Facebook bigs up the impact of HTML5 and WebGL for the future of browser gaming

Get your 3D graphics hardware accelerated

Facebook bigs up the impact of HTML5 and WebGL for the future of browser gaming
| WebGL

We've heard a lot recently about emerging web standard HMTL5 and how it could enable web games in browsers, but now Facebook coder Bruce Rogers has upped the ante with his talk of WebGL.

It's another emerging industry standard, and one that will enable web browsers to run 3D graphics using your computer's, smartphone's or tablet's graphics processor.

Obviously, that's a big deal for Facebook as it means developers will be able to move from vector-style FarmVille 2D graphics to more complex and immersive games, without the need for any plug-ins.

Complex calculations

WebGL is already available for desktop computers using the latest beta versions of browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Opera. Microsoft doesn't yet support it within Internet Explorer for various political reasons.

Rogers has been running tests as part of the JSGameBench tool, and reckons developers should expect to see at least a four-fold performance increase using WebGL, although somewhat confusing at the moment he's currently using it to render sprites not 3D content.

"Chrome 11 on our OS X test machine blew us away, as more than 4,000 sprites simply floods the page," he says.

Make me portable

As for mobile gaming, WebGL remains a little further off.

At present, the only browser to support it is the Firefox Mobile Beta, but more will certainly come as Google, Mozilla, Apple and Opera are committed to supporting the technology.

And certainly, it will be interesting to see the impact on apps, app stores and business models as such technology rolls out, enabling 3D games to run in a mobile browser rather than being installed.

To find out more, check out Rogers' excellent blogpost, or if you're going to GDC, you can attend the Emerging Technologies Review on Tuesday 1 March at 3pm, which will discuss all things HTML5 and WebGL.

[source: Facebook developers]