Internet changes quick. In one moment we know the newest games, and in another internet gets filled with some Flash/HTML5/Javascript browser mini-productions which, somehow all have domains ending with “.io”.

Do these games belong to some secret group? Do they have anything in common? And what does IO mean?

What Is Io

Unless you are thinking about iOS (which is Apple’s mobile operating system), then IO is an relatively new domain extension available to anyone who want to register it.

More specifically IO is an internet country code top-level domain that is assigned to the British Indian Ocean Territory.

However, the truth is, most people who use this domain have nothing in common with British Indian Ocean Territory.

In fact, even thought this wasn’t planned – IO as a domain extension sounds incredibly good with majority of brand names and product names especially in games and technology sector (and many more, we were the first to abuse them though).

Therefore, if domains com, net, org and info are taken, I would definitely go with io whatever kind of the product or website is. Hell, sometimes I would even pick io over com and the rest of original, global top level domain names. That depends on the domain name though.

Not only it sounds good, and makes a perfect fit, but sometimes it also makes sense to make IO a part of our name.

For example, popular browser game agar.io is known, recognized and goes by the name of Agario. However, if it’s address was agar.com, then it would be recognized as Agar instead. Sounds much worse right? I think so too.

List Of Good (Best) IO Games

Agar

Agar.io is a simple game where you play as a bacteria or some other cell, and try to eat smaller cells than you , while also running away from bigger bros.

This game has really simple mechanics (and graphics) yet it somehow became mainstream popular.

I myself spend many hours on this low effort game. I guess we just feel good when we manage to eat enemy and run away from others, and that’s why it is so addicting.

Slither

Slither.io is another very plain game which managed to get world-wide recognition and addict many players.

You are a snake and you eat other snakes, as you eat, you become slower and bigger. It’s literally clone of Agar.io without cell-splitting and cell-jumping.

Wanderers

Wanderers.io is very entertaining, unique browser game with interesting concept of some RTS strategy game.

In Wanderers gameplay, you drop your ugly looking totem (that is considered a God) with mouse anywhere on the map and your tribe follows it.

When they reach destination, they attack enemy (if there’s any) or chop trees and collect resources.

IMO much more interesting concept than Agar and Slither, yet, much less popular.

Wilds

Wilds.io is, if you didn’t recognize this style, another game of Wanderers creator. This guy for sure has talent to medieval pixel art graphics.

They are simple yet extremely good looking. And generally this is how you want to make games or anything, to avoid spending too much time and effort on things that could be done quicker and better. You don’t have to necessarily make pixel art games, but if you make simple and good graphics, then you’re perfect!

Wilds is very smooth and not-laggy medieval “RPG” browser game where your agile character reacts to keyboard combos. Mind you majority of browser games are laggy as hell, and they’re not this fluid at all.

What you do in Wilds is attack other players and monsters, avoid being hit by them, kill them and take their resources whatever they drop (armors and weapons). With time, by collecting their stuff, your equipment automatically upgrades.

Game pretty fun until you become strongest on the server.

How To Make An IO Game

As you can see, two first examples are mainstream popular regardless being very simple, while two later concepts aren’t popular at all, while being much more interesting games that actually required some thought and effort to make.

So how to actually make such “.io” game?

1. Pick Language

If you were making full-fledged desktop or console titles, I would recommend you to use Unity or Unreal Engine 4.

However you don’t want to do that, because browsers have very limited resource usage. They can’t access 100% of what your hardware has to offer.

That’s why you don’t want to take a whole giant game engine and export your game to browsers with it.

You want to start from scratch having performance in mind.

Therefore you can choose either WebAssembly or Javascript. I suggest you the latter, because it’s easier to learn JS with all the resources and tutorials on internet available. WebAssembly isn’t just there yet.

2. Pick Framework

Believe me you don’t want to write a framework for interacting with GPU! That’s not only insanely hard, but also very stupid thing to do, considering that there are many free frameworks around that do the job just fine.

Instead of spending months (years actually) on coding a GPU framework, you could just learn one quickly and spend months on your game instead.

The framework you want to choose for Javascript games is Babylon as it’s the fastest one, it’s also very well documented. Which is what you want.

3. Make Game Plan

Now, this step is pretty obvious but not for everyone.

When I was younger I got interested in game development fairly quickly, yet I had absolutely zero ideas about games that I could create.

With age I became creative and have tons of things and game ideas that I would love to code!

Therefore, if you are like I was, you need to create a game plan that includes aims and traits of your game.

Aims:

  • Do I want to profit on it?
  • Do I want it to be popular?
  • Do I want to just let my imagination get a form?
  • Do I need it for my portfolio for future job?

Traits:

  • Should game be 2D or 3D?
  • Will it be single player or multiplayer?
  • Medieval or Sci-Fi?
  • RPG, MOBA, FPS or Battle Royale?

4. Register .IO Domain

I suggest you to use NameCheap as they are the cheapest domain provider, I use them since always and never had any problems.

Their only competition (GoDaddy) just isn’t even close to the prices and quality that NameCheap offers.

If you expected actual game coding guide here, then that would take over ten thousands words, so maybe other time!

Conclusion

Majority of IO games are pretty simple and look incomplete sometimes even dumb, therefore you don’t have to worry about the quality of your game, at least at first. It most likely will be above average anyway…

It doesn’t really matter if you produce something bad, as your only boss is you (unless that’s not true then delete this sentence from your head before you get fired).

Let’s list the things that you’ve learned so you don’t forget them too quickly:

  • Use Javascript instead of game engines and other languages for browser games.
  • Games “via www” are limited by browsers by default so have performance in mind since start.
  • Pick Babylon framework as it’s the smartest, lightweight choice.
  • NameCheap is your GOAT when you need a cheap domain and don’t need problems that would arise from using other domain providers (maybe).
  • Go for creativity and have attractive graphics style, like Wilds and Wanderers.

Have all these tips in mind, and what’s left is only to start!

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