The Development Plan for KoboldTouch

On October 25, 2012, in KoboldTouch, by Steffen Itterheim

I like to take a moment and explain what the development process of KoboldTouch will be, and how you will influence the direction of KoboldTouch. But first, let’s have a look what I have planned for the initial version:

UPDATE: KoboldTouch is now available!

First Goal: KoboldTouch equals Cocos2D

To be completed in November, the main goal is to allow users to use the MVC framework of KoboldTouch with all features of Cocos2D, minus a few exceptions (odd features like CCMotionStreak).

You should be able to write Cocos2D apps with Cocos2D features entirely within the KoboldTouch framework. You’ll experience the KoboldTouch API design goal “feels like Cocoa”.

The first version’s features will be:

  • Controller/Model Framework wrapping Cocos2D views
  • View Controllers for “view” nodes, minus exceptions (see below)
  • Scene Transitions
  • Scheduled updates (Step methods in KT)
  • Touch & Accelerometer input controllers
  • Mouse & Keyboard input controllers
  • Simple Audio Controller
  • Simple Model Classes
  • Archiving & Unarchiving Model Classes
  • Basic “Hello World++” Example Project

This first version will be KoboldTouch v6.0.

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Cocos2D Podcast about Kobold2D

On September 5, 2011, in cocos2d, Kobold2D, podcast, by Steffen Itterheim

In this episode of the Cocos2D Podcast it’s me who is being interviewed. I’m talking about Kobold2D, which is my take on keeping the Cocos2D wheel spinning. Over the past 2.5 years I learned a lot about Cocos2D, and I came across plenty of things that I feel should really be corrected. Kobold2D is that course correction towards a better overall user experience.

In this podcast you’ll learn more about the project’s goals, its history and future. I’m also giving away the download link for the Kobold2D Preview builds.

Cocos2D Podcast: Kobold2D

Cocos2D Podcast on iTunes

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Why I chose IP.Board for Cocos2D Central

On January 10, 2011, in support, tools, by Steffen Itterheim

One of my book readers, Jim, asked me an interesting question. Not about the book but about the Cocos2D Central community website that I’ve installed a few weeks ago. I thought the answers to his questions are of interest to others even though it doesn’t exactly fit the Cocos2D theme of this website. Jim was asking:

(1) Why did you choose IP.Board over something like phpbb or vBulletin and (2) after having it for a while, would you recommend it to others?

(1) Why I chose IP.Board

The initial starting point of my search was the fact that bbPress sucks. That’s my professional assessment, believe it or not. Well, no, don’t believe that, it’s actually a quite nice forum if you are already hosting a WordPress website and you want a forum that integrates well and won’t be receiving much traffic. But as I’m sure many can relate, the bbPress forum software doesn’t scale very well.

But more importantly I wanted a forum that is able to factor in popularity and relevance of posts in searches, and searches over all the content (eg. the wiki area) not just posts. One that allows users to subscribe to threads and forums and receive email notifications. One that makes embedding code and media easy using the most common forum syntax bbCode. One that allows to extract the helpful and relevant articles from threads so they don’t become buried in the thread. One that allows attachments and signatures, which users could use to promote their Website, App, Product, themselves and what not. One that integrates well with social networks, one that let’s you like things, tweet posts and allow users to sign up with their existing Twitter, Facebook or OpenID accounts.

The usual candidates

Primary candidates were of course vBulletin and phpBB which I’ve both used in the past. Especially vBulletin was the first one I looked at but then I learned two things: for one it’s a rather expensive one-time payment of $285 for the full publishing suite, and $195 still for only the forum. And then at least two or three users mentioned that their support or the stability of the software recently went south with version 4. That was enough to let me look around for possible alternatives. I can’t say if version 4 is really that bad and the rumors are true, but I haven’t looked back since.

Beginning my search I quickly came across the Forum Software Reviews website. This was initially very helpful to find out about all the various options that exist – and wow, the forum software market is crowded indeed. It was also clear that there was almost no “free” option I could seriously consider. The free forums fell off the grid in two or three categories: they either lacked critical features or they had an impressive feature set but oh boy was it ugly to look at and confusing to use. The third category was when “free” wasn’t really free and there was a strong upsell to the commercial version, respectively on the downside having to rely on voluntary support.

The phpBB software was my second choice in line. Oh yes, it’s free and rather complete but, like I said, I worried about support. I also wasn’t impressed by its look and feel at all. It’s hard to tell but … I don’t know, it simply looks cheap and noisy to me. I would certainly prefer the admittedly clean and noiseless look of bbPress. I then came across FreeForums.org which are offering a polished version of phpBB and they also host it for you for a small fee. But ultimately I was turned off by the fact that it was still phpBB and still ugly, and they are charging for features I don’t feel comfortable paying for. $10 per year for the removal of the Copyright notice in the footer? $5 per month to remove the ads? $30 per year to allow me to use the recovery console? Some features I pay monthly, some every 6 months and the rest yearly? Come on. Give it to me straight. And I want to pay for features I’m getting, not to disable “features” I don’t want and quite honestly, are nothing but a checkbox in their customer database. If that’s the attitude of the company when it comes to selling, how is their attitude towards supporting me going to be? I decided I didn’t want to find out.

