September 30, 2020 project breakdown video-game art

This side-scrolling game for the amazing up-and-coming artist Gaidaa is such a treat:

Falling Higher.


Before getting into the game, some info about Gaidaa. She's a Sudanese singer-songwriter from the Netherlands who recently released her debut EP "Overture", which has been in heavy rotation since July.

Shirley Ju of Flaunt Magazine wrote a great profile on Gaidaa. Put on "Overture" and give it a read.


I heard the EP thanks to a recommendation and co-sign from Saba (who's featured on the project).

Saba is one of my favorite artists (his "Care For Me" album was one of my top projects of 2018), so I at least had to check out his feature on the song "Stranger".

Before listening to "Stranger" though, the painted cover art drew me in even more, prompting me to listen to whole 8 song project. Gaidaa is an indepedent artist but the cover alone made me wish there was a vinyl release. Side bar: Speaking of independent vinyl releases, I've heard good things about Qrates, hoping to post more about them once I get 2 records that should be shipping soon.

After one listen, "Overture" easily became one of my favorite projects of the year and is a must listen. I'm sure it'll make my year-end list but you you might as well peep it now!

Also this is just a personal highlight, but I've been learning Arabic the past few months and it was a great moment to hear some Arabic I understood on the profound "Morning Blue":

صباح النور (sabah alnuwr)
صباح الخير (sabah alkhyr)

Which translates to "morning of the bright light / good morning"; two ways to say good morning.

"Falling Higher"

With all that said, as a developer, I couldn't have been more intrigued to see this tweet from Gaidaa.

Check out the site if you haven't yet.

The first thing I loved on the site is the integration with Apple Music and Spotify. I've always wanted more artists to take advantage of streaming services' Javascript libraries. And to add it to a game is even better (I've got a domain name saved for a rainy day for this purpose, I'll update this post if that rain ever comes).

Once you connect a music service, "Overture" starts playing and it's time for the game.

The game is mobile friendly (it even has Gameboy controls) and is also playable on desktop. Diving into the source code, it's built on the HTML 5 game engine Phaser.

I say "diving into the source code", but this site was really a breath of fresh air because the game logic and site in general doesn't have minified JS. I know there are server costs and savings with minifying your source files, but with projects like this I think the cost benefit analysis of sharing the code with devs (or more importantly future devs) who might hit "Inspect" in their browser, is worth it.

I'm not familiar with gaming libraries but Phaser looks great. Looking at the main Javascript game setup, it looks extremely fun to learn. If you're interested, dive into the Inspector and peruse the level definitions, main player and "enemy" definitions, sprite setups and more.

Speaking of sprites, something that struck me when playing was the detail on Gaidaa's sprite, including moving earrings. Here's the whole sprite file:

Gaidaa sprite file

Seeing the definition of each sprite animation in the source code was also really cool to see for someone interested in game design.

Seeing all the things that are possible in the game logic even sparked a bit of a creative renaissance for me recently.

The Wrap Up

Overall this was one of the most fun projects to explore in recent memory. I just wish I had been able to find the developer in the source code (edit: it might be Marwan on the Moon per the lyric video).

I love the streaming integration, the look and feel, and especially the fan engagement that the game lead to on Gaidaa's Twitter page.

I'll definitely be considering Phaser in the future and I'll definitely continue spinning "Overture", especially with everything going on in the world it's always a nice reset to my day.


*PS, Boy was it hard to format Arabic (a right-to-left language) and italics in a Markdown text editor.

PPS, if you enjoyed this breakdown, please feel free to retweet and share.