Playground to Production - Fruit Fallin'

Related links: source, assets, demo.

High Level Overview

Once upon a time, I was fiddling with an idea in the Babylon.js Playground, and I thought, "I like this! This is fun. I'd like to make something more of this, but I don't want it to live in the Playground forever. How do I take my Playground prototype and turn it into independent production software?"

Playground to Web? Android? iOS?

So I went to the Babylon.js docs site and read through an article titled, "Playground to Production: Fruit Fallin'." After reading that article (and asking any questions I had on the forum), I knew exactly what to do and about how long I could expect it take.

  1. On my GitHub account, I created a new repository from the Babylon.js NPM Package Template, moved my Playground code into that repo, and confirmed it worked. Within half an hour, I had my Playground code running in my own repo.
  2. I then created a new repo from the Babylon.js Asset Host Template, put the assets I'd been prototyping with in there, then changed the links in my prototype code to point to my local asset host. Fifteen minutes later, my entire prototype—source code and assets—was running from my own repositories.
  3. Now with everything moved into dev infrastructure, I set about turning my prototype into real production code and assets. I refactored and revised to get rid of Playground-specific practices and transform my repos into efficient development environments where I could add features, take dependencies, experiment, collaborate, and iterate throughout the whole development process.
  4. Once I had something I was ready to share, I wanted to host it using GitHub Pages so I could get feedback from friends and colleagues. Because the Babylon.js Template Repositories are set up to make this easy, it took me five minutes, if that, to publish my experience to a GitHub-hosted site I could link to.
  5. Next, I uploaded my game code as an NPM package so that I could easily re-add it to other projects (websites, NPM apps, etc.) just by pulling down a package. Again, the Babylon.js Template repositories are set up to make this easy: within ten minutes, I had my new NPM package.
  6. I wanted to publish my app as a mobile game and get it listed on Google Play and the App Store, so I decided to use Ionic. All I had to do was create a new Ionic app, add my new NPM package as a dependency, then invoke my code and tell it where to display in the app. About an hour later, my code was built into a native app, ready to be shipped for mobile devices or as a PWA.

The Path: Playground to GitHub to NPM to Ionic

And that is how I created Fruit Fallin', a Babylon.js app inspired by browser games from the heyday of Flash. While I happened to be making a simple game, this same process can be used for more complex experiences, commercial scenarios... At a high level, the procedure described above can be used to take any Babylon.js idea from Playground to production using the Babylon.js Template Repositories, NPM, and Ionic.

For a less high-level look, let's take a more step-by-step journey through the process.

A More Step-by-Step Journey Through the Process

Moving Playground Code into a Development Repo

The first step toward developing production code was to move development from my Playground into a dedicated repository. The Babylon.js NPM Package Template, a component of the Template Repository Workflow, is designed with this in mind, particularly when migrating code from the Babylon.js Typescript Playground, so I decided to use that.

  1. I logged into my GitHub account.

    GitHub login

  2. On the page for the Babylon.js NPM Package Template, I clicked the "Use this template" button to start a new repo.

    "Use this template" button

  3. I picked my repo name, choose to make it public (for non-open source, I would have chosen private), then created the repository.

    Picking repo options

  4. In a Git-enabled terminal (in my case, Git Bash on Windows), I navigated to where I wanted my new repo to be and created my local clone.

    cd and git clone

  5. In an NPM-enabled terminal, I navigated into my new repo and ran

    npm install

    This installed all the NPM dependencies for all packages in my repo.

    PowerShell NPM install

  6. Still in the root directory in my NPM-enabled terminal, I ran

    npm run dev

    This started processes to both build and serve the repo in "watch" mode. After a moment, the default NPM Package Template test app launched in a new browser tab at, confirming I was on the right track.

    Browser default test app

  7. I then went back to the Babylon.js Typescript Playground I'd been prototyping in and copied all the code.

    Copying my Playground

    Note: this "copying" process does expect the original code to be in the TypeScript Playground. Code from a JavaScript Playground will need to be ported to TypeScript (usually not very difficult) before continuing into the Template Repository Workflow. That kind of code migration isn't a part of this Dev Story, but it should be fairly straightforward, and help is always available on the forum.

  8. In Visual Studio Code (my preferred code editor), I opened up my new repo's root directory, then opened the file app_package/src/Playground/playground.ts and replaced the Playground class with the one I'd copied the Web.


