Looking for a Sprite Kit Game Engine? Check out Kobold Kit!
Two weeks ago I blogged about Why Apple Created Sprite Kit and What It Means For Cocos2D.
Two weeks since WWDC 2013 is also a good time to take a first look at the impact of Sprite Kit on the economy. Everything and everyone seems to be in turmoil right now as far as 2D game development for iOS and related tools and services is concerned.
To understand the impact of Sprite Kit, let’s first look at Kobold Touch for which I have actual data to back up my impressions.
KoboldTouch Signup Rate – Bummer!
I have been taking notes of the exact days new KoboldTouch users signed up in an Excel sheet. I found it entertaining and thought that maybe some day I will have a use for it.
That day has come. I can present you the KT sign up rate from post-WWDC dates June 10th to 24th with the sign-up rate of the same two-week span in the preceding months:
This ought to be telling. In particular it tells you something about the sudden loss of interest in cocos2d related products like KT, and possibly loss of interest and trust in cocos2d itself. At the very least it shows developers are now in “wait and see” mode.
There was never a 2-week period in Kobold Touch’s lifetime (since Nov 2012) where so little new users had signed up. Just right after WWDC six members cancelled, which is also unprecedented for such a small timeframe.
Update: As of June 29th sales are recovering. Perhaps developers recovered from the initial shock, or as I like to hope, they’re excited about Kobold Kit.
What does it mean for KoboldTouch?
What I want to stress is that current Kobold Touch customers will also be Kobold Kit customers with all the same benefits plus extras, for no extra fees. For example selected KT customers currently help evaluating and testing Kobold Kit alpha builds. Stay seated, be patient, it’s just a quick stopover.
I should also stress that my motivation is higher than ever. Kobold Kit has my focus right now. I will work on Kobold Touch features and bugfixes but only on a “as-requested / as-reported” basis. I’m currently porting the main KT features over to KK, making great improvements along the way, many only thanks to Sprite Kit’s clever and elegant design which is also mirrored in Kobold Kit’s similarly clever and elegant re-design.
I learned a lot from KT and I no longer have to work around cocos2d in contrived ways either, so starting fresh allows me to improve and simplify at the same time. I really love how everything seems to fall into place naturally now.
I’m tempted to believe that Apple had spent a great deal of know-how on how add-on frameworks will interact with Sprite Kit.
All in all, this change by “force of nature” is refreshing, invigorating, and an excellent opportunity to improve or even launch new products. Even though it means a temporary slump in sales and an unexpected change of plans.
It also is a little inconvenient since I will soon be joining forces with a business partner. Coincidentally I’m not the only one in this exact situation. Which brings me to …
Tool Developers and Service Providers
I think everyone involved in selling products built on cocos2d-iphone or selling to cocos2d-iphone customers are seeing or at least expecting similar slumps in sales since the announcement of Sprite Kit.
The necessity to bow down to Apple and being forced to embrace Sprite Kit may initially have been shocking or at least annoying. But two weeks later I think we’re all very, very hopeful for the future as this is a great opportunity to redefine how 2D games will be developed for Apple devices. We will be the ones defining and claiming the market!
And we aren’t getting in the way of each other – there’s simply a lot more potential customers than available offerings, and the potential customer base will grow rapidly thanks to Sprite Kit. So I can tell you right now that we’re sticking our heads together. And no … but I really wish I could tell you details.
Expect Sprite Kit to have an even better ecosystem of add-ons, tools, services and tutorials – both paid and free. I’m really excited about the development plans I hear, and the projects I’m taking part in. Stay tuned.
Lots of New Game Developers
If the questions on the Sprite Kit developer forum are anything to go by, we’ll see a lot more beginners getting into 2D game development. Not just the absolute beginners, but also professional iOS developers who have made many apps and sold iOS software add-ons for years.
Take for example Oliver Drobnik, the codartist formerly known as Dr. Touch, as he takes his first game-making steps.
At the same time the developers with a cocos2d background actually seem to be a minority. It’s almost as if cocos2d didn’t really exist. It’s weird because so many things I took for granted are now being questioned by fresh minds, untainted by how cocos2d works.
It brings some cool ideas to the table, and points out the things developers aren’t understanding or having troubles to implement.
Understandably the cocos2d community is in turmoil just like the businesses. Riq side-stepped to cocos2d-x and there’s now a wishlist for cocos2d-iphone v3 proposed by the new cocos2d-iphone lead dev Birkemose.
But the v3 wishlist reads like Sprite Kit + extras – but Sprite Kit is at least a year’s work from a team of engineers. I’m reminded of discussions I had with several render engine programmers who were adamant about cocos2d’s renderer being crap, pointed out its flaws, and then went on to say it could be rewritten and made better in just 2-3 months. That never happened because it’s unrealistic to expect anything equal to Sprite Kit to be mature in less than a year.
As much as I like to see a reboot of cocos2d-iphone, no matter if rewrite or overhaul, it is tedious to achieve stability, absence of critical bugs, device and OS compatibility. It takes time to support and document it. It needs to prove itself through published apps and to generate trust – if you’re not Apple. It requires an ear for the users, managing expectations, planning ahead, setting realistic goals, celebrating achievements, tooting one’s horn yet remaining realistic. There’s a lot more than just writing code that will have to go into v3.
Cocos2d has the “existing community & code” bonus, that’s enough to be optimistic. What makes me cautious is that twice before, after someone else took lead in a cocos2d project (v1.x and extensions), the enthusiasm and efforts died off rather quickly. I don’t know what happened the last two times, I can’t assess whether or why it will be different this time.
UPDATE: Good news, everyone! Apportable is now the official cocos2d sponsor. That’s one way to do it, and as I believe perhaps one of the best options!
Competition With Benefits
I will give my best for Kobold Kit, to stay one step ahead of the curve, to experiment, to innovate, to produce something unique and valuable, and most importantly to create a product with great benefits.
I have no doubts this goes for the cocos2d v3 community as well. If they stick together to make more and faster progress, if only to prove me wrong and revenue really isn’t needed to pull it off, then I’d very much welcome that.
Everyone benefits, end of story!
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