Skip to main content

2 posts tagged with "unreal"

View All Tags

Porting Unreal Scenes to the Browser with PlayCanvas - Developer Spotlight with Leonidas Maliokas

· 5 min read
Steven Yau
Partner Relations Manager

Welcome to Developer Spotlight, a new series of blog articles where we talk to developers about how they use PlayCanvas and showcase the fantastic work they are doing on the web.

Today we are excited to be joined by Leonidas Maliokas, a freelance web and games developer for Solar Games.

He will show us how Solar Games ported a metaverse experience from Unreal to PlayCanvas in the video presentation below. Specific areas covered are:

  • Converting scenes and assets from Unreal to PlayCanvas
  • Runtime and load-time optimization
  • Lighting and post processing
  • Multiplayer with Colyseus
  • Ready Player Me avatar integration
  • Spatial-aware audio chat with Agora

Presentation Slides

Hi Leonidas, welcome to Developer Spotlight! Tell us about yourself and your studio

Hey, I’m Leonidas from Solar Games (formerly known as Pirron 1)! I’ve been working with interactive 3D websites since 2012. I used to work as a civil engineer before turning my hobby and passion for gamedev into a full time job using PlayCanvas.

Together with doing PlayCanvas contracts of all sorts, like product configurators, games and promotional sites, I’ve been researching how to extend the PlayCanvas engine and editor. Adding open world terrains, special effects and easy to use networked controllers to match features normally found in native only game engines, led to founding Solar Games.

We offer Uranus Tools for PlayCanvas, a collection of plug and play scripts to supercharge your PlayCanvas creation pipeline. You can find out more about our company’s services at

We are also working on Aritelia, a procedurally generated open world social MMO in PlayCanvas. This is still in development but you can already give it a try with the pre-alpha tech demonstration that was released last year.

Why did you choose PlayCanvas?

It was actually an easy choice for us: by reviewing the mainstream WebGL libraries and platforms, PlayCanvas did stand out for:

  • Offering an integrated editor and publishing solution. Even after all these years, the ability to easily share projects and builds and collaborate with your colleagues in real-time is something unique to PlayCanvas.
  • The PlayCanvas team is very productive and professional in the way it moves the platform forward.
  • The open source PlayCanvas engine provides a very effective and easy to use API.

What were the initial challenges and how did the team overcome them?

The main challenge was the lack of certain features and tools. For example things that you’d take for granted in a native game engine like a terrain system, post effects, automatic instancing and level of detail were missing.

The good news was that even before the PlayCanvas Editor API was officially released, it has always been possible to extend the PlayCanvas Editor. We were able to write our own editor extensions and quickly make them productive in our development pipeline.

Other developers and companies became interested in our extensions and we started offering them in our company’s asset store.

How is building an HTML5 game/experience different from a native game/experience?

Several concepts like rendering, resource loading, game logic and state management are quite similar. But there are some unique concepts when it comes to web-based experiences that can be challenging.

In particular, download times, different display sizes and pixel ratios, a broad spectrum of device specs, and also platform and browser compatibility.

Taking into account these factors is mandatory when building a high-quality HTML5 experience.

What are the team's favorite features of PlayCanvas?

Our favorite feature is the editor, by far. The fact that it is collaborative in real time makes PlayCanvas the best tool for teams to work together. Also, the fact that PlayCanvas has version control integrated is pretty cool! Something else I would add is that PlayCanvas provides a very clean API to work with. Seriously, not only HTML5 devs but also native game devs should give PlayCanvas a try. It’s a great tool to quickly be productive!

Other than that:

  • Asset pipelines like enabling texture compression.
  • The engine API and the constant addition of new features by the PlayCanvas team.
  • The community - many greetings to everybody!

What is on the feature wishlist for PlayCanvas this year?

  • Having the PlayCanvas WebGPU renderer available to play with.
  • Full support of the new node based shader editor.
  • Asset variants for specific platforms e.g. serve smaller textures on mobile.

How do you see HTML5 games/experiences evolve over the next few years?

It’s definitely an exciting time for developers and companies working with HTML5 content. Both the technology has moved forward with standards and frameworks being more robust and powerful than ever, and the devices capable of running HTML5 experiences are very capable.

The metaverse is already leveraging HTML5 to deploy worlds and experiences across traditional web2 and newer web3 websites.

Pixel streaming is the only valid contender when it comes to what HTML5 can offer. I would definitely welcome a feature where pixel streaming is a viable option since it’s a great concept. But right now I don’t see this happening soon.

There are so many opportunities around HTML5 and I see a very positive future for everyone involved.

Thank you very much for your time and we look forward to your presentation

Thank you for this opportunity to showcase our work!

Useful links:

Stay tuned for more Developer Spotlights in the future!

