Thoughts while reading Cocos2d-X by Example Beginner’s Guide Chapters 1 & 2

Packt published a new book on Cocos2d-X, “Cocos2d-X by Example Beginner’s Guide” by Roger Engelbert (http://www.packtpub.com/cocos2d-x-by-example/book)

Cocos2d-X by Example Beginner's Guide

First off, book cover is adorable.

Second, the book’s spiel says no programming knowledge required, oh really now? Anyway, I know Cocos2d, but I don’t know Cocos2dx nor C++, the language for Cocos2dx, so here I go. If I can make some cookie cutter games at the end of this review then…

I’m just going to spurt words while I read the blog and maybe give an overall summary and reviews at the end of this post. You can ignore the italicized parts, those are just random ramblings.

#nowplaying Lana Del Rey’s Young and Beautiful #onloop after watching “The Great Gatsby” last night.

Chapter 1 covers Installation. Installing Cocos2dx and whatnots.

The book assumes that you are on a Mac and you have Xcode, which yeah, I am and iOS dev and all, I have Xcode.

Okay, the book gives pretty clear instructions on where to download Cocos2dx. now, I just need a few minutes to download them.

Cram my Crash Course for Creativity assignment till then.

Okay, the instructions for installing are pretty clear. Although my Terminal had some other suggestions for how to properly install it. Anyway, that’s done. So when I create a new project in Xcode now I’ll be able to see the different Cocos2dx templates, awesome.

Just “built” and run my first Cocos2dx program, okay, the coconut head is silver and blue now. Looks kinda funky like Pepsi Blue.

Anyway, he did a brief run through on how to run the Cocos2dx samples so that we could see all the infinite possibilities, okay not really infinite, but it’s a pretty long list of sample tests.

And then, he says might need to spend some money on additional tools. He recommend and uses four tools.

TexturePacker, although you can also use Zwoptex as a free alternative. TexturePacker’s Andreas Löw actually used to offer (not sure if he still does, try tweeting him) licenses for bloggers. So yah, I have a free copy of TexturePacker.

ParticleDesigner, which will ease the process of making particles. No, I don’t have that. I’ll probably look for some free alternatives, the author didn’t mention or recommend any.

A tool to help build bitmap fonts, he recommended Glyph designer (not free), bmGlyph (cheaper, but yah, still not free) and FontBuilder (yeah, free). According to him “It is not extremely hard to build a Bitmap font by hand, not nearly as hard as building a particle effect from scratch, but doing it once is enough to convince you to get one of these tools fast.” Back in my Cocos2d days I used Hiero (free) and Photoshop (self advertise: blog on How to Make Fancy Labels using Cocos2d http://purplelilgirl.tumblr.com/post/2854271507/how-to-make-fancy-labels-using-cocos2d).

And according to him, no contest cfxr for sound effects. Free!

And we are done with Chapter 1. We installed Cocos2dx, and run a few sample projects and got to know the structure of basic Cocos2dx applications, so on to Chapter 2.

Chapter 2 gives an intro of C++ and Cocos2dx.

“This chapter will be aimed at two types of developers: the original Cocos2d developer who is scared of C++ but won’t admit it to his friends; and the C++ coder who never even heard of Cocos2d and finds Objective-C funny looking.”

I’m the first type, but I’m not afraid to admit that I’m afraid of C++. I am terrified of C++. If you give me an exam in C++, I will (and have, twice) submit an empty exam sheet (surprisingly passed one of those exams, I think the examiner took pity on account of my C++ phobia).

Can you tell that I’m stalling?

First the author goes through the basics of Cocos2d, if you know Cocos2d then you’re good to go. So far…

And then comes the dreaded C++ bits.

He says, “Don’t worry. The C part is easy, the first plus goes by really fast, but that second plus, Oh, boy.” Er… Oh boy…

I like the way the author talks in this book, kind of entertaining in a way.

He said to open your favorite text editor, because he doesn’t want code hinting and autocomplete features to get in the way. What? How did you think I finished a game in XNA without little knowledge in XNA, and completely zero knowledge in C#?! Code hinting and autocomplete, seriously.

My favorite text editor – TextEdit, because it comes bundled with a Mac. if I were on my PC laptop, I’d say Notepad, because that’s bundled there. I used to write websites in Notepad, those were the days… Yah, still stalling.

C++ syntax. Okay, so far, apprehensive.

Instantiation and Memory Management. Two words, no ARC. “so Objective-C developers who have forgotten memory management might have a problem here.” Uh oh.

