A group of game developers, including Square Enix, Unity Technologies, and Bungie, appeared at Google Thursday night to promote the use of the in-browser Native Client technology, which could result in a rich, Chrome-based gaming platform.
The appearance apparently occurred after Geek.com noticed that another developer, SpaceTime Studios, had also signed on to use Native Client.
Native Client (abbreviated as NaCl for short, or the atomic name for table salt) was first launched for Chrome in August. An open-source project, Native Client allows native code bases to be run inside Chrome, Google’s proprietary browser. Since the original Chrome port, Google has ported a full-screen API, mouse lock, and even OpenGL ES 2.0 3D graphics to the browser.
Among the many possibilities this brings to Chrome is easier to render 2D and 3D graphics, meaning Chrome could become a rich gaming platform that works on computers of every kind. While Chrome will be able to store the code for the game inside the browser, users will still have to fork over money for the necessary hardware to run it. Unfortunately for Google and Chrome, that means that it’s up against technologies like OnLive, which renders the game on the back-end on its own top-of-the-line hardware.
“We recognize that building a Native Client app is only the start of a successful app,” Christian Stefansen, the Native Client product manager, wrote in a blog post. “That’s why we’ve enabled distribution of Native Client-based apps via the Chrome Web Store. The Chrome Web Store gives developers a simple, effective strategy to reach over 200 million active users of Google Chrome.”
Since the technology is open source, Google and the developer community have already ported the Unity and Moai game engines, programming language environments Mono and Lua, audio middleware such as fmod and Wwise, as well as the Bullet physics engine, Google said.
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