Local Gaming Accelerator

Joystick Labs is a local group that helps local game developers get started. They focus exclusively on helping launch the next gen of video game companies. Yeas ago I had the pleasure of meeting one of the co-founders – Juan Benito at one of the Triangle Game Initiative events. His passion for the industry and local developers was infective. He doesn’t know this, but he helped inspire me to start this blog, and eventually the podcast once we get it going.

Anyway, Joystick Labs has been around for over two years and has announced their next sign-up for teams which can be selected for their support. Prior teams include Lab Rats Studio, Mighty Rabbit Studios, Nix Hydra Games, GaleForce Logic, Inari Games, Buckle Up Game Studios, and Wefiends. As you can see the local community has a great set of game developers for many platforms.

If you want to apply for a bit of acceleration, go over to Joystick Labs and apply between March 6th and May 25 for the upcoming session on August 20th. Good Luck!!

Power, heat, and screens

I the last week since the launch of the iPad, there has been a lot of noise about consumer reports‘ report on the iPad being too hot. It appears they are quickly revising their story. As an owner of all three generations of the iPad, I can say I have not experienced the heat problem. It could be because I don’t run the screen at fully brightness, it could be that I don’t play the right games, or it could be some other reason.

I believe it is because the problem is restricted to a limited use case, which is not valid. From the things I have heard over the last week the use case is as follows:

  • plugin in your iPad to charge
  • make sure your screen brightness is turn all the way up
  • run a graphic intensive application like infinity blade II
  • wait for about 10-15 minutes
  • The great thing about the iPad, and tablets in general, is that it is a truly mobile device, you don’t hold it in your lap while it is plugged in. Laptops on the other hand, tend to be plugged in much more when using it around the house. I think that people who are experiencing this problem, are probably using the device wrong… To paraphrase an old doctor joke… “apple, my iPad is too hot when I use it wrong….’apple – well, don’t use it wrong.'”

    Book review – “learn iPhone and iPad cocos2d Game Development”

    Learn-cocos2d.com is the online home of the book “Learn iPhone and iPad cocos2d Game Programming” by Steffen Itterheim. This book is designed to help the beginning game programmer understand the cocos2d game library, which is a cross platform library that is targeted at 2d games.

    Steffen does a great job of introducing you to the basics of game development while also showcasing various game types. The includes not only development concepts, but also includes information on other libraries and resources to help you get started with graphics, audio, and marketing.

    Steffen includes not just code snippets, but working games that he uses to explain various concepts. Each of these are well commented and structured so that you can get started with your game.

    While Steffen focuses exclusively on iPhone and iPad programming, the cocos2d library has been made available for android also. So if you are looking at developing games, you should check out the book, and get gaming!!

    Review of new iPad

    I hadn’t planned on doing reviews of hardware on this site, but here we go,

    I’ve been using a new iPad for almost a week now, and the screen in incredible, but that is not the thing that I am enjoying the most. LTE support is amazing! My old iPad was a 3G device and that really did change my habits for using a mobile device. I tend to use my iPhone much less as a consumption device and almost never as a creation device. With the 3G on my old iPad I started using my iPad everywhere. Being able to grab a podcast or book right before boarding a flight means I carried less books and magazines on board.

    But with LTE I am now consuming much more, the speed is faster than my home network, and I am starting to use the device for more content creation. Having full access to my home machines, and data, means I don’t need everything with me, but I can get to it and use it. I am writing this blog almost exclusively on the iPad now.

    Yes, the retina display is nice… Really nice… But having true high speed access is going to change the game.

    Apple’s cash and your app

    Today Apple will announce what it is going to do with $100b in cash. Yes that’s right 100,000,000,000 in cash!! As app developers we have contributed a lot to that war chest. That doesn’t mean that apple will reduce it fees, or reduce the cost of the devices, no they will probably announce a dividend. At least that is the conventional wisdom on wall street.

    I would like to suggest a completely different take, given that apple likes to control its supply chain. Can apple buy Foxconn? This would make them masters of their own manufacturing. Tim Cook has a history in supply chain, at IBM, compaq, and apple. They could both buy them and fix their image problem.

    Nah, don’t think it will happen.

    Android ice cream sandwich

    Yesterday, as I went thru my rss feeds, I saw the list of devices getting the update for ice cream sandwich – here.

