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iPhone/iPod Touch Game Development

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The iPhone/iPod Touch is a pretty rad little platform. It has vastly more powerful hardware and a far greater ease of development than I would have ever expected going into it. The biggest problem for me at the moment is that I don't actually have a Mac to call my very own. Someone deemed me responsible enough to borrow a Mac for the course of the Christmas break so I could finally make good on my long-desired and very loud-mouthed wish to see what kind of independent development environment Apple provided to the public for the platforms. Turns out that if someone can stomach a bit of Objective-C and a lack of Microsoft Visual Studio (the latter being the biggest dilemma), Apple seems to have done quite well for themselves. Even if one doesn't own an iPhone or an iPod Touch, the iPhone SDK ships with an iPhone Simulator which seems to pretty accurately represent the environment (sans the real-world tactile focus). I haven't had more than two days to really experiment with the setup yet, but thus far I'm impressed and I'd like to hear some thoughts from people who have spent more time with the platform.

Hell, from what I discovered shortly before I left for my brief vacation -- where I am so clearly vacationing at this very moment -- it seems that even the Objective C requirement may be negligible. It seems to allow for simplistic integration of traditional C/C++ code into the whole mix. I don't know what kind of exposure any of you readers have with Objective-C but, my god, as far as I'm concerned the less I see of its demonic syntax the better the world will be for it.

The biggest issue I'm facing with the whole iPhone/iPod Touch development experience thus far is that, for obvious reasons, an Intel-based Mac is required for development. I'd love to pick-up a
Mac Book Pro or something at some point but, at least right now, that's way above my feasible price point for such a thing. If my short time with the Mini proves productive (and it has so far) I might try and pick up one of those on the cheap. Much like the sentimentality I have for Microsoft's XNA development environment, I think it's another quality step for independent game developers to have such easy access to a prominent and up-and-coming platforms like the iPhone/Touch (and mobile gaming as a whole).

The iPhone and iPod Touch seem to be an especially viable platform for independent game developers due in large part to the superb App Store accessible through the aforementioned devices and iTunes. In the mere two days I've had my iPod Touch I've already racked up about sixteen games ranging from free downloads to $0.99 titles all the way up to$9.99 (the maximum value I've seen). I'm not sure what kind of success the developers of Fieldrunners, Galcon, Enigmo, and Trism (to name a few) have seen but their titles seem to be very popular on the App Store. Galcon, especially, seems to have had surprising success given the very uniquely-nerd sort of gameplay it represents while being crossed with a more approachable and palatable mobile presentation.

If anything, it would seem that Apple made the accessibility of the App Store to independent developers almost too easy. For every great gem I've found hidden in the gaming sections I have seen three or four more titles which seem to present some meager offerings of something that can only barely resemble careful game development or a sound game design choice.

I am looking forward to getting back to my iPod Touch game experiment in a few days. I haven't had nearly enough time to provide much more than these barest of first impressions so, as I said earlier, I'd love to hear from others. I'll surely write some more on this topic as I get a bit more reacquainted with OpenGL (the ES persuation). I hope my first small game test, lovingly given its ridiculous working name of Asplodestroids!, will at least see a glean of the light of day before I find myself Mac-less again. It's also Christmas so feel free to toss a Macbook Pro into my stocking if you're feeling so inclined.

Because I'm sure that was someone's first instinct after reading this.

Well, it IS possible to develop for iPhone on a PC. It's just not straightforward and all nice-like.

Again, not pretty, just possible. Personally I'd just go the standard "Apple approved" way, even though I think it's exactly the kind of evil they supposedly rail against.

Yeah, I've heard those details echoed in brief elsewhere but it's not something I'm really interested in trying.

If I have to give up the Mac Mini I have now I may just try to buy a refurbished Mini on the cheap or something. That is if the iPhone development pans out and is something I'd like to continue doing. XNA had been treating me alright up to this point, but the thought of working on such a mobile and easy-going platform is really appealing to me.

I'm sure I can track down an older-model machine that can be converted to run 10.5 if you give me a few days notice and are willing to pay shipping.

Being in the States makes it even easier since you can order from Powermax or Shreve Systems' copious inventory -- Apple's refurb pile isn't as good as it once was.

If you plan to use the Mac for anything games-related, for the love of god do not buy a MacBook or MacMini with the Intel X3100 - I have had no end of trouble.

Quote:
 Original post by swiftcoder If you plan to use the Mac for anything games-related, for the love of god do not buy a MacBook or MacMini with the Intel X3100 - I have had no end of trouble.

I'd be getting a Mac Mini and, really, only use it as a development machine. I'm also waiting until after MacWorld before buying one as I hear there are going to be some new models unveiled and all that jazz.

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