Adobe Edge Quickstart Guide Review

If you have been interesting in moving from creating content in flash, to creating content in “HTML5” that can be viewed on any standard web browser, this book is a great introduction to Adobe’s newest tool.
For a veteran of Flash, it compares the two side by side, showing what Edge can currently create (circa mid 1990s Flash). The book introduces and shows the new interface, teaches you how to work with tools and the timeline, as well as adding interactivity to your HTML5 based content. The book does a great job of showcasing Edge’s strengths and weaknesses compared to using Flash.
I found this book to be a great introduction to the Edge platform, and would think anyone that currently develops Flash content, or has been interested in getting into interactive web development would find interesting and useful.

You can pick up the book here:
http://www.packtpub.com/adobe-edge-quickstart-guide/book

The Game Jam Survival Guide Review

Very good book for preparing for almost any game project

While although this book specializes on giving advice from different experienced game jam developers, anyone looking for advice on creating games, how to manage everything that needs to be done, and how to prioritize and maximize their time on their project would find this extremely helpful.

It covers pitfalls that any game developer will run into, such as having to cut mechanics due to time, focusing on doing a few things very well vs. lots of things not as well, counting in time for things you might not have planned on, such as adding sound, packaging your game to distribute before the deadline, and planning on things usually going wrong.

Aside from avoiding pitfalls, he also introduced you to resources to improve the speed at which you can create games, such as free sound sites, resources for finding game frameworks/engines, and the best ways to prepare for a game jam (which contrary to what it sound like, does not mean starting from scratch after the game topic has been announced).

I would recommend it for anyone interested in participating in a game jam, building their own game, or interested in what goes into creating a game, and the types of things you’ll have to plan on, and ways of avoiding pitfalls which may keep your game from being completed.

You can pick up the book here:
http://www.packtpub.com/game-jam-survival-guide/book

Unreal Development Kit Game Programming with UnrealScript: Beginner’s Guide Review

Great amount of information for working with Unreal scripting!

I am a beginner to Unreal scripting, and had not realized how involved it could be. This book helps you with setting up everything you need to get started, installing the UDK and external programs for script editing/compiling, and setting up a project.

The book appears to be aimed more so at beginners, with information about basic programming types, functions and states, albeit how to use them in UnrealScript. It does include some more advanced concepts, such as working with multiplayer, but it’s primary purpose is to give a good base for learning how to use UnrealScript.

Overall, it contains a ton of information on using UnrealScript, and would be useful for any looking to become very familiar with it.

You can pick up the book here:
http://www.packtpub.com/unreal-development-kit-game-programming-with-unrealscript-beginners-guide/book

Xna 4.0 Game Development by Example: Beginner’s Guide – Visual Basic Edition Review

Great book for beginners to game programming!

The book is aimed towards beginners starting out in game programming. Visual basic is one of the easier languages to get started in, and XNA is a well known game framework, so it is an excellent place for beginners to start.

The book starts out with an introduction to XNA, and how to set it up on your machine for development. The author explains everything he adds to the code, which makes it easy to understand what each addition does.

The first game is created in chapter 2, so the author quickly gets into actually creating games fairly quickly, while introducing important concepts such as sprite sheets and tile based games.

The following games continue to introduce important concepts, from collision detection to the A* pathfinding algorithm, and even using a map editor to make levels for a side scrolling mario-esque game!

I would definitely recommend this book to beginner and intermediate game programmers. The amount of important concepts introduced in this book would give you a great start to developing more advanced games in the future, and the concepts will still be useful for any 3d games. It doesn’t matter so much what language you start out programming, just learning the game programming concepts will get you started regardless of what language you eventually choose to develop in.

You can pickup the book here:
http://www.packtpub.com/microsoft-xna-4-0-game-development-by-example-beginners-guide/book

Trouble getting windows 7 to recognize android device? Solution

I had to reinstall windows, and the Samsung galaxy (vibrant) refuses to allow me to install the drivers. I found the 64bit and 32bit (I am running windows 7 64 bit), and although it installed the drivers, the device would show up in device manager as just ‘sgh-t959’, and say ‘drivers not installed’ with a yellow exclamation mark on it.

I tried installing samsung KIES, running its ‘troubleshoot connection error’, which appeared to uninstall and reinstall the driver, and yet nothing.

FINALLY I found a solution to force windows 7 64bit to actually recognize that the drivers were installed:

  1. Right click on the device in device manager, and go to properties.
  2. Under the driver tab, select ‘update driver’
  3. Select ‘Browse my computer for the driver software’
  4. Now INSTEAD of selecting the folder with the drivers in, click on the bottom text ‘Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer’.
  5. Uncheck ‘show compatible hardware’, select your manufacture on the left (Samsung for mine, HTC if that is yours)
  6. Scroll down on the right and select the newest ‘SAMSUNG ANDROID ADB INTERFACE VERSION (mine was 5.14.0.0, from 2/5/2010, I selected the second one)
  7. Click next, ignore asinine warning

And viola, you have your device showing in the device manager without a yellow exclamation mark!

To test that it is actually working, if you have the android sdk, or adb, open a command prompt (‘cmd’ in the start->run box), go to your android sdk/platform-tools folder (cd c:\android-sdk\platform-tools or whatever folder your adb.exe is in), and type ‘adb devices’, and it should list your device.

Hope this helps someone- spent several days trying tons of drivers, have them all installed, yet windows wouldn’t assign the correct driver to the correct device. So +1 for forcing driver install!

Cocos2d for iPhone 1 Game Development Cookbook Review

Great cookbook for Cocos2d game developers, and useful for general game development.

If you’ve had some experience with development in Objective C on the iphone, and want to learn how to develop games, this is a great cookbook. The book starts with an introduction to graphics, animated sprites, and OpenGL, but delves quickly into more advanced topics, such as writing and reading using different file formats, creating an isometric game ‘engine’, integrating box2d physics, and using the A* algorithm for pathfinding.
I’ve been creating games for a few years, and did learn some good tips and techniques in this book, but some of them I had already learned through trial and error on my own.

So if you have programming experience, and have started game development in the past, or created a small game, this book could save you lots of time, learning tools needed to create full games, versus figuring it out on your own over a long period of time. If you’re already an experienced game developer, and newer to using Objective C, this book might still be useful for seeing how to translate from development on other devices to on the iphone.

You can pickup the book here:
http://www.packtpub.com/cocos2d-for-iphone-1-game-development-cookbook/book

Android 3.0 Animations: Beginner’s Guide Review

This was a good read if you are interested in adding animation to your android applications. It shows several different methods, from frame animation to tweening objects around on screen.

The book is titled for “Android 3.0”, but almost all of the examples will work for any version of Android. You just need to change the build target of the project properties to whatever SDK version you are using, and change the android manifest file from build 10 to 3.

It does touch on what the new animation methods are for Android 3.0, and you have a warning in the chapter for the exercise file that uses a newer version.

The examples may not all look pretty (especially the first one), but it teaches the main concepts, and you can fill in your own graphics, using the concepts, to add some nice ‘flair’ to your applications.

One of the more interesting examples shows you how to create your own, animated, and interactive ‘live wallpaper’, which you could use to create pretty much any type of live wallpaper.

The book does not go into OpenGL programming, but does introduce the concept of a “game loop”, which would be useful for someone to see who has never created a game before. A lot of the concepts might seem simple to someone who has experience using tweens, or frame by frame animation.

I would recommend this book to someone who has programmed on Android application before, but would like to add more “polish” to their application, using animation to liven it up.

You can pickup the book here: http://www.packtpub.com/android-3-0-animations-beginners-guide/book

Game Competitions

There are a couple game competitions that I know of right now, and I wanted to share with everyone.

Jonathan Harbour RTS game contest for beginners
(Due 12/25/2011) Jonathan Harbour has a contest for beginners to develop their own real time strategy(RTS) game, and has some prizes as well.

It would be a good excuse to work on a new game, and you don’t even have to have scrolling- just one screen. Don’t let that fool you though, any game project still requires work and determination 😀

1st Place Prize: App Game Kit (AGK) – Retail value: $112!
http://www.appgamekit.com/

2nd Place Prize: $30 voucher for the TGC Store!
http://www.thegamecreators.com

http://jharbour.com/forum/index.php?topic=1804.0

Intel Level Up 2011
(Due 3/19/2012) Also, the “Intel Level Up 2011” game competition is finally up. It’s almost 2012, but the prizes are pretty nice, though the competition is not just beginners, but also includes students and Indie companies.

