Epic Citadel: Get In My Browserface

Epic MegaGames has just released the Epic Citadel Unreal 3 tech demo for web browsers, and it only works with Firefox. I only keep Firefox on my PC for the RPS CMS. Trying to write this site in Chrome doesn’t work for me, with all the links being stripped out in every post. So Firefox survives, which means I can walk around the castley polygons of Epic’s oldish tech demo in my browser! Does that mean WordPress is really an installation of the Unreal Engine? I’m going to unscientifically say ‘yes’. Let’s test it out with the Translo-

-cate Mutator. Cool! Hmm. That would explain John! He has the BigHead Mutator switched on.

That was totally a zing. It’s both technically impressive and strangely clunky. It was originally a tech demo for Apple’s Tabslatelutely Phabusl8te, so the bells are there but not the whistles. It’s a bit flat, but it’s also the Unreal 3 Engine being all up in my browser. You can either take a guided tour through the Citadel, grab the controls and go on a wander to explore the nice sights and the terrible sound transitions.

I don’t know what level of proof of concept this is, other than Epic trying to prove the power of HTML 5 and the Unreal Engine, but I can only hope this means we’ll soon be seeing Jill of the Jungle return to it’s rightful position.


  1. ChromeBallz says:

    I just hope companies won’t use this as an excuse for even more restrictive DRM now that the clients technically don’t need to be (or stay) on client pc’s anymore. I can already see EA publishing $70 games which only work in your browser…

    That said, it’s a cool tech demo and there are quite a few neat things you can do with it. I can see this being pretty useful to, for example, get a virtual tour of a house you want to rent or buy, or the future workplace, or proof of concept videos letting you take a look from all angles, all of this without having to install external plugins.

    • JarinArenos says:

      We have go to do something about these spambots…

      • libailele6 says:

        So if I browse RPS using Firefox, will it save my log-in details and not boot me out to the main page when I do log in?

  2. Sam says:

    About 18 months ago, the same demo was released running in Flash: link to unrealengine.com

    Notably the Flash version works in any browser that has Flash Player 11 installed. And just as importantly for anyone wanting to actually make a game with it, it functions the same across browsers and operating systems. It’s awfully hip to prefer open web standards over evil corporate owned plugins, but the evil plugins are a much nicer platform to develop for if you’re doing any kind of technically demanding stuff. Something to the level of Unreal Engine isn’t possible in most browsers currently, but what is possible works and breaks in fascinatingly different ways across browsers, browser versions and operating systems. Making HTML5 games that work anywhere continues to be a hellish experience.

    As this article says, even something relatively simple like the WordPress management panel doesn’t work correctly in some browsers. Despite all browsers supposedly implementing the same standards. It would be wonderful to have the web in a state where we could reasonably develop high performance games that run in just HTML and Javascript, but we’re still a long way off, and have been for however many years everyone has been saying that HTML5 will revolutionise gaming.

    What’s really unfortunate is it feels like Adobe have started to listen to the narrative that HTML5 is replacing Flash. And just when Flash has picked up the features it needs to do amazing things.

    • RobF says:

      Aye, I like the idea of HTML5 but it constantly feels like the same old trouble that building websites used to put me through. I don’t want to have to deal with cross browser compatibility problems, I don’t want to have to special case things for firefox, for chrome or for IE or iOS Safari or whatever, I just want to type shit in and have it work across the board.

      HTML5 isn’t that yet and it’s not really showing too many signs of being that any time soon either.

    • antumbral says:

      Ultimately Adobe didn’t have much choice. Apple set the trend of not supporting Flash on mobile devices, which meant Flash didn’t get used for mobile websites. After that it was kind of inevitable that others would follow (Microsoft initially disabling Flash in Windows 8’s browser, for example).

      They didn’t help their case, though. They’ve significantly reduced their investment in Flash and related tech in the past few years – I can only speculate as to why. This apparently was a major factor in why Unity gave up on their Flash exporter and why Epic decided to work with Mozilla on this HTML5 demo. Dropping support for the Android Flash Player was also arguably a mistake.

      Alongside that lack of investment and unclear roadmap, the spate of security problems that kept cropping up with Flash definitely helped push people away from it as a technology.

      • Eclipse says:

        uhm, people get your facts straight :) Flash is alive and kicking on every mobile platform, Stage3D and Adobe FlexAir SDK actually allows you to build apps for ios and android and performances are quite good too.
        On android they dropped the support on the web browser, because it was stupid to begin with: a mobile web browser shouldn’t support wacky plugins and shouldn’t grow bigger and bigger like PC ones do.
        So Flash on android exists, just not inside the browser. You can write your game using as3 and target ios, android and web browsers.
        Unity dropped flash support only because they are growing really fast and they probably think it’s better to push their own plugin instead of giving adobe a piece of their cake

        • Matzerath says:

          The ‘death of Flash’ is an amazing phenomenon that’s been happening for years. It’s taken longer than Rasputin, and reports of the final death rattle are as reliable as those for Jason Vorhees. Which is nice for me because I’m still using it.

          • waltC says:

            Apple will likely crumble to dust before Flash bites the big one. The entire argument here is one of local control versus web control (meaning either you control your software environment or someone else on the net does it for you.) I vote local. I want to pick and choose my hardware and software, and run what I choose, in the manner I choose, and in the privacy of my own home–not what someone else chooses for me as they record my every keystroke and subject it to utterly foolish but massively intense analysis (which is why I have never amounted to much as an Apple customer, I suppose.) The first thing I thought when I looked at this demo was, “It looks just like a java/Flash game!” As such a creature, it falls far below my personal standards and tastes. Nice try, guys–but, no cigar! I’ll take my 3d via a discrete and powerful 3d card, heavy on the D3d/OpenGL, please–and if it can’t run @1920×1080 or better (preferably better), then don’t bother. Thanks. Java/Flash presentations running in 800×600 windows, or thereabouts, simply won’t do at all.

