Connect with us


The right way to Rapidly Create a Enjoyable Recreation with JavaScript and Canvas – SitePoint

On this article, I describe how I developed a JavaScript “Wheel of Fortune” recreation to make on-line conferences through Zoom a little bit extra enjoyable throughout the international pandemic.

The present pandemic has pressured many social actions to go digital. Our native Esperanto group, for instance, now meets on-line (as an alternative of in individual) for our month-to-month language research meetups. And because the group’s organizer, I’ve needed to to re-think lots of our actions due to the coronavirus. Beforehand, I might add watching a movie, or perhaps a stroll via the park, to our mixture of actions in an effort to keep away from fatigue (fixed grammar drills don’t encourage repeat attendance).

Our new Wheel of Fortune recreation was effectively obtained. In fact, SitePoint is a tech weblog, so I’ll be presenting an summary of what went into constructing a rudimentary model of the sport to screenshare in our on-line conferences. I’ll talk about a number of the trade-offs I made alongside the best way, in addition to spotlight some prospects for enchancment and issues I ought to have accomplished otherwise in hindsight.

First Issues First

In case you’re from the US, you’re in all probability already accustomed to Wheel of Fortune, because it’s the longest-running American recreation present in historical past. (Even in the event you’re not in the US, you’re in all probability accustomed to some variant of the present, because it’s been tailored and aired in over 40 worldwide markets.) The sport is actually Hangman: contestants attempt to resolve a hidden phrase or phrase by guessing its letters. Prize quantities for every right letter is decided by spinning a big roulette-style wheel bearing greenback quantities — and the dreaded Bankrupt spots. A contestant spins the wheel, guesses a letter, and any situations of mentioned letter within the puzzle are revealed. Right guesses earn the contestant one other likelihood to spin and guess, whereas incorrect guesses advance recreation play to the following contestant. The puzzle is solved when a contestant efficiently guesses the phrase or phrase. The principles and varied parts of the sport have been tweaked through the years, and you may definitely adapt your individual model to the wants of your gamers.

For me, the primary order of enterprise was to determine how we bodily (just about) would play the sport. I solely wanted the sport for one or two conferences, and I wasn’t keen to speculate quite a lot of time constructing a full-fledged gaming platform, so constructing the app as an internet web page that I might load domestically and screenshare with others was high-quality. I might emcee the exercise and drive the gameplay with varied keystrokes primarily based on what the gamers needed. I additionally determined to maintain rating utilizing pencil and paper —one thing I’d later remorse. However in the long run, plain ol’ JavaScript, a little bit little bit of canvas, and a handful of photographs and sound impact information was all I wanted to construct the sport.

The Recreation Loop and Recreation State

Though I used to be envisioning this as a “fast and soiled” challenge quite than some brilliantly coded masterpiece following each recognized finest apply, my first thought was nonetheless to start out constructing a recreation loop. Typically talking, gaming code is a state machine that maintains variables and such, representing the present state of the sport with some additional code bolted on to deal with consumer enter, handle/replace the state, and render the state with fairly graphics and sound results. Code generally known as the sport loop repeatedly executes, triggering the enter checks, state updates, and rendering. In case you’re going to construct a recreation correctly, you’ll probably be following this sample. However I quickly realized I didn’t want fixed state monitoring/updating/rendering, and so I forwent the sport loop in favor of fundamental occasion dealing with.

By way of sustaining state, the code wanted to know the present puzzle, which letters have been guessed already, and which view to show (both the puzzle board or the spinning wheel). These could be globally obtainable to any callback logic. Any actions throughout the recreation could be triggered when dealing with a keypress.

