A couple of years ago, Josiah Brooks (Jazza) released an app called Arty Games that generates random ideas for illustrators. I’ve used it for a few drawings in the past, which was a great way to battle creative block when I wanted to draw something, but couldn’t come up with any ideas.
I recently decided to do a daily art challenge that incorporates a new idea each day from the app using Procreate on the iPad Pro. Each day I drew a randomly generated character idea and then finally placed them in an environment as dictated from Arty Games.
Day 1: A grumpy goblin smoking a joint with a robot arm.
Day 2: A jolly elf who has had too much coffee.
Day 3: A murderous kindergartener with glasses who is afraid of their own shadow.
Day 4: An evil robot from the future who can control time and is wearing large gloves.
Day 5: A porcupine who is stitched up like Frankenstein’s monster who is holding a key.
Day 6: A celestial cow who needs batteries to survive and is wearing leather shoes.
Day 7: A sparkly dragon who is wearing an oversized shirt.
Day 8: A pine tree forest filled with tombstones.
Day 9: Coloring the characters.
This personal challenge was a lot of fun and pushed me to draw things that I would never normally draw on my own. Coloring was probably the biggest challenge for me as it’s not my strong suit. You can watch the entire process in this time lapse video:
Overall, I’m pleased with how it turned out and I’m glad I was able to finish it before I hand over my iPad Pro to get the screen replaced. The corner of the screen has a dead spot when using the Apple Pencil, which is incredibly annoying, so hopefully I’ll be back to drawing soon.
Since the majority of my mobile games are created using Corona SDK, I’m going to cover how to get started integrating SpriteIlluminator into that.
The first thing you’ll do is import a sprite into SpriteIlluminator. Here I just quickly drew a guy for this demo.
Next you can add the various effects, such as bevel and embossing.
You can drag the light source around and see how your sprites will look in real-time, which is very helpful. You can also use the lasso tool to select certain portions of the sprite and add effects just to that part.
When you’re finished, you can publish out the project and it will create your normal map file.
In this example, I beveled the sprite and then raised the shirt sleeve, nose, and eyes to make them stand out. Then in SublimeText, I created a main.lua file and did a composite of both the sprite and its normal map. Here you can see how a light source reacts to the sprite.
If you set the attenuationFactor to 0, you can see the portions are the image that I beveled and raised in SpriteIlluminator.
And if you reverse the order of the sprite and its normal map, you can see the beveled image.
SpriteIlluminator is a very easy-to-use and powerful tool to help add some nice dynamic lighting effects to your games. This is obviously a very basic example of what it can do, but hopefully it’s enough to get you started in integrating it in your Corona SDK apps.
In my last post, I wrote about my experience using Construct 2 to build HTML5 games. Since then, I have improved the Maddie Bear’s Sticker Hunt game to support touchscreen devices/game controllers and hidden areas. I’ve also created a game for toddlers that I was able to export as a native iOS application, started listening to the C2 Podcast, and the generous folks at Scirra gave me a review license for Construct 2 so that I may write/record tutorials how to use the software.
If you’re interested in Construct 2, you should definitely listen to the C2 Podcast by Alvarop and ArcadEd. They talk about their experiences using Construct, monetization and have special guests. I really enjoy listening to it as I’m working on games.
I also created a simple demo game for toddlers that I’m going to turn into a video tutorial course. It will be a great way for people unfamiliar to Construct 2 to see what it can do. It will cater to those who download the free version (4 layer limit and HTML5-only publishing), but I’ll also show you options on how to publish to an iPhone if you have a paid license. It’s also compatible with smartphones/tablets, so you don’t need a computer keyboard or game controller to play it.
I recently discovered software called “Construct 2” that allows you to easily create mobile and HTML5 games. The only “problem” I have with the software is that it’s Windows-only and I do 99% of my work on a MacBook. To get around this, I was just drawing all of the artwork on the Mac, uploading it to my webspace and then switching over to my PC to run Construct 2. Then I found VMware Fusion, that lets you run numerous Windows operating systems on your Mac.
Now I can draw in Adobe Flash on a Mac environment and then switch screens and build a Construct 2 game in the Windows 8 environment, it’s pretty handy.
I just discovered a new accessory for the iPad called OSMO. It’s pretty much a mirror and stand that you attach to your iPad that allows your kids to interact with the device using real-world objects, such as Scrabble-style letters, wooden shapes, and paper/markers.
The kit comes with the OSMO kit (stand/mirror sensor), wooden letters, and wooden triangles that can be used with their free apps on the App Store. To play the Newton game, your child just needs a sheet of paper and a marker to interact with the app.
The games will challenge your kids to guess what an image is by placing the corresponding letters in front of the iPad, or to replicate a shape shown on screen by using the wooden triangles provided, or to draw shapes on a piece of paper that the game will interact with.
It’s available to pre-order now until June 22nd, and you’ll get a 50% discount. It definitely seems like a great way for kids to use that iPad that is more engaging than simply tapping on the screen. I’ve pre-ordered one for my daughter, I’ll write a full review when I receive it in the mail.
