Epic showcases its game development powerhouse running ‘near-natively’ on a web browser

Video: Unreal Engine 4 lights up on Firefox

Epic Games and Mozilla have shown a glimpse of Unreal Engine 4 running at near-native quality on the Firefox web browser.

A video showing Epic’s new Soul and Swing Ninja demo running on Firefox at near-native speed is the first glimpse of Unreal Engine 4 running on the web without plugins.

Last year the two companies joined forces to show off what UE3 and Firefox could do with Epic Citadel, using asm.js, a souped-up subset of JavaScript pioneered by Mozilla.

Mozilla says in less than 12 months, optimisations have increased the performance of web applications using asm.js from 40 per cent to within 67 per cent of native, and it expects it to get even faster.

Most modern browsers can run asm.js content, but specific optimisations are currently only present in Firefox.

“This technology has reached a point where games users can jump into via a web link are now almost indistinguishable from ones they might have had to wait to download and install,” said Mozilla CTO and SVP of engineering Brendan Eich.

“Using Emscripten to cross-compile C and C++ into asm.js, developers can run their games at near-native speeds, so they can approach the web as they would any other platform.”

Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney added: “We were blown away by what this Mozilla-pioneered technology achieved with Unreal Engine 3 on the web, so we had no hesitation in working with Mozilla to port Unreal Engine 4.

“We believe the web has a crucial part to play in the future of game development and deployment, and Mozilla has proven it is the catalyst to make this happen.”

Performance of this kind opens up new opportunities for gameplay experience that aren’t just limited to the web. Nom Nom Games is making cross-platform multiplayer shooter Monster Madness using Mozilla’s technology.

Nom Nom director Jeremy Steiglitz told Develop: “Using Mozilla’s powerful asm.js technology – combined with other web technologies such as HTML5 and WebGL – enabled us to support a native-quality game running directly in the browser at high framerates, and tied in perfectly with our Playverse backend technology.”

Mozilla will be demoing UE4 on Firefox at GDC, South Hall booth #205. Or visit Epic’s booth #1224.

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