How to Create a Phaser MMORPG – Part 1

In this multi-part tutorial series, we will be creating a simple Phaser 3 MMORPG. This game will feature simple gameplay that will allow players to wander in a single area together, attack monsters, and chat. It will also include user authentication and use MongoDB for storing chat data. Therefore, it will be built using Nodejs, MongoDB, and Express.

You can download all of the source files for Part 1 here.

Tutorial Requirements

For this tutorial, we will be using Node.js and npm to install the required packages that are needed for this project. In order to follow along with this tutorial, you will need to have Node.js and NPM installed locally, or you will need access to an environment that already has them installed. We will also be using the Command Prompt (Windows) / Terminal (Mac) to install the required packages, and to start/stop our Node server.

Having prior experience with these tools is a plus, but it is not required for this tutorial. We will not be covering how to install these tools as the focus of this tutorial is making a game with Phaser. You will also need access to the Chrome Web Browser to follow along with this tutorial. The last thing you will need is an IDE or Text Editor for editing your code.

To install Node.js, click the link here: and choose the LTS version. You can download and use the current version with this tutorial, however, the LTS version is recommended for most users. When you install Node.js, NPM will also be installed on your computer. Once you have these tools installed, you can move on to the next part.

Also, at the time this tutorial was created, the latest LTS version of Node.js was v10.13.0. You can check your version of Node by running node -v from the terminal. It is recommended you be on this or a new version when following along.

You will also need access to a MongoDB instance in order to follow along with this tutorial. If you don’t have MongoDB installed locally, and would like to use a cloud solution, I recommend MongoDB Atlas. Atlas offers a free cluster for anyone that creates an account, and it does not require any billing information to get started. For more information, you can follow this tutorial here: Phaser 3 Leaderboard Tutorial

Lastly, for this tutorial, we are going to get a jump start on our game by reusing some of the code from the following tutorials:

This starter code is going to set up our Node.js server that includes user authentication, login and sign up pages, and a Phaser game instance. The Phaser game instance will be the one from the turn-based RPG tutorial. We will not be covering that code in depth in this tutorial, and it is recommended that you go through those two tutorials. If you would rather not, you will still be able to follow along with this tutorial.

Let’s get started!

Project Setup

To get started, download the starter code here. After you have downloaded the file, unzip the contents, and you should have the following file structure:

Now that we have our code, let’s install the required dependencies and run our server. To install the required dependencies, open your terminal, navigate to your project, and run the following command: npm install.

Next, before we start the server you will need to update the .env file. This file includes your MongoDB connection string URL and your Gmail credentials. To update this file, just replace the NEEDS_TO_BE_UPDATED fields with your credentials.


  • You can also pass in these values through the terminal when you run your server code, but for the purpose of this tutorial, we will be loading them in through the .env file.
  • In case you will be using a version control system with your project code (like git), it is a best practice to make sure this file does not get committed with your source code and it is usually best to add the .env file to the file ignore list (.gitignore if using git). For this tutorial, we will not be using a version control system.

Once everything is installed and you have updated your .env file, you can start the server by running the following command: npm run start. In your terminal, you should see a message about being connected to mongo and that the server has started.

If you visit http://localhost:3000, you should see the login page.

In your browser, if you navigate to http://localhost:3000/game.html, you should see the game page.

Note: Currently, our server has been modified to allow anyone to access the game page, which will make it easier to test changes while developing. For our game, normally the player would be required to login before they can access this page.

Adding SocketIO – Server Side

With the project up and running, we will now start work on adding SocketIO to our game. If you are not familiar with SocketIO, it is a JavaScript library for real-time web applications that allows bi-directional communication between our server and the client-side logic. For our game, we will be using SocketIO for sending messages for the following events:

  • When a new player joins the game.
  • When a player leaves the game.
  • Anytime a player moves.

To get started with SocketIO, we need to install the library in our project and we will do that using NPM. To do this, run the following command at the root of our project: npm install --save

Next, we need to update app.js to include the SocketIO library. In app.js, add the following code below the const app = express(); line:

In the code above, we did the following:

  • First, we added a new variable called server, which uses Nodes built-in http module to create a basic HTTP server that uses our Express app.
  • Next, we created a new variable called io, which creates our instance and has it start listening on our server instance.
  • Then, we created a new empty object called players which will be used for storing information about the players that are currently connected to our game.
    • For this tutorial, we will be storing this data in memory, however normally this type of data you would want to store this data in an external data store, that way it would be persistent and if the server failed, you would not lose this data.
  • Next, we listened for the connection event which is fired when a new user connects to our game instance. We listened for this event by using io.on which takes two arguments, the first is the event we are listening for and the second is the function that is triggered when that event is fired.
    • This function will receive a socket object that has information about the socket connection.
  • In the function that is triggered, we create a new player object that has the following fields:
    • x and y – which will be the starting position of the new player. These values are generated randomly.
    • flipX – which be used for tracking if the player is facing left or right in the game.
    • playerId – which will contain the socketId of this player. This value will help us update a player’s location in the game.
  • We then stored this player object in our players object, and then used the emit method to send a message to the player that just connected to our game.
    • This method takes two arguments: the first is the name of the message we are sending, currentPlayers in this example, and the second is any data we want to pass along with that message, the players object in this example.
  • Next, we used the broadcast.emit method to send a message to everyone else that is connected to our game. For this method, we passed the newPlayer message and the new players object.
  • Then, we listened for the disconnect event, which will be fired when this new player leaves our game.
    • In the function that is triggered when this event is fired, we delete that player’s information from our players object and then use io.emit to emit a message to all players that are connected to our game.
    • In this method, we passed the disconnect message and the of the player that left the game.
  • Finally, we listened for the playerMovement message, which is a custom message we will we send to the server any time a player moves in our game.
    • In the function that is triggered when this event is fired, we will receive a custom object that will have the player’s x and y position, along with the player’s flipX value.
    • When then update that player’s data that we have stored in the players object, and we send a playerMoved message to all other players and we pass the updated players data.

Before we can test our new server changes, we need to update how our server starts listening for requests. To do this, in app.js update the app.listen line to be server.listen. Your app.js should look like this:

If you save your code changes and restart your server, the server should start without any issues and you should still be able to view the game.

Adding SocketIO – Client Side

With the logic for SocketIO added to the server, we will now start working on adding the logic for the client. To do this, we need to reference the client side SocketIO library in our HTML file. Since we added SocketIO to our server, it will automatically add and server the client side library we need for establishing the connection on the following endpoint: /

To reference the file, open the public/game.html file and add the following code before the closing head tag:

Next, we need to create a connection by updating our game logic. To do this, open public/assets/js/game.js and add the following code at the top of the create function:

With these new code changes, we should be able to test the socket connection. If you save your code changes, restart your server, and then navigate to http://localhost:3000/game.html, you should get a message about a player connecting to our game.


With logic for our web sockets in place, that brings Part 1 of this tutorial series to an end. In Part 2, we will do the following:

  • We will continue adding the web socket logic to our client-side code.
  • We will update the player logic to have our player created when the currentPlayers event is received.
  • We will add the logic for adding other players to our game when they connect.
  • We will start adding logic for allowing the player to attack.

I hope you enjoyed this and found it helpful! If you have any questions, or suggestions on what we should cover next, please let us know in the comments below.

Published by

Scott Westover

Scott Westover is a Fullstack Developer who loves coding, writing tutorials, participating in game jams, and learning about new technologies. When he is not coding, he is either spending time with his wife and two kids or is reading a great book. Scott is looking to form connections and share his knowledge. Connect with Scott on Linkedin.

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