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WebGL Technology to Allow 3D Graphics for Online Video Games Played through Browsers

WebGL technology promises to provide video gamers a way to play games with computing-intensive 3D graphics through their web browsers. Currently, gamers need to download the software for games that have 3D graphics rendering because the browser software simply cannot handle the massive amount of computations that these games require. With WebGL technology, a gamer simply visits a website and would be able to combat realistic-looking enemies without any need for any other software.

A closer look at WebGL

WebGL is an emerging standard specification that is designed to present three-dimensional graphics that are hardware-accelerated in web pages without the need for browser plug-ins. This means that gamers would no longer need to download gaming software and simply use their browsers to connect to a website and play the 3D game from there. This technology is being developed to run in platforms that support OpenGL or OpenGL ES. Technically, this this is supported  by JavaScript and it is being currently developed by the Khronos Group with participation by industry leaders such as Mozilla, Google, Ericsson, AMD, Opera Software, Apple, and NVIDIA.

WebGL will take advantage of the substantial improvements in the performance of JavaScript in a wide range of browsers and the latest offerings in Web technology, particularly the canvas element that is a component of the HTML 5 standard. The accelerated capabilities of OpenGL ES that would be directly available via JavaScript is projected to prompt the development of 3D web applications including those that have improved functionality and navigation and better-looking user interface.

What is even more exciting about the future of 3D web browser gaming is the WebGL support that is being included in precursors of current web browser software: Chromium for Google’s Chrome, WebKit for Apple’s Safari, and Minefield for Mozilla’s Firefox. Opera Software has also begun work that would enable support for WebGL.

As mentioned above, the two driving forces for making WebGL a reality are JavaScript and OpenGL ES. JavaScript is the web programming language that has become popular because of its capability to make web pages more interactive and intelligent. So far, the programs written in JavaScript have substantial limitations when compared to software that execute natively on a computer system, but significant strides are being made to remedy the situation.

Meanwhile, OpenGL is a standard specification for the cross-platform development of applications that render 2D and 3D computer graphics. OpenGL ES is designed for mobile applications in smart phones or automobile navigation systems. A computer graphics system that has an OpenGL driver, a software that has been created to utilize OpenGL, can make use of the graphics acceleration hardware of a computer system. WebGL will be royalty-free but programmers will need to learn WebGL.

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