  9. While the NPM Package Template is designed to make it as easy as possible to copy-paste code from the Web Playground and have it work immediately, sometimes a little tweaking is needed. In my case, I was using coroutine features that were only available in the preview branch, so I had to update the version of Babylon that my app_package/package.json was depending on.

    Playground.ts pasted in

  10. After making that change and running

    npm update

    I was able to get my first glimpse of my code running locally.

    New browser Playground

  11. One more change required! Since my code had been hosted on the Playground, it was using the Playground-relative "textures/player.png" URL; however, once that code was running locally, it was unable to build a full URL with which to find that asset. Switching over to my own asset hosting was a later step, so I didn't really need to solve this; however, since getting it working could be done by just switching to a RawGit URL for player.png (which still works, for the moment), I decided to fix it anyway.

    Raw sprite location

  12. After saving that change, all I had to do was save the file and wait for the test app in my browser to auto-refresh.

    It's working!

And, just like that, I'd moved my prototype code from the Playground to an independent repository in which to continue development. However, I was still pulling assets from the Internet, which would be difficult to control and update as I continued developing my app. Time to create a more development-friendly environment for assets too!

Creating an Asset Host Repo

The Sprite I used while learning how to use sprites is the one provided as part of Babylon's default assets. While I knew all along I wanted to replace that, I first wanted to use it to bootstrap and test my approach to asset hosting for development.

  1. Repeating essentially the steps from the prior section for creating a new repository from a template, I made a new asset host from the Asset Host Template, cloned it down, and installed the NPM dependencies.

  2. As before, I ran

    npm run dev

    in the root directory of my new asset host repo. This started up a server to serve assets in my repo's docs folder at by default.

    Asset server

  3. To double-check that my server was working, I opened and saw the text

    Browser screenshot

  4. Next, I downloaded a copy of player.png and placed it in the docs folder. Again, I used the browser to test that this worked by checking that I could see the image at The dev server that comes with the Asset Host Template automatically serves new files dropped in the docs folder, so there was no need to restart the server.

    Player.png in the docs folder

  5. Going back over to Playground.ts in my source repository, all that remained to consume the sprite from my own asset host was to change the the spriteUrl assignment line to

    const spriteUrl: string = "";

    save the file, then wait for the test app to reload.

  6. Of course, once that reload happened, I realized I wouldn't be able to see the results because the sprite from my asset host looked identical to the one pulled from the Internet. To make extra sure, then, I changed player.png to player_2.png in my asset host, then cleared my brower's file cache (so it wouldn't load a cached version of player.png) and refreshed the test app. After confirming that the test app couldn't find player.png, I changed the code again to look for player_2.png and saved the file. When the app auto-reloaded, it had found the sprite again.

    Test app without and with correct sprite name

And with that, my entire prototype, both code and assets, was running locally from my own repos where I could iterate fast and commit often as I moved on to...

Developing the Experience

Coding tutorials and implementation diatribes are the stuff of dreams in that most people who read them fall asleep almost immediately. This is not a coding tutorial, so I won't spend much time describing the details of the implementation of Fruit Fallin'. I will, however, cover a few notes that I think were particularly important to helping me get Fruit Fallin' to work the way I wanted it.

  1. I pulled apart and deleted playground.ts just as fast as I could.

    The Babylon.js Playground is a fantastic place to experiment, prototype, and repro bugs. In order to be as good at those things as it is, however, the Playgrund make a number of implementation decisions that do not translate well into production software development. Single-file development, kitchen-sink dependency inclusion, and the BABYLON import are prominent examples of this.

    The BABYLON import

    In its initial state, the NPM Package Template repo emulates these patterns intentionally in playground.ts to make it as easy as possible to transition from Playground-based prototyping to repo-based development. The first step of that transition is to simply copy the Playground code into playground.ts as discussed above, then get that to a working state. Once that's done, however, I think the second step should always be to refactor everything in playground.ts into a more robust code structure (multiple files, types, etc.). With the code already in a working state, I moved functionality out into separate files incrementally (camera creation into a new camera type, falling objects into a new class, etc.), proving at every step that I hadn't broken my code. Then, once all the functionality had been moved out of playground.ts, I simply deleted that file and the folder containing it from my repo.

