GDC 2013: Epic and Mozilla working to port Unreal Engine 3 to browsers

Phil Savage

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Firefox creators Mozilla have teamed up with Epic to bring the Unreal Engine to web browsers. Announced at GDC, the two companies aren't just looking to give casual and indie developers a web-enabled Unity alternative - their ultimate plan is to make it a viable platform for AAA games. It's going to be a right pain if you accidentally close the tab while waiting for Bioshock Infinite's 17GB of data to load.

In fact, Ars Technica report that the Khronos Group - the organisation behind development on OpenGL and WebGL - are working on that very problem. A common set of data formats covering 3D models and textures could be used to let a remote asset server pipe through the necessary assets to cover a user's screen resolution and bandwidth.

Back to Mozilla, who say : "By leveraging this new JavaScript optimization technology, Mozilla has been able to bring Epic's Unreal Engine 3 to the Web. With this port, developers will soon be able to explore limitless possibilities when it comes to porting their popular gaming titles to the Web." In case you don't believe them, they've also posted a video showing the engine in action.

It's an interesting advancement of web streaming, but I'm yet to be convinced of the practical applications in the AAA space. Whatever WebGL enhancements are in the works, I can't imagine they're close to providing an experience that rivals what players can already conveniently get on their hard drives. Nonetheless, it raises some interesting questions about the role of the browser in the indie and free-to-play space.

Thanks, VG247 .

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