About a year ago, Lost Decade Games, an early-stage game development startup based in Palo Alto, entered Boing Boing’s “Games Inspired By Music Contest”. The created a game called “Onslaught! Arena”, an addictive 16-bit-arcade-style, HTML5-only fantasy shoot ‘em up. The game was popular enough that Google made it a launch title for the Chrome Web Store back in December.
But, aside from aggressive downloading of Chrome Angry Birds (which is now unreachable for me on Chrome, by the way), sales haven’t exactly been outsized.
As a result, Lost Decade Games Founders Geoff Blair and Matt Hackett were eager to go after the iOS market, but as the makers of an HTML5-only game, they were initially thwarted by the fact that HTML5 hasn’t really gotten up to speed (literally/figuratively) on mobile devices or tablets, thanks to a multitude of performance and audio issues. One of the attractions to building in HTML5, they said, is its portability, and they found it easy to move Onslaught! to the Mac App store for the desktop.
But, HTML5 was, at least when they began, a bomb on the iPad, as they were only able to play one sound file at a time, experienced latency issues, and so on. While audio in HTML5 is not an easy beast to contend with in the first place, HTML5 has seen rapid developer adoption in recent months, and the technology is becoming more and more optimized every day, as support for emerging web technologies catches up on mobile and other devices. “HTML5 is the future of web content, and we intend to be on the ground floor when it comes to games”, Blair said.
So, while Onslaught! on Chrome is great for playing the game on a desktop or laptop, the team would essentially have to rewrite their HTML5 game completely were they to optimize it for mobile, especially iOS. And as they are not exactly flush with cash from CWS sales, a time saver is critical. To solve their mobile woes, Lost Decade decided to partner with Game Closure, a startup we wrote about back in February, to become the first licensee of Game Closure’s mobile HTML5 engine.
Using the startup’s technology, Lost Decade is today releasing a full-featured version of Onslaught! for iOS, without having to rewrite the game. According to Blair, the development time for launching on iOS was cut by 75 percent, and as a result, they will be able to launch a subsequent Android version next week.
What’s more, they’ve been able to add some upgrades to the gameplay for the iOS release, including a much bigger playing area, four new environments, a new “Stage Select” screen to improve the game’s pacing and re-playability, a “Shop”, which features an HTML5 Shield, Speed Boots, Gold Armor, Whet Stone and more, and two types of controls.
Back in May, Game Closure displayed its HTML5-based cross-platform multiplayer gaming technology at Google I/O, by way of “Popstar Defense”, a game created specifically for the conference to show that it is indeed possible to write a single HTML5 game that works across browsers, iOS, Android, tablets and all. Lost Decade is doing the same, and with Facebook’s “Project Spartan” on the way, reportedly to bring the social networking giant into the HTML5 game on mobile, developers like Lost Decade are well-positioned to do just that.