Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

The book is real, and more

Monday, June 15th, 2009

First on the agenda, the book is real.


As you can see above, my three complimentary copies showed up in the mail today. Word from the Dread Pirate himself (i.e. Lead Author/Tech Reviewer) is the books should be en route, if not already arriving at book stores all over the place. After all, the guy in Canada got his. 😉

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Next, a Smiles update.

Smiles 1.2 is coming. It was sent to Apple Sunday afternoon. I imagine the queue is quite large at the moment, so I’d give it a week+ before it goes live. Smiles Zen, Smiles Drop, and Free Smiles 1.2’s will follow in the coming days.

Firmware 3.0 and the new iPhone launches at the end of the week, so I’ve made some appropriate compatibility updates to the game. There was a notable visual stuttering glitch seen on early firmware 3.0 beta’s. The same glitch I previously came across when testing the game on Intel GMA graphics cards. It seemed to go away in the final 3.0 firmware, but it’s an easy enough and forward compatible fix that I’ve included it anyways. At least this way it’s fixed for good.

For developers, the glitch can be best described as a triple buffering artifact, swapping buffers in a frame skipping situation when you draw nothing to a buffer. The fix being not to swap when you’ve drawn nothing. The “swap” on iPhone OS being:

[context presentRenderbuffer:GL_RENDERBUFFER_OES];

So, that’s included in 1.2. In addition, I’ve had a fix since GDC that actually improves the touch responsiveness of the game. It fared well on the show floor and in all my tests, but was hoping to include “something else” in the upcoming update, so I’ve been sitting on it for a while. One thing lead to another, book stuff, new project stuff, that it was just never submitted… until now.

And that’s pretty much everything. It’s a maintenance update, but familiar players should notice it feeling easier to play.

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Smiles makes a brief appearance at WWDC, via the App Wall. Big thanks to Jay for meticulously searching the wall for me.


Also, Smiles Drop snuck in to the gallery from another site. See the far left side for a very “not red” icon.


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Also, Towlr might be showing up at minimalist game exhibit soon. Once/if that happens, then I’ll have the validation necessary to be able to play the role of pretentious art-game developer. 😀

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As for the new project, the plan was and still is to talk about it more on the blog. I scrapped a few post drafts since it’s a little tricky to talk about at this point. Technically it’s a pretty dramatic change from my usual 2D game fare, seeing how it’s actually a fixed perspective 3D game now. It conceptually began as a 2D game, but made far more sense to be 3D. So the majority of my work the past month+ has been a combination of 3D homework and experimentation (shaders, decals), tools (exporter), and such.

The goal was to be far enough along to be working on content starting at the end of this month, but I’ve fallen behind. I’ll talk more about this soon.

And that’s it for now.

First, the other stuff

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Crawling out of bed early this morning, I made the weird decision that it’d be a blogging morning. It seems I’ve stockpiled a few interesting things to talk about. I’m nearly ready to start talking about the new project too, but as the title suggests, I’ll be talking about the other stuff today.

First thing on the agenda, Ludum Dare. I wanted to follow up that prior post of mine with a brief finale post. Wednesday night I flipped the switch and revealed the results to Ludum Dare 14, our biggest competition yet. Amazingly, we missed only 2 entries the night of the competition. So the final total was 123 entries. Wow!

Rather than repeat all the subtle details, you can check out my news post on the Notable extras include 18 time-lapse videos, 2 of those being fully produced episodes of an internet video show by one of our regulars/admins. It’s very cool to see what interesting ways our community and event have evolved over the past 7 years.

Ludum Dare got a mention on Game Set Watch. Also a few entries were noted on, and via a syndicated article on Gamasutra.

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Next on the agenda, book. I hinted at this earlier in the year. On and off over the past few months, I wrote a chapter for an iPhone Game Development book. I sent what might be my final edits about a week ago, so I might be done now. Before spilling the beans about the project, I wanted to see the book on Amazon first.

And… well… guess what?


[ | | ]

The book is a collection of articles written by iPhone game developers. It’s almost like a Game Programming Gems for iPhone, with 10 articles in total.

The book has an interesting motif. It’s written from the perspective of “Hey, I’m an iPhone game developer, and I made this game. Here’s something interesting I did in my game, and how I did it”.

I’m not sure I can say what the other authors wrote, but I will say I wrote a chapter on portability. I’ve mentioned here a few times already, but Smiles was developed mostly on Windows. I built a custom library that wrapped SDL+OpenGL for PC/Linux ports, and iPhone OS+OpenGL ES for the iPhone port. In my chapter I walk through some pros/cons of working portably, and talk about what and how you need to work in order for the code to be easily portable. I finish off with a neat little physics demo-game that’ll compile and run on any SDL supported platform, and the iPhone (native iPhone code, not the SDL port).

I’ll have more to say about my thoughts on the writing process another time. I want to hold a finished printed copy of the book in my hand first. 🙂

(Note: Add “Author” to credentials)

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Finally, Gavin Bowman (one of my twitter cohorts) started a feature for The Apple Blog called The App Store Round-table. There’s a group of iPhone developers commenting on subjects on a mailing list, and Gavin assembles an article with notable quips from that discussion. Anyways, things I’ve said have come up twice. 😉

The Gold Rush
Transparency and the Approval System

Both comments are actually from a response back when he pitched us the idea a few months ago, so maybe they’re not the most up to date (yet). Still, I think it’s a neat project to be involved in. Plus The iPhone Blog spoke highly of Smiles, which is always an easy to make me like you. 😀

That’s it for now. I have a little more work I’d like to do on “the new project” before I start spilling all the details. Until then.