Epic puts up WebGL-powered Epic Citadel demo

Last year, Epic released a Flash version of its Epic Citadel tech demo. Now, thanks to WebGL, there's a new flavor of Epic Citadel that can run inside your web browser without plug-ins—and it's ready for public consumption.

Here's what's going on behind the scenes, as explained in the official FAQ:

Mozilla is working on a new way to bring content to the Web and have it run at near native speeds. Using Emscripten to cross-compile C and C++ applications into JavaScript, Mozilla can bring large, high-performance applications to HTML5. This technology is already cross-browser as it outputs standard compliant JavaScript. The output from Emscripten also follows a stricter form of JavaScript called asm.js. It’s possible to optimize for this subset, as has been done in Firefox, to run within 2x of native speeds. Existing web standards such as WebGL and other Web APIs provide the hardware access needed to deliver incredible gaming experiences as shown by the Unreal Engine 3-powered Epic Citadel demo.

Now, one of the downsides of standards-based web apps is that they rely heavily on browser support. That's the case with this demo. For best results, Epic says you'll want to grab the latest Firefox nightly. The stable release of Firefox works, but it's slower. As for other browsers, well, the demo crashes in Chrome (Epic says Google is working on a fix), doesn't work in Internet Explorer (that browser lacks WebGL support), and is "currently not compatible" with Opera.

Which leaves just Firefox, pretty much.

It's still early days, of course. Epic says it expects that "most or all browsers" will "eventually" support this demo. Also, as we reported last month, Epic has big plans for standards-based browser gaming based on Unreal Engine 4. Considering Epic's size and influence, I think browser developers may not drag their feet too much.

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