About four months ago, the Internet Explorer team at Microsoft approached Maksym Hyrniv about porting his multitouch-heavy iOS game Contre Jour to the web. He refused. Contre Jour arrived at the iOS App Store in November 2011 with the fanfare it had generated at E3 2011. In December, Apple awarded the game its App of the Year for iPad. Blending the visual stylings of Limbo with gameplay reminiscent of Cut the Rope and World of Goo, much of which leverages multitouch interaction — an experience that a web browser can’t offer.
A multitouch showcase
Microsoft wanted to use Hyrniv’s game to showcase the power and potential of its upcoming Internet Explorer 10 web browser in Windows 8. Hyrniv’s Mokus is a one-man development studio based in the Ukraine. His focus is on quality, and he didn’t see the ability to bring the quality or gameplay of his native app onto the web. But Microsoft was persistent. The company offered to work with Mokus to build one level as a proof of concept showing that Contre Jour could look, feel, and play just as it does on iOS when ported to Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10.
Their persistence paid off.
Polygon recently spoke with Ryan Gavin, general manager of Internet Explorer at Microsoft. With Mokus’ help, Microsoft assembled a group of developers to port the game. After a rapid development effort, Microsoft and Mokus are bringing multitouch and Contre Jour to the web today at contrejour.ie.
It’s part of Microsoft’s initiative to bring features like multitouch, hallmarks of native apps, to the web with Internet Explorer 10. The company sees an opportunity with advancing web technologies like HML5 to blur the line between native and web apps, and Contre Jour is their attempt to prove that gaming experiences can be just as rich on the web as they can be on a phone or tablet.
Gavin tells the story of this evolution in waves. The first began on websites where developers focused their attention. When devices like the iPhone and iPad became enormously popular, developers’ temptation was to convert their websites into apps. That’s the second wave, which he calls the "app first experience."
"Games, in particular, fell into this," he said. "Content and news aggregators like Pulse fell into this where it was really just an app. It didn’t really have a site counterpart. Now what you’re really seeing his this third wave with browsers like IE 10 you’re seeing this push from app to the sites." Internet Explorer 10’s job is to prove that it’s not an either/or proposition. It’s not either an app or a website. It’s can be both with relatively little effort.
"It’s proof of where the web can go."
The groups worked together to create something new with Contre Jour, and they’re sharing that code for others to gain from what Microsoft learned. The fruits of their efforts will be released on GitHub today. It’s code and a starter framework that Microsoft hopes will attract developers to the platform. For developers, there’s a behind the scenes section of the demo that chronicles its creation. For consumers, the experience is paramount. That’s the inspiration behind the effort. "It’s proof of where the web can go," he says.
Internet Explorer 10 will launch alongside Windows 8 on October 26th. Microsoft tells us that a Windows 7 version of Internet Explorer 10 is planned, but that the company hasn't announced release dates yet. After Windows 8 launches, Mokus will release a full version of Contre Jour through the Windows App Store. When Windows 8 tablets follow, Contre Jour will be compatible. There's also a Windows Phone version available for existing devices. We played Contre Jour in Safari and Chrome on a Macbook Air, and it looked and felt just like its iOS precursor. You can check out the web-based version of Contre Jour at contrejour.ie.
Tom Warren contributed to this article