PlayCanvas versus Unreal WebGL

· 5 min read

Our previous article comparing PlayCanvas with Unity's WebGL exporter certainly got folks talking. One of the questions that came up in the aftermath was "OK, but what about Unreal's WebGL exporter?". Unreal, like Unity, relies on Emscripten to port the native codebase to JavaScript. So it would be reasonable to expect Unreal to suffer from the same issues as Unity: large download sizes, long load times and poor runtime performance.

We could do the same experiments as before with the textured cube, but let's try to make a more real-world comparison. Flappy Bird clones have been made in both Unreal and PlayCanvas. Let's take the Epic-authored Tappy Chicken and see how it fares against the PlayCanvas-powered Flappy Bird. Here's the  (playable) PlayCanvas game:

Unfortunately, I can't embed Tappy Chicken because Epic have restricted it to desktop browsers. So here's a link to it, along with an animated GIF:


So before we begin, there's an important point to make. They are not the same game and they do exhibit certain differences. Tappy Chicken uses different textures, has parallax, uses particles and so on. But in essence, they are remarkably similar and worthy of a comparison, despite not being pixel perfect clones of each other. It's up to you, dear reader, to decide if the differences in the games account for the results of the analysis presented below.

As before, we will look at three key metrics: download size, load time and runtime performance.

Download Size

To check the download size of each app, we disabled the cache in Chrome Dev Tools and recorded the total transfer:

Tappy Chicken (Unreal)Flappy Bird (PlayCanvas)

Epic's game is over 47 times larger than the PlayCanvas game. Again, we see an Emscripten dependent engine struggle with download size. Just the JavaScript of Tappy Chicken accounts for 7.3MB of the entire 10MB payload, and that is the GZIPped size. Uncompressed, it is over 36MB of JavaScript. PlayCanvas' hand-written, 'JavaScript-first' approach wins out here, with a tiny 147KB footprint (615KB uncompressed) for the entire engine.

Load Time

Unfortunately, Epic prevents Tappy Chicken from running on mobile so we'll just test load times on desktop. For the test, we'll use a Core i7-powered Win10 machine on a 50Mb/s connection to the net. The browser cache has been disabled.

BrowserTappy Chicken (Unreal)Flappy Bird (PlayCanvas)
Chrome 5215.8s0.9s
Firefox 4811.0s1.4s
Edge 1423.6s1.1s

The PlayCanvas game was also run on a number of mobile devices and always runs at 60Hz and loaded in under 2 seconds.

Things to notice:

  • Chrome loads the PlayCanvas game 17.6 times faster than the Unreal game. Other browsers show impressive multiples too.
  • Firefox loads the asm.js-based Unreal runtime the fastest. Since Emscripten is a Mozilla technology and Firefox is heavily optimized for asm.js code, this is not a great surprise.
  • Load times appear to depend on more than just loading the game files. Preprocessing 36MB of JavaScript also contributes to the slow Unreal load times.

Runtime Performance

To analyze runtime performance, let's compare captures of the two games using the Timeline panel in Chrome Dev Tools. Here's a capture for the PlayCanvas-powered Flappy Bird showing a frame executed in 0.57ms:


And here's a capture for the Unreal-powered Tappy Chicken with a frame executed in 5.0ms:


In each capture, a typical frame has been selected. Not the fastest, not the slowest. Just an 'average' frame. Note that both captures are showing a frame at the same timeline scale.

Things to notice:

  • CPU load in the Unreal game is typically around 8x greater than for the PlayCanvas game. Taking the 'Composite Layers' step of the browser into account (green bar in the Timeline captures), the multiple is closer to 6x. So although both games generally lock to 60Hz on the test hardware, the PlayCanvas game can process a frame well within a millisecond whereas the Unreal game is clearly stressing the CPU. On lower end hardware, the Unreal game would become CPU bound.
  • CPU load is much more variable in the Unreal game and spikes regularly. Without understanding the internals of the Unreal engine, it is hard to explain this. But the result is sporadic frame drops.


To summarize:

  • Epic's game is over 47 times larger than the PlayCanvas game.
  • Chrome loads the PlayCanvas game 17.6 times faster than the Unreal game.
  • CPU load in the Unreal game is typically around 8x greater than for the PlayCanvas game.

To be fair, Epic say the following in their documentation:

The HTML5 pipeline is currently experimental. Some projects may not run properly when built for the HTML5 platform. Expect some rough edges.

But we clearly see here that Unreal suffers similar problems to Unity's WebGL exporter. Export sizes are huge, load times are long and runtime performance is poor when compared to a 'WebGL-first' engine like PlayCanvas.

To learn how PlayCanvas built an engine so optimized for the browser, head over to GitHub to explore the open sourced runtime. And if you want to start building with PlayCanvas today, sign up for free on To check out the Flappy Bird project, click here.