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I have absolutely no knowledge about game development, and for 2 years I have been a web application developer (in PHP & JS).

I'd like to learn game development, and I'd also like to free myself from PHP and Javascript and learn some game related concepts in C/C++/C# (whatever is required for game development).

Can browser-based games be developed in a language like C/C++/C#/Python and not using Javascript or Flash? Additionally, would these be superior (in terms of graphics and browser compatibility,support) to games developed using Javascript/HTML5?


  1. By browser based games I'm looking at this.
  2. Java/Python/C++ which among these would provide a better support for browser game dev (interms of compatibility, graphics)?
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It seems like you're really fixated on the programming language. The language doesn't automatically empower you to create a good game. If you want a game with 3D graphics that runs in a browser, definitely check out Flash or Unity3D. – bummzack May 20 '12 at 12:51
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Apart from JS/HTML5 and Flash, you have two other major options:

  • A Java applet, which would allow you to program your games in (bet you didn't guess) Java.
  • Silverlight, which would allow you to use a .NET language like C#, but would depend on people having Silverlight.

But basically... no, you're limited to those options, and none of them are inherently 'superior' options.

That said, why do you need to make a browser-based game? If you're just learning to program in a new language, make a simple program, then make a simple game, then make an actual game that could even be an independent EXE. Just because you've been developing for the web for the past two years doesn't mean you have to continue developing for the web.

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can you please share you thoughts on something like ? how is it even done ? – Dhiraj Bodicherla May 20 '12 at 7:58
or else Ill update my question with the link i just mentioned ? – Dhiraj Bodicherla May 20 '12 at 8:00
Through one of the above technologies. It could have been done with Java. It could equally have been done as an independent program. – doppelgreener May 20 '12 at 8:08
Unfortunately silverlight is slowly dying, so I wouldn't recommend putting much more time in that :( – Roy T. May 20 '12 at 11:46
Not "unfortunately". – o0'. May 20 '12 at 17:39

As a web-application developer you probably know that there's a client- and a server-side of the application. The same can be applied for a browser-based game, where you have the game-client (in HTML/JS) and the backend.

The backend can be written in any language you prefer, so you could write that in Python, C++ or any other language.

As for the client-side, you're basically limited to the things Jonathan Hobbs posted in his answer. That's Java (Applet), Actionscript (Flash SWF), .NET languages (Silverlight) or JavaScript. The only thing that runs natively in a browser is HTML5 and JavaScript. All other technologies use a plugin and there are no wide-spread plugins except for the ones mentioned above.

In my opinion, Flash has the best balance between potential user-base and capabilities. It comes with a powerful graphics/video and sound API and there are lots of tools and libraries to be found for Flash.

If you want to target as many devices as possible (including mobile), then your best bet is HTML5 and JS.

Another option that could be interesting for you is Unity3D. It allows you to develop in C# (which is one of your preferred choices) and you can then either deploy for the web using the Unity3D browser-plugin or compile to a SWF (Flash), where you benefit from a bigger user-base.

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as you have suggested, I did research and found pyjs for browser games and can you please share if there are any for c++ ? – Dhiraj Bodicherla May 20 '12 at 10:10

If you can get away with the game only working on Chrome there's NaCl which lets you write your game in C++, and run it at almost the same performance as you'd get not using the sandbox.

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I'd really love to try that, but cross browser is definitely something I'd want to look at. But thank you for sharing, I did not know about it :) – Dhiraj Bodicherla May 20 '12 at 12:16

The examples you gave use 3D graphics, and to support those you would need to use JavaScript+Canvas or some kind of plugin. The most popular plugins supporting 3D content are Flash and Java. In theory you could run the 3D graphics on the server but this is not commercially viable. As other users have pointed out, the server can be written in any common language (not HQ9+).

If you are willing to work within normal HTTP and HTML limitations, you can build a game without JavaScript. These games will tend to use tables and forms for input, and few or no dynamic graphics. Business games work well in this format, like Simunomics. Real time strategy and 4x games can also fit this mold, such as Merchant Empires (google for screenshots, defunct), Ogame, or SkyLords (have enjoyed all four of these). Dating sims should work well with only HTML/CSS. RPGs - implementing a strictly turn based combat/movement system - would also work well with just HTML/CSS.

All of these could benefit from some touches of progressive enhancement with JavaScript - but none of them require it.

So, yes, browser based games can be developed without JS/Flash, and can be fun to play. However, no, 3D graphics in a browser window do require JS, Flash, or Java (or other less common plugins like Unity3D, Silverlight, etc).

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