Bocoup's Darius Kazemi says developers need to make a very important decision when working with HTML5: Do they want to create a game that reaches the widest possible audience, or create a high quality experience that takes advantage of a single platform?
During his talk at the Gamasutra-attended New Game Conference in San Francisco, Kazemi said that developers are constantly pulled between a triangle of variables: Scope, quality, and cost. All three obviously play a key role in HTML5 development, but more often than not, developers can only choose two.
"Here's the dilemma," Kazemi said, "Do I reach the widest audience possible, or do I create the highest quality game? Can I have both?"
When it came to Kazemi's most recent project, that answer was no. When Bocoup ported Subatomic Studios' iOS hit Fieldrunners to HTML5 this summer, the team chose to sacrifice platform scope, and instead developed the game specifically for Google Chrome and the Chrome Web Store.
"Fieldrunnners always had a history of quality, and it has a legacy with its original developer, and we knew we couldn’t compromise that, and we couldn't compromise on cost and time, because we knew we only had two to three months to put this project together," said Kazemi.
"In the end, do we get it on other browsers, or do we just create that quality experience on one browser? We ended up doing [the latter]," he explained.
Kazemi noted that sacrificing scope didn't hurt the project too much, since Fieldrunners already exists natively on iOS, Android, DSi, and PSP. In fact, limiting the game's scope for HTML5 helped Bocoup take advantage of some features inherent to Google Chrome.
Specifically, Kazemi explained that Bocoup developed Fieldrunners using the Web Audio API for the game's sound effects, a feature that shipped with Google Chrome 14 just before the game's launch, ensuring through the browser's auto-update feature that most, if not all of the game's target browsers could handle Fieldrunners' sound effects.
For background music, however, the team used the standard HTML5 audio, which meant that even if a user were running an older version of Google Chrome, their game would still have some form of audio, albeit without the sound effects.
"This solution really only worked because we targeted Chrome and the Chrome Web Store," Kazemi said.
Reflecting on his experience porting Fieldrunners to HTML5, Kazemi advised developers to "think very hard about the browsers you're targeting, the audience you're targeting, and how your game and your company are positioned to make the best of the platforms that you end up launching on." By doing so, HTML5 developers can better prepare for the challenges and intricacies inherent to HTML5 development.