Linkvent Calendar, Day 12: Indie Challenges

On December 12, 2010, in Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar, by Steffen Itterheim

Yesterday I introduced you to the Rampant Coyote with his Eight Tips to Help You Finish Your Indie Game. Today’s Linkvent Calendar entry follows in these footsteps with a blog post from Owen Goss titled Indie Challenges.

Actually, it’s two posts and it follows his original, enthusiastic post I’m Indie, and I’m Proud. Surely it can’t be all good, so Indie Challenges throws some light on the challenges indie developers face, such as unstable income, blurring the lines between life and work, the paperwork (@Owen: there are tax consultants for that, and I pay just over €40/$60 per month – well worth it!), occasionally feeling like a failure (@Owen: no, you’re not alone, been there … repeatedly – but much worse is to feel like a failure when you’re employed and still believe that you depend on that job).

I’ve found this post through #iDevBlogADay which is a wonderful website of high-profile bloggers putting out two posts every day. A few days ago I joined the waiting list as #52.

Add your link to the Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar

Do you have something to share with the Cocos2D community? I haven’t received enough submissions to fill all the days until Xmas, although I do have enough links to post one each day, I’d rather post a link to your website or blog post.

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Stepping a little outside the bowl that is Cocos2D today. I’d like to turn your attention to a very prolific indie developer who has been around for many years. His blog was instrumental on setting my mind towards wanting to become and indie developer. I’m talking about Jay Barnson, better known for his blog Tales of the Rampant Coyote.

In his blog post dubbed Eight Tips to Help You Finish Your Indie Game he collected and published these 8 bits of wisdom:

#1 – Keep It Simple
#2 – The Secret of Scheduling and Budgeting
#3 – Make It Playable as Fast as Possible
#4 – Develop a Cautious Relationship with Scope / Feature Creep
#5 – Be Able to Carry the Project on Your Back
#6 – When In Doubt, Cut It Out
#7 – Save It For the Sequel
#8 – Power Through the Valleys

I specifically value #1 and #3 very highly, with #2 being very important to actually make measurable progress. Measuring your progress in small steps is what’s going to make you feel good about your project and that will keep you going.

I urge you to take #4 through #7 very seriously. I wish you strength for #8, that’s what’s going to hit all of us and in fact, it probably killed thousands of times more cool game projects than big companies cancelled for budgetary (is that a bird?) reasons, or simply because the decision maker hadn’t slept well.

Have a look at Jay’s indie game shoppe at Rampant Games, he sells his own and other indie developer’s titles.

Side Note

As a side note, Jay recently blogged about the web-browser based Lord of Ultima game that launched earlier this year. It’s the game I walked away from, so naturally I was interested to read what the Coyote had to say about it.

His review blew my mind, Jay hit so many nails on the head – both about the good and undesireable aspects of the game – it was unbelievable. Besides it was also fun to read and his conclusion being “Ultima is dead” is exactly what is wrong with the game. In and of itself nothing, the game is actually quite fun and well thought out, but using the Ultima license for that kind of game while not making good use of it … well it’s clear it would bring some more players into the game but ultimately (pun intended) it is severely damaging the brand. Ultima as we old-schoolers knew it, is indeed dead. Lucky for us, we don’t need no Ultima anymore because there’s something better for us!

On the other hand, that also means there’s a future for Ultima. One in which our kids remember Ultima as a series of actually quite good webgames. Oh well, that might not be too bad after all, if I set my “everything was better in the good old days” mind (it starts to develop once you pass age 30) aside for a moment. :)

Add your link to the Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar

Do you have something to share with the Cocos2D community? I haven’t received enough submissions to fill all the days until Xmas, although I do have enough links to post one each day, I’d rather post a link to your website or blog post.

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Linkvent Calendar, Day 10: Free Cocos2D Webinar

On December 10, 2010, in Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar, by Steffen Itterheim

UPDATE: here’s the summary of the webinar which includes a link to the recorded session.


Mohammad Azam will be hosting a FREE webinar: Introduction to iPhone Game Development Using the Cocos2D framework.

