Bytesize Adventures
Crafting bite-sized digital worlds

Apple Trees

This week has been an interesting one, i’ve been playing with 2D physics engines. More specifically i’ve been testing integration of the Chipmunk physics engine into my new game. I have to say, it didn’t take too long to get to grips with Chipmunk and the templates included in cocos2d give you a good starting point. Rather than moving objects to a specific point, you move them by applying forces to their body within the game space (which itself has a number of attributes such as gravity).

For anyone interested here are some of the tutorials I used to help me:

An Introduction to game physics with Chipmunk
Cocos2d Example – Bouncing Ball

Having imbued my game objects with real world physics, my game became instantly less appealing. The physics were great to play with but ultimately removed the enjoyment of the core game mechanics. Imagine if the original frogger had physics – without a drastic redesign of the core concept, you would lose the fun of the timing based mechanics and the satisfying feeling of solid, definite movement. So whilst it was a fun detour i’ve taken the decision to remove the physics and go back to basics for this game.

When i’m developing a new game I often create a number of sub projects to test out ideas. I feel i’ve done enough of these now to begin laying down solid code for the actual game. This ultimately involves taking longer to think about my classes and functions to ensure they are well written and flexible, whereas in the sub project stage I generally hard code variables and write some portions of the code inline.

In addition to implementing this core code, i’m now really in need of some visual design. Specifically, the style of the game and the placement of the GUI elements. This is certainly one of the phases that I really enjoy and of course it continues throughout the project. This is where i’ll be spending some time over the next few weeks.

In other news, it seems that Microsoft’s Courier device, which we saw a prototype interface for back in September last year, will be released in Q3/Q4 this year. Microsoft have also released more video of the prototype device.

Some publications are calling this a potential “iPad Killer” but I don’t really see them as competing devices. The iPad appears to be for casual users whereas the Courier looks to be aimed at creative professionals. I personally want the iPad for its development opportunities and for casual internet surfing. The Courier on the other hand looks like an excellent creative tool that could be used to enhance my game design process – essentially a digital Moleskine. I’m excited about the Courier and if Microsoft can pull it off I think it will renew my faith in them as a technology company.

I’ll leave you with a link to this interesting Twitter tag – #GameDevBookShelves – setup by @mysterycoconut. It’s always interesting to see what other developers are reading.

(Apple image courtesy of Abhijit Tembhekar)
(Courier image and video courtesy of Engadget)