Finnish social gaming startup Rocket Pack is preparing its first casual multi-platform MMO, expected to come into beta in a few weeks. However, maybe the most interesting aspect of the company is that as a “side” product of the development, they have build a game engine and complete tool set for game developers to build browser-based single player games, Facebook games, and browser-based MMOs that work cross-platform. That is, the games run on PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Android, smartphones – on all major browsers, without any plugin installations required.

Rocket Pack was founded this spring, and started developing their game and tools with funding of 600,000 DKK (EUR 80,000; USD 102,000$) they received from the Nordic Game Program to develop Cats vs. Dogs, a free to play, multi-platform game with in-game purchases.

Jiri Kupiainen, founder of Rocket Pack, told ArcticStartup that they first considered building the game using Flash, the language typically used for these types of rich web games. There was, however, one big problem for Rocket Pack’s cross-platform ambitions: Flash doesn’t work on the iPhone. The team then thought of JavaScript, which is common to all of the browsers, but often frowned upon and considered awkward by many developers, especially those working with native programming languages.

However, one of Rocket pack’s programmer produced a demo over one a weekend, and figured that you can actually do quite a lot of things with it – when you know what you are doing and can write well working code. Jiri also said that he was also really surprised that the performance of JavaScript was so smooth. Then again, he was also surprised that a simple Flash game can easily consume 40% of the CPU on a modern computer. So it is all about optimization.

After this, Rocket Pack decided to also built its own software tools for game development, as obviously none existed for this environment. Tools are important, as they make game developers’ work much more efficient and faster. After some six months of work, the company now realizes that actually their toolset may have far bigger potential than the game they set out to build in the first place.

Cross-platform development across desktop computers and mobile devices is quite problematic these days. And many think the browser-games that are built for desktop use will certainly not easily transfer to other, mobile devices. Jiri commented that many game developers haven’t believed in their eyes, when he has demonstrated Rocket Pack’s tools with their game, changed a small thing in the game, and then with a click the updated game runs on the iPhone or iPad in your other hand. And of course, all the tools also work cross-platform, so you could be developing your game on-the-go using a mobile device as well. Also, the whole development team can rather easily collaborate on the project without technical confilicts.

The local market in Finland, while there are some great gaming companies, is still rather small for a tools provider, so obviously Rocket Pack is looking abroad from start. For instance, Germany could be one good market for the firm, as there are lots of browser-games developers.

Harri Manninen, Co-founder and Chairman of the Board, Rocket pack, described that the team recognizes that there is some similar competition already in their market, and there will definitely be more – but he mentioned that while someone will surely close the current technology gap to Rocket Pack, the company’s tool chain is already so far ahead, and will be even more when possible competitors emerge, that the team is not particularly concerned.

With the increasing amount of smartphone users browsing web, and the success of social games and the first steps towards mobile, I would say the potential for Rocket Pack is huge. They need to move fast and execute very well business wise to capture the market before big direct competitors emerge, but for now they do have good edge.

Update – A brand new video from Rocket Pack is just out: