iPhone Development blogs

After realizing that getting into iPhone development is a little more… eer… a lot more work than XNA development (lack of good tutorials, the fact that the SDK just went non-NDA, and no good gaming frameworks) I went around to search for some good blogs.

Now, one of the things XNA has going for it, is its a fully developed framework for the Xbox360 and Windows platforms. iPhone, while having some great classes for Cocoa Touch (and if you’re writing any sort of application, and not a game, its an AMAZING system) iPhone doesn’t have a really good “template” for making iPhone games in OpenGL ES. I find myself having to re-create a lot of the  classes that already exist in XNA, classes that I’ve grown to love ;) 

One blog that has really helped and is one to keep an eye on, is http://iphonedevelopment.blogspot.com/ .. Posts come frequently, and are very informative. 

Another site that has really helped, is GameDev’s OpenGL section located at http://www.gamedev.net/reference/list.asp?categoryid=31#217 

And who can forget Apples documentation for ObjC. http://developer.apple.com/documentation/Cocoa/Conceptual/ObjectiveC/ObjC.pdf

If you’re doing any sort of iPhone development and find some really great sources of information, drop me an email!

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Objective-C, and me

I have been toying with the idea of developing an iPhone app since the app store went public, and since I’ve finished my current semester of school I thought I would give it a shot. One of the primary focuses for me was to utilize C++ since my classes are going to focus around it, and programming on the iPhone, i will be able to use C++ syntax which is great. 

The parts that are troubling me? Obj-C!! Things are happening (or in my case, not happening) the way I need them to happen and researching every little thing that I could do with my eyes closed in C# or C++ is annoying me, although I do find it fun learning OpenGL.

So with my first project underway, all I am doing is taking the basic screen manager / game screen system from the XNA projects and porting it over to the iPhone. Anyone else done anything in Obj-C?

No more teachers, no more books… until next semester!

Wow, I didn’t expect my first semester back at college to be that difficult! It turns out that every project I was doing was put on hold until I could finish my semester. My next semester schedule isn’t any lighter though, although I have cut my hours down from work as to give myself more time to work on my projects. 

So here is where we stand, The map editor is very close to release 1.0, and 1.0 is a basic update. It will do what you need it to do, but it isn’t “polished” .. more “functional.” While on winter vacation I am working with my friend to push out a release, and once that is done we will start opening up the source and add whatever features we may need.

I’ve found that my goal for this project was ambitious, but in line to what we could accomplish. I wanted this editor to work primarily for XNA projects, but not only RPGs. Any game that used a tile engine could take advantage of this project. But what about other platforms? iPhone development? Well it would just take some tweaking to the exporter and you’d have a fully functional XML file.. could that work with iPhone development? Not sure.. but I think it would be fun to tinker with :)

As always, check out my right bar links, there are a lot of awesome projects (Including EvilNando’s Animation editor) that i’ve been keeping tabs on. Lot of great things goin on in the world of XNA, here’s hoping that I can get a final push out and start my actual project here soon.

RPG Editor: Exporter Settings – First Preview

With the first version of the RPG editor just about ready to be tested, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some of the things we’d like to implement. So lets take a look at some of the custom XML exporting!

From this first screen shot, you will notice that on the left half of the form is all of the fields that can be changed, while each change will be reflected by the XML Output on the right. Using this data, it will be easier to see how your final XML will look, before you export the XML file. 

You can also see that we’re trying to make any map created with our editor be directly “plug and play” with an XNA project. For example, the XnaContent tag is automatically implemented, and so is the Asset Type= but the user will be able to specify their project namespace as well as the map class name that will be housing the data in-game. Obviously every XNA project needs this information unless you are using a custom importer / processor for your XML data, so you can not opt out of having this information exported.

Attempting to make the XML as flexible as possible, you will notice one feature we’ve already put in. You can specify the “Output Type” of your data to take advantage of the various importing techniques of the XNA Content Pipeline. For example, if you wish to import your “MapDimensions” data as a point, the output XML will look something like:

<MapDimensions>X Y</MapDimensions>

while if you wish to import it as a custom data and write your own Content Reader / Writer for that data, you can and it will export something like:

<MapDimensions>
     <Width>
X</Width>
     <Height>
X</Height>
</MapDimensions>

and naturally, all fields are customizable so if you wish to change “Width” to “MapWidth,” you can.

So, for now… this is a small snippet of what we’re working on. Again, we expect this project to be open source once we get further down the road, so anyone can take what we’ve done and expand on it or use it for their own editors.

I hope this project encourages the creation of some great RPGs, because I love me some RPGs :) See you all soon!

Community Games has a date

If you’re working on your own game, or know someone who is.. You should be excited to know that the Community Games has a formal date!

http://creators.xna.com/en-us/xna_goes_live_october30th

“independent game developers will be happy to know that XNA Game Studio 3.0 will be available for download on October 30, 2008 so they can to convert their creations and prepare them to be a part of the launch of Xbox LIVE Community Games on November 19.”

Good news indeed. Looking forward to playing some of your creations :)

XNA RPG Editor: Soon to be Open Sourced

As stated in a previous post, our goals for this project were simple yet ambitious at the same time. We wanted to create a system that could be useable for not only our immediate needs and the RPGs we wish to create, but also any future needs and the games we have yet to think about, and taking it a step further we wanted this project to be usable for any game creator wishing to create levels for THEIR RPGs. 

Step one for my portion of the project is complete. I’ve been working on the XML Exporter class and the front end to that exporter. The goal for me was to get the XML to export all of the needed information in as customizable fassion as posible.. but at the end of the day when you hit “Export to XML,” you can take that file and plug it into your projects content pipeline and expect it to work. You won’t need to mess around with formatting, adding the asset type, change your TileMap class around because of the XML document… it will truly be a document suited for your needs.

We are really only on step one, building the basic framework and systems for the editor. Hell, the editor itself is nothing more than a blank windows form at this point hah. I have started working on the front end of the Exporter system over the next few days and hope to have something to show off then.

Keep in mind, this project is in its first stages, and has some pretty ambitious goals. Our overall goal for this though, is to ensure that people who use our editor will be able to plug the XML into their project and just “have it work” :) Also when the editor gets into a more complete state, we will open up the repository so everyone can take what they like and add it to their own projects or continue to enhance ours for their own use.

Content Creation

With the Dream Build Play project “Complete,” I’ve turned my attention to a few items that will aid in the creation of not only Meir, but any future RPG I write. Content creation is a tricky subject, as the goal is to create something flexable enough to re-use in any RPG project, but dynamic enough and easy enough to use so if I had a few people working on any given project, they would know what to do.

Well me and a buddy from the shacknews chatty decided that he didn’t want to use TileStudio anymore, but wanted something more suited for his game.. so we started colaborating on an editor that would be built specifically for XNA games, but flexable enough to use in any project. Obviously this editor will have to support several major features of basic RPGs, but how in depth are we going to really go with this thing?

Create and edit tile maps? Basic feature, has to be included.
Exporting XML in the same style of the XNA Content Pipeline? Basic feature, has to be included.

but what about features like adding a “tile” to the texture, and having the map build the texture and exporting that to a PNG file? What about creating a system that can export to multi dimensional or single dimensional arrays based on the project needs? How about a dynamic XML system that lets the user edit how their XML should look, then hitting “Export XML” and having their XML formatted correctly? There are many many more ambitious goals we wish to include, and we’re thinking a bit larger scale then just these… but its pretty interesting to see what we could come up with. As always, I’ll keep everyone up to date on whats actually going on. 

So if you had to pick and choose a few “Must Have” features of a game editor, what would you want included?

Meir available for download on Creators Club Beta

The Dream Build Play entry ‘Meir’ is now available on the Creators Club Beta for peer review. Official link to the Creators Club entry is: http://catalog.xna.com/gamedetails.aspx?releaseId=279

I am now on a mission to make substantial improvements to both the engine, technology, and adding the sub-systems that I could not impliment for the Dream Build Play competition. My goal is to have a working framework for my Role Playing Games, and then start working on assets such as quest creation / story / artwork. I figure the engine touchups and technology will take a month or two, but the rest will take longer, so I will probably be looking for either help or outright purchase assets (such as characters, tilesets, etc) from aspiring developers. But… until then, let me know what you guys think!

In order to download titles from the Creators Club Beta, you will need a premium membership. Feel free to leave feedback here or via email at: CraigGiles9@yahoo.com

Meir is an official Dream Build Play project

When I started this project, I couldn’t tell you the difference between a float, int, or double. I didn’t know how to program, and had no clue where to even begin on a project as complex as this… but here I am.

Typical combat screen in Meir

Typical combat screen in Meir

Obviously its not a complete game, nor is it as polished as it could be.. but its good enough to prove a point to myself. Good enough for me to say “I set a goal for myself and reached my deadline with a specific quality in mind, and I hit it.” Next step for me is going to be putting together a story, finishing everything I couldn’t get done for the demo, and working towards the Community Games. Until then, enjoy the promotional video we had to put together for the Dream Build Play competition.

For some reason, the video is currently not showing. Direct link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8n0fBt2t_8

I would like to give a few thanks.. because there were some people along the way that really pushed my goals forward. Most notably from the shack news community (http://www.shacknews.com/) People such as MitchWalker, RomSteady, and Mittense, DHAvatar, and everyone else on that crazy site.

I would also like to point out that the music for the demo was crafted by Delaric, and it is fine music indeed. Several people have contacted me wishing to help on a possible final version of the game and if you’re interested, all you have to do is shoot me an email. I would like to point out, however, that the final version of the game is a LONG… LONG way off. This i would consider, a very basic demo.. and the final version will be a full fledged RPG. You do the math :) But for now.. one milestone is down.. and thank you EVERYONE who helped along the way.

Codename ShackRPG has an official name!

With the nearing of the Dream Build Play deadline, and the completion of a pre-alpha build, I have taken the ShackRPG code name offline and given it an official title…

Meir

There are quite a few things left that still need touchups and some sub-systems that still need to be written, but for now.. the pre-alpha build is up and ready to be polished for the Dream Build Play competition. The only dilemma for me right now is do I add more content to the game? (Temporary storyline, more encounters, items, quests, maps, dungeons, etc) or do I polish what is already in there and give the Dream Build Play judges less content but a more fun experience?

For example;
– The battle engine is in, but only 90% complete (Magic is not implemented)
– The collision system is still “Loose” and I would really like to tighten that up and make it feel great.
– There are no special effects such as particles or explosions
– Dialog system, while crude, is in place. I would like to expand this to create a complete “Cut-Scene” system.

The Pre-Alpha (DBP build) has 3 main areas and a 1 room dungeon (4 maps), 1 major quest line, 8 or so weapons and armor, several music selections, several different monster encounters, and a few random scattered quests. Is this enough? Maybe… maybe not? The deadline is still in a few weeks so I have time to polish a bit and expand the demo a little.

Everything has been a great journey so far, learning how to program through this project was both a blessing and a curse.. but the engine work is almost complete and now the story is being written and content creation is falling into place. Within a week or two, I should have some screenshots and a “promotional video” of actual gameplay that must be submitted to the Dream Build Play site, so I’ll share them with everyone here as well.

So hang in there just a little while longer, and I’ll start leaking some tidbits on the game itself! :) With the demo nearing completion, it is time to set my sights on a full length game for the Community games. My deadline is Christmas, but we’ll see how things work out.