Looking for a Sprite Kit Game Engine? Check out Kobold Kit!

In case you missed the news: Sprite Kit is Apple’s 2D rendering engine for games, announced with iOS 7 at WWDC 2013 by merely mentioning it among other new APIs. A small step for Apple, a giant leap for gamedeveloperkind. This changes everything!

Many compare Sprite Kit with cocos2d-iphone. Don’t ask me why, they just do. 😉

If you’re a registered Apple developer you can check out the Sprite Kit Programming Guide and the SpriteKit.framework reference yourself.

Sprite Kit is under NDA, like the rest of iOS 7, so I won’t spell out any details here. I posted my list of strengths and weaknesses of Sprite Kit on the developer forum, where we can freely discuss such details.

Here let me just try to answer the questions: why did Apple create Sprite Kit, and why now?

The Biggie: Apple acknowledges games!

Apple finally understands the significance of games for their platforms! Sprite Kit is acknowledgement of that fact. Rejoice!

Especially if you consider the rumored Apple TV set: imagine a television set that runs iOS with an App Store to download and buy YOUR games. Interestingly, iOS 7 also adds an API for 3rd party game controllers, think of joypads, like those you get with an Xbox or Playstation.

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Generate Tilemap Physics Collision Shapes with Cocos2D

On June 1, 2013, in idevblogaday, by Steffen Itterheim

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 00.59.01 You have a tilemap and you want physics collisions on it? The solution seems obvious: create a rectangle shape for every blocking tile.

But ouch! This solution is not just hugely wasteful and unnecessarily slows down the physics collision code, it also introduces the well known problem of characters getting stuck even on flat surfaces.

This is in particular a problem for Box2D because its collision mechanic doesn’t work well with flat surfaces subdivided into smaller segments (rectangle shapes in this case).

A workable but still very awkward solution to work around this behavior is to create characters with bevelled edges at the character shape’s bottom at the risk of bopping characters as they walk about the map.

Lupines in the Moore Neighborhood

A good solution to generate physics collisions is to implement the Moore Neighborhood algorithm to generate chain shapes which are more suitable for tilemap collisions. The downside is that adding or removing individual blocking tiles at runtime requires updating the shapes – this is not implemented in this project.

Every flat surface, no matter how many tiles form the surface, will then consist of only one straight collision segment. Here’s a quick demo video of the project discussed in this post that shows the algorithm at work and the resulting “game”:

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Everyone knows how to add a UIView to an iOS app built with cocos2d-iphone. It’s straightforward, just create the view and then call:

There. Now suppose you want to do the same on Mac OS X. HA! HA! Hawww!

Cocoa’s laughing at your feeble attempts. It’s really just Cocoa’s fault though. Having done a fair amount of work with both SDKs, the Cocoa on OS X just feels … old. Backwards. Confuscated. No, not confusing, literally confuscated – it can’t even spell confusing like everyone else does.

But … there is always a way. On OS X it’s just more often than on iOS a matter of finding the right way. It can be done. Here’s proof:

The Right Way™

The trick here is to create an additional “overlay” NSWindow that’ll hold all of your views. Actually, it’s not the overlay window it’s the overlay window’s content view, which is just an empty NSView. But first things first, step by step.

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This is a guest post by Nat Weiss, author of the cocos2d-iphone RPG Game Engine and the cocos2d-x Paralaxer Game Kit. Today he shares his experience working with the two most popular cocos2d game engines, and explains how and where they’re different.

He also needs more beta-testers for his latest game: Awesome Heroes Arena.

Awesome Heroes Arena beta screenshot

Over the last year, my bro Kristopher Horton and I have been developing a realtime Multiplayer-Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game for tablets with cocos2d-x. The game’s called Awesome Heroes Arena and we are finally at the point of taking on beta testers: here’s the beta sign up if you are interested.

Steffen thought it would be interesting if I shared some thoughts on switching from cocos2d-iphone to cocos2d-x. What’s it like? What things do I miss?

Why did we choose cocos2d-x?

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Kobold2D v2.1 now available!

On February 23, 2013, in cocos2d, Kobold2D, by Steffen Itterheim

I am so very happy to … no, actually I’m relieved Kobold2D is working fine again with the latest Xcode 4.6, including iOS 6 autorotation fixes and the FIX_CATEGORY_BUG issue. Being happy is reserved for whenever I’ve added something nice to KoboldTouch.

