ESP8266 development boards are popular for a lot of reasons: they’re very inexpensive, moderately powerful, have on-board WiFi, and a decent number of IO pins. That power and WiFi capability makes them ideal as low-cost local web servers, if the web you need to serve is fairly simple. But, what about something a little more complex, with the web server sending real-time controls back to the ESP8266? To experiment with that concept, Redditor SanHolo113 built a brick breaker clone with gameplay controls that run on a website.
You’ve probably played browser-based video games before, but there is a key difference here. Games played in your browser run on your computer. It’s like if you called your neighbor, asked to borrow a game, and then they brought it over for you to play. SanHolo113’s system is more akin to calling your neighbor, and then having them play the game while you watch through the window and tell them what to do with the controls.
SanHolo113’s ESP8266 brick breaker isn’t really intended to be a good gaming experience, though, because there is lag. It’s really an experiment in providing responsive control through a web server. The ESP8266 hosts the game and web server, and has a small OLED screen to show the graphics. The player can then visit the web page on a smartphone to control the game. There is lag, but the game is still playable. Moving away from games, the same concept could be used to control something like a robot for very little money, while still achieving smooth feedback.