“As Hard as Atari’s E.T.” Bored Breaker Now Available in Your Browser via WebGL

Man, I’m sooo gonna put that review quote on the back of the box! If I had a box. Remember when software came in boxes? Good times! I remember busting open the shrink wrap and taking a deep breath of New Game Smell. Oh, the intoxicating aroma of fresh cardboard mixed with the air of far off packing plants! Er… What was I talking about? Sorry, me memory’s a little shot from decades of breathing toxic paper plant fumes.

Oh, right! Bored Breaker has busted beyond its touchscreen confines and is ready to break boredom (and boards!) in web windows worldwide! It took a little longer than expected due to the whole Chrome plug-in issue, but it’s ready and we’ve got some exiting new tech to talk about to go along with it.

Play Bored Breaker in Your Browser (Firefox performs best)

So… The plug-in issue. As you might imagine, Google’s roadmap to remove NPAPI from Chrome has caused quite a kerfuffle in the game hobbyist community. Many developers actually relied on the Unity Web Player plug-in to post their work to the world, especially following popular game jams such as the famous Ludum Dare. Fortunately, Unity engineers have not been resting on their laurels. While it is still considered a “preview” Unity 5 can build out programs in an entirely new format: WebGL.

Plugins Not Working in Chrome? What Happened and What You Can Do

Chrome Pac-Man IconUsing Chrome only to discover that your favorite game or video site isn’t working anymore? No error, no icon, no warning, no nothing? Congrats, you just discovered that Google killed off a whole subset of online software without so much as a fallback warning! Affected plug-in include Sliverlight, Shockwave, Flash, Unity Web Player, Java, older versions of Facebook Video, Google Earth, and Google Talk, as well as a great number of enterprise level custom software solutions.

So, what happened? Google announced in 2013 their roadmap to remove NPAPI (Netscape Plug-in API) support from the Chrome web browser. Why remove a framework that has enable to web browser capabilities to be extended far beyond anyone’s expectations for the past 20-ish years? Google justifies their viewpoint stating that:

“Today’s browsers are speedier, safer, and more capable than their ancestors. Meanwhile, NPAPI’s 90s-era architecture has become a leading cause of hangs, crashes, security incidents, and code complexity. Because of this, Chrome will be phasing out NPAPI support”.

While the statement is an amusing mix of fact and hyperbole (with a dash of hypocrisy if you consider how many major malware incidents can be traced back to Google’s own DoubleClick ad network), the intent is clear: NPAPI’s days are numbered in the eyes of The Big G. Considering the update-crazed online society of today where newer is always believed to be better, they’ll probably get their way.

As of April 2015, Chrome still technically supports NPAPI plug-ins. However, it has been disabled by default in v42 of the browser. NPAPI support is projected to be removed altogether in September of 2015.

For the short term, you can re-enable NPAPI support in Chrome by using the following URL: chrome://flags/#enable-npapi . Once there, click the Enable link under “Enable NPAPI”.

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Finally, click the “Restart Now” button at the bottom of the browser page (Closing/Reopening Chrome is NOT sufficient to enable this option).

Of course you could always switch to another web browser such as Mozilla’s Firefox. As a bonus, you’ll be supporting a company that believes in protecting Internet user’s privacy, a philosophy diametrically opposed to Google.

However, even switching web browsers may prove to be a mere Band-Aid for the issue. Most other web browser creators have announced similar plans to remove NPAPI support as well. While none have thus far actually made any moves to remove the plug-in support (or even set a timeline), NPAPI support and the web apps that require them, may very well be going the way of the dinosaurs.

Can Google’s war on plug-ins change the face of the Internet as much as Apple’s war on Flash? It all depends on how much users are willing accept.

Bored Breaker–The Little Game I Made on Accident

Much to my surprise, I seem to have a new game to tell y’all about. Here’s the pitch:

An instant to learn - A lifetime to master! Break from boredom and break boards with Bored Breaker - a quick reaction game designed to challenge your reflexes complete with HD graphics and realistic physics to delight your eyes. Refine your skills with the predictable Zen mode in preparation for a real test of skill in Ninja mode.

In unprepared, marketing-free talk, it’s a tap-tastic quick-reaction game. 2x4s are being chucked at your space ninja’s head and you need to tap the screen to karate-chop them in half before being clonked into unconsciousness. (The spellchecker is okay with “clonked”? Huh, go figure).

Anyway, this one is available for free from Google Play or Amazon AppStore for Android devices. I’ll try to get a web player build up here later this week. I don’t feel that playing with a mouse does it justice, but I know you folks don’t all have ‘Droids. Also, PC FTW Winking smile Anyway, watch this space for more versions “soon”. Update: Browser based version available here.

So, anyway… Yeah, made on accident. I was taking a break to learn some new skills (ie. avoiding working on some of the larger game projects I’ve got lying around here) and decided to play with IK animation in the new 5.0 release of Unity. Games are great fun to make; Content for ‘em… eh, not so much.