Last week I finally caved and purchased an Amazon Fire TV. I was very skeptical for awhile about purchasing one, especially since initial consumer reviews considered it an “in-beta” product and that the USB port on it doesn’t even support external hard drives or thumbdrives yet. However, a colleague of mine raved about it since it has the capability to accept XBMC and other 3rd part applications, so he actually bought 5 of them. Also, since I created Maddie Bear’s Snack Time for the Fire TV, it seemed like I should be able to test it for myself on an actual device.
Unboxing/Set Up/App Development
Unboxing it reminded me of unboxing the Apple TV. It was just the unit, remote, and a power cord. Setup was also the same, just plug it in and hook it to your TV via HDMI cable and the unit powers up. One thing that I thought was strange is that there’s no way to hook the Fire TV to your computer for app development, it has to be done through your Terminal/Command window. Once you have your Fire TV set up, you’ll have to go into the Settings > About and get its IP address. Then on your computer, connect to it via Terminal/Command window to push apps via adb commands (./adb connect <ip address> ; ./adb install AppName.apk ; etc.). This is pretty easy and I suppose it does save you the time from having to attach/detach the unit from your computer over and over.
Memory is kind of an issue depending on how many apps/games you plan on installing. After the operating system and XBMC, I had a little over 5 gigs of space left. This doesn’t sound terrible until you consider the fact that a lot of the higher-end games take 2-4 gigs of hard drive space. For example, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas takes up almost a gig. Then when you go to play, it says it needs to install another 2 gigs of data. If I were able to hook a thumb drive to the Fire TV and install games on that, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but since it wanted over half my available space, I opted not to install GTA.
Games and apps are categorized as Remote support or Game Controller support. Initially my game Maddie Bear’s Snack Time only supported the remote because I didn’t own a device to map out the game controls. I purchased a game controller and was able to add controller support by the following day. From a consumer standpoint, I do prefer games with controller capability, it makes it feel like you’re playing a real video game and not just an Android app that was ported over last second. Also, as a consumer, I really want there to be more great games available. The more I play on the Fire TV, the more I find myself enjoying the experience as a gaming machine.
If you do develop a game for the Fire TV and integrate Game Circle, Amazon is running a promotion where they’ll give you Amazon coins to give out to your customers. For example, (at the time of this writing) if you purchase GTA San Andreas, you’ll get $20 worth of Amazon coins as a bonus. Unfortunately, Corona SDK does not support Game Circle as of this moment, so Corona-made apps are not available for the Amazon Coin promotion. If you’re thinking about making an app with game controller support, I would purchase a game controller as soon as possible. Amazon is running a limited-time promotion where you receive $10 of Amazon coins and a $7 game, “Sev Zero”, with the purchase of a game controller. So essentially, you can buy a $40 game controller, get $10 of free coins, get $7 Sev for free, buy GTA for $7 with the coins, get another $20 of free coins, and end up with $14 of games, $33 of Amazon Coins, and a game controller for $40.
Since Amazon is giving away from coins like candy, it’s helping indie developer app sales. Where normally people might be hesitant to purchase a game that only has 1 or 2 reviews, now they’re free to buy it since they’re just using coins they got for free. The more developers are able to give away free coins from feature Game Circle apps, the more it helps the community as well. If you’re looking for a great platform to check out, I’d recommend getting a Fire TV.
Looking to make your own Fire TV app using Corona SDK? Check out Ed Maurina’s Fire TV plugin here.
You could probably beat the entire game in one sitting pretty easily, but at least it’s free and I enjoyed making it. It’s pretty easy to add new levels so I might release an update in the future with new levels to play.
Yesterday I discovered a piece of software called “Stencyl“, which the company claims lets the user create Flash and iOS games without having to write any code. This is achieved by using either pre-made templates or blank projects, importing artwork, and assigning commands via drop-down menus.
I was curious to how this would work, so I downloaded the trial, which is exactly like the paid version ($149 a year), except you cannot export your final projects for the App Store. You’re free to make as many games as you’d like to test on your own simulator, Flash player and devices, though.
Upon opening the software, you’re greeted with a welcome screen in which you can choose a template as a starting point or start a full tutorial. I decided to first take the Flash player tutorial where you make a game similar to the original Mario Brothers and then I completed the iOS tutorial where you create a block-smashing game.
You can import your own artwork or use the graphics provided by the software, and then through drop-down menus, you can assign physics, actions, and properties to each sprite. Many actions are already pre-built, so it already knows what a reset button would do, or what would happen if a player falls into a pit of doom, which saves time.
Going through the tutorial definitely helped and it was pretty easy to follow along. By the end I had a working knowledge of the software and knew how to convert Flash game actions to iOS actions just by dragging and dropping blocks of code they supply. I imagine if you spent a weekend playing around with Stencyl, you could have a pretty decent game ready for the App Store at the end.
From what I’ve seen so far, there is definitely a lot of potential for a user to create some amazing games using Stencyl. I am interested to see if it can be used to create apps that require different logic than the pre-built chunks of code provided. Perhaps a quiz application, or a game that requires a lot of complex rules like a card game. Overall, I would say Stencyl is definitely worth checking out, especially since it’s free to build apps until you want to publish them on the App Store.