Google, Mozilla want to turbocharge 3D games in your browser


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The Mozilla Foundation introduced a technology this week that it claims will allow game makers to supercharge the performance of their wares in a Web browser.

The technology is a highly-optimized version of JavaScript, called asm.js, that Mozilla says will turbo charge a developer's code in a browser and enable them to deliver visually compelling 3D games on the Web.

The technology also opens the door for developers to bring 3D games to browsers on mobile devices that perform almost as well as those written in a programming language, the company wrote on The Mozilla Blog.

Mozilla added that it is working with gaming heavyweights Disney, EA, and Zeptolab to bring versions of those players' Web games to mobile in an optimized form.

In conjunction with the turbo JavaScript announcement. Mozilla said it's teaming up with Epic Games to bring that company's Unreal Engine 3 to the Web.

Mozilla hard at work

Mozilla has been working diligently to prove that the Web can be a dazzling platform for 3D games. For example, with the release of Firefox 18 in January, the foundation introduced BananaBread, a 3D Web game with a bundle of leading edge Web technologies under the hood—HTML5, WebGL, and asm.js.

Meanwhile, a Google programmer hopped on the asm.js bandwagon, maintaining the technology ought to be supported by the V8 JavaScript engine in the Chrome browser.

"Optimizations should be added to V8 to generate good code for the asm.js subset of JavaScript," Kenneth Russell wrote in a Chrome issues posting.

"The implementation cost should be small compared to the potential upside—the ability to run significant existing code bases with close to the speed of C inside the JavaScript engine," he wrote.

If Google gets onboard with asm.js—even though the technology may compete with some of the Search Giant's initiatives in the space, such as Native Client and Portable Native Client—it would be very significant for developers.

What will make browsers viable for 3D games

In order for Web browsers to become a viable platform for high-performance 3D games, technologies that allow them to do that must be adopted by all the major browser makers. Otherwise, developers will be stuck making games for individual browsers—not an attractive proposition for them.

It remains to be seen, however, if Google will follow the advice of Russell. Mozilla's asm.js promises to perpetuate the life of JavaScript, something Google would clearly like to see go away, as its efforts to popularize a technology called Dart indicates.

Dart, introduced more than a year ago, is a Web programming language designed to address the shortcomings of JavaScript and eventually replace it.

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