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See Epic's Unreal Engine 3 running in HTML5
See Epic's Unreal Engine 3 running in HTML5
May 2, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

May 2, 2013 | By Kris Ligman
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    22 comments
More: Console/PC, Programming



Unreal Engine 3-powered, HTML5-ready demo game Epic Citadel is now open to the public from Epic Games' website.

The demo is designed to work within any standards-based browser implementing HTML5, WebGL and Javascript, such as Firefox. It does not require further plugins or components. Epic Games designed the demo to show off the capabilities of the Unreal Engine using web-standard technologies.

"With Mozilla's latest innovations in JavaScript, game developers and publishers can now take advantage of fast performance that rivals native while leveraging scale of the Web, without the additional costs associated with third-party plugins," says Mozilla. "This allows [developers] to distribute visually stunning and performance intensive games to billions of people more easily and cost effectively than before."

The collaboration between Mozilla and Epic succeeded in porting Unreal Engine 3 to Web in four days, using C++-accessible tool Emscripten and the Mozilla-backed JavaScript subset asm.js. The Epic Citadel demo also ships with Epic's free Unreal Development Kit.

In addition to the HTML5 version, Epic Citadel is also available for iOS and Android. You can learn more at the studio's website.


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Comments


Rodolfo Ruiz
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"In addition to the HTML5 version, Epic Citadel is also available for iOS and Android", and Flash.

"It does not require further plugins or components." no, but it requires that you install and use a specific browser instead of letting you use your favourite which is worse, just saying.

Jonathan Ghazarian
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I believe you are misinterpreting this. The demo is based on open web standards. It's still very early, so there are issues with certain browsers, and the asm.js tech that it uses is still being worked on. It does not require asm.js, it just makes it faster. The idea here is that most browsers, if not all(there is proof that MS is at least testing WebGL in IE) will be able to support this soon enough using only open standards.

Yiannis Koumoutzelis
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Then why it doesn't run on Chrome?

scott anderson
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From the FAQ: "- Chrome currently crashes, but is expected to be resolved by the Chrome team soon."

Jonathan Ghazarian
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As Scott pointed out, this is an early demo that was built in a very short amount of time. It utilizes very new standards, so it's not fully supported by all browsers, but it will in due time.

David Gillen
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It uses a technology simply called ASM.JS this basically allows a portion of the javascript library to be compiled down to a much lower level language to get nearer native speeds out of it. This is not "better javascript" this is a whole new compiler and separate 'language' at run time. The reason chrome doesn't support it is because Mozilla spear-headed this. Personally I'm not fond of how little of javascript actually compiles down to asm.js but it's definitely a performance increase and enough to do a 3D graphics engine.

Duong Nguyen
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Lol they are gonna let you run raw asm instruction in javascript? Didn't they already try that experiment with ActiveX and the disaster that results. Whatever the javascript team comes up to sandbox it will be defeated, it will serve as a major vector for virus and trojans, compromising any browser which enables it, but maybe i'm just cynical :)

Jonathan Ghazarian
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Duong, asm.js is just the name of the project. It's actually just a subset of javascript. It's not actually assembly. It runs completely useable javascript, but a browser that runs the asm.js standard is able to run it faster.

Tom Hughes
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What happened to the "WebGL security threat" stuff that seemed to be around a year ago? Have modern browsers worked out safe sandboxing?

Jonathan Ghazarian
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A lot of that was Microsoft doing some grandstanding. It was basically the same as any other browser security threat. There was an issue that had to be worked out with time. A leaked build of IE even shows that Microsoft is working on support for WebGL, so it's becoming fairly pervasive.

Jacek Wesolowski
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The performance is not there, but that's hopefully just a matter of time. The demo works, and that's pretty impressive.

Benjamin Quintero
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Using Firefox
Intel i7 - quad core 3.5Ghz
Radeon HD 7870
16GB RAM

16FPS benchmark... ouch... put this bun back in the oven, it's a little soft in the middle.

Though I admit that HTML5 has some promising applications for iOS-like 2D games I'm not sure something as large as Unreal is the right carrot to be chasing... I can see why Epic would want to extend the life of UE3 to web while UE4 becomes the native PC/console solution but most Flash/HTML5 solutions will and should be limited in their access to the users machine.

