First Unity game in WebGL: Owlchemy Labs’ conversion of Aaaaa! to asm.js
Starting today, Aaaaa! for the Awesome is the first commercially available Unity WebGL game! It’s been a long ride for Unity WebGL tools and Owlchemy Labs have been along for a fairly sizable chunk of it. You can get the fruits of their collaboration with Dejobaan Games along with other exciting new WebGL games in the Humble Mozilla Bundle.
“Working with super early versions of the Unity WebGL exporter was a surprisingly smooth experience overall!,” writes Alex Schwartz, the CEO of Owlchemy Labs, on the Mozilla blog.
“Jonas Echterhoff, Ralph Hauwert and the rest of the team over at Unity did such an incredible job getting the core engine running with asm.js and playing Unity content in the browser at incredible speeds, it’s pretty staggering. When you look at the scope of the problem and what technical magic was needed to go all the way from C# scripting down to the final 1-million-plus-line js file, it’s mind boggling”.
But getting the game to compile in this new build target wasn’t as easy as hitting the big WebGL export button and sitting back. While Unity did they care of a lot of the heavy lifting under the hood, there were some significant challenges that we worked together with Owlchemy to overcome.
The porting process began in June 2014 when Owlchemy gained access to the WIP WebGL exporter available to the alpha group. Was a complex game like Aaaaa! for the Awesome going to be portable within the limited time frame and using such an early framework?
“After two days of mucking about with the exporter, we knew it would be doable (and had content actually running in-browser!) but as with all tech endeavors like this, we were walking in blind as to the scope of the entire port that was ahead of us. Would we hit one or two bugs? Hundreds? Could it be completed in the short timespan we were given? Thankfully we made it out alive and dozens of bug reports and fixes later, we have a working game!”
Thanks to all those bug reports, developers using the current and future version of the tools will get all of these fixes built in from the start and can benefit from a better pipeline from Unity to WebGL.
Alex sees the web as a very good place for ambitious Unity projects. “You can expect Owlchemy Labs to bring more of their games to the web in the near future, so keep an eye out for those! ;) With our content running at almost the same speed as native desktop builds, we definitely have a revolution on our hands when it comes to portability of content, empowering game developers with another outlet for their creative content, which is always a good thing.”
More than two years have passed since the initial WebGL experiments at our HackWeek in Copenhagen. We’re extremely happy about the journey so far, the collaboration with our alpha and beta groups and our partners including Mozilla. We’re having loads of fun playing Aaaaa! for the Awesome and everybody’s looking forward to other upcoming Unity WebGL games. But we absolutely can’t wait to see what you all make with our Unity WebGL tools once Unity 5 is out!