Working with Game On! Locally

Developing and testing your room locally in a production-like environment is an important aspect of Twelve factor applications, as it reduces the likelihood that what you create locally will fail in new and unexpected ways when activated in production.

Game On! is a containerized application that uses replaceable backing services that can also run locally in containers (sometimes with minor substitutions, as we’ll see). We like this for two reasons: 1) we can directly see what happens when we prod things with a stick, and 2) we can be much more destructive with local copies without worrying about messing something up.

Using Vagrant

The Vagrantfile defined in the gameontext/gameon (root) project will ensure that you’re using the right versions of everything, regardless of which orchestration engine you use, at the cost of getting one version right.

You need at least version 1.9.8 of Vagrant, which you can install using packages from the Vagrant downloads page.

Once you have Vagrant installed:

  1. Use vagrant up to provision and launch the Vagrant VM.

  2. Use vagrant ssh to create a command shell in the VM

    • All commands in the following sections are run in this shell

    • You will start in the /vagrant directory

      • This directory is 'shared'

      • It is the directory containing the Vagrantfile (the root gameon project)

  3. When you’re done, use vagrant down to stop the VM.

  4. Use vagrant destroy to tear down the VM completely.

Using Docker

Installation instructions for Docker vary by platform. On Windows and macOS, you can also choose between Docker native and Docker Toolbox. Both should work.

We provide pre-built images on dockerhub to simplify the steps required to run the game locally.

Container orchestration

For sanity, you need help of some kind to manage starting and stopping images. Even with the orchstrators, we still wrap invocations with shell scripts: the scripts help ensure we all issue the same commands the same way every time.

The following sections apply to both Docker Compose and Kubernetes. The GO_DEPLOYMENT environment variable should be set to select the target environment. The default value is docker-compose.

Starting game services locally (TL;DR)

  1. Obtain the source for this repository:

    • HTTPS: git clone

    • SSH: git clone

  2. Change to the gameon directory

    cd gameon
  3. Setup your environment (one time).

    ./ setup
  4. Start core game services:

    ./ up
  5. Carry on with building your room!

  6. Clean up

    ./go-admin down


When Game On! runs in the cloud, it uses etcd to obtain its configuration. When running locally it expects all this to be fed to it via the environment. The gameon.env file defined in the root directory provides this local configuration, and is consumed by both Docker Compose and Kubernetes.

Some addional notes regarding environment-specific config:

  • When you run natively, the "host" for your containers is the OS itself, so will work just fine (default url in gameon.env).

  • When you run in Docker Toolbox, there is a VirtualMachine acting as the host for your containers. This means that (for URLs and other things) you need to use the IP of the VM. A gameon.<DOCKER_MACHINE_NAME>env file will be created as a modified copy of gameon.env to adjust.

  • Similarly, if you are running with Vagrant, you need to use the Vagrant VM’s IP address. A gameon.vagrantenv file will be created in the root directory as a modified copy of gameon.env.

SSH Keys and KeyStores

Because Game On! uses a Certificate for HTTPS and for JWT signing, we need to generate one for local use. We create a special mapped volume (called keystore) that provides a generated local keystore to containers.

Scripts will ensure that this volume exists.

Modifying Core Game services

If you change your mind, and decide you want to start hacking on a core game service, no worries! You can mix and match the two approaches.

We use git submodules to allow editing of core game services while working with the gameontext/gameon (root) project to coordinate deployment.


When using git submodules, please do not commit any changes to submodule versions. Submodule versions are maintained by automated builds.

The following instructions assume you’ve cloned the root repository, and are interested in editing the map service as an example:

  1. Change to the gameon directory

    cd gameon
  2. Obtain the source for the project that you want to change.

    git submodule init map
    git submodule update map
  3. Make your changes from within the child directory

    cd map
    git checkout -b newbranch

    Then edit source or docker/image files using your favorite IDE.

    If you plan to edit projects with Eclipse, run ./bin/ to generate eclipse project files.
  4. Compile the source and rebuild docker image

  5. Push your changes to a new branch. From the map directory:

    git add -u
    git commit -s

    Git commits must be signed

    Once you make your commit, if you go back to the root directory, you will see a pending change for map. This indicates that the submodule is different than the version from the current branch of the root project. Do not check in this change. Sadly, these files can not be added to .gitignore.

    Care must be taken to avoid staging these files if you otherwise end up making changes to files in the root project itself.


Iterative development of Java applications with WDT

If you’re using Eclipse for development, and have opted for the iterative approach (using docker-compose.override.yml for volumes, e.g.), we recommend using WebSphere Developer Tools (WDT) to work with the Java services contained in the sample. There is some (one time) configuration required to make WDT happy with the docker-hosted applications, but you are then free to use eclipse to make changes to the project that will be immediately picked up by the running server without having to rebuild or restart anything.

Supporting 3rd party auth

3rd party authentication (twitter, github, etc.) will not work locally, but the anonymous/dummy user will. If you want to test with one of the 3rd party authentication providers, you’ll need to set up your own tokens to do so.

Determining the host IP address (Docker Toolbox)

After you have Docker Toolbox installed, verify the host machine name: docker-machine ls. The default name is default, but if you’re a former Boot2Docker user, it may be dev instead. Substitute this value appropriately in what follows.

If you aren’t using the docker quick-start terminal, you’ll need to set the docker environment variables in your command shell using eval "$(docker-machine env default)".

Get the IP address for your host using docker-machine ip default.

./docker/ and ./docker/ will create a gameon.<DOCKER_MACHINE_NAME>env file to account for the IP address difference.

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