GameMix Blog

HTML5 Game Developer Spotlight – Johannes Wärn

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 5.49.29 PMWelcome! This is the second installment of our GameMix HTML5 game developer spotlight series. For our second developer spotlight, we would like to introduce you to Johannes Wärn. Johannes is a very talented HTML5 game developer with a great story about how he became involved with HTML5 games. He was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and he is currently studying mathematics at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. In 2011, he placed second in an HTML5 game competition by Spil Games for his game Lazors. Spil Games described it as being perfectly designed for touchscreen devices.

It’s a great puzzle game, and it really shows off Johannes’ skills as an HTML5 game developer. With that said, let’s now turn to our question and answer session with Johannes. We hope that you’ll gain some valuable insight into HTML5 game development.


Hi Johannes, thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your involvement with HTML5 games.

GameMix: When did you first become interested in game development, Johannes?

Johannes: I still remember the first game I made. I think I’ve must been around eleven at the time. So about eight years ago, and I wrote it in Macromedia Flash.

I’d managed to understand (read copy and pasted) three components: movement of a character using the arrow keys, clicking on buttons, and timers. Combined with a GIF of a charging moose they became a multiplayer game for two people: one player controlled the moose with the arrow keys, the other was a hunter trying to shot it using the mouse.

GameMix: How did you get started with HTML5 game development?

Johannes: I like to think I started doing HTML5 games before there was such a thing. Checking the dates I made my first one in october 2009, a couple of months before Google Trends records any interest in the search term “HTML5 Game”.

The HTML5 games I made around that time where for a small site called DSiCade. As the name suggest they were meant to be played on the Nintendo DSi. At the time I thought of them as JavaScript games, though they made use of the canvas element so I’d say they count.

My first HTML5 game to work on mobile phones as well as on PCs – which is probably what most people who think of something when they hear HTML5 game thinks of – was Lazors. I found out about SPILs HTML5 game contest one day before the end of that months run, and thought why not. Placing second for a days work gave me the highest hour wage I have ever had, and made possible some nice travel memories.

GameMix: Do you develop games full-time or part-time?

Johannes: Part-time. I am currently a full-time student at the University of Glasgow where I am doing my first year of Mathematics.

GameMix: Are there HTML5 tools and/or game engines that you prefer to use over others?

Johannes: I prefer to not use any tools or engines written by other people. I always find myself feeling limited by such tools, or that something is always a bit off. Instead I try to understand the HTML5 specs and write closely to them. I do however recommend checking out CoffeeScript, which is a lovely little language which compiles into JavaScript. The, probably, most interesting feature it has for game developers is that it simplifies the syntax for creating and extending classes.

GameMix: What has been your favourite HTML5 game development project?

Johannes: My favourite part probably comes afterward.

When a friend happens to have come across your game and played every level, or when you read positive reviews.

GameMix: Do you have any plans to develop on other platforms?

Johannes: I once wrote a iPhone game in Objective-C. The projects I have been doing lately are however not big enough to justify the headache of dealing with the complexity which necessarily comes with a much more powerful language. So for now I most likely to stick with the quick feedback loop of HTML5.

GameMix: What excites you most about HTML5 at this point in time?

Johannes: Media quires. Seriously. I can write an adoptive design and then just sit for a couple of minutes resizing the window back and forth. For the future WebRTC could likely make possible some really interesting multiplayer games.

GameMix: What are a few of the major challenges you find as an HTML5 game developer?

Johannes: I showed a friend some games I’ve made. After he asked if I’ve spent more than a couple of days on anything. Starting to stick to projects for longer could definitely give off some interesting results.

GameMix: Any big plans for future development that you would like to share?

Johannes: I don’t know if I’ll every get to it, but I want to write some games which are inherently political. That is, not just a clone of Super Mario Bros, with Mario changed to first African American president of the United States, but games where the mechanics are political. Games where even if you change the player avatar to the first Mediterranean plumber gaming hero, they’d remain political.

While in Berlin this summer, me and a couple of friends accidentally made such a card game which we called “Lag och Förtryck”, or in English “Law and Oppression”. It’s played with just regular playing cards. I’d like to claim – with a risk of making it sound greater than it is – that it explores Capitalism, bureaucracy, revolutions, and much more.

We haven’t properly written down the rules yet, but when we do I’ll make sure to post them online somewhere. If you actually want to be notified about it I suppose you could follow me on Twitter. Although I’m not very active, so I can’t promise I’ll remember to post it there; I’ll do my best.

It is definitely the best card game I’ve ever played.

GameMix: Care to share something about you that’s unrelated to HTML5 game development?

Johannes:I’m currently nearing the end of development of an RSS reader, written in HTML5 it works on both on mobile devices and PCs. It should be released by the end of the month. Once again, I suppose you could follow me on Twitter for updates. I’m also looking for projects to help work on. So if you have something interesting in your pipeline – I’m all ears.

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