Among many frightening visions of the future spawned by modern day paranoia – for instance, widespread environmental devastation, nuclear genocide, or roving herds of spindly, twitching spiders that evolve to reside exclusively in jars of Nutella – there’s the fear that all games will eventually bomb themselves back to the lo-fi, browser-compatible Stone Age. So when inXile head Brian Fargo announced that Wasteland 2 would be in the Unity engine‘s browser-calloused hands, knees jerked hard enough to create a small seismic event. Fargo, however, assured his panicked followers that his franchise revival has not, in fact, jumped the irradiated six-mouthed shark.
“Although we are using Unity this is not an in browser game but an executable file,” Fargo said on Twitter. “Fear not. Our game will look detailed and rich.” Linux support, meanwhile, is still very much in the cards, with Fargo noting that inXile has been “supplied the source code to Unity for the express purpose of making the Linux version.”
And despite any connotations a browser-friendly engine might have, Unity’s proven itself fairly capable in games like Battlestar Galactica Online. Lesser-known but perhaps more relevant to the discussion, meanwhile, is Drakesang Online, a top-down isometric hack ‘n’ slash RPG that’s gorgeous and detail-rich (and browser-based). Since Wasteland’s aiming to use a similar perspective, I’m actually pretty optimistic about its chances.
Really, though, the browser-based scene has made tremendous leaps and bounds in the past year or so, and a few of its standouts aren’t too far outside of eye-searing territory. In the same way free-to-play’s cleaning up its slimy reputation, I doubt browser-based games will imply an inferior experience after another year or two. They’ll just be, you know, games. Is that such a bad thing?