Phaser 2.4 released

A while back I mentioned that I thought Phaser was a good choice for beginners of game development. It’s well-supported, it’s popular on browsers and mobile devices, and it uses the current most popular language: JavaScript.

Now, the guys behind Phaser have released version 2.4, and it has quite a few changes and updates. Most people will be gushing over the support for boned animation and video, but there are a few nuggets hidden in the changelog that might be just as useful. Let’s see what we can find, eh?

  • Phaser.Text no longer extends PIXI.Text but replaces it entirely. Phaser.Text now natively extends a Phaser Sprite, meaning it can be enabled for physics, damaged, etc.

On the surface, not a huge change, mostly just back-end stuff. But look at the second half of the entry: text objects are now sprites in their own right. That actually makes the code for a lot of games much easier, simply because we can use all the sprite methods on text. Think of, say, a word puzzle, where every word (or letter) can be made into its own sprite.

  • Mouse.button and MSPointer.button have been deprecated and are no longer set (they remain at -1). They never supported complex button events such as holding down 2 buttons and releasing just one, or any buttons other than left and right. They have been replaced with the far more robust and accurate Pointer DeviceButton properties such as Pointer.leftButton, Pointer.rightButton and so on.

This (and a handful of entries following it) is another step towards “unifying” control schemes. It’s annoying to have to write separate code to handle the mouse and a touchscreen. Now we don’t have to. Of course, you still need to compensate for the fact that a mouse can have nearly pixel-perfect accuracy, whereas fingers are lucky to get within about a centimeter of their target.

  • Added support for the Creature Automated Animation Tool. You can now create a Phaser.Creature object which uses json data and a texture atlas for the animations. Creature is a powerful animation tool, similar to Spriter or Spine. It is currently limited to WebGL games only, but the new libs should prove a solid starting point for anyone wanting to incorporate Creature animations into their games.

This is the one everybody’s talking about. To be honest, it doesn’t intrigue me as much. Creature is just one commercial, proprietary tool among many. Show me an open standard for 2D bones, and then I’ll get excited.

  • Loader.video allows you to load a video file into Phaser. It works in the same way as Loader.audio, allowing you to pass an array of video files – and it will load the first one the device is capable of playing back. You can optionally load the video via xhr where the video data is converted to a Blob upon successful load.

Video is cool, no doubt about it. But the whole field of in-browser video is a disaster area. Format support, patents, DRM, it’s all enough to make somebody swear off the whole thing forever. Still, if you can figure out a way to use it safely and easily, more power to you. Maybe it’ll lead to a revival of FMV games.

  • Text.setTextBounds is a rectangular region that allows you to align your text within it, regardless of the number of lines of text or position within the world. [ed: I removed the example, shout-out, and issue number]

More text rendering goodness. I can’t complain. This and other additions simplify the task of making a text-heavy game, something most game engines (not only HTML5, and not only free) make absurdly difficult.

  • Keyboard.addKeys is a practical way to create an object containing user selected hotkeys. [ed: Same removals here.]

Better keyboard support is a good thing in any engine, especially as so many are trying to forget that a physical keyboard even exists. And an easier way to support hotkeys can never be bad, because they’re one of the most annoying parts of a control scheme.

  • All Game Objects and Groups have a new boolean property called pendingDestroy. If you set this to true then the object will automatically destroy itself in the next logic update, rather than immediately. [ed: Removed use case and call-out.]

Godot has this same thing (as queue_free()), and it’s very helpful there. In a language full of callbacks (like JS), it’s even more necessary. Again, this isn’t something you want to scream out from the rooftop, but it’s a subtle change that eliminates a whole class of coding errors. Who could ever argue with that?

  • All Signals now have the ability to carry extra custom arguments with them, which are passed on to the callback you define after any internal arguments. [ed: Same removals here.]

A good customization point that’s never going to be important enough to mention in a press release. But it’s nice to have, and it simplifies some common tasks.

  • Phaser.Create is a new class that allows you to dynamically generate sprite textures from an array of pixel data, without needing any external files. We’ll continue to improve this over the coming releases, but for now please see the new examples showing how to use it.

Depending on how this plays out, it could be a great addition to an already excellent engine. A lot of designers absolutely hate generated textures, but I like them. Get some good noise algorithms in there, and you could do some wonderful things.


There’s a lot more in there, and I do mean a lot. And Phaser 3 should be coming within the next year or so, although release dates always have a tendency to…slip. But this 2.4 release does help cement Phaser as the forerunner for HTML5 game development. For coders rather than designers, there’s really not a better option, and I’ll continue to recommend Phaser for anybody that wants to get started with game coding. Unity’s great and all, but it’s a lot more complicated than popping open a text editor and a browser, you know?