Right here’s what the core code began to seem like:

(operate (appId) {
  const canvas = doc.getElementById(appId);
  const ctx = canvas.getContext('2nd');

  let puzzles = [];
  let currentPuzzle = -1;
  let guessedLetters = [];
  let isSpinning = false;

  window.addEventListener('keypress', (evt) => {

The Recreation Board and Puzzles

Wheel of Fortune’s recreation board is actually a grid, with every cell in one in all three states:

  • empty: empty cells aren’t used within the puzzle (inexperienced)
  • clean: the cell represents a hidden letter within the puzzle (white)
  • seen: the cell reveals a letter within the puzzle

One strategy to writing the sport could be to make use of an array representing the sport board, with every ingredient as a cell in a type of states, and rendering that array might be completed a number of other ways. Right here’s one instance:

let puzzle = [...'########HELLO##WORLD########'];

const cols = 7;
const width = 30;
const top = 35;

puzzle.forEach((letter, index) => {
  let x = width * (index % cols);
  let y = top * Math.ground(index / cols);

  ctx.fillStyle = (letter === '#') ? 'inexperienced' : 'white';
  ctx.fillRect(x, y, width, top);

  ctx.strokeStyle = 'black';
  ctx.strokeRect(x, y, width, top);

  if (guessedLetters.contains(letter)) {
      ctx.fillStyle = 'black';
      ctx.fillText(letter, x + (width / 2), y + (top / 2));

This strategy iterates via every letter in a puzzle, calculating the beginning coordinates, drawing a rectangle for the present cell primarily based on the index and different particulars — such because the variety of columns in a row and the width and top of every cell. It checks the character and colours the cell accordingly, assuming # is used to indicate an empty cell and a letter denotes a clean. Guessed letters are then drawn on the cell to disclose them.

One other strategy could be to organize a static picture of the board for every puzzle beforehand, which might be drawn to the canvas. This strategy can add a good quantity of effort to puzzle preparation, as you’ll have to create further photographs, presumably decide the place of every letter to attract on the customized board, and encode all of that data into an information construction appropriate for rendering. The trade-off could be better-looking graphics and maybe higher letter positioning.

That is what a puzzle may seem like following this second strategy:

let puzzle = {
  background: 'img/puzzle-01.png',
  letters: [
    {chr: 'H', x: 45,  y: 60},
    {chr: 'E', x: 75,  y: 60},
    {chr: 'L', x: 105, y: 60},
    {chr: 'L', x: 135, y: 60},
    {chr: 'O', x: 165, y: 60},
    {chr: 'W', x: 45,  y: 100},
    {chr: 'O', x: 75,  y: 100},
    {chr: 'R', x: 105, y: 100},
    {chr: 'L', x: 135, y: 100},
    {chr: 'D', x: 165, y: 100}

For the sake of effectivity, I’d advocate together with one other array to trace matching letters. With solely the guessedLetters array obtainable, you’d have to scan the puzzle’s letters repeatedly for a number of matches. As a substitute, you may arrange an array to trace the solved letters and simply copy the matching definitions to it when the participant makes their guess, like so:

const solvedLetters = [];

puzzle.letters.forEach((letter) => {
  if (letter.chr === evt.key) {

Rendering this puzzle then appears like this:

const imgPuzzle = new Picture();
imgPuzzle.onload = operate () {
  ctx.drawImage(this, 0, 0);
imgPuzzle.src = puzzle.background;

solvedLetters.forEach((letter) => {
  ctx.fillText(letter.chr, letter.x, letter.y);

A potential game board rendered using the alternative approach

For the file, I took the second strategy when writing my recreation. However the essential takeaway right here is that there are sometimes a number of options to the identical drawback. Every resolution comes with its personal professionals and cons, and deciding on a selected resolution will inevitably have an effect on the design of your program.

Spinning the Wheel

At first blush, spinning the wheel gave the impression to be difficult: render a circle of coloured segments with prize quantities, animate it spinning, and cease the animation on a random prize quantity. However a little bit little bit of inventive pondering made this the best job in your complete challenge.

