HTML5 Game Dev Tutorials
At MarketJS, we receive many requests on how to build Endless Runner games.
Instead of diving into code, we’d like to approach this from a high level form of thinking. At the very least, this tutorial will teach you how to approach building and designing an Endless Runner game in HTML5. For simplicity’s sake, let’s abbreviate this as ER.
What's an Endless Runner (ER) game?
Essentially, this a game where a main protagonist runs forward into the game which never ends. One of my favorite endless runners is Jetpack Joyride.
Figure - Jetpack Joyride from 2011
The Endless Runner genre stems from 2D platformer games in the 90s. Back then, 2D platformers such as Super Mario were all the rage. The gameplay was simple, where the player controls all aspects of the main protagonist (Mario), including moving, jumping and shooting.
With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets since 2007, mobile consumption habits evolved to short-term attention spans. Users are more accustomed to ‘snackable gaming’, where game sessions are minutes instead of hours. To meet this demand, developers had to simplify 2D platformer games.
The first variation involved replicating the 2D platformer experience on the mobile device, without movement controls. Developers essentially made the main character constantly run. Players only had two controls — jump and shoot. The games were designed to be in endless mode. This was one of the earliers endless runners. Monster Dash was the perfect example of this. We call this two touch endless runner (2TER).
Figure - 2TER
The second variation is even more simplified. Instead of two touches, the game only has one touch control. This makes perfect sense — the mobile user is constantly on the go, holding the device on one hand. Developers started making characters automatically run and shoot. All the user has to do, is tap anywhere on the screen to jump.
This spawned a whole subset of one-touch endless runner (1TER) games, which include Jetpack Joyride (tap to boost the jetpack) and Flappy Bird (tap to fly higher)
Figure - 1TER
Mobile gaming habits of users, have actually encouraged developers to be more creative in their game design solutions. Simplicity is heavily rewarded with massive audiences.
Coupled with the idea of HTML5 being the driver of fast and nimble games, building an extremely simple ER makes a lot of sense.
Approaching ER design for HTML5
There are many ways to start the design of an ER game. I’ll describe in general terms, how we arrived at our Santa Claus Chimney Challenge game design.
Initially, we didn’t even think of building an ER game. We simply wanted to build a Christmas-themed game that works well with HTML5.
The user plays Santa Claus withs his red-nosed reindeers. It’s Christmas, and Santa has to get to his destination to deliver gifts. We know that Santa goes through a chimney to deliver presents.
The first thought we had, was to have Santa drop into the chimney to deliver presents. This makes perfect sense! The design of the game would involve:
- positioning Santa into a chimney
- having Santa climb down the chimney, to a christmas tree, inside a house
- having Santa deliver the presents to kids, and scoring points
- drawing the necessary artwork for this
Holy crap! This was orders of magnitude more complicated that what we envisioned. This will be hard to pull off with HTML5. Imagine all the artwork needed to accomplish this. We had to rework and simplify our design. Back to the drawing board.
We also know that chimneys are made of these hard red bricks, which Santa could potentially crash into. To us, chimneys vary from heights (from those tall factory chimneys) to regular household ones. What if, we could make them as obstacles? We could vary the height, and Santa will have to avoid crashing into the chimneys.
Figure - Fitting Santa and his red-nosed reindeers between the chimneys
Alright then. Now we have Santa and his red-nosed reindeers. We have chimneys. The scrolling background could be a snowy one with nice homes and some trees. Looks like a recipe for an 1TER game.
Next, we thought about the difficulty of the game. Viewed from a 2D perspective, Santa and his red-nosed reindeers are seen as 5 separate blocks (santa and 4 other reindeers). They would interact with each other via a ‘chain’ mechanic.
This is perfect for us, because it’s naturally difficult to fit a chain in between chimney obstacles. We knew it was going to be fun for the users, because it gets tricky to fit all 5 objects in the chain, between the chimneys!
Now we have to tweak the difficulty of the game. We had to be sure:
- the chimneys aren’t too tall
- the jumping mechanic ( the object chain) works extremely well in avoiding the chimneys
- the chimneys shouldn’t spawn that often (so the players can have some emotional relief in between chimneys)
The rest is simply wrapping it up into an ER mode, where points are scored for the distance covered by Santa.
Link to Santa Claus Chimney Challenge game:
I hope this article helps developers with their game design thinking. This approach can basically be applied to any other game genre for HTML5 game development. For more inquiries, feel free to drop us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Zenva Academy has released a free introductory game development course.Read More...
Zenva has add a new course on HTML5 Game Development to build a real-time town defense game, complete with angry, shambling enemies and the vegetable-based heroes.
The course is (as of this writing) available for $27. The course adds to their existing catalogue of courses
Zenva has add a new course on HTML5 Game Development that walks you through the steps of building an Educational game using HTML5 that pits you against computer racers where you must solve math problems with speed and precision to win. The course is (as of this writing) on sale for $29, from it's regular price of $99.
This is a guest post from Odobo CTO Peter Mareš.
