We have always been impressed how fast the web platform is improving, and as an example of this it's interesting to review some of the HTML5 gaming improvements that have come about through 2014.
On the browser and OS side, through 2014 there have been:
- 8 updates of Chrome (v32-v39)
- 8 updates of Firefox (v27-v34)
- One update of Safari and iOS (v8) and OS X (Yosemite)
- One update to Windows Phone (v8.1), bringing Windows 8.1-like updates to Windows Phone 8, including mobile IE11
- One update of Android (v5, Lollipop)
There were no major updates of IE (except for a few improvents shipped via Windows Update, which AFAIK don't add any new APIs), and no major Windows updates in 2014, although it looks like Microsoft may be moving to a rapid release cycle with IE12 - and possibly even Windows 10 - in 2015.
Notable improvements from this year's updates include:
- Safari 8 on iOS 8 and OS X now supports WebGL providing a big performance boost for C2 games
- IE11 on Windows Phone 8.1 now also supports WebGL
- In Android 5, the built-in web view control (that runs apps in wrappers like PhoneGap) now supports WebGL, Web Audio, and is able to auto-update without an OS update
- A 64-bit version of Chrome became available for Windows and Mac. A 64-bit version of Firefox for Windows is also in the works and you can try it with Firefox Nightly.
- Chrome is advancing with a plan to deprecate and remove support for browser plugins using the old Netscape-era NPAPI model, including Silverlight, Java, and the Unity Web Player. This should encourage further HTML5 adoption. Of course C2 games are unaffected since we never relied on any browser plugins at all!
Other new features and improvements that came in 2014 include:
- Gamepad support in Firefox 29+
- Better web app support with Web App Manifests and 'Add to home screen' in mobile browsers
- Speech synthesis API (text-to-speech) in Chrome 33+
- Screen Orientation API (lock the screen orientation) in Chrome for Android 38+
- Vibration API (vibrate the phone) in Firefox and Chrome 32+
- Many more behind-the-scenes improvements like DirectWrite in Chrome for Windows for better quality text rendering, and D3D11 support in Firefox
We made a lot of updates to Construct 2 through 2014 as well, from r156 in January to r192 in December - a total of 42 updates! This also covered:
- Support for making multiplayer games in Construct 2 powered by WebRTC
- Publishing to the Wii U using the Nintendo Web Framework
- Real-time shadow casting effects with the Shadow light object
- Support for video playback
- New form controls including slider bar, progress bar and file chooser
- Significant improvements to Cordova/PhoneGap export for mobile, as well as a lot of improvements to Crosswalk
- New monetisation features including AdMob, pubCenter and iAd
- New editor features including global layers, improved autocomplete and more
- Performance improvements including collision cells, render cells, separate data.js file, more efficient parameter evaluation, and many more smaller improvements
- Display quality improvements such as seamless tilemap rendering, spritesheet padding and downscaling quality customisation
- And much more!
We're keen to see how the web platform developers even further through 2015, and we're sure there'll be plenty more to talk about. Happy new year!