This webinar takes place TOMORROW (Dec 11th)! I replicate his blog post here with the crucial info:

The webinar will help getting the new comers get started with iPhone development. It will be all code based with minimal or no slides. The webinar will be hosted on www.freebinar.com. Additional details are listed below:

Webinar URL: http://www.freebinar.com/highoncoding1
Date: 12/11/2010 (December 11 2010)
Time: 11:00 AM (US Central Time)
Limit: 150 people

Mohammad is originally a .NET programmer and frequent speaker at tech events. Recently he started diving into iOS development. He has written several tutorials about Cocos2D and he’ll get another Linkvent Calendar post soon that lists all of the Cocos2D screencasts he made. Follow him on Twitter @azamsharp and check out his iosdevblog.

Add your link to the Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar

Do you have something to share with the Cocos2D community? I haven’t received enough submissions to fill all the days until Xmas, although I do have enough links to post one each day, I’d rather post a link to your website or blog post.

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A couple hours ago I’ve opened Cocos2D Central (http://cocos2d-central.com), a forum / website / soon-to-be-community. Initially intended for readers of my Cocos2D book but generally open to everyone.

To be able to handle all the feedback and questions I receive by email while allowing everyone else to benefit from it, the logical next step was to create a forum. And that’s what Cocos2D Central is right now, a forum. But it will be much more (articles, downloads, blogs, store) because I can, but not without seeing actual demand, so I’m starting with the essentials and take things from there. I dubbed it “Cocos2D Central” because I think that with Cocos2D X and Cocos2D Javascript (Web) there are two relatively new Cocos2D engines which have great potential to become quite popular as well, so why not enable the new website to cover the whole Cocos bunch at once?

Next step: slowly growing a community on Cocos2D Central. For that [[UIFingerPointGestureRecognizer alloc] init] I need you!

Please hop on over and join (it’s really convenient with OpenID, Twitter and Facebook login options), then say hello and post your thoughts. I look forward to meeting you on Cocos2D Central! :)

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I took some time to research the various ports which carry the Cocos2D name or are Cocos2D in spirit if not by name. The following list is – to the best of my knowledge and at the time of writing – complete and accurate. I counted a total of eight ports.

The dates are based on the earliest public record I was able to find. Of course the project might have been in development for longer, but not publicly or not where I’ve been looking (mostly google code and github). I usually checked the source code commit history, the first issue being tracked, the first post made on the forum or wiki, the history of downloadable files, and similar things. The list is sorted by date of inception. Underneath you’ll find my analysis of the state of the Cocos2D game engines, as I perceive it, and I try an outlook into the future.

The Complete List of Cocos2D Game Engines

Cocos2D

Language: Python
Platform(s): Mac OS, Windows, Linux
Around since: March 2008
Latest update: September 2010

Cocos2D for iOS

Language: Objective-C
Platform(s): iOS Devices, Mac OS X
Around since: June 2008
Latest update: November 2010 (Latest Stable: July 2010, Latest Commit: December 2010)

ShinyCocos

Language: Ruby
Platform(s): iOS
Around since: April 2009
Latest update: April 2010

CocosNet

Language: C#
Platform(s): iOS (MonoTouch)
Goal: to also support other .NET platforms like Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox 360
Around since: October 2009
Latest update: September 2010

Cocos2D for Android

Language: Java
Platform(s): Android
Versions: cocos2d-android (code on github), active branch: cocos2d-android-1 (code on github)
Notable: cocos2d-android-1 was branched off of cocos2d-android in October 2010 because some developers were dissatisfied with its slow progress. Apparently source code commits had stopped in June.
Around since: January 2010
Latest update: June 2010 (cocos2d-android), December 2010 (cocos2d-android-1)

Cocos2D for Windows

Language: C++
Platform(s): Windows, Windows Mobile
Notable: this project was apparently short-lived. One big code push, one blog post, no updates since, neither code nor blog or anything else. I believe we can consider this port dead, especially in light of Cocos2D-X.
Around since: April 2010
Latest update: May 2010

