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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KoboldScript Status Update

On June 24, 2012, in KoboldScript, by Steffen Itterheim

I think it’s about time to issue a KoboldScript status update. KoboldScript is Lua scripting for cocos2d, in case you didn’t know. In the near future it’ll be released as part of the KoboldScript Game Kit project. I showcased KoboldScript before here and here.

Static bindings, manual labor

One big advantage of KoboldScript over other script language solutions available for cocos2d is that the KoboldScript binding is static, ie it is done at compile time. There’s very little runtime overhead to it, thanks to SWIG. So in terms of performance it’s miles ahead of Wax, LuaCocoa or other dynamic scripting language bindings like JSCocoa. And it is compatible with both Mac OS X and iOS.

The big problem with static bindings is that you have to somehow define each class, each method, each property and write lots of glue code. In the past, I did this manually. It involved writing a C wrapper method for SWIG and usually an Objective-C dispatch function went along with it. On the Lua side the function needed to be registered as well. It’s an error prone, repetitive, boring task. Perfect for code generation!

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Here’s a crazy thought: with commercial game kits (game source code products) being popular and financially rewarding – why not crowd-fund an iOS game by selling it’s source code, resources and development insights while you’re creating it?

Marcus and I will give this idea a spin. Marcus is a game designer I worked with at Electronic Arts Phenomic for 6 years. I’m sure you know me. Together we’re going to create a tilemap-based physics game using cocos2d and KoboldScript (Lua scripting for cocos2d). And we are going to sell everything we’ll create practically from day one.

If that sounds even slightly intruiging to you, we’d love to get your feedback!

Visit the launch page and take our survey which has already helped us tremendously to focus on what’s important for you. For example I’ve converted the entire KoboldScript library to use ARC seeing how important ARC is to you.

But do keep on reading for more details …

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LearnCocosTV 6: One Small Script for Man

On February 27, 2012, in LearnCocosTV, by Steffen Itterheim

In this episode of LearnCocosTV I demonstrate how to write and animate a Cocos2D scene with KoboldScript.

KoboldScript is more than just writing the same Cocos2D code but with a scripting language. Most other scripting language bindings for game engines simply translate the game engine’s C/C++/Objective-C API 1:1 (more or less) without introducing new concepts, adding more comfort by simplifying common tasks, or utilizing the powerful features of whatever the scripting language has to offer.

KoboldScript goes three steps further than that – one by tightly integrating the setup of scenes via defining the node properties in a tool-friendly tree structure (Lua table) that you can both write manually or create programmatically using Lua’s built-in features.

Two, by using Statemachines to drive game logic while also providing free Lua scripting via user-specified Lua callback functions. And three, by adding a (MVC-ish) component system with re-usable abilities and behaviors to all Cocos2D nodes.

Unfortunately I ran out of time at the end so I couldn’t even say goodbye. I hope you don’t mind. :)

Episode #6 – One Small Script for Man …

• KoboldScript Demonstration
o How to create Scenes with Sprites, etc
o How Abilities & Behaviors work
• iDevBlogADay: Asynchronous Texture Loading
o Cocos2D Webcam Viewer speedup

LearnCocosTV 5: Pretty State Machine

On February 13, 2012, in LearnCocosTV, by Steffen Itterheim

KoboldScript is coming! KoboldScript brings Lua scripting to Cocos2D and Kobold2D, with Objective-C performance for the StateMachine part and faster-than-Wax performance for the runtime Lua functions.

More details and first looks at some early development scripts in this LearnCocosTV episode. I’ll have something more visual to show in 2-4 weeks.

Episode #5 – Pretty State Machine

• KoboldScript: Lua Scripting for Cocos2D & Kobold2D
o Poll: Which scripting language for Cocos2D?
o iDevBlogADay: Text Editors for Lua
• KoboldScript combines:
o Lua StateMachine generator (full ObjC performance)
o Runtime Lua functions (faster than Wax)

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I’m looking for a good Text Editor for Mac OS X that supports Lua (preferably without installing any additional files). And I also want the editor to support autocomplete (aka code completion) for the Lua language, as well as being able to extend the autocomplete keywords.

Much to my dismay this narrowed down the field quite a bit. Therefore I created this list with short (and subjective) reviews of Text Editors for Mac OS X which you may find a good extension to Wikipedia’s Comparison of text editors.

But first, I want to be sure we’re all on the same level when we talk about the autocomplete feature. This Qt Creator video with Thorbjørn Lindeijer (of Tiled Map Editor fame) shows you what this feature is all about (beginning at 0:15).

I wanted to find the text editor for Lua that suits my needs. Since there are so many text editors, I quickly dismissed those editors that didn’t support autocomplete. And those whose Lua support needs to be installed manually also took a backseat rather quickly. By all means: please do correct me where I’m wrong, inaccurate, etc. I’m also open to discussing the inception of a flame war, if deemed helpful. :)

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This Kobold2D FAQ article explains the difference between Corona SDK and iPhone Wax library, and evaluates the existing and future options for Lua scripting in Kobold2D.

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