Unity 3D Game Development by Example Video Review

Unity 3D Game Development by Example is a Video lecture by Adam Maxwell (Packt has videos now, apparently).

It has 8 sections, each around 20 minutes, which covers the basics of Unity 3D game engine.

The author or narrator explains everything from the very basic things, such as how Unity’s user interface looks like, where to find everything, to more complex things like how to write scripts, how to make Title screens and Menus, how to save and load data for your games through examples.

The narration is paired with “slides” that in bullet points or diagrams that help explain some topics. And of course, the video also demonstrates concepts using the game engine itself, so it’s easy for listeners to follow and understand.

The narration for me though, is a little flat, but it’s still better than reading books, and simply following through screenshots.

For beginners, I think this video lecture is a good place to start. But people who are already familiar with Unity, this video doesn’t offer much more.

You can check out the video lecture on Packt’s website or check out some sample sections on YouTube.

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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.

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.

Creating Games with Cocos2d for iPhone 2

Packt Publishing recently released a new book called “Creating Games with Cocos2d for iPhone 2”, written by Paul Nygard.

The name is a bit confusing to me, the 2 in the book title refers to the book being the second Cocos2d book from Packt or 2 as in Cocos2d version 2.0?

Anyway, the book in detail from their website:

Cocos2d for iPhone is a simple (but powerful) 2D framework that makes it easy to create games for the iPhone. There are thousands of games in the App Store already using cocos2d. Game development has never been this approachable and easy to get started.

“Creating Games with cocos2d for iPhone 2” takes you through the entire process of designing and building nine complete games for the iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad using cocos2d 2.0. The projects start simply and gradually increase in complexity, building on the lessons learned in previous chapters. Good design practices are emphasized throughout.

From a simple match game to an endless runner, you will learn how to build a wide variety of game styles.

You will learn how to implement animation, actions, create “artificial randomness”, use the Box2D physics engine, create tile maps, and even use Bluetooth to play between two devices.

“Creating games with cocos2d for iPhone 2” will take your game building skills to the next level.

You will learn:

  • Control sprites with touch, joysticks, and tilt controls
  • Use sprite sheets, particles, and plists effectively
  • Learn multiple approaches to solve common challenges
  • Integrate cocos2d with the Box2D physics engine
  • Use third-party programs for joystick control, tile maps, and more
  • Implement Bluetooth to play across multiple devices
  • Learn game-specific A.I. design methodologies

Looking at the book’s Table of Contents, I see that there are 9 different games that will be taught in the book. Like all other Packt books, Source Codes are included.

There is a memory game, “Thanks for the Memories” (which reminds me of the Fall Out Boy song). It’s basically a memory card game. A Match 3 game, Whack-a-Mole, Snake, a breakout game, “Light Cycles of TRON” game, pool, a scrolling shooter, and an endless runner. They are pretty run-the-mill games.

This book is aimed at readers with an understanding of Objective-C and some familiarity with the cocos2d for iPhone 2.0 framework.

I’m not through reading the book yet, so this is it for now. Sorry >.< I’ll write the review as soon as I’m done with it.

You can get the book on the Packt website: http://www.packtpub.com/creating-games-with-cocos2d-for-iphone-2/book

Quick Review: Unreal Development Kit Game Programming with UnrealScript Beginners Guide

Unreal Development Kit Game Programming with UnrealScript: Beginner's Guide
First thing I noticed about the book is, it’s written by a girl! The book is written by Rachel Cordone.
I don’t have any experience with Unreal, and am even a bit nervous to try it. But this book says its for beginners, so I decided to give it a read.
So far Chapter 1 has been very clear in teaching me how to install UDK. It gives very clear instructions (screenshots included!), and it’s not intimidating at all for a beginner like me.
I still have a lot of chapters to read, but so far, so good.

Quick Review: Unity iOS Essentials

I am currently reading “Unity iOS Essentials”, which I won from ManiacDev’s book giveaway contest.

Unity iOS Essentials

And so far, I find that this book seems to be all over the place and it inspires to be a Game Design book.

Why made me think so? Well, Chapter 1 is about Planning Ahead for an Unity iOS Game, it starts out pretty clear, it aims to give the readers a little heads up before they start their game, it mentions considerations such as terrain, lighting, audio, etc. And then it got to the Let’s Get Started part, which is pretty much the author make all sorts of game design suggestions, and sometimes he would suggest something and not really explain why, such as he said that Fog is not such a great idea, and he suggests that we use particles instead, but why? Why isn’t fog a good idea? He even mentioned that it adds ambiance, so why isn’t it a good idea? Also there is a whole chunk that he talks about teleportation (wut? o.O), which provides means for players to travel across our large levels. He could have ended that bit there, but he goes on to suggest different ways of doing teleportation, warp gates, trains, what nots. And then after being distracted by all those really not important stuff, he starts talking about culling. Now, culling is important (even the author says so). But the reader could have skipped that part (okay, at least I almost skipped that part because I was skipping the trying to skip the teleportation part).

