The "start" screen for "Pirates Love Daisies"

If things get a little too quiet and boring during the holiday downtime and you’re looking for a game, try Pirates Love Daisies. It’s a “tower defense” style game with cute graphics, great sound and very addictive gameplay, and you can play it in a browser that supports the HTML5/CSS/JavaScript troika (often just referred to as the catch-all “HTML5”), which includes the current beta of Internet Explorer 9. In the game, you set up pirates with different combat skills (pistols, swords, cannons and sponges) in strategic locations to defend your patch of daisies from rates, seagulls, crabs, octopi and their boss, the kraken.

Screen capture of checkbox that reads "Enable additional effectors for IE9 (What is this?)"

If you’re running Internet Explorer 9 or a very fast computer (like my assigned “Dellasaurus” Precision M6500 – a quad-core I7 machine with 16GB of RAM and a 1GB graphics card), try checking the Enable additional effects for IE9 checkbox – it’ll turn on some additional graphic effects in the game, such as clouds and shadows. They’re not necessary for gameplay, but they do spice it up, and you’re going to need a browser that makes use of the GPU (such as IE9) or serious hardware if you want these effects without bogging down the game.

Here’s Larry Larsen talking about Pirates Love Daisies on Channel 9:

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Can’t see the video? You can get Silverlight or download it in the following formats: high-quality WMV, high-quality MP4, regular-quality WMV, regular quality MP4 or MP3 (audio only).

Pirates Love Daisies was the first HTML5 project by Grant Skinner, a Flash developer, and was commissioned by Microsoft, who asked him to build a “best-of-breed” tower defense game using HTML5. He talks about his experience on his blog, which includes this opinion on IE9:

I never thought I’d say this, but Internet Explorer 9 actually looks to be a great browser. It has impressive performance, and seems to be very standards compliant. I would definitely recommend checking it out, you might be surprised.

Microsoft Tech Evangelist Giorgio Sardo also blogged about Pirates Love Daisies. In his post titled Pirates Love Daisies: Lessons Learned, he talks about performance and some things they learned about HTML5 game development along the way, including working with the canvas element, fonts, audio and IE9’s developer tools.

Easel JavaScript library logoPirates Love Daisies makes use of the Easel JavaScript library, which “provides a full, hierarchical display list, a core interaction model, and helper classes to make working with Canvas much easier.” Although it’s still in early alpha, it works well enough for Pirates Love Daisies, which uses it to manage and render the game screen.

And finally, where does Pirates Love Daisies live? In the cloud! It’s hosted on Windows Azure as proof that Azure’s not just for line-of-business-y, ecommerce-y web applications (although it works quite well for them).

Screen capture of the game: "Click here to play Pirates Love Daisies"

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This article also appears in Global Nerdy.