Building a Game with Dart – Part 1

web Dungeon
The first version of the game title. Scary huh? Even scarier if some irate lawyer sends me a cease and desist letter for trademark infringement.

Inspired by my reading on neuroplasticity, and how even not-so-young types like me can benefit, I thought to myself – what could I do which would stretch my battered neurons in new ways…. How about a web based game for kids? I have no experience with game development, but a lot of other development experience. So standing around in the web based game landscape, wherever I look there is a hill to climb, in terms of skills and stuff to learn. If this doesn’t hurt cognitively, nothing will. Besides, what could be more fun? As you all know, it’s every programmers secret dream to write games. So I am coming out of the closet.

Being a long time fan of Dart, and up to this point only an admirer from afar, I am ready to take the next step. Having figured out how to develop in the Dart Editor and merge the compiled javascript into my grails projects in Intellij, I know enough to start shooting myself in the foot.

The final technical piece is some sort of game server. After boning up on WebSockets, I deployed a standalone instance of Tyrus, the reference implementation of the WebSocket API. I got it working in 10 minutes and I understood what I did (no cutting and pasting someone’s arcane code with magic juju to make things work). I like you Tyrus – congratulations, you got the job.

So the technology platform I will start with can be summarised as:

  • Dart for Client-side logic and HTML5 graphics
  • Grails as the web hosting platform
  • Tyrus as the real-time game engine

Web Dungeon – A Game Overview

After some brainstorming with the kids, we came up with the tentatively titled “Web Dungeon”, a simple 2D game with a player character viewed from above who wanders around and does things (killing monsters, gaining points, fighting other players). How original. Don’t complain – it will be free and I’m not quitting my day job. This is about having fun and learning some stuff.

The main features of the basic game will be:

  • 2D map based game
  • People create characters with various attributes
  • Characters explore the map and get gold, items and experience
  • Single Player and Player vs Player Mode
  • Characters saved between sessions, with points scored
  • Trading market place for artefacts found, etc (well…maybe not in the first release…..)

I have a few more far out ideas, but that will wait until I have the basic mechanics setup (and learn some more graphic design along the way).

I have a spare domain lying around, which will host the game on a server in my office for the time being (guaranteed 99.999% uptime unless our cat chews through the network cable).

I have setup a basic web site here, which is up and running, will host the game.

I am currently going with “Web Dungeon” as a name, but that may change if someone gets upset about trademark or copyright infringement.

Next Steps

  1. I will publish a set of game rules for review.
  2. Add a canvas to the web site, and allow a sprite to be moved around the canvas.

The next instalment  is here Building a Game with Dart – Part 2

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