The problem with high-end web visuals is that it requires that you get close to the metal to reach reasonable performance. The closer to the metal you get, the higher the security risk to the user who downloads that app (or executable web content, whatever you choose to call it). Layers of abstraction are what keep web users safe... This is starting to feel like the opposite of what should probably be happening.

Benjamin Quintero
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I agree. I wouldn't imagine Epic releasing this if that's the best they could get. It doesn't crash so I guess that's good. But this is a new PC, fresh windows with all of the updates, new FF install, latest drivers. I guess that's just the world of PC's though =), sometimes you win and sometimes you get 16 fps.

Jonathan Ghazarian
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Remember, this demo specifically targets features that aren't in the normal version of firefox. If you get a nightly build, those framerates will likely be way higher. I played the demo they had at GDC, which was running an actual UT3 match with bots and it never skipped a beat. It's definitely not a great proof of concept for straight javascript since it relies on emscripten for the best performance, but it shows what can be done in the browser.

I would also recommend checking out yesterday's news about Turbulenz. The games they have running with that platform are insanely smooth on regular versions of firefox and chrome.

Benjamin Quintero
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That was fast =), a pop-up now appears, "This browser is currently unsupported. Please download Firefox 23 (Nightly) for an optimal experience." Hopefully Epic isn't sending ninjas to my house.

Jonathan Ghazarian
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Yeah, that's weird, I don't get that, but the demo freezes on my macbook with intel 4000 graphics running in firefox 20. But once I change to FF Nightly the benchmark hits about 39fps.

Jonathan Ghazarian
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Maciej, the GDC demo they had was running a normal UT3 bot match with very responsive controls. It was smooth enough that I would compare it with the normal version of UT3. I agree that I like the Turbulenz method better, but this is one more great tool for developers who can have a traditional code base, then with little effort, just move it over to the web.

I think you'll be surprised at how performant this method can be.

Duong Nguyen
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It's not bad, the HTML5 version. Only took about a minute or so to download and compile the scripts, but for the test level i guess thats ok. I don't know about a real game though and the gigs of data it will take to download.. but for small games i'm sure its fine..

Toby Grierson
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Flash is going to die.

Barna Biro
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Yeah, people have been saying that for roughly 6-7 years now ( if not more... I've lost count to be honest ). But eventually... sure, what doesn't "die"?

It's like reliving the entire Silverlight vs Flash nonsense...
... and we all know how that ended. (:rollsEyes:)

Though HTML5 has a better chance ( compared to what Silverlight had ) at becoming a decent alternative to Flash for quite a few things, it does first have to become a "standard" + overcome a ton of "bumps" ( at it's current state, I'd risk saying that it's comparable to Macromedia Flash 5 ). Many of us like to throw around with fancy words, but has HTML ever "really" been a "standard"? Will all browsers suddenly ( not tomorrow of course, but "soon"... and I'm not referring to the Blizzard Entertainment kind of "soon": http://www.wowwiki.com/Soon ) start supporting "the same thing, the exact same way"? Will developers finally not have to write hundreds of lines of additional code for each specific browser just to get that measly company logo aligned properly?

Ohh, I could go on and on...

Ben Colwell
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To be brutally honest HTML5 has some serious problems in the user experience department. On my laptop (certainly not a beast, but running the latest Firefox), it takes a good three or four minutes to load this demo, and during that time Firefox becomes unresponsive for about 30 seconds, and no less than 5 times I get "A script on this page may be busy, or may have stopped responding", forcing me to click Continue. 5 times. All of this, and it runs at a barely-usable (and choppy) 5-10fps.

Contrast that to the Flash version found here: [http://www.unrealengine.com/flash/]. The Flash version loads without issue in HALF the time, it doesn't grind my entire system to a halt in the process, and it actually runs at a smooth, dare-I-say IMPRESSIVE framerate. This is on the exact same hardware, in the exact same browser.

It's neat to see the HTML5 version "working," but it's certainly not very usable at this point. (And no, I don't feel the need to buy a high-end gaming laptop just so I can play HTML5 browser games.) Think about your average user who might get frightened off by a succession of scary-looking warning dialogs. The only reason I didn't kill the process myself was pure morbid curiosity.

Lance Thornblad
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Does not work for me, even with the latest. I wonder if there are other, unmentioned requirements..


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