The Mobile 2D Game Engine Popularity Index – November 2013

On November 14, 2013, in idevblogaday, by Steffen Itterheim

Topics: Overall interest in cocos2d is waning. Unity and libgdx fighting for 1st place. Sprite Kit skyrocketing from day one.

This sums it up. Now for the details. Since my last game engine popularity measurement I tried to improve and streamline the process.

Game Engine Popularity on Stackoverflow.com

For stackoverflow.com data I’m searching for tagged questions created in a specific month. The search query looks like this:

[cocos2d-x] is:question created:2013-11

I repeated this for every tag for every month as far back as there were questions with the given tag.

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With yesterday’s release of iOS 7 and hence Sprite Kit, many cocos2d developers will face this question sooner or later: switch to Sprite Kit or Kobold Kit or stick with cocos2d-iphone or perhaps move on to cocos2d-x?

I’ll give you some guidance and things to consider …

Sprite Kit / Kobold Kit

Sprite Kit made quite the splash. There are new tutorials coming out by the minute. Two books will be available within days after release. Several high profile tutorial & starterkit authors have jumped on the bandwagon. Tool developers are hard at work adding Sprite Kit support. Instructors are already offering new mobile game development courses based on Sprite Kit. Heck I even started a new game engine based on Sprite Kit: Kobold Kit.

With almost everyone jumping ship, it seems a safe bet to jump ship, too. You’re guaranteed to get excellent documentation from Apple, plus a stability of the framework until at least iOS 7.1 and even then Apple is known to carry on supporting deprecated methods for several versions. It’s easy to learn, and once learned you won’t be thrown off guard by new releases. And the developer community will soon surpass that of cocos2d-iphone.

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What goes into a game engine? A long list.

On June 17, 2013, in Kobold Kit, by Steffen Itterheim

Cocos2D is a rendering engine. Note the emphasis. 90% of what it does is draw stuff onto the screen and animate it. It adds some input processing and scheduling and the rest is up to you.

A game engine is to cocos2d what cocos2d is to OpenGL. The list of things I want in an actual game engine is long.

The iOS mobile platform has advanced far enough that a pure rendering engine just isn’t that much of a help anymore. We’re effectively moving back towards where we were back in 2008 if we don’t start pushing the boundaries, hard.

Here are some ideas I have for and would like to see in a 2D game engine, in no particular order. It is not a feature list for Kobold Kit, but it does reflect what I want to make possible with / encourage for Kobold Kit.

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Since I started working on KoboldTouch a couple things fell into place. Mainly that it would:

Provide what Cocos2D leaves up to its users. Fixes what Cocos2D does badly. Adds what Cocos2D doesn’t do at all. Eases development with Cocos2D and accommodates actual developer needs.

While Cocos2D is moving towards cross-platform with their Javascript API, KoboldTouch will focus on adding & improving game design features.

I have a hunch most Cocos2D developers have better iOS/Mac integration and game-specific features higher up on their wish list than cross-platform. Most of you are indies, hobbyists, pragmatists and Apple enthusiasts without the need or resources to do cross-platform development.

UPDATE: KoboldTouch is now available!

KoboldTouch: Spiritual Successor

I first started working on KoboldTouch a few weeks back. I initially undersold it as a “MVC wrapper for Cocos2D”. With what I have in mind spiritual successor of Cocos2D is more like it.

It’s going to be a framework to program iOS & Mac games in, where best practices evolve naturally, where Cocoa programmers feel right at home, where beginners are not left in a void * EXC_BAD_ACCESS … and where Cocos2D is still at the heart of it.

KoboldTouch takes control over Cocos2D, to allows users to implement best practices naturally. Cocos2D provides the view, KoboldTouch provides the controllers, models and the framework to write your code in.

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Kobold2D Meets Cocos2D-X

On June 17, 2011, in cocos2d, Kobold2D, by Steffen Itterheim

Kobold2D is well and alive. Actually so much so that I thought: “Hey, it’s crazy, but maybe not … I’ll give it a shot and see how far I get.”

The thought was to try and add the cocos2d-x engine (cocos2d in C++) together with the Hello World example project to the Kobold2D workspace. The result: it took about 90 minutes, most of that figuring out the correct build settings and header search paths. And it just worked.

Surprise! 😀

Right now this is just the iOS version. A cocos2d-x Mac project will be added as soon as the Mac platform is officially supported by cocos2d-x (or does it already and I missed that?). Then developers would have the choice between using either Objective-C or C++ as the primary language for developing their iOS & Mac OS X games.

It also made me think: “Hey, there’s this other open source 2d game engine … hmmm….” :)

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