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. :)

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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. 😉

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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.

Todays link is one that I came across recently and I believe you’ll find that very helpful. Simon Skinner (@vultuk) wrote a blog post and published the source code for his implementation of a UIScrollView-like page scrolling layer implemented with Cocos2D. It behaves similar to browsing photos in the Photo application, with snapping and bouncing and all that. See this video:

Read Simon’s article on the Debug, Design, Assemble, Play (DK101) blog and grab the source code here: Implementing Page Scrolling in Cocos2D

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.

Mike Kasprzak has been a full-time indie game developer for five years now. He quit his job as Technical Director at Canadian game company Big Blue Bubble, with the words “being too ambitious for my own good”. What followed were 5 years of attempting to strike big as an Indie but, well, not doing so well after all in the XNA space. But things turned for the better when the iPhone SDK came along. In 2008 he created and released the puzzle game Smiles, it grew in popularity over time and from the lessons learned Mike began to make ports of the game, including Windows Phone 7. The game even won him a car!

Read Mike’s recap of his past five years being a full-time indie game developer.

Make sure you also check out his blog tooNormal ?! where you can learn a few more things about Mike. He is also running the Ludum Dare game competition and he wrote a chapter about writing portable code in the iPhone Games Projects book published by Apress.

Add your link to the Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar

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Linkvent Calendar, Day 3: MVC with Cocos2D

On December 3, 2010, in Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar, by Steffen Itterheim

Today’s link is about the Model-View-Controller (MVC) design pattern and how to implement it in Cocos2D. Bartek Wilczyński from Poland has written a two-part tutorial about how to implement this design pattern, and explains why this is a good design choice:

How to implement MVC pattern in Cocos2D game – Part 1
How to implement MVC pattern in Cocos2D game – Part 2

While I was reading that, I remembered that Jeremy Flores had created a github repository with his implementation of a MVC pattern in Cocos2D. He dubbed his project Cocos2D-MNC, as in Model-Node-Controller. The code is published under the MIT license.

The MVC pattern is somewhat similar to a game object component system that I described here. For both systems, the general idea is not to subclass CCSprite and put your game logic in there. CCSprite already is a complete visual representation class for your player, enemy, and what not. But in some cases, you need more than one sprite, or a combination of a sprite and particle effects. Once you get there, it’s much better to have a CCNode containing (aggregating) all the visual elements of your game object, while handling all the game logic of that object and updating the visual elements. The CCNode becomes the controller, controlling the views. As the views (sprites, effects, GL drawings, etc.) move on screen, the controller node polls the visual nodes for state information and runs the game logic code, which in turn may update the views.

In very simple terms, this is my pragmatic approach of the MVC pattern that also works quite well. It’s definitely already a big leap forward compared to extensively subclassing the CCSprite class. If you notice that you’re doing that a lot, you should do yourself a favor and read up on the MVC design pattern.

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Nate Weiss, author of the commercial iPhone Game Kit, would like you to help build the first community driven RPG game for the iPhone. Read his announcement.

He wrote a game design document for you to wet your appetite and learn what needs to be done. It’s an ambitious project that I believe would be awesome to take part in, especially if you don’t have the time and energy to build a complete game project by yourself, but you still like to take part in fruitful game development activities. What the game needs most is to design levels using the popular Tiled Map Editor, and new artworks for tiles, characters and cutscenes.

You do need to have a copy of the iPhone Game Kit to participate, but currently it’s on sale with 30% off and costs only $69. For that you get the complete source code and assets for the Quexlor action RPG and a 150 page game development eBook. I think his product and ebook are excellent and well worth the money, and I’m currently running two ads for Nate on a voluntary basis. You can learn more about the pros and cons of the iPhone Game Kit from these independent reviews:

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Linkvent Calendar, Day 1: Attraxxion Postmortem

On December 1, 2010, in Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar, by Steffen Itterheim

December 1st, 2010.

It’s the time of year again where we all get in the mood for gifting and loving and caring and, oh well, that kind of crap. On the bright side, it does mark the beginning of 25 exciting days, each packed and gift-wrapped with a brand new link of interest for Cocos2D developers. Now that’s the spirit! :)

Attraxxion Postmortem

And the first link comes from John Talarico, co-founder of Runaway Creations, Inc. He posted a two-part Postmortem about their first Cocos2D based game Attraxxion (App Store: full version / free lite version) following the regular What Went Right and What Went Wrong convention of postmortems.

Attraxxion is a physics puzzle game that involves gravity, shooting masses at the proper angle towards the sun so that eventually a solar system forms and is able to harbor alien life. The game has been in development for 7 months by a team who didn’t have any previous Mac development experience but they have extensive experience developing software in general.

Attraxxion Postmortem, Part 1
Attraxxion Postmortem, Part 2

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The Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar 2010

On November 20, 2010, in Announcements, cocos2d, Marketing, by Steffen Itterheim

You may have heard about the Appvent Calendar by Blacksmith Games, creators of Floop and Plushed. From that idea emerged the popular Free App A Day website.

I thought, maybe I can take this idea and transform it into something slightly different: the Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar 2010. The idea being that I publish a blog post every day in December 2010 – you know, the month that ends after 24 days in that culminating event that will crash the App Store and end humanity’s existence. Or so I’ve heard. Each blog post will link to your website, blog post, tutorial, product, open source project or whatever else that might be of interest specifically to Cocos2D for iPhone developers, as long as it is “your thing”.

As my blog is closing in on 5,000 visits a week and my Twitter account is followed by over 1,400 hummingbirds and more and more of my book readers will come here and check out the site, I think that would be a nice gift to anyone who is interested in receiving some traffic from me. What you do to deserve a link is up to you. This is your chance to make your blog better known, or even kickstart it. The better and more relevant the content is to Cocos2D developers, the better your chances are that some of this traffic will stick, in form of return visits.

What you can do

Just to give you a few ideas:

  • write a postmortem of your game, and your game will surely get a few extra sales as well
  • open source your previous game’s source code, and in turn announce your new project
  • lower the price of your commercial product on that day
  • receive more attention for your technical essay about some aspect(s) of Cocos2D
  • write an awesome tutorial, for example about integrating UIKit controls in a Cocos2D project

The only thing that’s important is that the article, website, product, game, etc. is somehow relevant and of interest to Cocos2D developers. So if you “only” have a game made with Cocos2D, you should spice that up by, for example, talking about your development experience or explaining how you solved some tricky aspects of the game’s source code, including examples.

Accepting Offers Now!

I’m accepting offers now and until all 24 slots are filled, while holding a few reserve slots just in case. Please send all link requests by email to linkvent (at) learn-cocos2d.com – you don’t want to spoil the fun by posting it as a comment!

Also, you can reserve a slot by letting me know what you have in mind and are going to do, without actually having to have something to link to right now. You should be able to prepare and publish your content by early to mid December though.

I probably can’t answer all request, but if I do include yours then you’ll get a notice when I’ll publish it. Keep in mind that I will publish posts on midnight Central European Time (CET) (UTC+1), so you may have to factor in time zone differences.

Note: this is all about helping individual developers and products receive the attention they deserve while giving Cocos2D developers some useful information to digest. For that reason, I won’t link to posts on forums, wikis or other aggregating sites, to Apps on iTunes or to a code repository with just some files in it. There ought to be something to read, a little guidance if you will, and it should come from you, and it should be connected to you by putting that up on your blog or website. You can then of course link from your post to wherever you like.

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