The rule regarding memory management with C++ is very simple: if you new, you must delete.” Okay, I get that. And it supposedly has some other options and commands that’s similar to Objective C without ARC, okay.

 And then he continues with how to instantiate stuff. Okay, so far so good. And a little about the Cocos2dx equivalent of Objective C stuff. Okay, understood.

And summary. He says, “hopefully non C++ developers have learned that there is nothing to fear”. Um.. so far, not completely convinced, but I think I can manage.

He ends this chapter with “and furthermore Cocos2dx is awesome!” (fan boy) and “So let’s create a game already!”. 

Yes, lets. But maybe I’ll continue reading this tomorrow.

Advertisements

A Crash Course for Creativity

Stanford started offering free online courses a while back, and one of the courses they offered is called A Crash in Creativity and it’s by Tina Seelig.

I signed up for it with two of my friends, and every week there are assignments that challenge us to be creative. Although sometimes thinking out of the box, brings the best and worse in us.

I thought I’d share some of the um.. stuff we came up with for the course.

The first assignment was to create a book cover for your autobiography and write a short 100 words or less author bio. I have to admit that I sorta cheated because my NaNoWriMo novel last year an exaggerated version of my autobiography, so i already made a cover then. So here it is:

image
And my short bio, I have to admit coming up with a writeup that’s 100 words or less was a bit challenging. Here it is:

Hello Kitty is a term for Asian women who are seen as harmless and, ideally, as voiceless.

They say cats have nine lives. Hello Kitty is a cat, therefore she has nine lives.

We are different people to different people.

陳曉葦

is born in September in Taiwan.

Hsiao Wei Chen

is raised in Manila, Philippines. She goes to an elite Christian school from kindergarten until high school, where she is expected to get good grades and graduate with honors.

deadpoetz

thinks that she is an artist, because she writes poetry and draws portraits of people from magazine using charcoal.

Hsiao

doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life.

Chii, Misa, Lightning

are characters from comic books and video games. They are also masks that she sometimes wears to escape reality and wield elaborate weapons.

Michelle

is on her 3rd programmer job since graduating with a degree in Computer Science.

purplelilgirl

writes tutorials on programming as if she’s such an expert.

妞妞

is a niece and a granddaughter. She goes to family dinners, where there’s too much food and gossipy aunts who ask about potential husbands.

#9

“All my life, everybody has seen me a certain way. What do you see? “

And then later on in the class we get to form teams. Since I signed up for the class with two of my friends, we decided to just form a group. We didn’t invite anyone else to join our group, because we thought it would be easier to work if it were just us.
I named us Geek Girls, because we are obviously girls, and a little bit geeky.
I took a photo of a pair of pixel glasses that I was supposed to give to my other friend, for our team’s profile picture:
https://s3.amazonaws.com/venture-lab/team/thumb/f3944e848dd17008953f96a7713a7db83098c31e.JPG?1367660784
And then we started having assignments that we had to do as a team, which were kind of fun, because we can throw completely ridiculous ideas at each other. The goal is to be creative and think out of the box, anyway.
The first one is to reframe “chewing gum”, to create as much value as we can. So we decided to just come up with a bunch of ideas for chewing gum, and we created this cheesy infomercial for our fictional product- Swiss Gum : the Multipurpose Chewing Gum. I thought of using a text-to-speech program called xtranormal, because we were too shy to appear on camera.
The next assignment was to create Chindogus, which is the Japanese art of designing “unuseless” inventions.
Each of use came up with our own chindogu, by combining two random objects to create a new object with a whole new purpose. So we created a Prezi (which is like an online Powerpoint) presentation for it: http://prezi.com/gd6nhb_vkjaj/chindogu/?kw=view-gd6nhb_vkjaj&rc=ref-42158477
And for the next one, we have to think of a specific challenge related to Pets and then come up with 100 solutions for it. and then pick one of our favorite solutions and present it.
We decided to come up with solutions to Pet Poop Management. We started our list with normal, achievable ideas and then later on the list, our ideas just got weirder and weirder. At the end of the day, we can’t come up with 100, we ended up with maybe 50, with the last 30 ideas or so popping out the last minute.
We made another cheesy infomercial with xtranormal, because it’s kind of our thing now, and it’s pretty easy to do the the monotonous text-to-speech is just hilarious, well at least I found it hilarious.
This you have to watch the Bear Dogs we picked to star in our infomercial is adorable:
My friend added the other cheesy effects in After Effects.
The course is almost over, with only one more assignment left.
Overall, I enjoyed the course, because I got an opportunity to think really out of the box and get “creative” I guess.