No matter your strategy to encoding puzzles and rendering the sport board, the wheel might be one thing you’ll wish to use a graphic for. It’s a lot simpler to rotate a picture than draw (and animate) a segmented circle with textual content; utilizing a picture does away with many of the complexity up entrance. Then, spinning the wheel turns into a matter of calculating a random quantity larger than 360 and repeatedly rotating the picture that many levels:

const maxPos = 360 + Math.ground(Math.random() * 360);
for (let i = 1; i < maxPos; i++) {
  setTimeout(() => {;
    ctx.translate(640, 640);
    ctx.rotate(i * 0.01745); 
    ctx.translate(-640, -640);
    ctx.drawImage(imgWheel, 0, 0);
  }, i * 10);

I created a crude animation impact by utilizing setTimeout to schedule rotations, with every rotation scheduled additional and additional into the long run. Within the code above, the primary 1 diploma rotation is scheduled to be rendered after 10 milliseconds, the second is rendered after 20 milliseconds, and so forth. The web impact is a rotating wheel at roughly one rotation each 360 milliseconds. And making certain the preliminary random quantity is bigger than 360 ensures I animate at the least one full rotation.

A short observe value mentioning is that it is best to be happy to mess around with the “magic values” supplied to set/reset the middle level round which the canvas is rotated. Relying on the scale of your picture, and whether or not you need the your complete picture or simply the highest portion of the wheel to be seen, the precise midpoint might not produce what you take into consideration. It’s okay to tweak the values till you obtain a passable outcome. The identical goes for the timeout multiplier, which you’ll modify to alter the animation velocity of the rotation.

Going Bankrupt

I feel all of us expertise a little bit of schadenfreude when a participant’s spin lands on Bankrupt. It’s enjoyable to observe a grasping contestant spin the wheel to rack up just a few extra letters when it’s apparent they already know the puzzle’s resolution — solely to lose all of it. And there’s the enjoyable chapter sound impact, too! No recreation of Wheel of Fortune could be full with out it.

For this, I used the Audio object, which supplies us the power to play sounds in JavaScript:

operate playSound(sfx) {
  sfx.currentTime = 0;;

const sfxBankrupt = new Audio('sfx/bankrupt.mp3');


However what triggers the sound impact?

One resolution could be to press a button to set off the impact, since I’d be controlling the gameplay already, but it surely was extra fascinating for the sport to mechanically play the sound. Since Bankrupt wedges are the one black wedges on the wheel, it’s attainable to know whether or not the wheel stops on Bankrupt just by trying on the pixel colour:

const maxPos = 360 + Math.ground(Math.random() * 360);
for (let i = 1; i < maxPos; i++) {
  setTimeout(() => {;
    ctx.translate(640, 640);
    ctx.rotate(i * 0.01745); 
    ctx.translate(-640, -640);
    ctx.drawImage(imgWheel, 0, 0);

    if (i === maxPos - 1) {
      const colour = ctx.getImageData(640, 12, 1, 1).knowledge;
      if (colour[0] === 0 && colour[1] === 0 && colour[2] === 0) {
  }, i * 10);

I solely centered on bankruptcies in my code, however this strategy might be expanded to find out prize quantities as effectively. Though a number of quantities share the identical wedge colour — for instance $600, $700, and $800 all seem on crimson wedges — you can use barely completely different shades to distinguish the quantities: rgb(255, 50, 50), rgb(255, 51, 50), and rgb(255, 50, 51) are indistinguishable to human eyes however are simply recognized by the appliance. In hindsight, that is one thing I ought to have pursued additional. I discovered it mentally taxing to manually hold rating whereas urgent keys and operating the sport, and the additional effort to automate rating conserving would positively have been value it.

The differences between these shades of red are indistinguishable to the human eye


In case you’re curious, yow will discover my code on GitHub. It isn’t the epitome and finest practices, and there’s a lot of bugs (identical to quite a lot of real-world code operating in manufacturing environments!) but it surely served its function. However finally the objective of this text was to encourage you and invite you to assume critically about your individual trade-off selections.

In case you have been constructing the same recreation, what trade-offs would you make? What options would you deem vital? Maybe you’d need correct animations, rating conserving, or maybe you’d even use internet sockets so contestants might play collectively in their very own browsers quite than through screensharing the emcee’s display screen.

Wanting past this specific instance, what selections are you confronted with in your day by day work? How do you stability enterprise priorities, correct coding practices, and tech debt? When does the will to make issues good turn into an impediment to delivery a product? Let me know on Twitter.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *