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Learning iPhone Game Development with Cocos2D 3.0 Paperback – June 25, 2014
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About the Author
Kirill Muzykov has been passionate about programming since the age of six, when he wrote his first line of code in BASIC. After graduating from university, he worked for a couple of years in a software development company, but then decided he wanted to be in charge and founded a new company with two of his colleagues. It took several years to grow the company from a small team consisting of cofounders to one of the leading companies in the region. However, after almost six years and dozens of completed projects for clients, he tried game development and fell in love with it. A few years ago, he made a big turn in his career and started working as an independent game developer. In his free time, he loves to play games and watch Simpsons and Futurama. You can find his blog and forum for this book at www.kirillmuzykov.com.
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Game ideas like using sprites, the implementation of simple physics to determine the movement of these sprites as a function of time, and how to play sound, are explained step by step. For sound, you are warned that sound files exist in different formats, and conversions are sometimes required to a given format that you might standardise on.
You should pay attention to the chapter on the user interface. Given the small screen size of the iPhone, the UI should be kept as simple and intuitive as possible. The user is unlikely to read many instructions. In this sense, conforming to how UIs are done in other mobile games may be a good idea. So that she can rapidly transfer over any UI knowledge from other games.
Note that unavoidably, the book was unable to discuss Apple's recent announcement of the Swift programming language as the preferred new environment for the iPhone. Given cocos2d's popularity, I imagine it will still be heavily used for the near future, even without any upgrades to accomodate Swift. In practice, we are likely to see the latter.
Chapter by chapter commentary on the Preface's description, for those wanting more details:
> Chapter 1, All About Cocos2D, provides basic information about game engines, additional information about Cocos2D, as well as examples of great games created with Cocos2D.
Decent introduction, although if you're buying this you probably don't need the choice of Cocos2D to be justified any further.
> Chapter 2, Hello Cocos2D, guides you through the installation process and reviews the contents of the Cocos2D distribution package and demo projects that come with it.
And runs you through a hello world project with a sprite and label. Straightforwardly done.
> Chapter 3, Cocos2D – Under the Hood, describes the architecture of the framework and its main classes. In the second part of this chapter, we will review several Cocos2D configuration options.
This would have been a good chapter to use as an introduction to SpriteBuilder, relating the architecture to SpriteBuilder’s layout. As it is, it breaks the pacing a bit, as most people will want to jump right into getting something running we'd imagine. Worthwhile information though.
> Chapter 4, Rendering Sprites, begins to unveil the process of game creation. In this chapter, we will add a game scene, background image, player, and enemy characters. We will review some of the main properties of Cocos2D nodes and will make them move, rotate, flip, and so on.
Remarkably well done chapter! As well as all the display basics you’ll need, smoothly works in anchor points, character composition, and use of TexturePacker even.
> Chapter 5, Starting the Action, covers the process of controlling the game using states, handling touches, or using a gyroscope to get player input. At the end of this chapter, we will have a skeleton of a playable game.
Another excellent chapter, thoroughly covers interactivity as described and works in some good coordinate spaces and vector math discussion too.
> Chapter 6, Rendering Text, shows you how to display score, lives, earned points, and winning and losing labels. In this chapter, we will use both True Type and Bitmap font-based labels of Cocos2D and will discuss benefits and performance considerations.
Straightforward and competent; covers Glyph Designer too.
> Chapter 7, Animations and Particle Systems, demonstrates the use of different animation types and shows how to use particle systems to get really cool effects such as explosion and fire.
Competent enough for a beginner book, although we would’ve liked a little more on skeletal animation; covers Particle Designer too.
> Chapter 8, Adding Sound Effects and Music, shows how to easily add sound effects and music, switch between music tracks, and adjust audio properties.
Again straightforward and competent, nice that it mentioned sourcing and attributing from Freesound, Nature Sounds For Me, and NoSoapRadio. Cool stuff, check them out!
> Chapter 9, User Interface and Navigation, concentrates on creating a convenient user interface using Cocos2D controls such as buttons, the scroll view, table view, and so on. In this chapter, we will see how to create scenes that exist in most games, such as the menu scene, about scene, and so on, and how to navigate between them.
That sound like a lot to cover? Yes it is, and the “and so on” covers a good many asides. There’s a bit too much crammed in here we think, probably would have been a bit easier to follow if focused into UI and navigation chapters; but it’s certainly very good as is.
> Chapter 10, Physics, shows how to use the physics engine in your game. In this chapter, we will create a playable level using the physics engine; we will review how to create physics objects, adjust their properties, detect and filter collisions, use joints, and so on.
Yet another exceptionally well done chapter. Can’t actually think of an introduction to using physics engines we’ve ever read that was better than this, actually; balances features and explanation just about perfectly to get you started.
> Chapter 11, Working with Tile Maps, explains tile maps and shows the complete process of creating and using a tile map in the game.
Including parallax animation as well, which is a nice feature to have explained in a learning book.
> Chapter 12, Standing Out – Integrating Game Center and In-App Purchases, covers integrating Game Center and adding In-App purchases to the game.
Again a straightforward and competent explanation of the described tasks. And bonus points for a nice collection of various asset-finding links for the penniless indie to finish off the book with!
The Packt Publishing folks are continuing to put out books in their game series for Cocos2d, which I think is a good idea. Small studios like mine rely on a core set of open source frameworks, and Cocos2d has been a go-to for a while. Even though our options are growing now (what with established AAA engines like Crytek, Unreal, etc. changing licensing to make things very interesting to small players), to Indies and larger studios alike, Cocos2d still has a good size following and is used globally for many projects.
This new addition to the Packt Publishing collection of Cocos2d books doesn’t attempt to teach Objective-C and dives right in to Cocos2d concepts. The book is of the style of building a single game across the various chapters of the book. At each step, the game (a hunting/platform type 2d game) is incrementally improved. Early chapters start with a conceptual spin, teaching the reader the basic architecture of the framework. It them proceeds into getting graphics on the screen, walking through drawing and action basics. Once simple elements like backgrounds and characters are on screen and moving, they are embellished with a head’s up display (HUD) of info, fun animations using basic frame-based and particle systems, and a bit of sound. With a simple game foundation, the book touches on the less glamorous yet important aspects of supporting game UI (e.g. menus, splash screens, etc.). It wraps with adding a demonstration of physics to increase the dynamic behavior of the game world. A final chapter is included discussing tile maps usage to create much larger game worlds.
In general, I found the writing to be informal and most like a friend walking you through a demonstration. The book is pretty code-heavy, with a “tell me what I’m about to learn, show me, explain it to me again, quiz me” approach. For those looking for more theory, you’ll want to consider other resources. For those who aren’t comfortable plying through lots of code or quite ready to apply specific examples to other game genres, this may also not be the best book to start with.
On the other hand, if you learn well from lots of examples that show relatively common techniques, this will be a good book for you to come up to speed on the more standard parts of the Cocos2d library.
I'm giving the book a 4 out of 5, largely due to a sense of "wanting more". The single game is a good start, but suggestions for applying techniques to other genres of 2d games, giving more pointers to game logic design/architecture using the framework, and a bit of AI or even networking/multiplayer, would have bumped it to 5 for me. If the book's supporting code and errata track the rapid updates for Cocos2d 3.x, I'd also amend my score...time will tell there.
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