This is a documentation for Board Game Arena: play board games online !

First steps with BGA Studio

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Game File Reference

Useful Components


  • Deck: a PHP component to manage cards (deck, hands, picking cards, moving cards, shuffle deck, ...).
  • Draggable: a JS component to manage drag'n'drop actions.
  • Counter: a JS component to manage a counter that can increase/decrease (ex: player's score).
  • ExpandableSection: a JS component to manage a rectangular block of HTML than can be displayed/hidden.
  • Scrollmap: a JS component to manage a scrollable game area (useful when the game area can be infinite. Examples: Saboteur or Takenoko games).
  • Stock: a JS component to manage and display a set of game elements displayed at a position.
  • Zone: a JS component to manage a zone of the board where several game elements can come and leave, but should be well displayed together (See for example: token's places at Can't Stop).

Undocumented component (if somebody knows please help with docs)

  • Wrapper: a JS component to wrap a <div> element around its child, even if these elements are absolute positioned.


Game Development Process

Guides for Common Topics

Miscellaneous Resources

Connect to the BGA Studio website

Go to BGA Studio website:

Use your first dev account (ex: myusername0, password was sent in welcome email), and login into the website - as you would do for Board Game Arena.

If you don't have account see How to join BGA developer team?

Create a new game project

You can do most of the projects-related operations from "Control Panel / Manage games". In particular, you can create a new project automatically from there.

Your first "game" should be one of the tutorials, so your project name should be something like "tutorialbob". Type "0" for Board Game Geek ID and click the "Create Project" button. The new project will appear after you refresh the page.

Note: At this stage it is too early to create a real game but if you really don't want to start until you have a game in mind, check Create a game in BGA Studio: Complete Walkthrough section "Select a First Game"

For reference top bar studio links

Set up dev environment ide, editor and File Sync

From the initial email from the Studio you get:

  • the name of the SFTP server to connect to
  • your SFTP login and password

Note: this is NOT the same login/password as dev account, find email that talks about SFTP specifically

Using this information:

  • Check that your remote home folder contains one folder for two example games (reversi, hearts). If you have already created a new game project, one additional folder should be in your "home" folder. Note: example project are only for code reference they cannot be use as studio project (i.e. run on website)
  • Connect to the SFTP server using your SFTP login and password, through your favourite SFTP client software or use IDE integraton (see File Sync or Setting_up_BGA_Development_environment_using_VSCode). Make sure to download the remote project folder into a local folder.
  • If you are not sure what editor to use see Code editors and IDE,
  • Note: You have to setup AUTOMATED sync between your folder and remote folder, manually ftp'ing files would be no-starter.
  • Note: You can also upload your ssh key via studio control panel to avoid password exchange

Let's code!

Now, you can try to launch a new game on BGA Studio from the "Play now" menu entry, as you would do on Board Game Arena website.

  1. To launch your game from Studio go to CONTROL PANEL -> Manage games -> <your_game> -> <your_game_page> -> Play (see how to access control panel above)
  2. Press Create to create a table
  3. Select number of players and select Training mode in game configuration panel
  4. Click Express start. Do not use "Start game" buttons in studio - it adds unnecessary complexity of logging it from multiple accounts. When using Express start your game launches with the maximum number of players specified using your own dev player accounts (dev0, dev1, dev2, etc). If you don't see Express start button make sure you are in Manual mode for game creation. Note: for Solo mode you do actually want to use Start Game instead of Express start, the later has some issues (warnings).
  5. Game will open with an empty canvas: in the game zone you just have a sentence 'This is your game interface. You can edit this HTML in your ".tpl" file.'.
  6. Switch to your SFTP home folder, go into your game folder. Edit the game_game.tpl file (this will be named like your project), and change this sentence to 'Hey, this is my first game!', then save (this assumes you mount or sync the folder).
  7. Go back to your browser and refresh, check that the game zone has updated.
  8. Click the red arrow next to a test account's name in the player panel to view the game from that player's account
    Change active player.jpg
  9. Open the menu (three-line "hamburger" icon at the upper right) and choose 'Express STOP'. The game ends automatically and you are brought back to the table screen for this ended game.

Then you can modify the provided skeleton and begin to develop your game :)

Commit your changes

Committing uploads your changes on BGA's revision control system. This is an extra assurance not to lose your code, and to have the possibility to get a previous version of your code if you need to backtrack. It also helps us to follow your progress (we get an email when you commit). So you should commit from time to time, when you hit some landmark in your development.

You can automatically commit your sources in the repository from "Control Panel / Manage Games / Your game / Commit my modifications now". Then:

  1. Enter your commit comment (such as 'My first commit') then hit the 'Submit' button;
  2. Check the log for errors, it should end with the following lines:
 Transmitting file data .
 Committed revision #revision number#.
 HAL says: done.

NOTE: committing the code is currently not working until admin commits it manually the first time. Even if it does you cannot automatically deal with this version control system except for committing. Therefore its recommended to use another means of storing the code in version control system, such as local git repo or github, see Version Control

That's all!

Now you know about the basics of updating your game on BGA Studio and testing your changes.

Now you can select one of the tutorials to play with and start coding.

For links to tutorials and ALL studio documentation see Studio.