    This notice got me thinking, how much will ice cream sandwich impact game development on android. I do not have an android device, but the adoption of android is taking off. Enterprises which are being invaded by hordes of iOS wielding uses, are looking for ways to stave off this invasion. I believe they will turn more and more to android. Many businesses already have people comfortable developing for Linux. Many corporate web apps are written in JavaScript. The transition to android for enterprise apps is a natural transition.

    The big question will be, will their users support it? If you are allowed, no encouraged to supply the company with usage of your mobile device, how much influence will you have on the platform your company supports?

    Today’s app

    Today, in honor of Pi day, I will be looking at calculator apps. I find it amazing that the iPad did not come with a calculator app, so I find myself launching numbers for some calculations. On the iPhone, I use the basic calculator app that comes with iOS.

    A quick google search recommends calculator HD for the iPad, this feature rich app has a great looking interface. The team over at www.crowdcafe.com has done a lot of nice work on the look of the app.

    I have been using calculator 7thg, which I bought as an impulse buy some time ago, but I have been disappointed in the past that it required I use the screen even when I am using a Bluetooth keyboard.

    What is your favorite calculator app, and are they developed locally?

    Windows Phone and Windows 8

    During the Mobile World Congress, Microsoft made the consumer preview of Windows 8 available to the general public. I had taken the ISO image and installed it on a VM. My goal was to isolate it completely and test out the value of the new Metro based interface.

    When I had original done some testing with the developer preview last fall, I ran into a lot of problems, and was really down on the whole idea of putting a phone interface on a desktop; however I think Microsoft has done a great job of addressing a lot of issues I had. The dev preview seemed to require a tablet, but they have addressed this and now a mouse is just as good (almost).

    You may ask why am I musing about a desktop operating system in a App blog. I believe that this trend of merging the Mobile and the Desktop operating systems certainly the trend that will continue. Both Microsoft and Apple are doing this with their next operating systems. From all we’ve heard about Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) and from what is public on Windows 8, both environments are taking the benefits and features of their mobile OSes and moving them to the desktop. Both Apple and Microsoft have enabled a Desktop App Store. Both have enabled location based services at the desktop level.

    The open question is, when will we as developers be able to create one app and have it deployable on either platform. I believe that we will see this become available on the Microsoft platform much quicker than on the Apple platform.

    The missing component here is Google and the Android ecosystem. Yes, you can run Android on Tablets and Phones, but a true Google Desktop operating system has note truly materialized. I would expect that this will happen if Microsoft is successful in their Windows 8 play.

    Data Plans and App Size

    Was listening to MacBreak Weekly this week and heard Alex mention that the Apple store was changing the limit of over the air updates to 50mb which made a lot of sense given the new requirements that Apple has added to all apps on the app store.  From here on out you have to include both normal and retina quality images to your app.  If you are doing game development this is going to quickly get to very large files.  To test it out this morning I started a new Cocos2d template project – looking to see the impact to a Universal binary.

    There are now not only larger files but 33% (at significantly larger files given the 2x in screen resolution) more graphic files needed if you create all the images for iPhone, iPhone with Retina, iPad, and iPad with Retina.  We see that we will need every bit (no pun intended) of the data that we can get when doing updates over the air.

    The second issue that my test brought up this morning is the never ending battle with provisioning certificates.  The latest version of xCode installs in the Applications folder on your device.  So unless you’ve removed the original install of xCode in the Developer folder, you will find your self launching the wrong version of xCode, as I did this morning.  Next I went to provision my sample app to my iPhone and got the ” No unexpired provisioning profiles found that contain any of the keychain’s signing certificates” message.

    Now I am a member of the Developer program and I seem to run in to this problem every few months.  I guess I need to create a blog post which explains how to keep all this straight across multiple machines.  I had just fixed this on my iMac (the main development machine) back in November, but I haven’t done development on my MacBookPro in some time.  Oh well, time to figure all this out once again!

    p.s. Thank goodness for Stackoverflow.. Here’s the answer.

    The Neu iPad

    Well, I was able to sell my old 64GB AT&T 3G iPad and have ordered the top of the line 64GB AT&T 4G/LTE iPad.  Gotta have a test machine to address the new Retina display.  Over at ApApp, Inc. we are working on a game and the new iPad is really going to make the graphics incredible.  It pushes our Tablet version for Android up in priority, but the graphics are not going to be on par with the iPhone / iPad.  Can’t wait.