REVIEW: HTML5 Games Development by Example: Beginner’s Guide

 by Kai "kaidez" Gittens

No doubt about it: the demand for HTML5 games is high and will only get higher. Game development has always been a lucrative skillset to possess and thanks to HTML5, web-based game development is a bit easier.

So if you already have basic HTML5, CSS and JavaScript skills, Packt Publishing’s HTML5 Games Development by Example: Beginner’s Guide is a learning resource that’s worth checking out if you want to get into game developmet. And if you don’t want to get into gaming, it may be worth a purchase anyway.

The book offers six step-by-step HTML5 game creation tutorials, starting with a simple ping-pong game and gradually getting more difficult, using things like WebSockets. It uses a varied array of coding techniques to create HTML5 games: jQuery, HTML5 audio, CSS3, JSON and (wow!) node.js. I went through the coding examples and didn’t see any errors. There certainly some stylistic differences in how page elements were rendered across browsers and devices, but nothing so glaring to the point that I would badmouth the code.

HTML5 Games also holds your hand quite nicely through the process. At times, it goes through a set of steps, then asks the reader “What just happened?”, clarifying the coding steps you just performed. It also, at times, makes sure that your brain retained the lessons you learned as pop quizes show up in the content.

The book is certainly good for learning HTML5 gaming development but I have to say, it’s also if you have no plans to get into this realm. While this book demonstrates many coding techniques, four in particular jumped out at me:

  • Canvas – this is one of the most talked about HTML5 APIs…HTML5 Games covers it well and in-depth.
  • Cache manifest & local storage – sorely underrated as of this article, both of these things allow for the creation of browser-based games and web applications that can run without an internet connection. HTML5 Games reviews them very early on.
  • The importance of JavaScript in HTML5 application development – My opinion is that this point hasn’t been drilled enough into the heads of web designers with limited web development skills. If that’s you, read this book and you’ll be better-prepared.
  • JavaScript best practices – things like “limit your global JavaScript variables!” are mentioned. This is good.

Factor these four topics in with the ones mentioned earlier (node.js, JSON, etc.) and HTML5 Games is a pretty good primer of the most-desired web dev skillsets employees are looking for as of this article. Page 2 of the book states that it’s for game designers, but I think that any intermediate web developer can better their coding habits if they go through the six exercises. You become a better developer by working on many different projects…working on gaming projects like the ones discussed in the book is no exception.

But it also states on page 2 that you should have a “basic understanding of HTML, CSS and JavaScript,” which is spot-on correct. There are no extensive discussions on the semantic meaning of HTML5 tags or the hows-and-whys of jQuery, and those with a firm handle on JavaScript custom objects will breeze through this book. So the web development beginner will struggle a bit with HTML5 Games if they don’t understand those core concepts.

I walked away learning more than I did before after finishing HTML5 Games Development by Example: Beginner’s Guide. That’s a strong sign of quality learning resource so I suggest it.