Cocos2D for Web

Language: Javascript
Platform(s): Web Browsers
Website with online demo: http://cocos2d-javascript.org/
Around since: June 2010
Latest update: December 2010

Cocos2D X

Language: C++
Platform(s): iOS, Android, uPhone, Win32, others
Notable: although the project started in July 2010 (from what I can tell) the project was not widely known until November 13th by announcing it on Twitter.
Around since: July 2010
Latest update: December 2010

The State of Cocos2D Game Engines

In my opinion, we currently have only two serious contenders: Cocos2D for iOS and Cocos2D X.

The former has a history of regular updates for over 2.5 years and a strong community, the latter is growing fast because there’s a whole team behind it which is sponsored/financed by China Unicom. If I extrapolate what has happened in recent months with these two game engines, I’m convinced that rather sooner than later Cocos2D X will be on par or overtaking Cocos2D for iOS in terms of maturity, stability and general applicability. You just have to consider a team of paid (?) developers vs. (for the most part) a single developer, and my guess is they don’t have a problem with and may even be supportive of 3rd party commercial add-on products. I do agree that Cocos2D for iOS will remain the most interesting platform for beginning developers, developers with a strong background in Objective-C programming and those who simply don’t want to take their games and apps to multiple platforms. For everyone else: keep a close eye on Cocos2D X. It certainly had a lot of developer’s eyebrows raised.

There’s one strong follow-up and that is Cocos2D for Web (cocos2d-javascript). Frequently updated and in a well protected niche that can’t be covered by the aforementioned Cocos2D versions. Plus, and this is freaky, you could even make web-based Cocos2D games that also run on the iPhone’s browser – think of the opportunities! It’s iRepetetiveWebBasedGameMakingTonsOfMoney time. Just kidding, except that I’m not. I think Cocos2D for Web stands a good chance at becoming relatively popular and seeing actual use, and with continued and relatively frequent updates this might be happening over the course of 2011. Keep at it!

Cocos2D (Python), the grandparent, is a niche project and it’ll remain a niche project. Too long has it been a niche, too seldom do we see updates, too low is its version number still (v0.4 after 2.5 years), too little interest is there in general for entirely Python based game engines, too strong are the contenders both from the same language (specifically PyGame) as well as most other game engines with a focus on 2D games. The same goes for ShinyCocos – who would want to write iPhone games in Ruby? Don’t kill me, I know you’re out there, but you have to admit that you’re just a little too freaky for your own good. 😉

Cocos2D for Android and CocosNet are both ports I wish I could believe in, but I don’t just yet. For the former, the recent branch has made it more interesting and actively supported, but who knows for how long? And then there’s Cocos2D X which takes some wind out of both, but especially the Android version. Unless you’re Java-esque through and through. For CocosNet I wish it’ll one day reach its goal and hopefully be based on or ported to the XNA platform, and not Mono (yikes!), so that we can write Cocos2D games for the Xbox 360, Zune, Windows and Windows Phone 7 and publish them through/on Microsoft’s AppHub. That would rock! Count me in if that ever happens. :)

Which leaves Cocos2D for Windows. This is a project that’s so typical of a certain type of open source projects. I dub these occurrences “open source dumps”. It’s literally some programmer coming out of his apartment after months of hard work, telling the world “Hey guys, look, I’m bringing my trash out!”. Except that the trash is actually quite interesting, yet it’s incomplete, unfinished and de facto unusable so it stays in the trashbin and everyone stopping by and taking a sniff is going “Ewwwww!!!”. Well, and said developer goes back to his apartment, probably working on his next trash dump. If we’re lucky, it’ll be an update to the former project – but by the time the second update appears, most developers with an interest have lost faith in the project. But more often than not, we’ll never see or hear of this developer again. In other words: Cocos2D for Windows was practically dead the day it started. And now with Cocos2D X I seriously doubt we need it anymore. It’s a shame.

