Big name franchises like Battlefield and Quake are already available in browser-form, but can a modern retail title make the same leap? With recent news that Unreal Engine 3 support is coming to Flash Players and a new tech demo from software developer Brandon Jones, it seems like the browser is a much more powerful platform than we imagined.
Jones has successfully 'ported' 2Fort, the classic Team Fortress 2 map, to WebGL, running plug-on free in a browser. Jones first presented the demo at the OnGameStart conference in Poland in September.
Pairing the level down into 200MB worth of assets, Jones has recreated the level and shows off his near-final product in a video on YouTube. According to Jones, normal mapping on brush surfaces is a no-show, water (or anything shiny) isn't being rendered, lighting is off, and the 3D skybox is missing from the demo. It doesn't look perfect and a few key elements are missing from the level, but it shows a lot of promise.
Jones says that his Source Engine 'port' (of sorts) runs at a smooth 60fps in browser. He also claims to have pushed the game beyond 100fps in some cases, meaning the addition of some of those missing elements wouldn't hinder the experience. Responding to inquires on his YouTube channel, Jones said that the demo is running on "Google Chrome 16 (Canary Channel), but it runs fine on the stable version of Chrome as well."
For those with any modicum of interest in development, Jones has offered the WebGL port's source code online. Since Team Fortress 2 is a modern game with current players (and because he owns no rights to the title) Jones isn't making the assets used in the demo available.
If Team Fortress 2 going Free-to-Play was Valve's approach to enticing players into the multiplayer shooter, having a similar experience available in a browser might be the next logical step. Of course, perhaps the game's collection of hats is far too big to be ported into our browser winder.
Jones outlines how he created the demo on his blog.
On his YouTube channel, Jones also released another video of the demo, captured with a smoother framerate.
Note: To clarify, this isn't a playable port of the game. It's porting the assets into WebGL and viewable via a web browser.