CartoonSmart Construct 2

CartoonSmart: Netflix Style

CartoonSmart recently announced a new subscription plan to their iOS and artwork/animation courses. This is a great way to learn all you want to learn about those topics for a really affordable rate.

Unfortunately, the Construct 2 tutorials aren’t included in the plan, but they’re still offered at a heavily discounted rate compared to Udemy.com.

Thanks to everyone who has already taken the Construct 2 courses. If you haven’t checked them out yet, go to CartoonSmart and have a look!

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Freelance Retirement

Just over a month ago, I decided to accept a full-time position as a technical project manager in a new city. My family and I packed up our house and moved to start a new adventure. This was the first time I would be working in an actual office in almost 5 years, so it was a bit of an adjustment.

After a few weeks of working, it grew apparent that I would no longer have the time to have a healthy work/life balance if I were to continue doing freelance work on the side. I actually did the math, and numerically, there really weren’t enough hours in the day. So I’ve decided to hang up my freelance gloves unless I ever need to pick it back up for financial reasons.

I’ll still try to keep up on mobile technology and write blog posts and tutorials when I have time, but I will no longer be accepting new clients or projects. It’s been a fun decade of always having freelance projects going on the side, but for now, I think I’m just going to focus on one job and my family.

– Greg

Tutorial: SpriteIlluminator

I was recently selected to be able to beta test SpriteIlluminator by CodeAndWeb. SpriteIlluminator helps you add dynamic lighting to your mobile games by helping you create a normal map to add to your sprite.

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.

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Next you can add the various effects, such as bevel and embossing.

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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.

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When you’re finished, you can publish out the project and it will create your normal map file.

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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.

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If you set the attenuationFactor to 0, you can see the portions are the image that I beveled and raised in SpriteIlluminator.

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And if you reverse the order of the sprite and its normal map, you can see the beveled image.

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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.

Bob’s Burgers: BurgerBoss Fan Game

I’m a huge fan of the cartoon series, Bob’s Burgers. I’ve been following H. Jon Benjamin’s and Loren Bouchard’s work since the debut of Home Movies in 1999. My sister-in-law even got to interview H. Jon Benjamin last year.

In season 2, episode 4 of Bob’s Burgers, Bob becomes obsessed with playing a fictional game called “BurgerBoss.” I thought the 80’s-style artwork was cool, so I figured I’d make a fan game based off of it.

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My gameplay is different than in the show and I’ve only completed level 1 (probably with a few bugs in it), but it’s only taken a few hours so far and it’s been fun to make. They don’t show a ton of gameplay throughout the show, but I tried to get the same basic idea out of it while including some jokes from the show like “BOB SUX”.

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Periodically check the game out to see if/when I’ve added more levels and enemies: http://gpanimations.com/burgerboss.html

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Maddie Bear in Space

It’s been quite awhile since I last released a game for myself. The other night, I decided I would try to push out a game in 3 hours or less. The result is Maddie Bear in Space.

It’s available for iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, Android and Android TV and requires a simple touch or button tap interface. You collect as many moons as you can and avoid the spikes to gain a high score.

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Construct 2: Space Pinball Tutorial

I’m very pleased to announce that my new video course, Create a Space Pinball Game in Construct 2, is now live on Udemy!

It’s priced at $59, but I want to offer it to my loyal blog followers at a special discounted price of $20. The first 50 readers to use promo code BLOGFOLLOWERS or click this link will save $39 off the normal price.

Thank you for continuing to read my blog and have fun making the pinball game!

Sketch 3

I was recently commissioned by Stone River E-Learning to create a video tutorial series on Sketch 3 software. If you need a lightweight software package to quickly mock-up websites or mobile apps, Sketch 3 is very useful. The learning curve is very small and there’s even a website devoted to templates and artwork specifically for Sketch 3 that you can use.

I didn’t want the tutorials to be a typical “this is how you use the oval drawing tool” course, so the very first lesson is creating an actual Facebook app clone. I figured it’d be more exciting to create working examples and the students would learn how to use all of the tools by actually making something.

If you don’t already own a copy of Sketch 3, get the 30 day free trial here and check out the course here.

https://placeit.net/#!/stages/girl-using-iphone-6-and-imac-at-office

PlaceIt.net

Last year, I wrote a tutorial about creating screenshots for app stores for RayWenderlich.com. In the tutorial, I mentioned using a website called PlaceIt.net because they have a great variety of options and pricing to fit every budget (yes, even Free). Today, I want to take you through step-by-step on how to fully utilize their site to create amazing promotional material for your apps and games.

placeit

PlaceIt.net lets you upload app screenshots, images, URLs, videos, or screen captures (using RecordIt) into beautiful photographs and videos to help advertise and promote your product or brand.

Still Images

You can sort by devices, interactive video, still shots, video, multistage, etc. and then it will list the require resolution needed to fill the stage. You can choose to drag and drop an image, upload it, or even just provide the URL to the image you’d like to insert. If your image doesn’t fit perfectly, you can adjust the cropping to completely fill the area.

https://placeit.net/#!/stages/girl-using-iphone-6-and-imac-at-office
https://placeit.net/#!/stages/girl-using-iphone-6-and-imac-at-office

Once you’re happy with the result, you can choose to Add Effects or Download. When you click download, you’re given the options for the Small Free Version, the High-Res Commercial, or Super High-Res Extended Commercial versions.

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Depending on your desired use, you’ll have to determine which version you’d like. If you’re unsure of the differences, you can click the “Not sure which license is the best for you?” link and it will explain each license in detail.

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Videos

There is where PlaceIt.net really shines. Sorting by Video, I chose a panning video that would show my children’s book app, Maddie Bear’s Birthday, running on an iPad. I didn’t have a pre-recorded video handy, so I clicked on the Record Your Screen option. This allowed me to download RecordIt, and record the iOS Simulator running on my computer.

https://placeit.net/#!/stages/ipad-on-wooden-kitchen-table?background=192_vi&f_types=video
https://placeit.net/#!/stages/ipad-on-wooden-kitchen-table?background=192_vi&f_types=video

Once complete, the video uploaded and I was able to view and download it. Here you see the free version that I downloaded, which has a watermark on it. Paid downloads do not contain watermarks.

Pricing

Pricing on PlaceIt.net varies depending on the type of media, license, and if you choose a subscription plan or single purchase. Still images range from Free to $59 USD for single purchases and videos range from Free to $189 USD for single purchases. If you you know you’re going to need to download a few pieces of media, it’s worth signing up for a subscription plan. Plans range from $12 a month to $299 a month depending on how many you’re going to need on a monthly basis.

Since they have pricing ranging from free for casual users through $299 a month for corporate users, it really feels like PlaceIt.net is trying to accommodate every user and every budget.

Overview

The sheer number of images, interactive videos, and videos along with flexible pricing, makes PlaceIt.net unparalleled to any other service I’ve tried. In the past, Promotee software was my go-to when I needed a quick promo image of my apps, but it is very limited in the devices you can show, and there’s no option for video. I can’t recommend PlaceIt.net enough for promos and advertising your products.