Learn SpriteBuilder book: Progress Update #1

On July 11, 2014, in book, idevblogaday, by Steffen Itterheim

978-1-4842-0263-0_Figure_04-11

Since the announcement of the Learn SpriteBuilder book I’ve submitted the first three chapters to Apress.

Actually it’s chapters 2 through 4 because I’ve learned that the details in the first chapters tend to change significantly. This includes version numbers but also highlighted features, tool and project names, and so on.

Chapter Summary

Following is a summary of each chapter thus far.

Chapter 2 “Laying the Groundwork” first introduces the SpriteBuilder user interface but also Cocos2D (-iphone/-swift) programming basics. I really went above and beyond existing SpriteBuilder user interface tutorials to explain even the smaller details that boggled my mind when I was learning SpriteBuilder. You’ll learn the difference between Scene, Node or Layer CCBs. The effect of position, content size and scale modes (points, UI points, %, insets). What all the nodes are and what they are used for. But also how to make the code connections and what the difference between CCBReader load and loadAsScene is. The importance of Sub File nodes and the Tileless Editor View.

At the end you’ll have a firm grasp on SpriteBuilder basics and a project framework with two scenes and transitions between both scenes.

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Xcode’s QuickLook debugging feature allows you to get more details, and be more visual with your debugging data.

For example you can even grab a screenshot of the cocos2d screen and display it right within Xcode:

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 12.15.08

How QuickLook works

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Migrating to cocos2d-iphone v3 – Tips & Tricks

On March 6, 2014, in idevblogaday, by Steffen Itterheim

This is a collection of Tips & Tricks for users who are migrating to cocos2d-iphone v3 from v2. Mostly refers to questions posted on stackoverflow.com.

Please excuse the short, bullet-pointed format. I’m a little short on time but didn’t want to miss out on another biweekly post like I did two weeks ago (first time in about 4 years, ouch).

General Tips

  • Many classes have been renamed…

“Use the source, Luke!” If you don’t find what you are looking for:
– Check the cocos2d API class reference
– Start typing the class or method name, see what suggestions Xcode autocomplete has for you
– Use part of the class name (ie “repeatforever”) and perform a “Find in Project” to search through all source code files

  • Tutorial XYZ won’t work with v3!

Yes, it won’t. Most likely it was written for cocos2d-iphone v2.
Question is: do you have to use v3? And do you have to use it right now?
Because if you’re in the process of learning cocos2d it’ll be easier to learn from and with v2 tutorials/books for the time being until more v3 tutorials have been published.

  • How to upgrade an existing cocos2d v2 project to v3?

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The Mobile 2D Game Engine Popularity Index – January 2014

On February 6, 2014, in idevblogaday, by Steffen Itterheim

This is an update to the Mobile Game Engine Popularity Index I published 2.5 months ago.

Game Engine Popularity on Stackoverflow.com

stackoverflow tag popularity

stackoverflow tag popularity


Since November’s chart I made sure the tags I’m most interested in (cocos2d-iphone, cocos2d-x, sprite-kit) were properly applied to all questions.

Furthermore I update at least the past 6 months for each tag, which caused the graph to change noticeably. This may be due to policing the site, where users remove tags or retag questions. The net result is that there are now recent months with fewer questions for some engines compared to November’s chart. In particular this flattened the up-down curve of cocos2d-iphone.

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The Guide to Building and Customizing SpriteBuilder v1.x

On January 23, 2014, in idevblogaday, by Steffen Itterheim
Custom-built SpriteBuilder with MySprite node plugin

Custom-built SpriteBuilder with MySprite node plugin

Following the recent release of SpriteBuilder and cocos2d-iphone v3 I’m sure some of you are itching to use SpriteBuilder by building the github version in Xcode rather than downloading it from the Mac App Store. Here’s how!

This is a post for developers who want to compile the SpriteBuilder code from github. To customize it, to debug issues, to add or gain access to new features; be it for their own use or to help the project, or both.

Previous experience with Xcode, Objective-C, cocos2d-iphone, git and github is assumed.

Download SpriteBuilder from github

The download and first-time compilation procedure is also detailed on the SpriteBuilder github page. You need to clone the project, then initialize the cocos2d-iphone submodule. The necessary Terminal commands are as follows:

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SpriteBuilder v1.0 and cocos2d-iphone v3.0 now available

On January 21, 2014, in Announcements, cocos2d, by Steffen Itterheim

Cocos2d-iphone is rebooting … please stand by.

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Done.

Click any link to develop!

Today marks a new beginning: SpriteBuilder v1.0 is now available on the Mac App Store for free and it goes together with the release of cocos2d-iphone v3.0.

SpriteBuilder is the successor of the design tool formerly known as CocosBuilder. It is specifically designed to work with cocos2d-iphone v3. SpriteBuilder now has its own website with a dedicated SpriteBuilder forum that you should use for any questions about and suggestions for SpriteBuilder.

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Daniel Sperl, developer of the Sparrow Framework, recently posted a performance comparison on the Apple Developer forum where Sparrow ran 2.5 times faster with MRC code than the version upgraded to ARC.

A curious finding though it seemed very far off from real world observations. Being a synthetic benchmark no less. I decided to do a similar test based on the same code comparing cocos2d v2 and v3.

Fortunately cocos2d-iphone v3 has made a similar switch from MRC (v2.1 and earlier) to ARC (v3 preview). Unfortunately the internals of cocos2d also changed to some extent, for example custom collection classes written in C were replaced by Core Foundation classes. I don’t have a full overview of the changes, but at least the renderer doesn’t seem to have changed in any significant way. Yet.

So while comparability is good, it’s not like Sparrow where truly the only changes made were converting the code from ARC back to MRC. Take the following benchmark results and comparisons with two grains of salt and pepper on the side.

ARC vs MRC

The original benchmark done with Sparrow has seen MRC perform 2.5 times better than ARC in a synthetic “draw as many sprites as possible until framerate has dropped consistently below 30 fps” test:

sparrow_arc_vs_mrc

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The idea for this post really started with this poll:

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 18.55.14

I’ll present the results further down. Not wanting to spoil it before you made your choice.

This poll was just a quick test for a free web poll service. Well that and being curious how the major 3 Objective-C render engines compared against each other.

Since I added a “Other” choice and some users took it, I started to wonder what the “Other” choices might be.

I mean besides cocos2d-iphone, Sprite Kit, Sparrow and OpenGL ES, what choices could there really be? Have I perhaps not noticed the next big thing in Objective-C render engines?

Spoiler: I didn’t.

The Poll Results (as of Nov 28th 2013)

iOS 7 and thus Sprite Kit has been available for just over 2 months.

My expectation was that being so new and despite coming from Apple and developers usually slow to change their preferences, cocos2d-iphone would likely come out on top. At best it would have a head-to-head with Sprite Kit.

The actual result really surprised me:

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