[Public WebGL] 3D Game Platform for the Open Web?

Chris Marrin [email protected]
Tue Jan 26 15:23:57 PST 2010

On Jan 26, 2010, at 12:46 AM, Kripken wrote:

> ...
> Ok, back to the subject at hand: While we have some open solutions for 3D on the web like WebGL and O3D, they are not complete game engines. I don't think they are suitable for the kind of content I am talking about here (but please correct me if I am wrong!), which is games with full multiplayer support, physics and complicated world geometry, AI, etc., like FPS games and so forth. Some of that stuff might be added to WebGL and/or O3D using JavaScript. However, many games are too computationally intensive, even with the best JavaScript engines out there. So, I believe that we need a native code game engine for the web, for the other intensive computations game engines need aside from rendering.
> I am therefore asking for feedback about this topic in general, and specifically about using the Intensity Engine for that purpose - it's open source, and I believe it fulfills the necessary requirements (see below for technical details about it). So, to make it relevant for the web, I am considering some options:

I think it would be a mistake to try to back port an existing native engine to WebGL. This is a personal opinion, but its based on a lot of code I have seen out there today. You mention all the different sources you've mined for the various capabilities of your engine, and that's a great feature of Open Source. But much of the legacy OpenGL I've seen out there is very heavily designed for desktop, often fixed function, OpenGL pipelines. You could port all that code to WebGL by hand (difficult) or by using shims to adapt the desktop OpenGL constructs to WebGL. But the result would be inefficient in a part of the code where efficiency is really crucial.

In the coming months and years we'll see many libraries being written on top of WebGL. Some will be ports from older systems, but I think the best will be new libraries written from scratch designed specifically for WebGL and the other technologies that are available in a web browser. If you were designing an engine and had Web Workers available, how would you use them so you could take advantage of multiple processors? How much work that you now do in the CPU could you offload to the GPU if you had shaders available? How would FBOs help you improve performance, and could you arrange your VBOs to maximize triangles rendered and minimize rendering calls?

We will no doubt hit a wall at some point with JavaScript performance limitations. But it's not a straight "JavaScript runs n times slower than the native CPU and therefore a game will be n times slower" relationship. And as these new libraries are written we will find out where the real bottlenecks are and improve on them in future revisions. But first we have to get the libraries written.

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