Creating a multiplayer online card game with Node.js and Phaser 3

As the world is locked down due to the COVID-19 Corona Virus, we are quarantined at home. We miss the company of our families and friends, so online games are the only option to play together. We are going to create an online multiplayer game that can be used for any tabletop gameplay.

The frontend is going to be JavaScript, Node.js, Phaser3, the backend is Express and Socket.IO.

The framework for this game came from the great tutorial at How to Build a Multiplayer Card Game with Phaser 3, Express, and Socket.IO

Install a web server for development

I have installed XAMPP from

The home directory where the index.html should be is at C:\xampp\htdocs

Install Node.js

Install the latest version of Node.js from

Install Phaser3

Install Phaser 3 based on as of writing with

npm install phaser@3.22.0

The getting started guide on Phaser 3 is at Getting Started with Phaser 3

A great game tutorial is at Making your first Phaser 3 game

The multiplayer online game development


To test the client on your workstation, start the Node.js client from a terminal window to display the web page for the players.

cd client
npm install
npm start

The default browser opens with the http://localhost:8080/ address.


To test the server on your workstation start the multiplayer server in another terminal window

cd into the root directory above the client. The next command will ask questions and create a new package.json file

cd server
npm init

Install Express, Socket.IO, and Nodemon

npm install --save express nodemon

Start the server

npm run start
node server.js

Build the application

Stop the client development server, otherwise you will get the error message

Error: EPERM: operation not permitted, lstat ‘…\client\dist\src\assets’

Build the client application

cd client
npm update
npm run build

Deploy the application on the workstation

Copy the assets into the dist directory

cd client
mkdir -p dist/src/assets
cp src/assets/* dist/src/assets

Copy the contents of the client\dist directory to the webserver

mkdir -p C:/xampp/htdocs/rummy
cp -r dist/* C:/xampp/htdocs/rummy

Start the Express server

To provide the Socket.IO functionality in the root of the game development directory execute

cd server
npm run start

Test the multiplayer application in the local network

Use your workstation as the test server and connect to it from another computer.

Set the Socket.IO server URL

To be able to connect to the same Express server from the workstation and from another computer on the same network change the Socket.IO URL in the client/src/scenes/game.js file.

this.socket = io('http://MY_COMPUTER_IP:3000');

Expose the Express server on your workstation to the local network

Open port 3000 in the Windows firewall.

Start the webserver

Open the XAMPP Control Panel and click the Apache Start button

Open the website

In a web browser navigate to http://MY_COMPUTER_IP/rummy/

Build the Docker image

Based on the great post at Dockerizing a Node.js web app

Create a Dockerfile in the server directory

FROM node:12

# Create app directory
WORKDIR /usr/src/app

# Install app dependencies
# The wildcard will copy both the package.json AND package-lock.json files (npm@5+)
COPY package*.json ./

RUN npm install
# If you are building your code for production
# RUN npm ci --only=production

# Copy all files
COPY . .

# The server listens on port 3000 by default

CMD [ "node", "server.js" ]

Build the server Docker image

cd server
docker build -t robbers-rummy-server .

Create a Dockerfile in the client directory. We will use a two-stage build process to make the final image as lean as possible. We build the application in a Node.js container and run it in an Nginx container.

FROM node:12 as builder

# Create app directory
WORKDIR /usr/src/app

# Install app dependencies
# A wildcard is used to ensure both package.json AND package-lock.json are copied
# where available (npm@5+)
COPY package*.json ./

RUN npm install
# If you are building your code for production
# RUN npm ci --only=production

# Bundle app source
COPY . .

RUN npm update

RUN npm run build

# Create asset directory
RUN mkdir -p dist/src/assets

# Copy the images to the dist folder
COPY src/assets/* dist/src/assets/

FROM nginx:alpine as runner

WORKDIR /usr/share/nginx/html

COPY --from=builder usr/src/app/dist/* ./

# Copy the images from the source
RUN mkdir -p src/assets

COPY --from=builder /usr/src/app/src/assets/* src/assets/


Build the client Docker image

cd client
docker build -t robbers-rummy .

Launch the Docker containers

Start the server container from any directory

docker run -p 3000:3000 -d robbers-rummy-server

Start the client website container from any directory

 docker run -p 80:80  -d robbers-rummy

Stop the Docker conainers

Get the container IDs

docker ps

Stop and remove the containers using the container IDs

docker stop MY_CONTAINER_ID

Use Docker Compose

To launch the server and the client website together we will create a docker-compose.yml file in the root of the application

version: '3'
    image: robbers-rummy-server
    build: .
      - backend
      - "3000:3000"

    image: robbers-rummy
      - backend
      - "80:80"

    driver: bridge

Start the containers with Docker Compose from the application root directory

docker-compose up -d

To stop the containers launched with Docker Compose from the application root directory

docker-compose down

Host the application in AWS

The application consists of two parts: a static website with the game Javascript files, and the Express server to run Socket.IO

We will host the static website in AWS S3, and the server Docker container in an AWS ECS Fargate cluster.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *