Many developers are using HTML5 to power multiplatform mobile experiences, but not Artillery. That company has something much bigger in mind.
Artillery is using HTML5 web language to turn desktop browsers, like Google Chrome, into game consoles capable of high-quality visuals and real-time multiplayer. A Silicon Valley startup, Artillery is simultaneously building an HTML5 game engine and a new real-time strategy game called Project Atlas that uses the engine.
“Artillery was founded to bring really great games to the web browser,” Artillery chief executive Ankur Pansari told GamesBeat. “We want the web browser to just be the easiest way to access these games just by clicking a link. We have encountered a lot of skepticism about whether or not this is feasible.”
It is feasible. Pansari sent me a link that opened up a lush-looking 3D RTS game in my browser. The game is the aforementioned Project Atlas RTS that Artillery brought in professional StarCraft player Sean “Day” Plott to help design. I didn’t get to play much, but I did move around one of the units to get a look at the world.
“None of this is Unity,” said Pansari. “This is all HTML5. This is something that looks and feels like StarCraft running in a browser.”
Artillery’s platform isn’t just impressive because it makes console-live visuals possible using a browser without plugins but because it makes the whole development process easier.
“For desktop browsers, [HTML5] is ridiculously powerful,” said Pansari. “[And our platform] cuts down on our iteration time. For these types of creative games, where it’s really just iteration, what we’ve been able to do is shave off all the pieces that take a really long time.”
For example, Plott can edit some parameters of a unit by clicking a few buttons. He can then instantly deploy it and send the web link for the game to his team to test it out.
“Let’s say a unit’s attack is too high,” said Pansari. “Sean can click on the unit, open up the debugger, edit it in real time, save the game again, and keep playing. He can balance the game in real time.”
Artillery eventually plans to offer its platform to other developers, but for now it wants to smooth everything out by developing and releasing Project Atlas.
The studio intends to release Atlas in a beta test later this year. Plott wants to boil down the RTS genre to its most basic elements and really focus on that.