Add your link to the Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar

Do you have something to share with the Cocos2D community? I haven’t received enough submissions to fill all the days until Xmas, although I do have enough links to post one each day, I’d rather post a link to your website or blog post.

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Andreas Löw has released an updated version (v2.1) of his Texture Atlas creation tool called Texture Packer (Pro). The Pro version ($17.95) provides you with a GUI interface, the non-Pro version ($9.95) is a command line tool. The latter actually runs behind the scenes in the GUI version.

Here’s the list of changes introduced in Texture Packer v2.1:

The free version is now enhanced so that you can create textures up to 2048×2048 pixels without paying a single cent!

The free PVR/PVR.CCZ previewer lets you view the images – just doubleclick them in finder! Including preview for PVRTC.

Other features:

  • *.pvr and *.pvr.ccz previewer! (free for all)
  • AutoSD allows automatically creation of standard resolution images from highres images (–auto-sd) (pro/cli)
  • Process *.tps files from command line (pro)
  • Drag’n’drop sprites to tree view to add them
  • PVRTC2/PVRTC4 compression
  • Enhanced color reduction quality (pro/cli)
  • Additional dithering algorithm (Atkinson)
  • Linear quantization
  • Nearest neighbour quantization
  • Premultiply alpha (pro/cli)
  • Option to disable automated alias creation
  • Choose heuristics for MaxRects algorithm (pro/cli)
  • Creation of non power of 2 textures

The update is available using auto-update or download from: http://texturepacker.com/download/

Read more about the Texture Packer features, read the Texture Packer manual (PDF) or go directly to the shop (Share*it!).

Add your link to the Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar

Do you have something to share with the Cocos2D community? I haven’t received enough submissions to fill all the days until Xmas, although I do have enough links to post one each day, I’d rather post a link to your website or blog post.

Today I’d like to present you a long post made by Markus Nigrin about How to spice up your Game with Particle Effects. He talks about how to use particle effects in your Cocos2D game to, well, great effect. Of course he is using Particle Designer, and he was amazed how few people at the 360iDev event knew about PD. So I thought it can’t hurt to mention it one more time.

Markus’ blog is generally well worth taking some time and digging deeper. He has a post on adding a “News” text (or image) into your game and what effect it can have for marketing and how he got back into programming after 15 years of being a manager, and partially inspired by Ray Wenderlich‘s iPhone Programming 101 class held at 360iDev.

Back on the topic of particle effects, I recently created a very simple but very effective snow storm effect. You can check it out in Particle Designer’s shared effects list (it’s called “SnowStorm”) or download the SnowStorm effect in the Cocos2D plist format. There’s also a shared “PeeFX” effect that I created, subtitled “stream of urine”. Those are from a project I’m currently working on. Hmmm … pee and snow?

Keep guessing. 😉

Add your link to the Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar

Do you have something to share with the Cocos2D community? I haven’t received enough submissions to fill all the days until Xmas, although I do have enough links to post one each day, I’d rather post a link to your website or blog post.

My eBook’s being pirated. I’m taking advantage of that.

On December 6, 2010, in book, cocos2d, Marketing, by Steffen Itterheim

Discuss this topic on Cocos2D Central.

My Learn iPhone and iPad Cocos2D Game Development book is out and that inevitably meant it would appear on websites offering download links to illegal copies of the book.

Since there’s really nothing that can be done about it that actually works, and because I understand (but not necessarily condone) the reasons for downloading ebooks illegally, I wanted to take a different stance. And so I’m posting my thoughts on the matter on forums and websites, where a link to an illegal download of my ebook is shared.

That way, I hope to convert a minority of the downloaders to buying customers. But my actual goal is to use their websites as marketing instruments. Shamelessly placing my links on their websites and asking their users to come here is just fair and square. If they enable illegal downloads the very least they can do for me is to allow me to enable users to more easily come here, or on rare occassions to actually buy the book. Who said that illegal downloads can’t also be a mutual relationship?

Here’s what I’ve been posting to “warez” and “free ebooks” websites offering downloads or download links of my book:

My Response on Illegal Download Sites

I’m Steffen Itterheim, author of the Learn iPhone and iPad Cocos2D Game Development book.

