Andreas Löw has released an updated version (v2.1) of his Texture Atlas creation tool called Texture Packer (Pro). The Pro version ($17.95) provides you with a GUI interface, the non-Pro version ($9.95) is a command line tool. The latter actually runs behind the scenes in the GUI version.

Here’s the list of changes introduced in Texture Packer v2.1:

The free version is now enhanced so that you can create textures up to 2048×2048 pixels without paying a single cent!

The free PVR/PVR.CCZ previewer lets you view the images – just doubleclick them in finder! Including preview for PVRTC.

Other features:

  • *.pvr and *.pvr.ccz previewer! (free for all)
  • AutoSD allows automatically creation of standard resolution images from highres images (–auto-sd) (pro/cli)
  • Process *.tps files from command line (pro)
  • Drag’n’drop sprites to tree view to add them
  • PVRTC2/PVRTC4 compression
  • Enhanced color reduction quality (pro/cli)
  • Additional dithering algorithm (Atkinson)
  • Linear quantization
  • Nearest neighbour quantization
  • Premultiply alpha (pro/cli)
  • Option to disable automated alias creation
  • Choose heuristics for MaxRects algorithm (pro/cli)
  • Creation of non power of 2 textures

The update is available using auto-update or download from: http://texturepacker.com/download/

Read more about the Texture Packer features, read the Texture Packer manual (PDF) or go directly to the shop (Share*it!).

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.

TexturePacker goes GUI!

On October 31, 2010, in Marketing, tools, by Steffen Itterheim

The previously command-line-only TexturePacker tool now has a nice GUI. It’s called the “Pro” version and for a reason. So far, I’ve been using Zwoptex for creating Texture Atlases, but I’ll certainly give TexturePacker Pro a try.

At first glance, what I liked was that it told me when the Texture Atlas was “full”, eg. not all sprites could fit into that Texture Atlas. And the always present list of image filenames on the right side is a welcome feature. Although Zwoptex does have this list as well, it’s almost rendered useless because it’s a seperate view option.

Zwoptex’ price has changed since I checked last time, it’s now at only $14.95. TexturePacker Pro costs $17.95, it’s command line version $9.95 and the upgrade from command line to Pro is $7,95, so you’re saving a whopping $0.05! :)

A couple words on pricing

I find both tools are underselling themselves. Zwoptex was initially at $24.95 and even that price seemed “cheap” to me, given how much trouble it saved me and how much faster and more memory efficient it made my projects. I would say that a price range of $30 to $50 would be more than fair for those tools. I can imagine that the TexturePacker command line version at $9.95 and now the Pro version probably forced Zwoptex to adjust its price.

Problem is: this isn’t a market where people choose their tool based on a $3 price difference. Also, it decreases margins for upgrade prices, with TexturePacker upgrade already below $10. Those low-end prices incur a proportionally large amount of transaction fees, paid to the eCommerce vendor, making them less viable. Since this is also not a mass market, but a niche, it would be wiser if both upgraded their prices back to reasonable regions, around or above $30.

Likewise, Particle Designer is also absolutely undervalued at $7.99. Those low prices undercut the value in tools, and make tool development less and less attractive than it already is. And if anything, cocos2d and the other engines need one thing above all else: tools. And good ones!

Be it Ricardos mysterious “world editor” or the Physics + Tilemap IDE (website) or the other game editing tools currently being worked on – if any one of them is being released as a commercial product but sold for less than $30, I’m going to be very mad at you! If it’s less than $60 I’ll still be mad at you, not very, but still mad.

Rant

Seriously, this isn’t the App Store! It’s developers you’re selling to, and they do value useful tools. Just because cocos2d is free doesn’t mean that all tools surrounding it need to be cheap (or free for that matter). Take Sprite Manager 2 for example. It sells for $75 (per seat!) and isn’t all that different from Zwoptex or TexturePacker Pro. If it were a standalone app it would probably pale in comparison! You might argue that SM2 is for Unity, and their developers are less price sensitive – I don’t think so, and some are even more price sensitive because they just made that huge investment in the first place.

In general you could say that those developers who invest several hundred $$ into a game engine (and toolset) are simply more serious about game development. You do have those enthusiasts working with cocos2d as well, but they’re probably outnumbered by a lot of hobbyists and “I’ll give it a try” kind of people who simply join because of the fun involved, and because the only investment in cocos2d is time and they got plenty of that. The question is: do you want to be kind to the hobbyists, or do you want to build a sustainable business? Plus, Zwoptex and Texturer Packer are also being used by Corona developers.

Now you may also be arguing that a cheaper price allows more developers to enjoy the tools and we’re a friendly bunch and not a commercial, greedy corporation. Sure. But those prices do devalue everyone’s tools, so if anyone wanted to build a tool that takes maybe not just 1-2 months to build (initially), but maybe 4-6 months or more before it’s going to be useful, those price points are not very encouraging to start such a project. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but I do know that those people who could pull this off, are generally terrible at doing business. And easily influenced by comparable prices, punching a few numbers, and then getting on with their next train of thought which probably involves solving an obscure programming problem.

And the kind of tool that needs this time investment is the one I’ve been looking forward to since I first started working with cocos2d in May 2009. Back at the time I was convinced that by the end of 2009 cocos2d would be having a game editor or at least something to build the GUI and screens with. I wished for a fully-fledged, professional game level editor, with a physics editor, sprite animation builder, asset management, and whatever else you can dream of.

Now, if that ever happened, it shouldn’t cost less than $100. If you can provide killer features like Box2D integration or scripting game logic, ask twice as much. And offer Lite and Pro versions with a variety of feature sets to make the most out of what developers need and what they are willing to pay extra for niche, but very useful features if you need them.

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TexturePacker for Cocos2D

On October 21, 2010, in tools, by Steffen Itterheim

And here I thought Zwoptex, and that’s going to be it in terms of Texture Atlas creation. Much to my surprise I found the TexturePacker tool. But in comparison to Zwoptex, it doesn’t have a GUI, it’s a command line utility. On the other hand, it does everything automatically and is probably going to be a great choice for any automated procession. It can output in both Cocos2D and Corona formats.

The TexturePacker is available from the code’n’web website and costs around $15 (€10).

It has a few very interesting features, for example removal of duplicate images and color reduction. Check out the feature comparison chart on the Cocos2D wiki.

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