IP.Board to the rescue

A few people mentioned IP.Board and even though I skipped it at first, and when I checked it out the first time it didn’t seem like a good fit and more likely to be overkill. Still, after coming back to the website several times, I went ahead and tried it. That’s when all the powerful options dawned on me: what if, instead of adding just a forum and integrating it with the Learn Cocos2D website, what if I made something bigger?

That’s also when the idea for the name “Cocos2D Central” and – being prepared for the future – “GameDev Central” came to be. An external community website that eventually would be the backend for the Learn Cocos2D blog. It made me think about moving everything over to IPS, except for the intro and the blog. I would be able to move my store over to IPS. I liked the IP.Downloads product because managing downloads is “blegh” in WordPress. And generally I could do much, much more to build and grow a community with all the neat social features that are built in.

I quickly decided to start with the Standard 25 plan for $20 per month. It was minimal risk because there’s no minimum duration you sign up for. And I quickly added IP.Content and then upgraded to Plus 40 because I wanted to be able to use IP.Nexus, the eCommerce addon. I’m now paying $35 per month to Invision Power and gladly so. I couldn’t be happier with their Hosted Community offer. I could have bought the products, installing and administering them myself, but that task seemed daunting and if I learned anything: services that are good are worth paying for. My time is better spent coding than managing the server, website and forum.

(2) Would I recommend it?

Definitely a resounding yes!

What really blew me away was the level of support given by Invision Power Services Inc. They are the Zappos of community software! Both on their forum and via tickets, they respond fast and I haven’t seen a post that didn’t receive a reply. They do make you feel welcome and supported.

There were a few minor hickups. Shortly after signing up Cocos2D Central experienced frequent downtimes from 10 to 45 minutes each, sometimes several times a day. I asked them about that and they were quite forthcoming to answer this question: communities are hosted on virtual servers, so several communities share the same hardware. If a community gets hacked or attacked or simply flooded with requests (Slashdot effect or a DOS) they are moving the affected community to a new server. As I understood it they were in the general process of splitting communities based on the nature of their content, so that those communities more likely to be receiving attacks will be hosted on different servers, so that communities with “regular content” won’t be affected. The downtimes still happen but are now much less frequent and shorter.

How do I know? I monitor the website via Pingdom, which alerts me via email when Cocos2D Central goes down and when it comes back online, in 5 minute intervals.

So overall, I can certainly recommend the Invision Power Services. And just so you know, I wrote this post without any affiliation, I don’t receive any money or other benefits from them for writing this. I’m simply a fan and hopefully for a long time I will be a very happy customer too.

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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

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.

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.

Marketing for Indies: an excessively long Link List

On October 22, 2010, in Marketing, Mobile Business, by Steffen Itterheim

I’ve been asked to write something about Marketing & PR a lot of times and repeatedly. It seems to be a topic that’s often sought after and mostly misunderstood.

Sometimes, it’s deceivingly complex, as in “How to get my App featured by Apple on the App Store?”. Who the f*ck knows? If you do, be sure to tell everyone about it!

But when you dig deeper, you learn more about the whole “process” and things become a little clearer. I hear you can get lucky if you know the right people at Apple’s PR or App Store department. At least that’s what I was told personally by someone who does PR and knows someone at Apple personally. Ok, not an option for most of us. I also hear that Apple scans certain websites when looking for App Store features, and for games the #1 site to get reviewed by which in turn might lead to an Apple feature is touchArcade. What else, right?

But getting a review on touchArcade is a different matter altogether. From game industry experience, I can tell one thing that almost guarantees to get your game reviewed/featured: it should be looking awesome! And not just the game, you need a trailer that packs a punch or two, one that’s hilarious or one that’s simply exciting and really wets your appetite. Not easy to do, but well worth the money if you can outsource it to someone who knows how to do it well. And if your game doesn’t have the looks, or can’t have them, it must be uniquely interesting. Combine the two, and you got yourself a winner. That ought to be easy, right?

Well, yes and no. If you know what you’re doing, it can be easy. And it certainly feels easy in such a case. After all, all the work to set yourself up for success has already been done. But if you don’t happen to be working with world-class artists, programmers, designers – what do you do? You can pour everything you have in being creatively unique. To my mind, that’s one of the reasons why the Indie space has become so successful. It’s not just that being unique and innovative is what the developers want their games to be, it’s actually helping them a lot to get coverage in the first place – it’s even a necessity, and a way to success!

The excessively long Marketing Link List

But back on topic, I actually just wanted to share a link list with you. It’s called:

The Big List Of Indie Marketing And Business Tips

Here’s the index … as you can see, it contains a lot more than just links about marketing alone:

  1. Marketing
  2. Press Release Sites
  3. Business
  4. Piracy
  5. Interviews
  6. Game Revenue And Sales
  7. Advertising
  8. E-Mail Marketing
  9. Jobs
  10. Indie Funding
  11. Merchandise
  12. E-Commerce Payment Processors

And one link you should not miss: a free eBook about Videogame Marketing & PR!

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