    • JP says:

      “[Flash] functions the same across browsers and operating systems.”

      Flash user experience on Mac OSX and Linux is quite poor actually, and Adobe is now only doing real (non-bugfix) Flash development for Windows.

      HTML5 is having some real teething problems, make no mistake, but Flash is definitely not a technology that “just works” across all the scenarios in which it’s used.

    • Kaira- says:

      Yes, a proprietary binary blob is just what the web’s openness needs. Not.

  3. scorpion_wins says:

    I can walk around a tech demo at 10fps in my browser. Yes! Dream goal realised.

  4. antumbral says:

    FYI, according to Epic and Mozilla, the demo actually works in Chrome, it just crashes due to some bugs Google hasn’t fixed yet. Supposedly once Google fixes those bugs they’ll update the demo to tell you that Chrome is supported.

    • The Dark One says:

      Google is working on fixing it, and Opera is moving over to Blink, so they’ll support it, too.

      This is a good thing. Even a simple plugin is a barrier to entry for a lot of people. How many times have the few extra mouse clicks required by a Unity-powered browser game stopped people from experiencing it? Sometimes it’s just laziness on the part of the user, but other times it’s a smart move- Flash is a security disaster.

  5. fish99 says:

    Well that just killed my laptop. Not literally, but I had to kill Firefox with task manager.

  6. squinky says:

    Astonishing how this looked so utterly incredible on an iPad in 2011, yet looks worse than Quake Live in my browser right now.

  7. chrismcr says:

    The big difference between emscripten (the tech used here) and ‘handwritten’ HTML 5 is emscripten starts with C++ code, i.e. the language most games are already written in. Previously, if a dev wanted to get their desktop/tablet game onto the web, they had to port it to HTML 5/Flash/Unity manually, effectively rewriting it from the ground up. With emscripten they can (with caveats) change some compiler settings and out pops a javascript version.

    The major problems right now are WebGL support across browsers, Google being pissy about asm.js*, and there being no real standard for decent audio yet, but hopefully that’ll come in time.

    *it would be cynical of me to point out it directly competes with their NaCL tech, which all the other browser vendors hate.. and I thought browser politics died when IE lost it’s marketshare!

    • danielfath says:

      Actually asm.js is competitor to PNaCl. Because NaCl is like C++ for Web, while PNaCl is Javascript binding for NaCl.

    • Beanbee says:

      Ah no, browser wars were never about one company being bad (though obviously Microsoft dragged heels a heck of a lot) but that when the tech boundary was expanded there was competition on how to best fulfill it’s new possibilities. Same situation now, same result. It’ll go quiet again after the 5.1 or 5.2 recommendation is out. Till then, more bumpiness. And then new tech = new war. Endless cycle :3

    • yabonn says:

      One llvm to rule them all and in the darkness compile them.

  8. Radiant says:

    The the only reasons I still have firefox are firebug, the ‘awesomebar’ which gives me quick access to my regular sites and the quick search in the rightclick menu.

    any ways to emulate these in chrome?

    • Matt_W says:

      How is the Firefox “awesomebar” better than Chrome’s search box? Here’s my test: how many search boxes do you see at the top of your browser? Firefox: 2, Chrome: 1. The clear winner is Chrome: you can type in an address, search through bookmarks, retrieve most-visited sites, or do a google search all from the same bar. Firefox doesn’t compare.

      • fish99 says:

        My FF has 1.

      • Low Life says:

        Firefox does all the same and with one address bar/search box, too. Its history matching algorithm (when typing in the address bar) is also miles ahead of Chrome’s.

        I regularly use both, Chrome on laptop (it works a bit smoother) and Firefox on desktop, and trying to find anything from my browsing history on Chrome is just awful. Luckily, there’s an addon (Fauxbar) to fix that.

        But that’s all I have to say on browsers – apart from correcting factual errors I find discussing them silly, since people seem to have some weird relationships with their software.

        • PopeRatzo says:

          I regularly use both, Chrome on laptop (it works a bit smoother) and Firefox on desktop

          I think that’s pretty common. If I’ve got the extra horsepower, I go ahead and use Firefox. My laptop and Nexus 7 run Chrome and everything’s good.

          My bigger concern is what’s going to happen in November when Google kills iGoogle. I’ve really become used to the little portal I’ve created for myself in iGoogle, with RSS readers, calendar, gmail, weather, news, even a moon phase app and daily XKCD cartoon all on one quick-loading page. I really don’t get why Google’s going to kill that great resource.

          • karry says:

            Same reason why they are steadily making Youtube worse, year after year – they are idiots and they dont use their own software.

    • karry says:

      Any reason why anyone would want to use Chrome in the first place ?

    • Tams80 says:

      How about Opera and its speed dial?

  9. Matt_W says:

    So if I browse RPS using Firefox, will it save my log-in details and not boot me out to the main page when I do log in?

    • Thermal Ions says:

      Intermittently and Not a hope in hell.

      I find I’m randomly logged out some days – haven’t discerned a pattern yet.

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        There is no “logged in” and “logged out”, there is only “Jim remembers who you are” or “Jim has lost his post-it note listing everyone’s names”. One day RPS might upgrade to a cunning electronic system for keeping track. On that day, Jim will sleep the sleep of the just.

    • spectone says:

      Safari on my iPad also has this problem.

  10. SuicideKing says:

    Does anyone know how to play that game when RPS returns a 503/504 (iirc) http error?

  11. Fungaming says:

    gonna try it its look like a nice browser game and since i love firefox.
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