Google Native Client Gaming: Future of Browser Games Makes Flash Nervous…

Browser based gaming, while being fun they are commercial gaming’s poor cousin. Google is single handily changing this with a new updated Chrome, giving Chrome the ability to surf games. While working with the web is still Chromes daily bread Google is working hard to allow Google to run games at full speed. Native Client is Google’s new technology aimed at achieving this, gaming that combines the ease of use of browser games with the speed and detail of full commercial games.

Browser games are currently ruled by Flash, Java, HTML and CSS, which realistically has never had the speed or functionality to compete with commercial games. That’s not to say that browser gaming doesn’t have advantages. Browser based games win hands down when it comes to quick setup time and ease of use. With no applications to install, online accounts to setup or security keys to enter browser games are the king of quick play.

While browser games may seem like the B-Movie of the gaming industry, we should not take anything away from the creators of Flash games, they have managed to extract performance out of Flash and Java that it was never designed to deliver, they have pushed the boundaries. Even with these talented programmers the current generation of browser games can only do so much, which is where Native Client comes in. Native Client addresses both the speed and development time issues in one foul swoop.

On the surface Google’s recent upgrade of the Chrome App store may seem like a cosmetic upgrade but the real evolution is going on behind the scenes in the Chrome browser. NaCl introduces to Chrome the ability to integrate C or C++ into web code.

The code in Chrome’s Native Client can now integrate C, C++, JavaScript, HTML and CSS. To keep everything secure all code is compiled and run within Chromes new sandbox environment that allows Chrome to keep the games separated from the operating system, this should stop any problems from crashing the machine.

But wait there’s more to Native Client than a just the ability to run code 10 times faster. With Native Client Google have constructed a complete framework for creating games. Everything needed to write a commercial game is there, 2D and 3D graphics – Unity 3D -, sound, input and much more.

Native Client also offers a cross platform solution. Write a game in Chrome Native Client and that game will run within Chrome on Windows, Mac OS/X or Linux, without modification. Google does most of the heavy lifting here, they are responsible for keeping Native Client consistent across all of the version of Chrome.

Game companies are already seeing the benefits of Native Client, Square Enix the creator of the Final Fantasy series have already converted the game Mini Ninjas. The game itself is an RPG that had previously been released for consoles and was converted in just two weeks using Google’s new developer tools. No small task when you consider half a million lines of code had to be converted to Native Client.

Square Enix and other game developers will release the first Native Client games in early 2012 once Chrome 17 beta is released. The release of Chrome 17 beta will be the first version of Chrome to make the system fully available, shifting out of testing into beta.

Google’s choice of names is also interesting, Native Client is the chemical symbol for Sodium Chloride, table salt or the salt of the Earth. This may signify how fundamentally important Google thinks Native Client is.

2012 looks to be a good year for gaming with more choice than ever. Chrome Native Client games will combine the ease of browser games with the speed and detail of a commercial game. Game developers are enthusiastic about Native Client hoping that the technology will create a new gaming category, creating a middle ground between expensive commercial games and free to play Flash and Java games. The technological wheels at Google relentlessly keep turning, churning out innovations.

Source: Google NativeClient