A Phaser Game Development Journey with Mathew Jackson

Lindsay Schardon (ZENVA)

November 28, 2019 in Success Stories

Slot Machine Games using Phaser with Mathew Jackson

Welcome to today’s Learner Success Story, everyone. We’ll be speaking with Mathew Jackson, a game developer who’s strived to combine his favorite hobby with his JavaScript knowledge.

We’re happy that you could join us, Mathew. To get started, what inspired you to take up game development?

Gaming is always something I’ve been incredibly passionate about. I’ve dreamed about making my own games since I was eleven but never had the knowledge to do so. I’ve tried programming in the past but found it quite difficult, as most online tutorials tend to put you in the deep end – which made it tough for me to get started.

I think my biggest inspiration would be the massively multiplayer games I played when I was younger. The thought of creating my own world and having people explore it is really exciting to me.

Your studies have included not only the programming side of development, but a strong focus on the general principles of game design. How has this grounding in the theoretical and creative aspects behind games helped your current game development process?

Taking the time to break down games and explore their base mechanics really helps to understand the process in which they are built. You need to break your games down to their simplest idea, then build upon it brick by brick. This is a process I’d highly recommend, as trying to implement something complex without a foundation will most likely leave you scratching your head. When I think of a game idea now, I always make it as simple as possible. That way, I can just add additional simple ideas to create complexity. I feel these are the core values in good game design.

Antdentifier screenshot

You’ve been exploring lots of learning options to boost your programming knowledge, including our HTML5 Game Development Mini-Degree. Can you tell us a bit about what you drew you to the courses at Zenva and how they’ve helped to cement your knowledge?

While I was learning JavaScript, I became incredibly excited about taking this new skill and combining it with one of my biggest hobbies: gaming. I found myself searching Google about HTML game development, and then I found out about Phaser.js – a JavaScript framework for building Canvas games right on your own webpage.

After some trial and error using Phaser’s documentation, I managed to create a little man who shot fireballs – and I was hooked. So, my next stop was to find a good tutorial to learn everything Phaser, and that’s when I found Zenva.

I immediately jumped on the HTML5 Game Development Mini-Degree and found the videos incredibly easy to follow. After I had built my first three games using Zenva, I decided to give it a go by myself using the knowledge gained. I created my first little game, which was a slot machine.

Gold Country slot machine screenshot

It’s exciting to hear that you’ve completed your first game: a slot machine game for the gambling industry called Gold Country. Can you tell us a bit about the game and the challenges that you overcame as a developer while making it?

I had the idea for the game after doing some research into careers using WebGL and Canvas. The biggest user for Canvas was the gambling industry, and I wanted to build myself a powerful portfolio piece. The game itself was based on simple fruit machines you would probably play in an arcade or pub. I came up with a mechanic for nudges using a revolver and set the game’s theme in the Wild West to match.

One of the biggest challenges was implementing the nudge system and getting the sprites to match up while keeping the same order. Thankfully, Phaser’s sprites are easy to grab data from, so I could simply figure out the resulting frame to create the logic for winning.

With all your new knowledge, what are your current plans for the future, both job-wise and for your personal projects?

My main plan is to find myself a job/career where I can keep learning new skills. My final goal is to be a game developer someday, but for now, I’m happy just making baby steps getting more and more confident with coding.

After playing a bunch of .IO games, I’m confident my next personal project is to make my own multiplayer game once I’ve completed the MMORPG Academy courses. I’m really excited to dive into it, as some of the topics covered are things I’ve wanted to know for a while now.

Mathew Jackson portfolio example

It looks like we’re just out of time, but we do have one more question for you. What is your advice to other developers who are looking to jump into HTML5 game development?

If building games in HTML is something you want to do, I can’t recommend Phaser.js enough. It is quite a powerful framework, especially if you are into making your own sprites. There’s also a ton of tutorials and helpful people out there if you get stuck.

I’d highly recommend doing some tutorials first. Then, when you feel confident, try making something by yourself. I find you will gain a lot by creating something alone, and it will most likely send you to documentation to find answers. This is where you will learn the most valuable information and all the cool tricks that Phaser has to offer!

That’s all we have time for today!  A big thanks to Mathew for sharing his slot machine game with us, and we can’t wait to see what else Mathew does with Phaser in the future!

You can follow Mathew’s professional development by checking out his LinkedIn or viewing his freelance website.

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