Build an Energy System for Casual Games on Solana

Casual games commonly use energy systems, meaning that actions in the game cost energy which refills over time. In this guide we will walk through how to build one on Solana. If you don't have any prior Solana knowledge, start with the Hello World Example instead.

You can easily set up a new game with an energy system and a React client using Create Solana Game. Just run the command:

npx create-solana-game your-game-name
Info

You can find a tutorial on how to use create-solana-game. and also a video walkthrough of the example being explained in this guide below.

Anchor program #

For starters, we will guide you through creating an Anchor program that gradually replenishes the player's energy reserves over time. The energy will enable them to execute various actions within the game. In our example, a lumberjack will chop trees with every tree rewarding one wood and costing one energy point.

Creating the player account #

First the player needs to create an account which saves the state of our player. We will also save the Unix time stamp of the player's last interaction with the program in the last_login value. With this state, we will be able to calculate how much energy the player has at a certain point in time. We also have a value for how much wood the lumberjack cuts in the game.

pub fn init_player(ctx: Context<InitPlayer>) -> Result<()> {
    ctx.accounts.player.energy = MAX_ENERGY;
    ctx.accounts.player.last_login = Clock::get()?.unix_timestamp;
    Ok(())
}
 
...
 
#[derive(Accounts)]
pub struct InitPlayer <'info> {
    #[account(
        init,
        payer = signer,
        space = 1000,
        seeds = [b"player".as_ref(), signer.key().as_ref()],
        bump,
    )]
    pub player: Account<'info, PlayerData>,
    #[account(mut)]
    pub signer: Signer<'info>,
    pub system_program: Program<'info, System>,
}
 
#[account]
pub struct PlayerData {
    pub name: String,
    pub level: u8,
    pub xp: u64,
    pub wood: u64,
    pub energy: u64,
    pub last_login: i64
}

Chopping trees #

Then whenever the player calls the chop_tree instruction we will check if the player has enough energy and reward them with one wood (by incrementing the player's wood count).

#[error_code]
pub enum ErrorCode {
    #[msg("Not enough energy")]
    NotEnoughEnergy,
}
 
pub fn chop_tree(mut ctx: Context<ChopTree>) -> Result<()> {
    let account = &mut ctx.accounts;
    update_energy(account)?;
 
    if ctx.accounts.player.energy == 0 {
        return err!(ErrorCode::NotEnoughEnergy);
    }
 
    ctx.accounts.player.wood = ctx.accounts.player.wood + 1;
    ctx.accounts.player.energy = ctx.accounts.player.energy - 1;
    msg!("You chopped a tree and got 1 wood. You have {} wood and {} energy left.", ctx.accounts.player.wood, ctx.accounts.player.energy);
    Ok(())
}

Calculating the energy #

The interesting part happens in the update_energy function. We check how much time has passed and calculate the energy that the player will have at the given time. We will do the same in the client. We lazily update the energy instead of polling it all the time. This is a common technique in game development.

const TIME_TO_REFILL_ENERGY: i64 = 60;
const MAX_ENERGY: u64 = 10;
 
pub fn update_energy(ctx: &mut ChopTree) -> Result<()> {
    let mut time_passed: i64 = &Clock::get()?.unix_timestamp - &ctx.player.last_login;
    let mut time_spent: i64 = 0;
    while time_passed {'>'} TIME_TO_REFILL_ENERGY {
        ctx.player.energy = ctx.player.energy + 1;
        time_passed -= TIME_TO_REFILL_ENERGY;
        time_spent += TIME_TO_REFILL_ENERGY;
        if ctx.player.energy == MAX_ENERGY {
            break;
        }
    }
 
    if ctx.player.energy {'>='} MAX_ENERGY {
        ctx.player.last_login = Clock::get()?.unix_timestamp;
    } else {
        ctx.player.last_login += time_spent;
    }
 
    Ok(())
}

JavaScript client #

Here is a complete example using create-solana-game, with a React client.