  2. I cleaned out the unused dependencies from the NPM Package Template repository.

    This is another step I recommend for moving your new repo away from Playground practices and into production. In order to be able to support code copy-pasted out of the Playground, the NPM Package Template's app_package by default includes a lot of dependencies, only a subset of which are likely to be used by any particular codebase. Fortunately, it's easy to get rid of the unnecessary imports here; all I had to do was open app_package/package.json and delete the references to any NPM packages I wasn't using--which, in this case, was most of them.

    Excess NPM package deletion

  3. To make sure I was rendering under the intended circumstances, I customized index.js in the test_package.

    The test app included with the NPM Package Template has an extremely simplisitic and generic appearance: it's basically just a small HTMLCanvasElement in a blank page. Not all Web apps are designed for generic canvases, however, so in many cases it may be helpful to add features to the test app to better reflect the real environment where the app will be run (full-screen capability, website forms to enter data, etc.). In my case, Fruit Fallin' was designed primarily with mobile touchscreens in mind, so I wanted my canvas to have an aspect ratio that more closely resembled what the game was ultimately supposed to run in.

    index.js in test_package

  4. I used Scenes as a unit of organization for my game logic.

    Scenes used in runtime.ts

    Most interactive apps have multiple "modes" of operation, and Fruit Fallin' in particular has two: the game and the title/menu/options/credits. While there's no real rule for how best to separate the concerns of the different modes, I found it useful to have them as separate Babylon Scene objects. Specifically, I made new Scene subclasses with the behavior I wanted for the different "modes," such as the title screen and gameplay. That made it easy for me to transition between modes by simply disposing one kind of scene and creating a new instance of the other, thus keeping the logic and resources clean and separated.

  5. I wrote a fixed framerate observable to simplify having coroutine-driven animation and game logic without being vulnerable to framerate changes.

    Framerate-dependent logic is dangerous because you can't rely on framerate. If you write your sprite animations to advance with device framerate and you get them to look right on a 30 FPS device, for example, then those animations will look absurdly fast on a 60 FPS device. On the other hand, there are certain things in game logic (such as sprite animations) that fit very naturally with frame-based logic because they happen in discrete increments. I wanted to take advantage of this natural synergy, but I didn't want my logic to be vulnerable to variations in framerate; so, borrowing from physics simulation practices, my solution was to make a simple fixed framerate observable which drives a guaranteed number of "updates" per second. If the device is rendering faster than the desired framerate, this observable will "skip" frames until enough time has elapsed; and if the device is rendering slower than the desired framerate, this observable will "double up" on what frames it has so that the same number of "updates" per time are always called. This trick allowed me to write logic that was frame-dependent without it becoming vulnerably framerate-dependent.

    Frame-dependent game logic

    Having this ability to reliably use frame-based logic allowed me to use coroutines for all sorts of things, from game flow to procedural animation. A full overview of the use of coroutines in Fruit Fallin' is beyond the scope of this article, but perhaps the most fun example look at is how the face animations are done entirely using coroutines.

  6. I made the consuming app (in this repo, the test app) responsible for specifying the locations of all the assets used by the game.

    As discussed in the Babylon docs on the Template Repository Workflow, one of the most varied challenges in deploying Babylon experiences is distributing assets. It's best to keep this problem completely separate from actually using the assets within the code, thus allowing the same experience code to be used in multiple situations even when assets are distributed differently. For this reason, my rule for myself is that there should never be a hard-coded asset URL anywhere in app_package. Instead, all resource locations should be passed in by the consuming experience, whether that be test_package or some production shipping vehicle. That way the app_package code can be written to "just work" as long as it's given the right asset locations, and all any consuming experience has to do to integrate it is just tell app_package the correct URLs to use.

    index.js asset location code

I should also briefly mention how I created the assets for the game. Again, this is not an implementation overview; but for those who are curious, here are the various tools I used to make Fruit Fallin'.

  1. Art: I drew all the backgrounds, the buttons, and all the animated components by hand using FlipaClip on an ancient Samsung Tab A 9.7 (from 2015, I think). Frames of animation were batch-cropped using FFmpeg, combined into spritesheets using the Leshy SpriteSheet Tool, and if necessary refined (fine-tuning opacity, etc.) using GIMP.
  2. Music: I made the song that plays during gameplay using MPC Beats.
  3. Sound effects: Almost all the sound effects I made by just making ridiculous noises into a microphone, then fiddling with the recordings in Audacity to get the sound I wanted. The exceptions are the tones which play during the coutdown at the start of the game, which were generated from pitch in Audacity.
  4. Other: The few remaining elements such as text are all generated using Babylon's built-in GUI. The only exception to this is the colors of the animated buttons, which are done using Babylon-generated plane geometry and an unlit PBR material.

