We've blogged about graphics card drivers before, but there is still the practical problem that many people have out of date graphics card drivers and probably aren't aware of it. In Construct 2 r80 we've added driver checking in the editor to notify users if they have old drivers. However, it's still a problem for HTML5 gamers: browsers blacklist old, buggy drivers to prevent people's computers crashing as they browse the web, usually reverting to slower software rendering and an inferior game experience. In many cases the problem can be fixed by updating the graphics card driver - but how many ordinary users know how to do that, or even know what their graphics card is?
We've created the Graphics Driver Updater utility to try to help fix this problem.
This is a really simple tool to help ordinary users update their drivers. It may seem a bit patronising to technical folk, but it's designed for people who have never heard of a graphics card.
If you are distributing your HTML5 games and some players complain of poor performance, send them to this tool. Hopefully it makes it straightforward for them to update their drivers. Then the browser should see their driver is up to date, and turn on hardware acceleration. The game should then run a lot faster, improving the gameplay experience.
The fact this problem exists is not HTML5's fault: as our earlier blog post notes, graphics card makers have gotten away with murder making crappy drivers for years. Only recently have web browsers started using hardware acceleration, which creates a real need for reliable drivers. The drivers should have been reliable in the first place, but graphics card makers and those involved in distributing driver updates have been irresponsible. Hopefully this tool provides a temporary solution while the bigger players get their act together. The fact some people have paid good money for a graphics card which then remains unused because the driver is out of date is pretty embarrassing.
Interestingly, this problem is pretty much exclusive to Windows desktop systems. Since Macs, phones and tablets tend to have much more controlled hardware setups it's much simpler to keep drivers up to date. Generally these systems can always use hardware acceleration, providing the browser supports it. It's only due to the myriad manufacturers and vendors involved in putting your Windows PC together and selling it to you that creates the driver problem. So the fact the tool is Windows-only should not be a limitation - it's quite appropriate.
The tool is unbranded, open-source (BSD license) and we're happy for anyone to use it anywhere for any reason uncredited. Getting all Windows users on their latest graphics card drivers benefits everyone, so we'd actually be really happy if other developers or toolmakers started using or recommending it.
The tool can be downloaded here: http://www.scirra.com/graphics-driver-updater.zip. We're happy for any Construct 2 users to link to this directly for their player's benefit, but for bandwidth reasons we would ask others host it themselves.