Level Up 2011 Competition

My RTS WIP
I’m currently working on the RTS one, and you can see my latest demo here(although fill in graphics, and lots of bugs still – but a week to finish :D):

https://chrismweb.com/projects/rts_game_12_2011/V4/index.html

Android 4.0 announcement!

Android 4.0 (Ice cream sandwich) has been announced, and so has the new Galaxy Nexus.

I am looking forward to this android update, and it is supposed to be a large one! It is supposed to be a combination of the divergent HoneyComb (3.0 series) OS for tablets, and the current gingerbread (2.3) for phones.

It looks to have a ton of new features, including:

  • A beautiful new user interface
  • Recent Apps button, that appears to work like the Windows 7 task manager
  • Unlocking the phone using facial recognition and the front facing camera
  • Swipe actions to dismiss notifications, browser tabs, ect.
  • Better keyboard
  • Ability to set warning and cutoff points for your data usage
  • Built in panoramic camera
  • Sharing information with other Android Devices using NFC by just touching them together
  • Faster Web browsing (with faster javascript engine)

It looks to be a fairy major update, and does resemble Honeycomb’s user interface.

I would bet on it being available on the new Galaxy Nexus when it is available (most likely, like usual, in early January or late December), and most likely slow updates coming out to all devices (although Android 4.0 isn’t supposed to have as much manufacture “skinning”, so it might roll out much faster).

You can see more details at the official Android 4.0 Platform highlight page:
http://developer.android.com/sdk/android-4.0-highlights.html

How to start creating android games using the LibGDX game development framework

UPDATE: There is a newer version of this article, which includes using the Setup GDX UI to create LibGDX projects much faster: https://chrismweb.com/2013/03/25/how-to-start-creating-android-games-using-the-libgdx-game-development-framework-updated-with-gdx-setup-ui-jar/

Why Android?

I’ve been creating games using flash/actionscript for a while now, but have really wanted to get started with android game development, since it’s an open source platform, the sky is the limit to how much you can learn about it.

The devices are usually fairly non-restrictive, being able to load custom roms, install any available software – even not directly through the market, being more practical (using internal storage as storage, not needing to install bloatware to connect to a computer), as well as having many more choices in hardware, since there is such a wide diversity of available mobile phones.

All in all, Android is very non-restrictive and flexible to it’s users, as well as it’s developers, and the market is supposed to be much easier to upload your app on, without getting turned down without a reason. It also caters more towards free apps (with ads), which is what I had wanted to offer, to allow everyone to be able to play my games.

Why LibGDX?

I have read a few android programming books, and most go into quite a bit of detail about application programming, but very little about OpenGL, not to mention I hadn’t done much programming using multiple separate threads in the past.

LibGDX takes care off pretty much all of the low-level stuff for you, so you can focus on game programming, or basic engine programming, and not about techniques for loading different image and music types, creating and handling multiple threads, or creating OpenGL surfaces to render 2d bitmaps on to.

Using it also does not take away any of the control you have, if you wanted to or needed to program lower level stuff, such as creating surfaces and 3d objects using OpenGL. Thus, it provides an excellent platform to get started with without having to worry about creating everything from scratch yourself, but also allows you to create things later on when you need them.

And for super-icing on the cake, it is specifically made for creating games, and it also allows you to compile and test using native Java on your computer before deploying to your android device, which makes debugging and compile time so much faster! No needing to deal with the android emulator for most of your design, unless you wish to, no needing to compile the apk, move it to the SD card, install, open, and finally debug- you can do it all on your computer before deploying to your android device!

So in summary:

  • Handles a lot of the stuff that you would normally need to program from scratch, saves you time, as well as allows you to expand it if needed
  • Specifically created for games!
  • Debug, test and try out your android app without having to rely on having a device/ emulator running almost all the time!
  • Open source and free, as well as great forums for support

So Now that you know why it is a great framework to use to develop android games, lets get up and running.
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