Tag Archives: onkeydown

Creating a Car Game in React – Part 1 – Drawing and Moving

Since I started looking at React, I’ve wondered whether it would be possible to create a multi-user game. The game would look a little like a Spectrum game that I used to play called: Trans-Am. I’m guessing most people reading this are not going to be old enough to remember this. Essentially, it marks the peak of car game development, and everything has been down hill ever since.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about then there’s a demo of the game here.

I’m not going to try and emulate this exactly, I thought I’d use it as a basis to make a multi-player car game.

The GitHub repository for this post can be found here.

Create a React Application

We’ll start by creating a new React Application (see here for details):

Now we have the application, we’ll need some game assets. If you want to use the same assets as me then feel free to pull my repository. However, at this stage, all you’ll need is a square box and a green screen.

Game Layout

The next stage is to design the game layout; because this is React, we’ll start with App.js. We’ll delegate all of our game logic to a component called Game:

import React from 'react';
import './App.css';
import Game from './Components/Game';
function App() {
	return (
		<div className="App">
			<Game />
export default App;

If you want to see, comprehensively what Game.Jsx looks like, then have a look at the latest version on GitHub. However, some of the highlights are the render method:

render() { 
	return <div onKeyDown={this.onKeyDown} tabIndex="0">
		<Background backgroundImage={backgroundImg}
		windowWidth={this.state.windowWidth} windowHeight={this.state.windowHeight} /> 
	<Car carImage={carImg} centreX={this.state.playerX} 
		centreY={this.state.playerY} width={this.playerWidth}
		height={this.playerHeight} /> 

This will probably change as to game progresses, but at the minute, it just renders to two constituent components. We’re also responding to KeyDown here, so let’s have a look at onKeyDown:

onKeyDown(e) {
	switch (e.which) {
		case 37: // Left
			this.playerMove(this.state.playerX - this.SPEED, this.state.playerY); 
		case 38: // Up
			this.playerMove(this.state.playerX, this.state.playerY - this.SPEED);
		case 39: // Right
			this.playerMove(this.state.playerX + this.SPEED, this.state.playerY); 
		case 40: // Down
			this.playerMove(this.state.playerX, this.state.playerY + this.SPEED);

playerMove(x, y) {
		playerX: x,
		playerY: y

We’re storing the players position in state; as I detailed here, this enables us to update the state and have React update the screen as it detects a change in the Virtual DOM.

Game Components

In an effort to stay as close as possible to React’s preferred architecture, the components of the game (the background and the cars for now) will be, well, components. Background is easy:

import React from 'react';
function Background(props) {
	const bgStyle = { 
		width: `calc(${props.windowWidth}px)`, 
		height: `calc(${props.windowHeight}px)`, 
		top: 0,
		left: 0,
		position: 'absolute' 
	return (
		<img src={props.backgroundImage} style={bgStyle} />
export default Background;

We’re basically just displaying an image here. One thing that’s worth noting is that the windowWidth and windowHeight are properties, not state. They do exist as state in the Game component and, when they change, are updated there, and so updated here. The React guys call this Lifting State.

The car component is exactly the same idea:

import React from 'react';
function Car(props) {
	const left = Math.round(props.centreX - (props.width / 2));
	const top = Math.round(props.centreY - (props.height / 2));
	const carStyle = { 
		width: `calc(${props.width}px)`, 
		height: `calc(${props.height}px)`, 
		top: `calc(${top}px)`,
		left: `calc(${left}px)`, 
		position: 'absolute',
		zIndex: 1 
	return (
		<img src={props.carImage} style={carStyle} />
export default Car;

There are a number of advantages to this idea of maintaining the state in a higher component; for example, this way, you can share a single state between components; however, the biggest advantage for us is that, while the components are, effectively, intelligent sprites, you can easily create an “EnemyCar” version of the Car component.

It’s worth bearing in mind that, because the position of the car doesn’t exist in this component as state, we wouldn’t be able to change it here, even if we wanted to. The strategy to get around this is to have an update function passed in as a property (effectively a function pointer that you can call from within the child component).

In the next post, I’m going to update the movement so it’s a little more car-like, and introduce some obstacles.







Basic Game Using HTML5 and Javascript

This article discusses how to go about creating a basic game loop in HTML5 / JS and to implement control over a sprite.


A few years ago, when Microsoft released the idea of WinJS, I wrote a game in HTML5/JS (or WinJS – they are not exactly the same).

I recently decided to see if I could write a web game, using just HTML5 and Javascript. This article covers the initial POC and results in a small red square navigating around the screen:

Game Loop

Looking at established game frameworks, they all basically give you the same things:
– A game loop, consisting of an update and draw phase
– Some helper methods for manipulating graphics, or rendering them to the screen

My attempt will be different, I’ll just provide a game loop; here it is:

(function MainGame() {    

    setInterval(function() {
    }, 20);

The loop executes every 20ms, meaning that there are 50 frames per second.


Basically, what the HTML gives us here is a canvas; so the page is very simple:

    <script type="text/javascript" src="./gamelogic.js" ></script>
<body onresize="onResizeGameWindow()">    
    <canvas id="mainCanvas" style="width: 100%; height: 100%"
        onkeydown="onKeyDown()" tabindex="0">

There are two events handled here, because there are two things that the player can do: they can interact with the game (i.e. press a key), and they can resize the browser window. We need to react to both.


Let’s have a look at the draw function next. All this is, is a way of displaying all the objects on the screen in a controlled fashion:

    function Draw() {
        var canvas = document.getElementById("mainCanvas");
        var ctx = canvas.getContext("2d");
        ctx.clearRect(0, 0, windowWidth, windowHeight);

        ctx.fillStyle = "#FF0000";
        ctx.fillRect(x, y, iconWidth, iconHeight);

As you can see, there are effectively two parts to this function: firstly, the canvas is cleared, and then the items (in this case, a single item) are drawn to the screen. The important variables here are x and y, because that dictates where the square is drawn; the rest could be hard-coded values.


    function Update() {        
        if (initialised == 0) {

        // Bounce
        if (x >= (windowWidth - iconWidth) 
            && directionX > 0)
            directionX = -1;
        else if (x <= 0 && directionX < 0)
            directionX = 1;

        if (y >= (windowHeight - iconHeight)
            && directionY > 0)
            directionY = -1;
        else if (y <= 0 && directionY < 0)
            directionY = 1;

        // Move
        x += directionX * speed;
        y += directionY * speed;

There are three parts to the Update. The first is to perform any initialisation: in my case, I focus on the canvas and call the resize event here. This potentially could be done on an event, but you would still have to check inside this loop if it had been done. The second is to stop the player leaving the screen; and finally, we adjust the player position.


As you saw earlier, there are two events that are handled; the first is the user resizing the screen:

function onResizeGameWindow() {
    var canvas = document.getElementById("mainCanvas");
    windowWidth = canvas.width;
    windowHeight = canvas.height;

This basically ensures that the game adjusts to the browser dimensions. This might also be where you would determine if the window was made so small that the game could no longer be played.

The second event was the keydown event. This effectively provides the control for the player:

function onKeyDown(e) {
    if (!e) e = window.event;     

    if (e.keyCode == 39) {
    else if (e.keyCode == 37) {

    if (e.keyCode == 38) {        
    else if (e.keyCode == 40) {        

The top line is because the parameter comes through as null.


If you run this game, you’ll see that you can move the square around the screen, increase and decrease its speed, and stop. Not exactly the next Call Of Duty, I’ll grant you, but the foundation of a game, certainly.