Several weeks after first starting to try HTML5, I have to say I love it. If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know – I can get bored quite fast. Working on a single project for a long time can be a very unpleasant task for me. So the small nature of HTML5 projects is very appealing – Before I have time to get bored with any project, it’s already finished and ready to be published (kind of).
But is it economical? My first HTML5 game has so far gained an impressive 5 US cents through Kongregate’s profit sharing system. While I didn’t do much to market it, and it is my first such project, having been written in about two non-intense weeks, it’s still not a very promising sign. So now I have two questions to ask myself:
1. Can it improve? If I make better games, perhaps try to market them a little more, is there a chance to get some more significant success?
2. Should I try to dump Kongregate and try on my own? Obviously there’s no point in making one tiny browser game and trying to publish it independently. Browser games need to come in masses. But masses are the advantage of browser game development – it might not be impossible. I have a little project going in that direction, but I’m far from confident it could do much. We’ll have to wait and see.
Anyway, I still have an almost-finished PC game to complete and publish. But I want to explore this option first. If there’s a chance to succeed from giving things for free, I think it would be more fun than to sell stuff.
Here it is – my first HTML5 game is available, combining two of my hobbies – gaming and language learning. The Serpent Scribe of Kyoto will allow you to feel like you’re wasting your time to the addictive void of snake, only to later find out you learned something – in this case, the Japanese writing systems Hiragana and Katakana. It works so well that I can now read both even though I had no intention of learning Japanese (yet) – it just comes naturally, that’s why I love the combination of gaming and learning so much.
Anyway, it’s available on Kongregate and you’re welcome to try it – it doesn’t matter if you want to learn Japanese, I think even playing a little game of snake and then being able to brag about your Japanese reading skills at the next party you go to is already worth it. I’d love to get some feedback, and to hear if you started reading Japanese because of it.
If it turns out to be a big success, you might see more of those coming in the future. Otherwise, they’ll probably come mostly to help me learn whatever I’m trying to learn at the time.
 Yes – as usual, it’s an old idea I recycled. I like doing that.
 Clearly, I’m a master of impressing people at social events.
I’ve always kind of looked down at browser games, thinking they weren’t serious enough for me to appreciate. I usually like immersion in my video games, and playing in a small browser window doesn’t give that. However, my opinion has been starting to change lately. Despite their shortcomings, browser games have a huge advantage – they can get away with much less content, giving them two advantages: They can be made in a very short time, and they can be built around ideas that don’t have enough to hold a full game, but are fun nonetheless.
I can think of only two browser games I ever played which were good enough to leave some sort of impression on me – N (which apparently wasn’t originally a browser game, but that’s how I know it), one of the best platformers I know, and GemCraft, which I consider the definitive tower defense game.
Since I’m exploring options for making a living from making games, I’ve been thinking for a long time about trying Flash. I had an automatic repulsion from it, being such a proprietary format, but it seemed to be the only option for browser games. But now with HTML5 on the rise, it might be time for a change.
So right now I’m in the process of finalizing my first HTML5 game. I don’t know if it would evolve to something big, but I can certainly see a future where I make small HTML5 games to try out ideas, make small mini-games for things that are fun but not very extensive, and once in a while when something really has potential, make it into a full PC game. We’ll see.