Chapter 2 is called iOS Performance Guide, but like Chapter 1, instead of getting right down to it (the performance guide), he starts the chapter with different kinds of games that the reader can make. And briefly mention skybox and how we’re supposed to use a cube with reversed normals instead of the one that Unity came with (again, no explanation whatsoever on why we shouldn’t use the Unity one). And then some bits about how we should do our terrain (not the technical part, the design part of making a terrain). Some more bits about different game genres.And then suddenly, Unified Graphic Architecture and the other stuff that actually seems like the iOS Performance Guide.

Chapter 3 is called Advanced Game Concepts, but really the things covered in the chapter is not very advanced, it’s stuff about menus, interface, screen sizes, accelerometer, shaders and organizing your assets.

Chapter 4 is called Flyby Background. Can’t say anything about it, because I skipped it.

I’m after Chapter 5 because it’s about Scalable GUIs, which I happen to be working on right now. So far, it’s understandable, pretty easy to follow. But the way the code bits are edited makes it somewhat unreadable. Oh and don’t expect the code to work as is.

That’s where I am right now, there are still four more chapters that I haven’t read yet.

So far, my comment is, it’s all over the place.

Link: http://www.packtpub.com/unity-3d-essentials-for-ios-games/book

Review: Cocos2d for iPhone 1 Game Development Cookbook

“Cocos2d for iPhone 1 Game Development Cookbook” is written by Nathan Burba (@nathanburba).

Cocos2d for iPhone 1 Game Development Cookbook
According to the description, it has “over 90 recipes for iOS 2D game development using cocos2d”. and just by looking at it’s Table of Contents, you’d see that this book covers a lot of topics (some advanced techniques that other cocos2d books have not covered). It also provides solutions to some common problems that we developers might encounter during Cocos2d iOS development.

Like in Chapter 1, it covers graphics, but unlike other books that would only teach you how to make sprites and spritesheets, this book even teaches you how to use apply mipmapping so that that when you scale up or down a sprite it wouldn’t look pixelated. It also has a recipe for a cool technique by swapping palettes so that even with limited amount of art, you can create various versions of a sprite (a single baseball player texture can have be used to create different baseball players with different colored shirts and pants etc). Chapter 1 also answers some questions that you might encounter while working on your game, such as how to I play a video clip of my company’s logo or my game’s cutscene (playing video files recipe). It also covers how to render 3D objects, drawing OpenGL primitives, particles, etc.

Chapter 2 is all about User Input on iOS devices, including the usual (tap, hold, drag), making virtual buttons (creating an analog stick recipe and directional pad recipe) and using the accelerometer. One really cool (for me) recipe that’s also included is gestures (you’d be able to tell what shape the user drew on the screen)!

Chapter 3 is about Files and Data. In making games, we’d need ways to store data (just us score, or level design, etc) and this chapter covers different ways for us to do this. This chapter has recipes for reading plist, json, xml data files, it also includes recipes about archiving objects, saving data using plist, SQLite, Core Data, etc.

Chapter 4 is about physics. Cocos2d has two physics engines that we can use Box2d and Chipmunk. This book only covers Box2d (which is the engine that Angry Birds used), it includes detailed explanations and recipes on how to set up your Box2d environment and simulating physics properties. it even includes a recipe on how to make a car drive up a bumpy hill road!

Chapter 5 is about Scenes and Menus. It also includes how to create buttons and labels (with fancy shadow effects even)! It also has a recipe for wrapping the UIKIT and using it in our Cocos2d game.

Chapter 6 is all about Audio: how to play background sound effects, play music, using the iPod music library. But the really fun bits about this chapter is it even teaches you how to record audio, create a MIDI synthesizer, and to top it all off, it even covers spech recognition and text to speech! Imagine all the games and apps that you can make with those things.

Chapter 7 covers AI, including waypoints, flocking using boids and A* pathfinding. it also teaches you how to run lua scripts and use lua scripts for dialog trees.

Chapter 8 is called Tips, Tools and Ports, and sure enough it includes information about tools that can be used for our Cocos2d game development. Best part, it also includes detailed step by step instructions of how to put your game on the AppStore!

Overall this is a good book with a lot of useful and varied information that have not been covered in other books (and are often lacking in online tutorials). Also
the best thing about this book is it comes with complete working code and detailed explanations on how the code works.

Except some of the topics covered in this book are a bit advanced, so this book is not recommended for beginners, basic Objective C and Cocos2d knowledge is required.

Also the author, Nathan is also very active in the Cocos2d forums, if you have any questions about the book you can just ask him, and he almost always responds immediately.

So if you’re interested to learn new things about Cocos2d iOS development, do check it out! Also if you are interested in this book, I am holding a giveaway contest (where I am giving away 3-4 copies of the book), join now (it’s only until this Wednesday). For more details read my previous blog post (http://purplelilgirl.tumblr.com/post/15713172087/cocos2d-for-iphone-1-game-development-cookbook-giveaway)