May 19, 2011

Writing games using GWT and Eclipse

Finally Angry Birds is available on the web platform! I was not so impressed by the news from Google I/O until I heard that the implementation was done using Google Web Toolkit (GWT), a technology that has caught my interest lately. The good thing with GWT is that I don't need to hack Javascript and HTML5, but rather continue using Java with my favorite editor/debugger: Eclipse.

The Google I/O session Kick-Ass Game Programming with Google Web Toolkit explains further that Angry Birds is using the Box2D physics engine, which according to the presenter's guess 90% of all iPhone games are using. The Google guys took the Java version of Box2D, ported it and optimized it for GWT (in 30 mins!), and wrote a cross-platform game abstraction library, called ForPlay.

The idea is really compelling; instead of writing and maintaining several codebases of your game for different platforms, a ForPlay game can be run on the web platform (HTML5), as a Java program or even using Flash. Thrilled to try out this new platform, I wrote my first "game", well ... not really a game, but I thought it would be interesting to see how our company logo behaves in free fall. The result is on It is based on the "Hello Game" demo you get when checking out the ForPlay source.

The FindOut Logo game (hint: click to drop a new logo or click and drag to "throw it")
I am very glad to see that you can leverage the existing ecosystem of components, even when doing game programming, and that GWT seems to be a great technology for managing code sharing when dealing with many target platforms.

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