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I am currently looking into making a website that hosts various online games and would like to support as many formats as possible no matter how obscure. I was wondering if anybody could inform me on what these different formats(Flash, JavaScript, etc.) may be and possibly even provide me with some insight on how to embed them.

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This looks like Gorilla vs. Shark question to me. –  Almo Jan 21 '13 at 23:02
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Or a "Which technology" question –  John McDonald Jan 21 '13 at 23:04
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Well it's not a "gorilla vs. shark" question since he's not asking which is best, just which exist. One could argue that simply listing what technologies exist for this purpose is a really basic question, but I don't see anything wrong with basic questions so long as people refer to the existing answers instead of constantly asking it over and over. –  jhocking Jan 22 '13 at 2:52
    
As jhocking, this isn't a "which technology" question. I don't see what's wrong with it, and why it has been closed. –  Laurent Couvidou Jan 22 '13 at 10:06
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closed as not constructive by akled, Josh Petrie, Noctrine Jan 21 '13 at 16:54

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4 Answers

By far the majority of browser-based games are done in Flash. However the newer and growing in importance game format is HTML5 (ie. games programmed in JavaScript that use the new Canvas element).

I've also seen many games that are pretty much just static images and web forms for the UI and the server simply constructs different static HTML pages in response to the player clicking on the buttons.

Up until recently Unity used to be another format for browser games. However the latest version of Unity actually deploys Flash content, making Unity games a special case of Flash games.

The only other format I can think of that has any impact whatsoever in browser games in Java, because that's what Puzzle Pirates used (and even that I'm not 100% sure about). That is a single game that came out years ago, hardly worth worrying about.

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As a portal for online games you would pretty much just provide an iframe that points to their game's URL. Unlike a Flash game, there's no single package like a .swf that you could host. –  jhocking Mar 25 '12 at 0:40
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Well, in Java technically there's also Minecraft. Now everyone's playing it on the downloadable client, but on its early days, where only creative mode existed, playing on the online client was quite common I think (not that it matters if you're building a portal, anyway). –  Lohoris Mar 25 '12 at 8:21
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oh right, good point about Minecraft. I mean, the fact that it moved away from a browser-based client pretty quickly tells you a lot, but that is another very significant example of a browser-based game done in Java. –  jhocking Mar 25 '12 at 14:05
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@Yannbane: You can't downvote someone because you don't like Java. The question asks about forms that online games take, and Java is one such form. –  Kylotan Jan 21 '13 at 14:55
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Maybe Silverlight, Microsofts failed attempt at replacing Flash, is also worth mentioning. Even though it is pretty dead, the OP said "as many formats as possible no matter how obscure". –  Philipp Jan 21 '13 at 15:00
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There are many file formats that you can put online, like other than swf, there is java (which requires an application for webpage integration) and there are files that probably aren't official, like scratch and GameMaker. There is also Unity3d(http://unity3d.com/) However, if you'd like to go to the most basic format, I would say that is javascript, other file formats probably require download. But as I said, there are many other game engines for online integration.

But then again, Java is insecure, as we already know safari has blocked Java 7.

Good luck on your new site!

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Again, -1 for suggesting Java. Refer to this comment. –  akled Jan 21 '13 at 16:19
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Dude, this question ask possible online game formats. I suppose you think that minecraft is giving people errors, or android games? Just dont downvote me cause you absolutely cant stand the name of Java –  user25191 Jan 21 '13 at 16:34
    
Wrong. Did you even follow that link? I love Java. Desktop, mobile and server applications are not affected, but using it to run random code you receive over a network is insecure and probably never will be, unless they place restrictions which they seem to be reluctant to do. -1 removed though, it's good that you've added that warning. –  akled Jan 21 '13 at 21:36
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thanks, didnt mean any trouble –  user25191 Jan 21 '13 at 21:41
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Plug-in based:

Others:

Plug-in based technologies are easy to embed. Usually, a game will be packaged in a single file that will be served through HTML via a simple <embed> tag. That's the bright side, the dark side is that they're non-standard and thus aren't supported directly by browser vendors, and might require an extra download from your users.

That was the easy part, but plug-in based games are only one side the ecosystem. If you really want to support the widest possible spectrum you'll have to consider other things. HTML5-based solutions are hot today, they are standard, and they can prove worthwhile. But they will be much harder to embed, typically requiring some iframe or other hackery. See for instance how Kongregate is now hosting HTML5 games.

Google Native Client might just be the modern ActiveX but it is used in some very interesting browser-based games in the Chrome Web Store.

Last but not least, lots of good games are not very advanced on the client-side, and will do most of the interesting stuff from a PHP/MySQL server (typically). So you might have to consider an offer for server-side hosting (something that is definitely compatible with lots of client-side technologies).

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You are mixing server side (PHP) with client side technologies. –  Jonas Jan 21 '13 at 15:54
    
@Jonas Yes I am. Turn-based games that run mostly on a server and deliver static HTML are quite common, see for instance Brass Online. I've no idea how this would integrate in a "website that hosts various online games" but I thought it was worth mentioning. –  Laurent Couvidou Jan 21 '13 at 15:58
    
-1 for Java applets. –  akled Jan 21 '13 at 16:23
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@Yannbane Why -1 for Java? While there are unquestionably some security issues with the Java plug-in, it's a mature technology and an ostensibly cross-platform solution that quite a few users are still more than happy to run. I fail to see (specific vulnerabilities aside) why Java is any less valid an answer here than Flash, and it seems pedantic to hold those vulnerabilities against the answerer. –  Steven Stadnicki Jan 21 '13 at 16:55
    
I've posted a link to a very good Security SE answer where you will find your answer. Java is currently one of the most insecure technologies and you should not force your users to enable it. With every release there are critical vulnerabilities, and that's not going to change because of the way Java applets are designed to work. –  akled Jan 21 '13 at 21:42
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Edit: don't support Java. The web applets it provides are completely insecure and probably never will be good enough. There's a reason why it practically doesn't exist on the Internet anymore. I also suggest you disable Java (not JavaScript) in your browser too.

You're not interested in file formats. There are many types of those, and usually it's just text or some other binary format you shouldn't concern yourself over. You're interested in technology.

It's not up to your servers to support HTML5, JavaScript, or Flash. You simply need to send the file over the network, and make sure your website conforms to W3C standards.

The client's browser has to support various technologies.

Unless, of course, you're talking merely about online games, not necessarily on the WWW. For that, there are various combinations, and that makes this question too ambiguous.

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-1 he said he wants to "looking into making a website that hosts various online games" - in order to do that, he has to choose what formats to support, because they all have different methods for embedding and different security implications. –  Philipp Jan 21 '13 at 15:04
    
And I have already instructed him on not supporting Java because of the security implications. Otherwise, he simply asked for us to list various file formats and explain how to "support them", but I have explained that the support part is mostly the concern of the client. –  akled Jan 21 '13 at 16:13
    
I feel like my answer is being downvoted only by offended Java programmers. Refer to my comment. I don't hate Java, but it is insecure. –  akled Jan 21 '13 at 16:19
    
"I have explained that the support part is mostly the concern of the client" -> and that's what you are wrong about. –  Philipp Jan 21 '13 at 16:42
    
Point out how. The client has to support JavaScript, you merely send it over the network. The client has to support Flash, Java, and pretty much everything else suggested in this thread. My answer is getting downvoted only because I'm bad-mouthing Java. Don't you want your clients to be secure? Why would you force them to use an insecure product? –  akled Jan 21 '13 at 21:40
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