Quick Project: Asteroids with SpriteKit

After an extremely long hiatus from my Shoot ‘Em Up project, I was itching to see what was new in the world of iOS game development. Discovering the new SpriteKit API, I just had to give it a try. So I put together a quick version of Asteroids over a few weekends.

SpriteKitAsteroids-1

It’s missing a couple of features (no hyperspace or flying saucers), but was a great way to get to grips with the new API. Not only that but I also got an excuse to play with Git’s submodules feature, which I’m sure I’ll be using a lot more in future.

You can see the full source on GitHub, feel free to download and build a copy!

2^n: A silly 2048 extension

Last week, I got hooked on 2048 after playing the Doctor Who Edition obsessively on my lunch break.

Unnecessarily excited with the powers-of-twoness of the game, I forked the code and let you play a slightly bigger version (or two).

2^n Screenshot

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What a Difference a Frame Makes

This afternoon, I was walking past a construction site and did a double take. Part of me could swear I’d just walked past a mirror, but hadn’t seen myself in the reflection. After a brief moment of vampire-based self doubt, I stepped back a few paces and saw this:

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Reviving an old habit, but a good one

I admit, I expected to get a little further with my blogging goal before missing a week, let alone two. Or three. I’ve kind of lost count. Suffice to say I’ve had a hard February so far. I won’t go into details, but I’m coming out of the other side feeling better than I have in a long while, and I’m eager to crack on with some self improvement. First stop, finally joining a gym in NYC.

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GOG – A Video Game Nostalgiagasm

GOG LogoAs any mobile video game developer from the first wave of smartphones can tell you – a small group, but a proud bunch – nostalgia sells. So if you were a PC gamer in the 90s and 2000s, GOG.com might be right up your alley.

I’ll admit, I’m not a big gamer, I’ll occasionally get hooked on a story based game here and there, but I’m not the sort to spend hour after hour fragging whiny teenagers or trolling frustrated Call of Duty players. But I do get misty-eyed when I think of my childhood days playing wonderfully crafted low-res strategy or point and click games. And luckily, some part of me has managed to ignore all the frustrated hours spent trying to get DOS to actually run those games (does anyone know what an IRQ setting actually was?).

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App Review: Level Money

Your spending allowance, and that's it.

Your spending allowance, and that’s it.

I hate budgeting. Compartmentalising my spending into arbitrary, inflexible ring-fences I can’t possibly stick to has never seemed to work, for some reason. Luckily, someone’s come up with a budgeting app that doesn’t actually require much budgeting.

Level Money is a new money management app for iOS and Android that tells you simply what you can spend each day. And that’s all. You don’t have to predict how much you’ll spend on food, you don’t get stuck deciding which bill to ignore because you needed a new winter jacket. All you need to do is to watch what you spend for the day.

It’s beautifully simple and perfect for someone like me who isn’t organized enough to do a weekly food shop. It’s the app I’ve been waiting for since I moved to Manhattan with it’s eye watering rents. In fact, I was working on something similar myself when Level was released, and I was delighted to see they got it right! Readmore »

How to Configure Laravel on MAMP

Laravel is a powerful framework to speed PHP web development, MAMP is a handy GUI to allow quick and easy testing of websites on OS X. Smash them together and you get quick and easy web development on OS X.

My work at Spotflux has recently involved a lot of PHP development to build an account management portal for our new Premium service. This had to tie in to our exiting web APIs (which I’ll admit were a little cobbled together) and be backwards compatible with our existing database. And it had to be done yesterday. Readmore »

Where the heck have I been?

Shockingly, it’s been over six months since I last posted to this blog. But this isn’t because I’ve been lazy, uninspired or disillusioned. I’ve just been extremely busy through a combination of a new job, moving abroad and getting caught in a hurricane.

In April, I took a new job at a New York based startup, spotflux. spotflux (lower case ‘s’ intentional) provides a free VPN service designed to protect your privacy and security. All you need to do is download and launch the app, and it will encrypt all your internet traffic, block ads, malware and tracking code and provide you with an anonymous, US IP address.

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iOS Shooter Project Part 5: Choosing APIs

As great as the iPhone SDK is, it wasn’t designed specifically for games, so a mini industry has sprung up to provide game developers with APIs and tools to make their lives easier. So I’m going to raid the repositories and see what I can use for my project.

Admittedly, it’s been a while since my last iOS Shooter post. Hopefully I’ll soon be able to explain all the exciting things I’ve been doing of late, but for now, here’s the next step in my game planning: API selection.

While using third-party APIs isn’t necessary by any stretch of the imagination (thanks, Mr. Turing!), there are a lot of common problems and tasks that they can simplify greatly. Animating sprites, for example, can be incredibly tedious to code directly with OpenGL. Not only that, but – as I discovered when writing Togolon – physics is hard! Given I want this to be a short project, I’ll take any short cuts I can.

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The Importance of Locale Knowledge: Or how to avoid breaking stuff in Turkey

Sometimes, the little quirks and abstraction fails of a programming language can mess things up in really subtle and specific ways. Especially when it comes to localization.

I spent most of last week wracking my brains over an oddly specific bug in our product. Namely, when you installed our server software on a Turkish copy of Windows…it didn’t work. More specifically, everything started up, but nobody could login.

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