be totally absorbing it stands out as one of the better examples of what could be possible in future.

Pirates Love Daisies

VII

Less demanding resource wise is VII, a physics-based puzzle game. Black and white graphics are the backdrop for a game in which you wake up in a laboratory and start a mission to regain your superpowers. The illustration has a peculiar appeal and while the gameplay can be a bit sluggish it has the potential to be an absorbing game.

VII

Sinuous

Sinuous is one of those amazing games in which the idea is simple but the just-one-more-go factor is very high. A bit like the classic snake game, you have to weave your way in between a galaxy full of on-coming red dots, all the time trying to catch an aqua-blue dot to gain a little extra invincibility. There are no fancy graphics, although a suitably galaxy-like soundtrack is included, but the game is addictive.

Sinuous

Brain Snackers

Another game from Matt Pelham; Brain Snackers is an isometric game which sees you waking up in a locked room. Using basic commands you can walk around, find hidden objects, discover new places and, perhaps most importantly, fight zombies. It’s rough and feels a little clumsy at first but when you finally get beyond the first room it starts to make sense.

Brain Snackers

Quake II

Who hasn’t heard of Quake? This popular game now has an HTML5 version, thanks to the efforts of some inspired Google employees. It’s mostly experimental and does need to be built on the local machine before being played, which means its not really ready for prime time play, but if you’re an enthusiast and keen to see what can really be done with HTML5-based games, then it’s probably worth the time.

All of these games will run on most browser platforms although some prefer one browser over all others. In general, Google’s Chrome was the best for playing any of these.

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HTML5: The new gaming platform