Excited about WebGL because of Grandia II

Last week, I was asking my partner for some advice on what game I should play. This is a regular occurrence for both of us, as we are both video game lovers and tend to lean towards single player games, and only have one television to share between us. Ultimately, we enjoy watching each other play through video games, but want to make sure that the non-player is at least going to enjoy themselves to a certain degree as we go through some kind of virtual adventure over the next few days.

She suggested (strongly) that I play through Grandia II on the Sega Dreamcast. I had never played the game, and she hadn’t played through the game in many years, and so it was decided. After our own real-life adventure of finding all the components needed to hook up her old Dreamcast and actually play and save games, I was good to go for my first play through of Grandia II.

As of this writing, I am about 11 hours into the game which, from what I understand is a little less than half way. I must say: so far, so good! I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the Dreamcast and the technology around it had aged. Sure, it’s not photo-realistic, but that’s not what makes up a game. It’s the voice acting, the controls, the narrative, and the art, the music, and the everything else that I haven’t managed to list. These things, altogether have made for a truly enjoyable video game experience thus far.

Then I realized something: this game, although a 3D TV console game, could be brought over to all the major web browsers by the end of the year. Now that IE 11 is supporting WebGL, HTML developers now have all the pieces supported they need to support this immersive, rich, and ultimately great RPG. Isn’t that…well, just really awesome? Think about 10 years ago and how the video game platforms were so different from the way we were developing web-based applications and games, never mind HTML-based web sites. Now, we can have the pieces to create a true multi-platform web experience inside of a web-browser, complete with 3D graphic, pre-rendered video, rich music, and (of course) voice acting at the important parts of the game.

Grandia II for the Dreamcast could become an in-browser experience

I wanted to take note of this, as this reflection on what HTML technology is bringing to the table these days along with what the major web-browsers are adopting is really quite amazing. I never thought that when I started figuring out to write ASP.NET Web Forms to produce HTML many, many moons ago that I would be able to apply that same HTML-based knowledge to possibly writing a game that I, only years before, on hardware that was designed to push out rich and engaging video game adventures to my television. It’s pretty cool.

That being said, I think now is the time to explore WebGL. Not only will all the major web browsers support the technology, but because of what it means to be able to produce 3D experiences. Back in the days of Grandia II, 3D games were the standard. Everything needed to be 3D or else it was seen as technologically inferior to the other games out there.

I’m not saying that we need to start making 3D websites or apps or whatever, but we should at least explore the technology to understand what it can do to bring something new to our HTML development, whether it be game, apps, or whatever you want to make.

Here are a couple of cool resources I have found that have helped get me started on the understanding and learning train.

~ DW



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