WebGL is great for putting interactivity into your website without any worrisome plug-in downloads. It simply works with almost any browser under the sun (if it doesn‘t – time to upgrade, grandpa). However, it would be hard to work with it directly, so there are many WebGL libraries that provide services akin to game engines. What are some of the luminaries of the genre?
Who needs to know coding when you have visual programing at hand? This is one of the outstanding features of Goo Create, making it somewhat more user friendly than many of the other libraries. This wonderful feature is called the State Machine. Goo Create also features timeline animations (for those non-interactive features), particle effects, a physics engine and drag and drop asset imports. It works with .3DS, .FBX, .OBJ, .DAE and .ABC formats, two of which are extremely popular with low-polygon stock 3D model makers and marketplaces. All in all, a friendly way to make games and vr apps! However, it‘s not totally free.
Turbulenz, however, is totally free and open source. You can make, modify and monetize Turbulenz games to your heart‘s content. The engine and SDK are available as a download from GitHub or as a fully realized installer. It has all the bells and whistles (shaders and shadows maps) that your game could really possibly need, as well as “2D and 3D graphics, 2D and 3D physics, 2D and 3D effects, sound, networking, user input, scene graphs, hierarchical animation, movie playback, resource management, server requests, a range of renderers, leaderboards, badges, payments, save game userdata, user profiles, game profiles, multiplayer, metrics, maths and numerous utilities.” It’s all extremely well documented, too!
PlayCanvas can be free, but only for the most basic projects. However, it’s a powerful WebGL engine with physically based rendering, a material system, its own physics engine, real-time shadows, animations, and it’s WebVR-ready (though you’ll probably want to skip the real time shadows part for VR). It has a browser-based editor, so you can work on the go, and always be connected with your team members. The engine is proven in making various browser-based games, so if you want to make your own Flappy Bird clone or recreate Elastomania, you have all the tools at your fingertips! Of course, for the serious businesses out there, the ability to make interactive ads or product showcases is probably more interesting.
So there you have it, some of the best WebGL engines out there that can be used to make stuff that’s as simple as interactive scenes on your website, or as complex as fully-fledged games. Many of them are free, most are well-documented, and they will also support your assets bought on places like CGTrader. With such overwhelming ease of use, can you afford not to create something?