Epic Games and Mozilla have teamed up to provide us with a first glimpse at Unreal Engine 4 running entirely through the humble Firefox browser, with some pretty impressive results.
Previous stabs at browser gaming have been limited to such luminaries as Bejeweled, Solitaire and the inimitable Baseball Cap Chic. Epic have upped the game considerably now though, revealing a video of their Soul and Swing Ninja demos running in Firefox at nearly native speeds…
No plugins have been used whatsoever to achieve this feat, just a plain old vanilla web browser. As showcase for the power of the web as a platform for gaming it’s certainly an impressive one, and while there’s clearly some work to do on the frame rates it certainly looks like a seismic shift forwards.
“This technology has reached a point where games users can jump into via a Web link are now almost indistinguishable from ones they might have had to wait to download and install,” said Brendan Eich, CTO and SVP of engineering at Mozilla. “Using Emscripten to cross-compile C and C++ into asm.js, developers can run their games at near-native speeds, so they can approach the Web as they would any other platform.”
"We were blown away by what this Mozilla-pioneered technology achieved with Unreal Engine 3 on the Web, so we had no hesitation in working with Mozilla to port Unreal Engine 4," said Epic Games' Tim Sweeney. "We believe the Web has a crucial part to play in the future of game development and deployment, and Mozilla has proven it is the catalyst to make this happen."
In this instance the actual video processing is done on the client side, so you would in fact need a decent system and graphics card to get it running. One of the main benefits to technology such as this it the speed with which you could theoretically play a game. A quick click of a button and you could be straight into a playable demo, or playing World of Warcraft just by visiting the website. This rapid and portable approach means that gamers could login and play a game from anywhere, without any client side files.
What do you make of this latest tech leap from Epic and Mozilla?
Do you think browsers really have the potential to take off as a gaming format?
Let us know below!