Maker Faire Taipei 2013

Around February we went to a meetup for Taipei Hackerspace and Maker Faire at the Google offices in Taipei 101.

I have heard about Maker Faire before, but I didn’t know that Taipei had them. Actually they didn’t have them before, and this year is the first Maker Faire in Taipei. We really like the idea of Maker Faire because it’s really all about DIY and making things, because that’s kind of what we do. The organizers told us then that we can apply for a booth, so my sister did.

So we got ourselves a booth, and since it’s a DIY thing, my sister also signed up to teach a beading class.

Last Friday, we went to set up our booth.

Maker Faire took place in Huashan Creative Park, which used to be an old factory, so all the exhibition areas are like abandoned warehouses. it is quite charming.

The booth next to us was adorable.

They call themselves Shepherd and they make furniture out of wood and pipes.

And here’s ours:

We call ourselves House of Small Beauties and we make Flowers of No Purpose.

Our most popular item:

Our beaded QR code, it actually scans.

Our second most popular item, our sign made from bent wires, inspired by the Summer Paradise lyrics music video by Simple Plan and Taka from One OK Rock.

I made these:

My sister’s beading class:

This booth had kids sewing stuffies and other stuff the whole day.

The Maker Faire was more techy than artsy crafty.

There were apps:

Raspberry Pi:

Fruits that make music:

Robots:

More robots:

Ok, a lot of robots. And they fight too! The Robocon RBL competition took place on the second day:

And during breaks, the other robots have unofficial matches, and it’s cute how they let the other little kids control their robots.

There was also an Open Source competition. And this guy made a Miku Desk Live. The projector’s under the table instead of on top.

And of course, there were a lot of 3D printers.

I already saw 3D printers before during the meetup, so I didn’t take pictures of the printers at Maker Faire anymore.

Overall, it was a fun fair. who knew robot fights can be so exciting.

Cocos2d-X by Example Beginner’s Guide

Packt published a new book on Cocos2d-X, “Cocos2d-X by Example Beginner’s Guide” by Roger Engelbert (http://www.packtpub.com/cocos2d-x-by-example/book)

Cocos2d-X by Example Beginner's Guide

Overview from the Packt website:

  • Learn to build multi-device games in simple, easy steps, letting the framework do all the heavy lifting
  • Spice things up in your games with easy to apply animations, particle effects, and physics simulation
  • Quickly implement and test your own gameplay ideas, with an eye for optimization and portability
  • Enjoy building the games as much as you will enjoy playing them
What you will learn from the book according to the Packt website:

  • Make your games look cooler with particle effects
  • Create place holder sprites to quickly test your game ideas
  • Load external data into your games
  • Build game menus and tutorials
  • Implement game-wide events with notifications
  • Create a dash game with a textured terrain
  • Build a Box2D puzzle game with multiple levels
  • Create a hybrid iOS and Android project

It’s a by example book, so you’ll learn all those concepts through 6 different games.

What’s interesting about this book is that it advertises: no programming experience necessary! I don’t know how true that is yet, but am gonna give this book a read (give me 2 weeks), and since I know nothing about Cocos2d-X and C++, so if I get it, then I would highly recommend it.

How to add Facebook to Unity Android?

I searched for this before, but couldn’t find a solution that was easy or cheap (by cheap, I mean free).

Pavel Kultyshev (@getencapsulated) also wrote a blog post, sharing messages on Twitter or Facebook by following the link in the browser of a mobile device or by opening the client app on this device. I haven’t tried this approach though, because I’m looking for something more “native” to Unity.

If you’d like an easy drag and drop solution and willing to spend, then there are a couple of available plugins: the aptly named Facebook Plugin for Android by Mida Mobile (for $20), Unishare, that also includes Twitter, LinkedIn, Sina Weibo, etc. (it’s $25, I don’t know how good it is, but for 5 more dollars you get way more social stuff, sounds pretty good), and of course, Prime31 also has one, it includes Twitter too (for $65 though).

Macaronics (phardera) also wrote a blog post on how to do this using Android Plugins: http://phardera.blogspot.tw/2013/04/unity-3d-facebook-sdk-for-android.html (it’s in Chinese though). Don’t worry, the entire project is available in phardera’s github (https://github.com/phardera/unity3d_fb_android).