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What you should learn from HTML5 without using HTML5

By on October 22, 2012

Last week I was at the HTML5 developer conference. A dark shadow hung over the entire event, and Mark Zuckerberg’s words could be heard echoing through every presentation: “our biggest mistake was betting on HTML5.”

Predictably then, a major theme of the conference was what’s wrong with HTML5 and how to live with its gaping flaws. A wide variety of solutions, tools and services were promoted to help developers to work with this struggling standard, but even after Ludei’s games-focused talk, the outlook for game developers on HTML5 seemed bleak to me. With very little support for WebGL and serious latency issues, HTML5 gaming is a long way off.

There was a little light at the end of the tunnel. CSS3 has opened up possibilities for adaptive, responsive design with fluid grid systems. This means Pinterest-style sites and web apps that intuitively adapt to the resolution and aspect ratio of any device. It means instead of designing one mobile version and one desktop version of a site, leaving tablet and netbook users lost in the middle, web designers are instead creating systems that accommodate any form factor.

As Android becomes an ever more important platform for game developers, form factor fragmentation across the plethora of Android devices is becoming an ever more pressing concern. Fluid grid systems may, for some games, be an exciting answer to an expensive design problem.

Does this mean that HTML5 games are a good idea right now? Probably not – but it does indicate that HTML5-focused devs have some exciting nuggets of design advice to share for cross-platform game design.

About Zoya Street

I’m responsible for all written content on the site. As a freelance journalist and historian, I write widely on how game design and development have changed in the past, how they will change in the future, and how that relates to society and culture as a whole. I’m working on a crowdfunded book about the Dreamcast, in which I treat three of the game-worlds it hosted as historical places. I also write at and The Borderhouse.