New game thoughts and a JavaScript adventure game creator

Hoth Strike is nearing completion and I’ve been thinking about a new game idea just lately. As much of an arcade gamer as I am I have to say I have a soft spot for good adventure games. For the most part adventure gaming is a miss but occasionally you find a real hit and it’s the hits in gaming that inspire me to create my own. Zelda, Chronotrigger, Zork, Final Fantasy, Dungeon Siege amongst others have all played their part in fuelling my imagination. I’ve just never been bothered to sit down and figure out my own angle for an adventure game. Until now.


It’s important for me to quite literally start from the start and consider the building blocks of a game. As with Invaders and Hoth Strike I knew precisely what the building blocks of the game were going to be (sprites) and knew then that the game would just be a layering of those blocks. Everything in the arcade experience is simply a hurling around of sprites with some input and collision detection thrown in. Adventure gaming is quite different. In an adventure game things happen at a much more pedestrian pace but a whole lot more happens behind the scenes. For my game I want to create a rich world in which to exist.

I’m not one for game design documents. Not least since I’m the only person working on the games, I have no need to communicate my ideas to a team, but also because I’d rather just get on with the task of writing the game ! But this time I’ve actually made a few notes before writing any code or opening up Photoshop. The notes are simple but probably rather dull to share here. However I did decide on one thing – my design goal. For the other games my design goal was simple – shoot everything and aim for the top score. Those games were played in a web browser at the PC. For my next game I’m considering playing the game on my mobile phone (Blackberry Storm) since it seems to handle web presentation very nicely.

I often find myself in a situation where I’m idly browsing around the phone and looking for something on the web. I’d like to fill that time by dipping in to my adventure game world and exploring a little. My design goal fell out of the bottom of this line of thinking:

Continue my quest on the go with short and simple puzzles.

Being a tools coder I jumped at the chance to knock up a simple level editor. I should add that this is all done without actually considering the execution of the final game but it was fun to knock up. You can take a look at it here:

As you can see in the screen grab it’s a very basic affair just now. You click on a grid sector and provide a title and description. You can also select a floor type from the drop down (or press a corresponding number key i.e. 0 = indoors, 1 = path, 2 = grass etc) and click to block available exits – North, East, South and West.
As the editor develops I will want to zoom in to each area and populate with inventory items and monsters but for now I wanted to get a feel for what my game world might be like.

Please excuse the code it was literally a couple of hours work. If you dig around it you should see that I have a basic config for such things as grid-size, canvas width and height and border width. You can dump your own image files in as well for each terrain. In fact, just expand the gridtypes array with your own and the code will handle your new additions.

I will post some more theory as I think of it.

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  • Robert Schultz  On June 10, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    You must be having a blast :)

    I’ve thought about javascript based tile adventure games, but never actually started anything.

    I look forward to reading about your progress :)

  • Cody  On June 11, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    It looks like this would be fun as a Zelda-like action game. Have you decided on whether the game will be a turned-based RPG or an action adventure?

  • markw1970  On June 12, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Not really. Although I am thinking very big just now. I rather like the idea of a game world that I can layer a huge amount of detail in to. I’m having some fun building the tools for character and monster creation just now. All I am confident of just now is that the editor above is effectively the middle piece of the pie. The structure that I have in mind is WORLD > ZONE (above) > DUNGEON with the player actually playing the game out in a dungeon which is just a zoomed in portion of a map which in turn belongs to a world. There is no viewable map for the world but each Zone and Dungeon is mappable. Extensible is the key :)

    But all just thoughts right now. I’m still trying to figure out how I actually want the game to execute. i.e. How the player actually plays the game and what his goals are.

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