As the developer program for real-money gaming, we assess the impact that any new software update is likely to have on our developer community. The positive news with iOS 7.1 is that this version presents a great opportunity for all HTML5 game developers and full screen app producers.
The most exciting addition is a modification to how Safari handles web apps: it makes development easier, improves the look of games and enhances the player experience. Better still, it is easy to implement. By updating a small piece of code in our Game Development Kit (GDK), every game automatically updated to take advantage of these improvements.
In this article, we cover some iOS 7.0 history, prior solutions, and the future ahead with 7.1.
iOS 7.0 Safari: a brief history
In iOS 7.0, Mobile Safari hid the address bar and changed the behaviour of both full-screen browsing and full-screen mode. Although the idea behind full-screen browsing on iPhone was great, it was originally designed for scrollable webpages, not full-screen web apps such as media players and games. For gamers and developers this presented more of a challenge than with the previous version of iOS.
Although the changes impacted both device orientations, landscape presented the greatest need for a workaround: if a user tapped the top or bottom of the screen, the browser bars would activate, reducing the screen real estate, interrupting and obscuring the game or application. To complicate matters further, it was not possible to launch the game in full-screen mode.
iOS 7.0 Safari: a temporary solution
Since no browser event was fired when the browser bars appeared, workarounds had to poll the visible browser area for each frame (we used requestAnimationFrame). This identified when browser bars were both visible and unsought. Once detected, the content was resized to allow scrolling, disabled the app, and presented a ‘swipe up’ message to the user.
Once the user swiped up, the app would detect that the visible browser area had been increased, re-enabling and resizing the content back to full-screen.
This provided a solution; however, it was a messy hack.
On the design side, developers had to change their game design practices to avoid the top and bottom areas (each ~100px high) for any interactive elements to prevent users from triggering the bars. While this reduced the frequency of which this feature occurred in apps, it still presented a user experience challenge.
To provide a more natural experience to players, we provided direct feedback to Apple in hopes of creating web app development extensions.
Safari - full-screen ahead
iOS 7.1 arrived with a little-publicised gem for every HTML5 developer: minimal-ui.
In the iOS 7.1 release notes, under Safari, you will find the following:
A property, minimal-ui, has been added for the viewport meta tag key that allows minimizing the top and bottom bars on the iPhone as the page loads. While on a page using minimal-ui, tapping the top bar brings the bars back. Tapping back in the content dismisses them again.
For example, use <meta name=”viewport” content=”width=1024, minimal-ui”>.
This small addition literally changes the game. Simply adding minimal-ui to our viewport’s meta tag (something automatically handled by the GDK) now solves the challenges presented in iOS 7.0 with one easy step - and being native, it performs exceptionally well.
Now, running HTML5 full-screen apps on iOS 7.1 looks and feels great without the need for complicated workarounds sitting behind the UI.
Apple has also gone a step further and removed the ‘dead-zone’ at the bottom of the display, which means that users can only activate the browser bars by tapping the top of the screen. When this happens, the bars appear, with a darkened overlay covering the app below. This provides the user with a true native feeling of being ‘out of the app’. Simply tapping in the content space will intuitively bring back the full-screen app.
So whatever you feel about iOS 7.1 in general, for gaming enthusiasts and HTML5 developers, this new update is one we’re applauding.
This is a guest post from Odobo CTO Peter Mareš.
Odobo is the HTML5 games development program and content Marketplace for the regulated real-money gambling industry. The Odobo Game Development Kit (GDK) provides game developers with a framework for their game client production and access to state-of-the-art technologies to assist in their development of regulatory-compliant HTML5 games for real-money play. Odobo games are made available to participating licensed gaming operators via the Odobo Marketplace - the B2B ‘app store’ for the gaming industry. Developers earn royalties based upon the revenue generated by their games and access additional affiliate commissions when they market their games and drive new players to the gaming operators. Developer’s recently added to those working on Odobo’s platform are: AppleJack Gaming, Wild Game Reserve, Core Gaming, Trimark, Red7 and Probability Jones, with others to be announced soon.
Odobo, based in Gibraltar, is licensed and regulated by the Gibraltar Gambling Commission. The company employs over 80 staff.
It's a few months old, but this talk by Anders Norås by at the Norwegian Developer Conference in June 2013 walks through creating a HTML5 Game with Quintus.
SpaceDebris is a HTML5 game prototype built by Inkfood.com using Blender and ported to HTML5 using Three.js.
The level design and texturing was done in Blender and the game write-up details the workflow for the game.
The game consists of a math-powered racer where you solve multiplication problems to win. All the code for each step of the game, as well as the assets are provided in the tutorial.
The series is geared toward beginners and explains the state of HTML5, common performance problems and how to solve them in JS without additional libraries.
Start from the beginning or jump right into the action:
- Part 1 – Setting up the structure of the game and panning a background
- Part 2 – Create the player controlled ship and it’s properties (move and shoot)
- Part 3 – Create the enemy ships
- Part 4 – Collision detection
- Part 5 – Audio and final touches