Making a Text-Based Browser Game

December 11, 2016

This is the first of a series of posts about my experiences from creating my own text-based browser games Directive Alpha and Tales of Niemerval.

What is a Text-Based Browser Game?

In order for you to understand what we're going to talk about, I would like to give my definition of text-based browser games.

In recent years web technologies such as WebGL, HTML 5 and Javascript have made huge leaps forward. Nowadays the name “browser game” has become synonymous with any game that runs in the browser, even flash games. This article is not about any of those.

Why Make a Text-Based Browser Game?


Browser games are very accessible. All you need is an internet connection and a device to browse online. I propose that you are able to play a text-based browser game on almost any device that can display this blog article.

Low Data Requirements

Since smart phones are ubiquitous nowadays, online games are now available to play wherever you are. Since only few people have large data plans or fast internet connections on their smart phones, the low download sizes of a text-based game is ideal for mobile gaming.

Simple to Get Started

I can't do graphics. I'm simply terrible at designing stuff. That's one of the main reasons I make text-based browser games and not 3d shooters. The other reason is that a 3d game is way harder to make (believe me, I've tried).

In its most simplistic form, a browser game is nothing but a collection of links and forms. Basically a website, but much more fun to play with! So if you can make websites, you can also make browser games.

In the case of Directive Alpha, it took me about 20 hours to get a first playable version online, and another 50 hours of work to get a well rounded game version.

Cheap and Easy to Launch

With hosting services becoming more widely available, it has never been easier and cheaper to run and maintain a browser game. The magical acronym is PaaS, Platform as a Service. You don't have to take care of server administration, database management, intrusion prevention, etc. It's all handled by Heroku, AWS, Google, or whichever service you pick. If you still prefer to do some server related tasks by yourself, it can be even cheaper to rent a VPS (Virtual Private Server).

You Learn Something Else..

All of the above reasons may sound really lazy, and they probably are. However, if you compare a browser game to a web app, they're not that different. That means making browser games is a fun way of making web apps. So if you already know how to make a web app, you have a great advantage. If you don't, can learn a very valuable skill while still creating a great game.

If you haven't started playing yet, go to and sign up now!