Mozilla and Epic Games Port Unreal 3 Engine to Javascript and WebGL

Mock up Epic Games Mozilla Unreal 3 Engine

Mozilla, the non-profit organization behind the open source Firefox browser with the help of game developer Unreal Games has done something rather mind-blowing.  Mozilla using a newly developed “highly optimized version of JavaScript” has worked with Epic Games to port their Unreal 3 Game Engine to web scripting language JavaScript with API support from WebGL. Making it possible for modern generation 3D with the simple access of a modern web browser with out the need of any plugins.

Jaws dropping aside, this is a major development in the history of modern 3D graphics from the web. Most people who are old enough remember the kludgy history of the SGI graphics developed VRML. And the history of Shockwave based 3D games. These all required system halting plugins and could barely get graphics on par with a 1980s music video.

But Mozilla has taken the first major step of brining hardcore gaming to the web browser of all places. Mozilla developed this bleeding edge of web technology by pioneering WebGL, Emscripten, and asm.js. Extensive API libraries to interact with the browser without the need of any plugins. Allowing the non-compiles interrupted JavaScript language to run through a computers graphics card for graphics acceleration.

Previously to porting the Unreal 3 Engine to JavaScript and WebGL Mozilla had made a proof of concept 3D game called Bananbread. It has peer-to-peer multiplayer support using WebRTC technology. It requires no plugins and is purely with JavaScript, HTML, and WebGL. In keeping with their promotion of open source and open technologies, Mozilla has even released the full code of Bananbread for develops to play with.

It is no wonder this demo piqued the interest of Epic Games. Epic Games, known as one of the top hardcore game developers for the high-end hardcore PC gamers with the “Unreal Tournament” franchise and countless of other games based on their Unreal Engines. With this new demo it shows that Epic can take technological plunges in stride. Epic made the successful leap to the current gen of home game consoles with the ‘Gears of War‘ franchise on Xbox 360. Making them the first game developer to actually capture the experience and HD graphics of hardcore PC titles for the home console market. Epic is now seeing the next generation of gaming, putting full support to bring that hardcore gaming experience to mobile gaming market. Their prime example it’s “Infinity Blade” & “Infinity Blade II” games Apple’s iPad / iPhone iOS platform. It only makes sense that Epic Games would see this leveraging this new web platform to help in developing even more draw to their gaming titles and access with modern web browser. TechCrunch reported that Vladimir Vukicevic, Mozilla’s engineering director and the inventor of WebGL, said, “that porting the whole Unreal 3 Engine to the web only took Epic four days and a few small adjustments.”

Mozilla has also announced that they are working with top game publishers Disney, EA, and ZeptoLab; makers of the popular “Cut The Rope” puzzle game, to bring games over to the browser market. It is not long till independent and other major game developers will see coming to the web browser as well. Mozilla now has their own Firefox Marketplace in preview for Firefox on the desktop and Firefox for Android, and will be on their own Firefox OS later this year.

Originally from the Maryland beltway area. Patrick lived in Los Angeles for a couple of years. Now he is based in the Portland area. In the past Patrick has been an IT engineer, technology consultant, software trainer, technology journalist, blogger, and podcaster. Currently he is returning to school for a degree in Computer Science & Engineering.

Patrick Roanhouse – who has written posts on Plan8.