I see that my book is offered here for download illegally, either directly or via linking to an externally hosted file. I wanted to share my thoughts on this matter.

1) I’m not offended, disappointed or furious.
Why should I be? It’s to be expected. I’ve been working long enough in the software industry to have come to accept piracy as something that shouldn’t affect you at all.

2) I don’t judge you.
A lot of people download(ed) things from the Internet that they shouldn’t have. For some, it’s part of their culture. For others, it’s the only way to take part in a world that they couldn’t otherwise afford to join. For a few, it’s simply a hobby, or a habit. Some claim it’s for research and trying things out before buying, but quite honestly I think they fall in one of the aforementioned categories. Or they’re merely being pragmatic about their spendings, cutting corners where they can.

3) I won’t lecture you either.
Piracy is a fact. It’s not even a market because if piracy wouldn’t exist, most pirated products wouldn’t be selling noticeably better anyway. Only very few pirates would ever buy a product they downloaded.

Those are my convictions on piracy. I think it’s pointless to complain about piracy, and it would be especially stupid of me if I did so in the lion’s den, so to speak. :)

I’m a realist. I understand that some percentage of you will download the book just to have it. You’re the collectors, you may skim over the book before you set it aside in your amazingly well-assorted, categorized archive of eBooks. Enjoy it. Then there’s a percentage of you who download the book on a hunch that you might need it soon, or that it might spark your interest (again) in game development or programming for iOS devices. You probably wouldn’t buy it either. Except for a select few for whom the book did spark a flame – but how could you know beforehand?

To everyone else who truly want to read the book, I can only encourage you to buy the book in hindsight, after the fact. I know it costs quite an effort to pay for something you have already used, or read in this case. I still hope some of you will, I’d be grateful for that.

And what I’d really like you to do, regardless of where you got the book from and what your intentions are, is to stop by and visit my website Learn & Master Cocos2D Game Development:

http://www.learn-cocos2d.com

I also want to make it very convenient to those who *might* consider buying the book, to actually do so. I know that one aspect of piracy that shouldn’t be neglected is merely convenience. So for that reason I’ll give you the links that lead you to Amazon and other websites all around the world which carry the book, as well as links to eBook versions of the book The Learn iPhone and iPad Cocos2D Game Development:

Purchase the print book via Amazon:

Amazon.com (United States)
http://www.amazon.com/Learn-iPhone-iPad-Cocos2D-Development/dp/1430233036/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284664414&sr=8-1

Amazon.ca (Canada)
http://www.amazon.ca/Learn-iPhone-iPad-Cocos2D-Development/dp/1430233036/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284664526&sr=8-1

Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Learn-iPhone-iPad-Cocos2D-Development/dp/1430233036/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284664462&sr=8-1

Amazon.de (Germany)
http://www.amazon.de/Learn-Iphone-Ipad-Cocos2d-Development/dp/1430233036/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books-intl-de&qid=1284664401&sr=8-1

Amazon.fr (France)
http://www.amazon.fr/Learn-Iphone-Ipad-Cocos2d-Development/dp/1430233036/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=english-books&qid=1284664539&sr=8-1

Amazon.co.jp (Japan)
http://www.amazon.co.jp/Learn-iPhone-iPad-Cocos2D-Development/dp/1430233036/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=english-books&qid=1284664550&sr=8-1

Purchase the eBook:
From Apress (PDF): http://apress.com/ecommerce/cart?act=add&bid=1524
NOTE: the Apress PDF eBook has no DRM, it is not copy-protected or password-protected. It’s probably the exact same file that is being shared here.

From Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/Learn-iPhone-Cocos2D-Development-ebook/dp/B004E0Z4YY

I hope you understand that if you offer my book for download illegally, it’s just fair to reply to that with promotion of my websites and making it a bit more convenient for the few people who tend to download books exactly because it’s convenient. At least this way I’m getting something positive out of it.

Thank you for your time and for allowing this message to be posted.
Steffen Itterheim

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