Publishing the Test App on GitHub Pages

Once I had Fruit Fallin' working, I immediately wanted to share it with some friends to get their feedback. There are many public and private ways I could have done that, but because I didn't care about keeping the prototype private, by far the easiest option was to use GitHub Pages, a simple GitHub-based public hosting service that the template repositories make very easy to use.

  1. GitHub Pages essentially allows you to serve static sites from certain designated folders in your repository, one of which is the docs folder. This is the reason that the Asset Host Template serves assets from the docs folder in the first place. Because of this, it is extremely straight forward to get GitHub Pages to host your assets. To start, I pushed my changes up to my GitHub repository, then opened that repo in a browser.

    Asset Host web view

  2. On that repo's browser site, I opened up the Settings tab, then scrolled down and clicked on Pages.

    Settings -> Pages

  3. I chose the main branch as my source, then selected docs as the folder to serve. With that done, because my assets were already in the docs folder, I immediately had a public Web host for my assets.

    Assets in the browser

  4. Next, I wanted to make the test app change its behavior depending on whether it was hosted in the local dev server or on GitHub Pages. If it was local, I wanted it to still pull assets from my local asset host at so that I could keep my development workflow. However, if the site was on GitHub Pages, I wanted it to pull from the Web host. Fortunately, the test app includes a mechanism for determining this pretty easily; all I had to do was check the DEV_BUILD variable and change the URL prefix based on that.

    Checking the DEV_BUILD variable

  5. The way the NPM Package Template is set up, DEV_BUILD will be true whenever running locally using

    npm run dev

    However, GitHub Pages can't (and shouldn't) run that way; instead, I needed to build my test app to a static site and put it in the docs folder. That, too, is built into the NPM Package Template; to build test_package (including its dependency app_package) and place the build output in the docs folder ready to deploy to GitHub Pages, I ran the following command from the repo's root directory.

    npm run build
  6. I next ran git status just to confirm that the files in the docs folder really had changed.

    They had

  7. With that done, all that was left was to commit the built site, push it to GitHub, then turn on GitHub pages the same way I did for the asset host site.

    GitHub Pages again

A few seconds later, my site was live and GitHub gave me a link I could use to share the first Web-accessible version of Fruit Fallin'!

Deploying as an NPM Package

The speed and convenience of GitHub Pages was great, but it wasn't the end goal. Once I had gotten some feedback and was ready to move forward, I next needed to bring my app_package code into a real shipping vehicle. Continuing with the Template Repository Workflow, I decided to upload my app_package as an NPM package so that it could be easily integrated into a huge variety of different shipping solutions.

  1. Since the app_package in the NPM Package Template is already structured as an NPM package, publishing it as such is as easy as publishing any other NPM package. Personally, I had never published an NPM package before, so it took me an embarassingly long time to figure out that I could login to NPM in a terminal by opening a terminal and typing

    npm login
  2. Since I didn't need to publish my NPM package privately, the only other thing I needed to do was review the package.json file in app_package to ensure it contained the correct information for my new NPM package--most importantly the package name.


  3. cd app_package
    npm publish --access public

And with that, my app code was available on NPM, ready to be integrated into whatever shipping app I chose.

Going to Production with Ionic

Because Fruit Fallin' was designed with mobile touchscreen interfaces in mind, I decided I wanted to embed it into Android and iOS apps that could be uploaded to app stores. After looking around, I decided to use Ionic as my production platform because (1) it was open-source, (2) it could very easily consume NPM packages like the one I'd just created, and (3) it would allow me to target both Android and iOS as well as Web and PWA from the same shipping vehicle.

This is not an Ionic tutorial and the best way to learn about Ionic will be to consult their own docs; but as quick get-up-and-go, here's what I did to get Fruit Fallin' built for Web and Android using Ionic and developing on Windows.

  1. npm install -g @ionic/cli
  2. After navigating to the folder where I wanted my Ionic app's code to live, I ran

    ionic start
  3. I declined to use the App Creation Wizard, selected a React frontend, named my project, and chose a blank app template.

