Word Wars: Prepare to Battle Your Own Brain

wordwars_vertAs the clock ticks down from two minutes, your job is to see how many words you can find amidst the chaos of scrambled letters. Words come in many forms—straight lines or circuitous concoctions. The only rule is you have to spell out a word with a single swipe of your finger across the phone’s screen. That’s Word Wars. It’s nerve-wracking. It’s fun.

We spoke with Austin Hallock, CEO of Clay.io—an HTML5 and WebGL gaming platform—to learn more about our latest word game addiction.

What are your predictions about the future of HTML5 gaming—for both mobile and desktop? 
This is already starting to happen, but I expect to see a lot more folks really taking advantage of what HTML5 brings to the table—and that’s not its cross-platform capabilities. Cross-platform is nice, but it can be achieved with other tools and you typically get better performance. Where HTML5 really thrives is in the fact that you’re one click away from being in an app… no app store, no installing, very little waiting.

App stores are nice for discovery, but it makes more sense to try a game before you add it to your home screen… and that’s already possible not only with a browser, but with webview inside other apps. It’s so much more fluid to click a link to a game on Facebook, play it immediately, then have the option to add the game to your home screen.

The technology is already there for this to happen with simple games, but we’re starting to get to the point where you can get more advanced. WebGL makes this possible, and we’re finally starting to see more widespread support. 2014 should be an interesting year for the progression of WebGL games on mobile.

What was the inspiration for Word Wars?
A really basic version of Word Wars was actually first developed two years ago in a 24-hour time span for a hackathon by a couple of friends (Hassaan Markhiani and Farhad Abasov) at the University of Texas. Of course, while you can get a reasonably fun game built in 24 hours, it’s more or less a shell of a game that requires quite a bit more work. We took over development of the game and made it more secure and improved the look.

Over the past two years we’ve learned so much about how to properly build, distribute and commercialize these types of games, so we decided we needed to put this all into action to have a reference point for other developers (and also to learn even more from it). This time around we really focused on the game’s look, performance on mobile and sharing mechanics to hopefully show developers skeptical of HTML5 that it’s something worth considering.

Can you tell us about any new games you have in development that will be hitting Firefox Marketplace soon?
We wouldn’t classify ourselves as game developers, so we don’t have any other games of our own planned. However, we do work with a lot of developers—helping with high level tools and distribution—and one of our goals is to help bring as many of those games as we can to Firefox OS. I’m a huge fan of the OS, so I’m going do what I can to help grow the ecosystem.


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