Appoint Solutions company, founded by Rob and Bert Boerman, is about to launch MonsterMove HTML5 game using our technology. We sent some questions to them and the brothers talk about their experiences in launching complex applications.
How did you get started?
After closing some other projects, we started working on a mobile online multiplayer game in November 2011. Until that time most experts agreed that HTML5 was only usable for simple turn-based board games without much movement. We wanted to prove that it was feasible to create a mobile game with fast moving graphics, realtime multiplayer gameplay and interaction, and multichannel sound, all using HTML5 techniques. At the same time, the game should be deployed to iOS, Android and Facebook with a single code-base. Not an easy task, but hey, we do like a challenge.
What approach did you take?
To solve the many technical challenges we tried everything from game engines (Custom, ImpactJS, CAAT), server possibilities and deployment strategies. The almost weekly pivots made us a bit nervous (in fact, it was driving Bert crazy) but we decided to continue to anyway. The deployment was the most challenging. We already used PhoneGap for deployment to different app stores. PhoneGap solved some multichannel sound issues in standard HTML5, but to be honest, the solution felt uncomfortable. We also had a number of challenges that were left unsolved:
– Canvas rendering performance was below par. Even after extensive optimization we only achieved around 10 frames per second when we had many movements on screen. For 1990 this would have been great, but for 2012 perhaps not!
– Websockets were available, but because the rendering was so intensive on the browser and therefore CPU, packets were being delayed. This caused the realtime game functionality to be broken (we require around 20 packets/second minimum server rate).
– Sound was working, but hacked-in at best. We needed to create a separate sound player for browser deployment and a hook into PhoneGap for mobile.
– Ad-network integration in a HTML5 based game was buggy at best.
That meant: Back to the drawing board…
So, What did you do next?
We first tried appMobi’s services and tools, both commercial and open-source. AppMobi’s game developer tools solve a number of problems like rendering speed and multichannel sound (and from what I hear add integration as well). The Websockets however still work from the browser, as well as user input. Therefore as a developer you have 2 separated environments that have to communicate with eachother though serialized calls (EG. directCanvas.execute(“movePointer(“+x+”,”+y+”);”) ). That communication channel is a nasty bottleneck and is not usable for anything that requires fast updates. Aside from that, the game has to be separated into 2 environments for mobile, breaking our write-once-deploy-everywhere requirement.
So you decided to give CocoonJS a spin?
Yes. Through our CAAT experiences I (RB) got into contact with Ibon Tolosana and Ludei. The description of CocoonJS on the site, a seamless environment that runs HTML5 games without any changes, sounded too good to be true. Ibon emphasized however that that was exactly what was being created and told me about some other solutions that would be accompanied by it. He then offered me the chance to beta-test CocoonJS on our own game sources which I happily accepted. The current version of CocoonJS solves all our problems for us. In the most extreme cases we are still getting around 50 frames per second rendering speeds, multichannel sound and Websockets without delay. It also gives us easy ad-network integration and more. The best thing about that is that it hardly requires any work to make all this work in CocoonJS. Almost all HTML5 functionalities like sound, canvas operations, local storage and sockets are supported transparently. We can’t wait to launch our game ‘MonsterMove’ and start work on the next project using CAAT and CocoonJS!
About the company:
Appoint Solutions SARL is based out of Luxembourg due to it’s favorable VAT and IP legislation. The company was formally launched last year by the twin brothers Rob and Bert Boerman. The brothers share their passion for customer excellence and the use of smart technical solutions to solve complex client issues.
Rob has 15 years of experience in web development. He worked for 10 years as CTO and COO of a dutch company focused on large-scale online customer satisfaction research. In this period he designed and co-developed a realtime, open-source based, analytics database and tools for the hundreds of thousands of surveys handled each year. Bert has worked as an executive in a large banking corporation for 13 years. During this time he has set up 5 different business lines in Private banking, Corporate Banking and Institutional services.
Appoint Solutions currently creates custom applications and provides technical consultancy services for a number of clients, including other software houses and an international banking group. Besides that, the company also works on their our own projects in the field of game development and mobile applications.