    Ionic options

  4. To check that everything was in order so far, I ran the following command to view the default Ionic Web app:

    cd fruit-fallin
    ionic serve
  5. The next step was to get this default app building into an Android app. To do so, I chose to use Ionic's built-in integration with Capacitor.

    ionic capacitor add android
  6. In general, Ionic has fantastic terminal output that will give you great advice about how to use itself. In my case, I got a message saying that syncing failed because the build directory was missing. To solve this, all I had to do was build and sync manually.

    ionic build
    ionic capacitor sync android
  7. My first command to add Android created a folder in my Ionic app's root directory called android. This folder is an Android Studio project. Ionic's CLI provides a number of different ways to try to automatically invoke Android Studio on this folder, but I opted not to use those. My general experience is that Android Studio is something of a strange bird, so I usually prefer to use it directly by opening that folder as a project in Android Studio.

    Opening in Android Studio

  8. Using Android Studio is beyond the scope of this article, but once opened the project can built and run on a real or virtual device just like any other project.

    The default app on an AVD

  9. With that done, it was time to change the content of the app to use my NPM package. In an NPM-capable terminal in the root directory, I added the dependency.

    npm install fruit-fallin
  10. Installing the dependency brought in the Fruit Fallin' code, but the assets need to be added a different way. I could technically have continued having the Ionic app pull the assets from a different location, but because I wanted the app to be self-contained, I instead just dropped my assets in a new folder in the public/assets directory.

    The new assets folder

  11. Now all I had to do was actually invoke the NPM dependency I'd pulled in and tell it where to find the assets I'd just added. I am not a React.js expert and this is not a React.js tutorial, but with a bit of help from friends and colleagues I was able to create a simple rewrite of Home.tsx that displayed a full-screen canvas and passed it as an argument to my Fruit Fallin' initialization code.

    import { IonContent, IonPage } from '@ionic/react';
    import { Component, createRef, RefObject } from 'react';
    import { initializeBabylonApp } from 'fruit-fallin';
    import './Home.css';
    class BabylonGame extends Component {
    private _canvas: RefObject<HTMLCanvasElement>;
    constructor (props: any) {
    this._canvas = createRef();
    public componentDidMount() {
    // Crude workaround for a loading timing issue
    setTimeout(() => {
    const babylonOptions = {
    canvas: this._canvas.current!,
    backgroundTitleUrl: "assets/game/background_title.jpg",
    backgroundGameUrl: "assets/game/background_game.jpg",
    buttonPlankUrl: "assets/game/button_plank.jpg",
    imageGameOverUrl: "assets/game/image_game_over.jpg",
    spritesheetButtonFrameUrl: "assets/game/spritesheet_button_frame.jpg",
    spritesheetFruitUrl: "assets/game/spritesheet_fruit.jpg",
    spritesheetMouthUrl: "assets/game/spritesheet_mouth.jpg",
    soundMusicUrl: "assets/game/sound_music.mp3",
    soundChompUrl: "assets/game/sound_chomp.mp3",
    soundChompYumUrl: "assets/game/sound_chomp_yum.mp3",
    soundChompYuckUrl: "assets/game/sound_chomp_yuck.mp3",
    soundCountdownUrl: "assets/game/sound_countdown.mp3",
    soundGoUrl: "assets/game/sound_go.mp3",
    soundClickUrl: "assets/game/sound_click.mp3",
    }, 200);
    public render() {
    return <canvas id="babylonCanvas" width={window.innerWidth} height={window.innerHeight} style={{width: "100%", height: "100%"}} className="center" ref={this._canvas}></canvas>;
    const Home: React.FC = () => {
    return (
    export default Home;
  12. To test that this worked, I first tested in browser again:

    ionic serve

    Fruit Fallin' Ionic

    This would be very close to the end state if I were targeting Web or WPA using Ionic. However, since I wanted to go to Android, there were a few more steps.

  13. ionic build
    ionic capacitor sync android

    The explicit build may be unnecessary, but I did it just to be sure. The sync then copied over the new build as well as the assets, updating the Android project. Note that I closed down Android Studio before doing this to help ensure that the Ionic CLI and Android Studio didn't confuse each other while accessing the same files simultaneously.

  14. Finally, I once again opened the android folder in Android Studio, built the project, and deployed it to my Android virtual device.

    Fruit Fallin' on AVD

And that was it! That was all I needed. My Babylon experience could now be deployed to Web, PWA, Android, and iOS all from the same codebase; and moreover I now had a process to leverage the Template Repository Workflow to bring almost any project from Playground to production along the same path.

What should I make next?

What will you make next?

What next?