First of all: I learned a lot during the 4K contests. The artificial limit on size is also a very pleasant (and enforceable) limit on how complex you can make the game. Excellent for trying out new concepts or ideas.
However, the 4K game contest in its present form is often more about designing a good compression chain than about creative game design. This makes it less newbie-friendly. Without a good compression chain (which can be pretty hard to do) there is no way to meaningfully compete in the contest. Also, as you say, Java on the web is history since the security debacle of Java browser plugins.
So in its current form I doubt it will really have a fruitful future ahead of it. But I do like the 4K contest a lot. Some ideas I had:
- Disallow compression tools and make the JAR limit 10K (so Java10K). Or 9K if you like so we can make "its over 9000!!!!
- Make a wrapper that all players and contestants can use to launch the 4K or 9K/10K games. I made a simple wrapper with integrated JRE
for my own 4K games. The wrapper with JRE would be some MB's, but you could add all 4K games made to the wrapper in a single downloadable collection without increasing the download size much. It would not be runnable from the web, but it would be quite easy to use.
- Do an Java/Android contest with a size limit?
- A contest based on LWGJL
may also be nice, although that would perhaps be more about OpenGL than about Java.