Singapore’s NonStop Games offers glimpse of future with HTML5 game Dollar Isle
February 9, 2012 by Terence LEE
Depending on who you ask, HTML5 is the future of mobile apps. Juha Paananen, founder and CEO of GamesMadeMe (update: it’s now called NonStop Games), a Finland and Singapore-based games studio, certainly believes it.
It is a CityVille-like game that puts you in charge of creating your own city from the ground up. As you complete more goals, you unlock more buildings and plots of land where you can expand your city. You can even decide if you want to pursue the evil industrialist path or the earth-loving, eco-city one.
You will even get a custom URL for your own city (mine’s here, although it’s not exactly a metropolis).
The advantage of web apps made with HTML5 is that you can access it from any device, and it would look and feel exactly the same — as far as screen estate allows it. There’s no need to install any apps either, which could iPhone users the hassle of needing to search for a WiFi connection to download large apps (a restriction I find annoying).
From a developer’s point of view, coding in HTML5 is a time and cost saving measure since there’s no need to learn the programming languages that different platforms like iOS, Android, and Windows Phone use.
In the past year, the development of web apps using HTML5 has been gaining steam, with Facebook coming on board as a prominent backer.
“The browser will become the dominant platform on desktop and mobile and people will start to expect that they can play the same game and be part of the same experience on all devices…most games of the future will be designed so that you can access them from anywhere,” said Juha via email.
While it is plausible in the near future for developers to abandon the native app route in favor of sophisticated web apps, there are several roadblocks, especially when it comes to creating mobile games.
Web apps, for now, do not have the ability to take advantage of a phone’s features, like the camera, GPS, NFC, push notifications or accelerometer, the way native apps can. Which means web apps will always be a step behind the cutting-edge.
Graphics performance on native apps is still way ahead of web apps, which is why Facebook, although a firm believer of HTML5, has not stuck solely to a web app.
This speed gap is noticeable when I played Dollar Isle on my iPhone — the game stuttered at certain instances (Update: Juha pointed out that the iPhone 4 and 4S face certain browser performance issues. The game works much faster on the iPad, and with hardware accelerated graphics coming to mobile browsers soon, he expects great improvements in the next 12 months.)
This means that developers who are delivering apps or games with intense graphics should stick to native apps for now.
Nevertheless, GamesMadeMe is sticking to its guns, betting that the technology will mature and more mobile users will flock to the open pastures of web apps.
With HTML5-related technology evolving so rapidly, who knows what might happen one year from now?
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About The Author
Terence LEE - Editor
Terence writes mainly about technology trends and startups in Asia. He believes in crafting smart content: Not just a regurgitation of text, but well thought-out pieces that serve the reader using a combination of data, design, narratives, analysis, and visual impact. His articles have been published on Venturebeat, Yahoo!, Straits Times, Today, and The Online Citizen. He also co-founded NewNation.sg, a satirical news site covering Singapore affairs. Engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Terence LEE