HTML5 | iPad | JavaScript

Moving forward with HTML5 Canvas Games

I spent the most part of Q4 last year focusing on HTML5 Canvas.  Primarily for game development. Code maintenance was top priority and I tried to carry over as much Actionscript techniques as I possibly could.

 I’m refusing to use frameworks, not because they are bad but because rather than just quickly releasing a game, I am far more interested in mastering Javascript.  I’m sure I’ll dive into these frameworks this year but I think I’ll feel better about my code taking the slow route.  I’m still working on what will be my own personal game framework for Canvas games but I still have much to learn, such as inheritance, before I can say I am truly happy with Javascript.

I finished a few games, nothing fancy, but enough to hone in on code structure, animated sprite sheets, and Canvas best practices.  I’m at the point now where I feel that practice time is over and I want to start getting serious about my Canvas games – start developing original content and contributing to the future of practical deployment and portals.

One area where I put a hold on was getting these games to perform on devices.  I had enough to learn about Canvas as it was without worrying about poor device performance or gameplay.  But after Fakezee I started to realize that it was about time to throw those factors into my games.

This weekend I spent my time preparing a code structure that would properly hold a Canvas game on the iPad.  This involved things that I didn’t anticipate being so annoying. Primarily getting rid of, not only scrolling , but the ios5 rubberband dragging of the browser window. Also handling multiple touch points, which is extremely easy (at least in mobile safari).  Then there’s handling screen orientation and rotation.  You can’t prevent it, but you can listen for it, which gives way to a few tricks for handling what could turn very ugly for a game. Of course you can adjust layout, but depending on the game it could take a serious amount of work and testing.  Especially in Canvas.

All of this is leading up to a possible tablet-game portal I’m drawing out with a designer friend of mine, Taylor Martens, of Robots Made It.  There are many factors to consider when building such a portal but we ultimately decided to start by focusing mainly on iPad-specific games.  This gives us a set resolution, consistant sound /event handling, and performance.  Of course a portal such as this could, or even should focus on running everywhere, but we feel there is room for device-specific portals in the future of tablet browser gaming.  We are, after all, bypassing the app store, and could eventually control our own advertising / income.

More on this portal later.

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