Google Maze: New Fun Game Powered by HTML5 Websocket Standard

By Peter Bernstein March 26, 2013

Okay, it is an experiment, but you have to give credit where it’s due to the developer crowd at Google, which last week introduced World Wide Maze. In case you missed the introduction, World Wide Maze, which runs on Chrome (no surprise) is an interactive game that turns any website into a 3D maze that you then navigate by using your smartphone to roll a marble through.   

In fact, to get the full experience you need to have Chrome for your desktop and smartphone and then sync them so that the game can work on both devices.  

This is a case where visualization tells the story best, and Google Chrome Japan has a nice video that lets you see what’s up. 

Here is all you have to do after synching your smartphone, running iOS 5 or above or Android 4.0, and desktop. Search for any website, or try the one for where you work, and it’s rendered into a 3D maze with little marbles. The object is to get to the finish line – i.e., out of the maze. Control is done by tilting your smartphone to control the direction of the marble.  

I can say from several minutes of “play” that the entire experience is mesmerizing.

To try World Wide Maze, visit chrome.com/maze. You will need to download the Google Chrome browser for either iOS or Android.

HTML5 WebSocket power

Google is hyping the fact that the 3D graphic capability is powered by WebGL (Web Graphics Library), a JavaScript API for rendering interactive 3D graphics and 2D graphics within any compatible Web browser without the use of plug-ins. It also employs the HTML5 Websocket standard, a Web technology that provides full-duplex communications channels over a single TCP connection that was standardized by the IETF as RFC 6455 in 2011, and whose WebSocket API for in Web IDL is being standardized by the W3C.

In commenting on Google Maze and its use of new standards, Jonas Jacobi, cofounder and CEO at Kaazing, pioneers of HTML5 WebSocket, stated that, “It’s very encouraging that they chose to use the HTML5 WebSocket standard for Google Maze because it enables full-duplex, two-way, web communication, with no downloads or plugins required.”  He further explained that, “This standard is ideal for real-time and social interactivity often used by developers to build multiplayer games, and for device to device communication. The HTML5 WebSocket standard was designed to unlock the full potential of the Web communication fabric and provide a more efficient communication layer for application developers to that offered by HTTP.”  

That said, Jacobi also added that Google, because of its desire to promote Chrome, may have missed and opportunity. He noted that, “Google Maze could have been further optimized if built using a high-performance web communication platform, such as Kaazing, which could improve connectivity and latency, and ultimately user experience. It would also allow them to automatically leverage the WebSocket standard across all browsers and devices, as opposed to Chrome.”

Given the ecosystem battles involving browser supremacy it is not surprising that Google opted for use on Chrome alone. How all of this moves from interesting and fun experiment to be commercialized in a host of other capabilities is an exciting prospect. Gamification, which Google Maze is a very ingenious example of, is a big deal in making navigation easier and web experiences more compelling.

One can only hope Google decides to do as Jacobi suggests, and open the flood gates to everyone. 




Edited by Braden Becker
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