HTML5 Tools Jam awesomeness

by Darren Torpey on January 15th, 2011

The tools jam last weekend (Jan 8th and 9th) was a big success! We had about a dozen people and worked on a good variety of projects. Here’s a quick breakdown of the major projects done at the tools jam. I’ll be posting a full recap on the permanent event page within the next few weeks, but I wanted to update everyone on what we did since so many people have been asking.

Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab

There were a few other projects (well, at least one more major effort), but they have not yet panned out into anything notable. Hopefully we’ll at least get a post-mortem for each of them, so that some lessons and advice can be passed on from the experience.

GAMBIT once again generously offered their lab space for us and our main lunches and dinner were sponsored by MocoSpace. Here’s a quick blurb on what they’re all about:

MocoSpace is building a mobile browser based game platform for their social network, the #1 mobile social network in North America. We’re offering a very favorable revenue share to charter partners and are fully commited to bringing the best game experiences to the mobile web.

ALES – Akihabara Level Editor and Sharer

ALES is a game creation tool and player combined into one package. On the right side of the screen you can play through a side-scrolling platformer-style game, while on the left side of the screen you’re creating the very level that you’re playing! You can easily share your levels with friends who can then modify them and share them back, all through unobtrusive URLs

At the tools jam, five of us worked on adding new features to ALES and polishing what was there

  • Ryan Kahn fleshed out a plugin system he’d been working on for ALES. It now allows end-users to write simple Javascript files that add a new brush and game element to ALES — and these can be shared right through the URL along with the rest of the map
  • K. Adam White added parallax background-scrolling, to simulate depth in the background. He blogged about it here:
  • David Ludwig added a special brush for the editor that allows you to specify the one-and-only starting location of the player
  • Darren Torpey improved the tutorial system to offer full Markdown support
  • Darius Kazemi wrote the tutorial using the new tutorial system

The current version of ALES was submitted to Mozilla’s GameOn competition. That version of ALES represents its state at the end of the jam and is posted here:

HFXR (my title for it)

Douglas Haber made a pure-Javascript browser-based port of the popular old-school sound effect generator tool, SFXR (

Update: Doug has now released this tool as SFMaker. Thanks, Doug!

Voxel editor

Lindsey Mysse and Pascal Rettig wrote a tool for editing a voxel-based 3D level that you can move around in with enemies, etc. The tool, which is based on three.js, currently allows for rudimentary block placement and there is one enemy you can drop in and one projectile you can shoot (but no interactions between the two).

Card game engine

Tim Volpe and Darren Torpey worked on a simple card-game engine using jQuery and a custom-built Javascript library to handle the modeling of cards, stacks, decks, etc. They ended the jam with a half-baked version of Klondike Solitaire to demonstrate how the engine will be organized. It shows a lot of promise and they plan to make a game along the lines of a greatly simplified Magic: The Gathering to show off the flexibility of what you can do with the engine.

Community resources on the Boston Game Jams wiki

Jon Myers worked on compiling links to all of the useful tools, tutorials, etc. that we used to learn and build our tools. Most of this can be found on the main page of the wiki:

Food jam!

Vickie Wu had a fun time making some seriously good eats for us, as she has at each Boston Game Jam so far. I’ll post more photos in the full recap, but here’s an example:

To wrap it up for now…

As you can see, some of us worked on multiple projects. There was generally quite a bit of cross-collaboration between jammers. Since there were only about a dozen of us, we all fit into GAMBIT’s lounge area and it made for a rather intimate experience. I think we all got to know one another well and we’re excited to do another jam. Given how well this one went, I’d like to do more outreach and get roughly twice the crowd next time. I’m confident we’ll be able to build on these tools and the knowledge we gained from this jam to make even greater things.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Doug Haber February 16, 2011 at 4:31 PM

HFXR is now known as SFMaker. I have been sitting on it too long, so I released it under the LGPLv3. The project page is here:


Darren Torpey February 16, 2011 at 5:56 PM

Awesome, Doug! Thanks for releasing the tool. I guess it’s about time I check in with the other teams and see if they’re ready for a preliminary or full release as well. It’d be great to have an event wrap-up page where we can link to all of these and the info on who made them.


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