Of course I updated cocos2d-iphone to version 2.1-rc0a (on first sight that version looks like being encoded in hexadecimal). Which meant I also had to update cocos2d-iphone-extension to whatever is the current development version – which must be somewhat above 0.21 but that’s hard to tell because there’s no reference of a version number anywhere.

Also updated Chipmunk (6.1.2) and obviously that had to be followed by updating Chimpunk (oh there it is again – my favorite typo today) SpaceManager v0.2.01.

Lastly Admob was playing hard to catch. And it has grown awfully huge, comes with several of Google’s other SDKs as well. Given the dwindling interest in ads by game developers I just pulled the plug and removed AdMob. You can still add it back in to your project according to Google’s instructions though.

That said, here’s the download link for Kobold2D v2.1. Here’s the link to the Release Notes.

I’ll make another update when cocos2d 2.1 is final. The next version is dated for “March” according to the Changelog, but that’s going to be another release candidate. I didn’t want to hold off on updating Kobold2D for the cocos2d 2.1 final version.

PS: There won’t be anymore updates to the Kobold2D v1.x branch.

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KoboldTouch: New Plans & Pricing, and FAQ

On February 14, 2013, in KoboldTouch, by Steffen Itterheim

I added two additional Plans to KoboldTouch:

  • NEW: 1-Month Support & Updates: $19.95
  • 3-Months Support & Updates: $39.95 (same as before)
  • NEW: 12-Months Support & Updates: $119.95 (4 quarters for the price of 3)

All plans are now non-recurring / not auto-renewing. No more subscription plans.

The 1-Month plan is for trying out KoboldTouch, or getting or updating it cheaply. Lowering the barrier of entry. I want to increase the user base to gather more feedback, requests and suggestions.

The 12-Month plan is for supporters and early adopters who are willing to invest into KoboldTouch while saving money in the long run.

Note: You can continue using and publishing apps built with KoboldTouch even after your support & updates plan has expired.

Learn more about KoboldTouch and sign up.

Target Audience

At this point KoboldTouch isn’t for everyone (yet). I decided to narrow the focus to the type of users I seem to have convinced and the type of users I like to work with and attract more. I summed it up like so:

KoboldTouch is a custom-built game engine for demanding iOS & Mac OS X developers.

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Essential Cocos2D is now available for free!

On February 7, 2013, in idevblogaday, by Steffen Itterheim

The cocos2d-iphone reference documentation project dubbed Essential Cocos2D is now available for free. It is no longer bundled with KoboldTouch.

This is just one aspect of several upcoming changes I will be making to KoboldTouch over the next days. I removed Essential Cocos2D from the equation because after the first 3 months as well as the KoboldTouch survey it became clear that KoboldTouch should be all about KoboldTouch – both from my side & my motivation as well as what (potential) customers are interested in.

Instead of adding more hassle to the mix by turning it into a paid eBook project I decided it’s probably the best for everyone to give it away for free.

Essential Cocos2D caused a conflict of interest by taking time & energy away from developing KoboldTouch and its documentation. Now I’ll be using Essential Cocos2D as the container (and easily browsable one too) and inspiration for the in-depth Cocos2D articles I’ll continue to write infrequently for my iDevBlogADay posts.


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Screen Shot 2013-01-17 at 01.46.23I’m currently working on a new tilemap renderer for KoboldTouch.

I now have an early version that’s fairly complete and does most of what cocos2d’s tilemap renderer can do. Pun intended: yes, cocos2d’s tilemap renderer really doesn’t do all that much: load and display tilemaps with multiple layers.

In fact my current implementation is one step ahead already:

KoboldTouch’s tilemap renderer doesn’t require you to use -hd/-ipad/-ipadhd TMX files and the related (often hard to use or buggy/broken) TMX scaling tools. Just use the same TMX file designed for standard resolution, then simply provide just the tileset images in the various sizes with the corresponding -hd/-ipad/-ipadhd suffixes. The tilemap looks the same on a Retina device, just with more image detail.

Performance Comparison

Anyhow, I thought I’ll do some quick performance tests. I have a test map with 2 layers and a tiny tileset (3 tiles, 40×40 points). I’m comparing both in the same KoboldTouch project, using the slim MVC wrapper (named KTLegacyTilemapViewController) for cocos2d’s tilemap renderer CCTMXTiledMap.

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