Create connection #

In the Anchor.ts file we create a connection to the Solana blockchain (in this case, devnet):

export const connection = new Connection(
  "https://api.devnet.solana.com",
  "confirmed",
);

Notice that the confirmation parameter is set to confirmed. This means that we wait until the transactions are confirmed instead of finalized. This means that we wait until the super majority of the network said that the transaction is valid. This takes around 400ms and there was never a confirmed transaction which did not get finalized. Generally for games, confirmed is the perfect transaction commitment level.

Initialize player data #

First, we will find the program address for the player account using the seed string player and the player's public key (deriving the PDA). Then we call initPlayer to create the account.

const [pda] = PublicKey.findProgramAddressSync(
  [Buffer.from("player", "utf8"), publicKey.toBuffer()],
  new PublicKey(LUMBERJACK_PROGRAM_ID),
);
 
const transaction = program.methods
  .initPlayer()
  .accounts({
    player: pda,
    signer: publicKey,
    systemProgram: SystemProgram.programId,
  })
  .transaction();
 
const tx = await transaction;
const txSig = await sendTransaction(tx, connection, {
  skipPreflight: true,
});
 
await connection.confirmTransaction(txSig, "confirmed");

Subscribe to account updates #

Next we will use websockets within the JavaScript client to subscribe and listen for changes on the player's account. We use websockets here (over manually polling the RPC) because it is a faster way to get the changes.

connection.onAccountChange creates a socket connection to the RPC node which will push any changes that happen to the account to the client. We can then use the program.coder to decode the account data into the TypeScript types and directly use it in the game.

useEffect(() => {
  if (!publicKey) {
    return;
  }
  const [pda] = PublicKey.findProgramAddressSync(
    [Buffer.from("player", "utf8"), publicKey.toBuffer()],
    new PublicKey(LUMBERJACK_PROGRAM_ID),
  );
  try {
    program.account.playerData.fetch(pda).then(data => {
      setGameState(data);
    });
  } catch (e) {
    window.alert("No player data found, please init!");
  }
 
  connection.onAccountChange(pda, account => {
    setGameState(program.coder.accounts.decode("playerData", account.data));
  });
}, [publicKey]);

Calculate energy and show count down #

In the JavaScript client, we can now perform the same logic as in the program to precalculate how much energy the player would have at this point in time and show a countdown timer for the player so that he knows when the next energy will be available:

useEffect(() => {
    const interval = setInterval(async () => {
        if (gameState == null || gameState.lastLogin == undefined || gameState.energy {'>='} 10) {return;}
        const lastLoginTime = gameState.lastLogin * 1000;
        let timePassed = ((Date.now() - lastLoginTime) / 1000);
        while (timePassed {'>'} TIME_TO_REFILL_ENERGY && gameState.energy {'>'} MAX_ENERGY) {
            gameState.energy = (parseInt(gameState.energy) + 1);
            gameState.lastLogin = parseInt(gameState.lastLogin) + TIME_TO_REFILL_ENERGY;
            timePassed -= TIME_TO_REFILL_ENERGY;
        }
        setTimePassed(timePassed);
        let nextEnergyIn = Math.floor(TIME_TO_REFILL_ENERGY - timePassed);
        if (nextEnergyIn {'>'} TIME_TO_REFILL_ENERGY && nextEnergyIn {'>'} 0) {
            setEnergyNextIn(nextEnergyIn);
        } else {
            setEnergyNextIn(0);
        }
 
    }, 1000);
 
    return () => clearInterval(interval);
}, [gameState, timePassed]);
 
...
 
{(gameState && <div className="flex flex-col items-center">
    {("Wood: " + gameState.wood + " Energy: " + gameState.energy + " Next energy in: " + nextEnergyIn )}
 
 
 
</div>
 
)}
 

With this you can now build any energy based game and even if someone builds a bot for the game the most they can do is play optimally, which may be even easier to achieve when playing normally depending on the logic of your game.

This game becomes even better when you add the ability to use tokens in games. For example, rewarding players with some SPL tokens for their actions in game..