The older I get, the more common it becomes to see the games of my youth, games that would have brought my then state-of-the-art PC undone, running on ever more trivial and mundane platforms.
Most days, its Doom running on a fridge magnet or someone’s big toe, or whatever else it’s been optimised for now. But today, it’s Unreal Tournament on a web browser. Epic Games’ breakout multiplayer shooter, a game that turned my poor old Pentium 133 inside out and forced an upgrade, can now run natively in the browser I’m using to write this very article.
The project is called ‘UT99 for the web’ and is the creation of programmer, designer and port enthusiast Ryan Gordon. What you get is not the full game of Unreal Tournament — that would be a very big download and, as Gordon himself states, UT is not his game to give out. Epic is still selling the game on Steam, and even has an open source, free-to-play version available. Thus, to avoid a legal smackdown, Gordon has instead taken the game’s famous fly-through intro sequence and ported it to a format that can run natively in a web browser as a proof of concept.
This is not the full game, but rather a proof of concept. What Gordon is saying is that the complete Unreal Tournament experience could be played in a browser.
Once again, I used to struggle to get this game to work on my family PC, and now it runs on the latest version of Firefox.
A few things to know about UT99 for the web: it’s about a 200mb download, which may freeze your browser depending on your hardware. It’s also known to fail on Safari on mobile, as well as the pre-Win10 Creators Update version of Edge and Internet Explorer. As noted, you can’t start a game because the game isn’t there and it will crash. Gordon used the Emscripten compiler, SDL2 dev library and Regal OpenGL layer to accomplish his feat.
Kind of want to play UT now, not gonna lie.
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