Lunar Lander In HTML5: Atari Teams Up With Microsoft To Bring 8 Classic Games To The Browser

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Atari is turning 40 this year and with the help of Microsoft and the HTML5 specialists at gskinner.com, it is now bringing eight of its most popular classic games to the browser. The games are optimized for Internet Explorer 10 and touch controls, but also work well on any other modern browser. To do so, as Microsoft’s general manager for Internet Explorer Ryan Gavin told me yesterday, Atari’s new browser-based arcade uses over 30 new HTML5 and CSS3 standards, including WebSockets, CSS3 media queries, font and text glow, as well as CSS3D transitions and animations.

Atari plans to add over 100 games to its library in the coming months, but for now, the available games are Asteroids, Combat, Centipede, Lunar Lander, Missile Command, Pong, Super Breakout and Yar’s Revenge. Many of these games, and especially Missile Command, have been optimized for multi-touch capable devices running IE10 and Windows 8. Most of the games also feature multi-player capabilities using WebSockets (or SocketIO on older browsers).

As Gavin notes in a blog post today, “most modern, successful video game franchises are still inspired by Atari’s original creative concepts” and the Atari Arcade is meant to be “an updated take” on these classic games. Multi-touch, Gavin stressed, also brings a new level of interaction to these classic games that wasn’t possible before. The only difference between playing the games on Windows 8 and IE10 and other browsers is that Atari will show ads on other browsers.

It’s Not Just Fun And Games: The Atari Arcade Platform

As Gavin told me, this was a “killer project” to work on, but despite the advances in development tools for HTML5 games, it still took a lot of hard work to make these games. Besides letting users play these classic games, then, the developers decided to make many of the tools they developed to build these games available to the community. These include, among other things, code samples uploaded to GitHub and a full-blown SDK for building similar games for the Atari Arcade platform. The idea here is that Atari will publish some of the best games and share revenue with the developers.

The developers behind these games are also contributing over 100 enhancements to the popular CreateJS library, including pre-set touch controls, effects and new physics and collision libraries. Microsoft is also launching Zoe, a tool for converting Flash games into HTML5.

In addition to these tools, the developers are offering in-depth tear-downs of how they created the games in HTML5 as well as tutorials for building browser-based games.

Given that not every computer and browser can support the hardware acceleration necessary for the best possible gameplay experience, the Atari Arcade can automatically switch between 3D and 2D elements depending on the processing power available.