Interview

HTML5 DevCon organiser Ann Burkett explains why the tech will change mobile gaming

HTML5 DevCon organiser Ann Burkett explains why the tech will change mobile gaming
Next week is the first HTML5 Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Filled with speakers from Google to Yahoo!, the one-day event will focus on game development across web, mobile, and even television.

Indeed, part of the impetus behind the conference is that multiplatform development will require a versatile set up such as HTML5.

We talked with Ann Burkett, lead organiser of the conference and chair of the Silicon Valley International Game Developers Association about the event.

Pocket Gamer: How did the conference come about?

Ann Burkett: One of the things the IGDA provides is educational insight, particularly when the industry is changing.

We felt that HTML5 was becoming more important, so the conference is technically oriented. We’re focused on developers, but we have some business sessions, too. This is our first event, and we’re really stressing the technical education sessions.

HTML5 is a new technology and, when used with JavaScript, is potentially a cross-platform technology. We think it’s a new technology that impacts people that makes games and apps. It will be very competitive for people developing on Apple, Android and Windows Phone. 

What do you hope attendees walk away with?

What I’d like them to walk away with an understanding of the important new technology coming out, both on the client side (game and app side), and on the server side.

What we’re seeing is that a lot of the games, in addition to using new tech like HTML5 and combining it with JavaScript and such, will be using a cloud component that will allow them to update apps immediately.

We want to make sure that people are up-to-date with the latest technology in the HTML5 area.

How did Apple’s decision not to support Flash affect HTML5?

It was enormous. It was one of the main drivers of HTML5 adoption.

Actually, there were two main drivers. One is the decision for Apple to not support Flash, and, Microsoft is jumping on that bandwagon with its Windows 8 decision not to immediately support Flash.

The other driver is that technology houses and major corporations are having to develop for so many platforms.

They are getting fragmented. The mobile market is so important, and not just with HTML5, but with other technology, such as game engines that enable cross-platform development.

Anything that allows studios to have one code base for all mobile applications is important. Some do 75 or 80 percent now, which is better than the 25 percent compatability when we first started.

What are the biggest benefits of using HTML5 for game development?

The multiplatform aspect is the biggest benefit. In addition, if you look at Spaceport or another similar technology, they're JavaScript-based and will export to different platforms.

HTML5 hybrid solutions are state-of-the-art as you have one programming base, which provides good performance.

Actually, that’s one of HTML5’s current problems: the canvas is slow. Also, if you’re using bitmap graphics, they don’t resize that well. 

Bitmapping is kind of old school compared to polygons. Does that mean bitmapping is going away?

Definitely. A lot of these trends are put under the HTML5 umbrella, but there are other reasons for these changes. Regardless, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) are what people will be migrating to since they are more resizable than bitmap graphics. 

Bitmap scaling isn’t a big deal when you're going between mobile phones, but on an iPad, you can see the visable difference from the small mobile graphics, and on a TV, it will get even worse.

How the conference shaping up audience-wise?

We have 900 registrants, so it’s been a wonderful response – much bigger than I imagined.

Given the response, we will probably be making tracks in the future that address just gaming and just business. We want to make sure those areas are covered in more detail.

The HTML5 Developers Conference is happening Tuesday, September 27 in San Francisco. You can find out more about it here


Damon Brown has been speaking the mobile game gospel since 2003 for Playboy, New York Post, and many other outlets. Damon writes books
when he isn't busy gaming or Twittering. His most popular book is Porn & Pong: How Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider and Other Sexy Games Changed Our Culture.

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