Why Pyramid Solitaire Saga is King.com's HTML5 play [Interview]

Pyramid Solitaire Saga interview
Pyramid Solitaire Saga interview

HTML5. A relatively new tool for making browser-based games, it's become one of the key buzzwords for 2012 in the social games world. In fact, it might mean nothing to you. (For those still not in the know, check out all of our HTML5 coverage right here.) But it will ... eventually. Even King.com product manager Levina Nilsson (pictured below) admits that HTML5 isn't quite there yet.

When we learned that the social game maker's recent Pyramid Solitaire Saga on Facebook was built using HTML5--right when Diamond Dash maker Wooga has seemingly dropped out of that race--we had to know why King.com was bullish on the tech. So, we recently chatted with Levina to find out just that as well as her thoughts on

Why did you decide to create Pyramid Solitaire Saga in HTML5?

We had several reasons to try HTML5 out, but ultimately we are aiming for a seamless gaming experience across platforms for our players and chose Pyramid Solitaire Saga to test capabilities in achieving this. We want players to be able to play the same game on desktop, on their tablet and on their smartphone when and where it suits them and without having to download native apps. We also want to reduce development friction between desktop and mobile and therefore it was natural to try HTML5 to see if it is a viable gaming platform.

Compared to HTML5 games released even last year, Pyramid Solitaire Saga looks and sounds way more impressive. How did you manage that?

As a leading casual social games developer we aim to remain in the forefront of cross platform innovation and development strategy. To achieve and maintain this, King.com has invested a lot in resources attracting the most talented developer teams. We didn't just want to try HTML5, we wanted to make an awesome game and push the boundaries of what has been achieved before. Therefore we put a lot of graphical resources into the game, perfected the concept and worked towards the goal to be the most popular solitaire game on Facebook, which Pyramid Solitaire Saga became within one month of launch along with more than 1 million daily active players.

And, with all of our games, we didn't stop at launch. We still have a team working on the game to make it an ongoing, and even better experience for players. Today we are not just the most popular Solitaire on Facebook, looking at monthly active players we are now sharing the second place as the largest card game overall on Facebook.

Levina Nilsson
Levina Nilsson

HTML5 has had a rough time of becoming the de facto leading game creation tool that developers have been clamoring for, so is the time finally here? And what does that mean for the players?

Ultimately, no. Even though there has been a great deal of discussions about HTML5, it is still a very young technology that has to be used by more developers to be able to grow and be more mature. When it comes to delivering a great game experience, we are not there yet. But, it's not simply that HTML5 isn't ready, but also most mobile devices and browsers on the market aren't ready either. For now, it means that players will have to continue to download native apps for mobile games and that the gameplay experience isn't as seamless as it will be in the future.

With tools like Flash and Unity making leaps and bounds toward lush 3D and believable physics, do you expect the same from HTML5? Is this even a concern for HTML5 game creators?

In this early stage you can't expect anything really. Our experience is that if you need something you must be a part of making it happen; therefore we worked closely with Google and their open source solution PlayN. To ease game development even further, we also developed our own game framework, Wrath. Wrath combined with PlayN helped us to build a single game and use the code base for all devices (i.e. no more need for Flash for web, C++ for iOS, etc.). Wrath will be the first open source contribution from King.com. We hope that more developers like us will continue to explore, and try and develop HTML5 to be a truly efficient game development model.

Pyramid Solitaire Saga screens
Pyramid Solitaire Saga screens

Can we expect more HTML5 games from King.com in the future?

Yes, even if we feel like HTML5 isn't there yet we still believe in the potential that we see.

Now, we know the reasons why developers are moving toward HTML5, but are there any reasons that the players should demand it?

Players that eventually want to seamlessly enjoy a fully synchronized gameplay experience both on their tablets, smartphones and on their computer without any hassle should demand HTML5. HTML5 is at its best when players doesn't notice it. It just works everywhere as expected. If the players demand it, even the big companies that create smartphones will feel the pressure to develop products that can handle HTML5. Time and convenience are the rarest currency for our customers and HTML5 (without having to download native or track gameplay across multiple devices) will save them that in the future.

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