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.
Next you can add the various effects, such as bevel and embossing.
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.
When you’re finished, you can publish out the project and it will create your normal map file.
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.
If you set the attenuationFactor to 0, you can see the portions are the image that I beveled and raised in SpriteIlluminator.
And if you reverse the order of the sprite and its normal map, you can see the beveled image.
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.
A week or so ago, my colleague Alex Souza asked me to beta test his new plugin, “Kaboom“. It is an add-on for Kwik Photoshop plugin that lets you create particle emitters for your universal Corona apps. The benefit of using Kwik and Kaboom is that you can create full mobile applications with special effects without having to write a single line of code. Everything is done by placing artwork in Photoshop and telling it what you want it to do.
Within 5 minutes, I was able to create this:
I even wrote a tutorial on how to use Kaboom to create a similar project, which can be found here. If you order Kaboom within the next 2 weeks, you’ll actually save $20 off of the regular price, so it’s definitely worth acting quickly.
Please note: Corona Labs has not officially announced whether or not particle emitters will be supported in Starter or Basic versions of Corona SDK. If you’re a Pro user, you can use Kaboom today, but it’s unclear if Starter and Basic users will be granted access.
Last week I finally caved and purchased an Amazon Fire TV. I was very skeptical for awhile about purchasing one, especially since initial consumer reviews considered it an “in-beta” product and that the USB port on it doesn’t even support external hard drives or thumbdrives yet. However, a colleague of mine raved about it since it has the capability to accept XBMC and other 3rd part applications, so he actually bought 5 of them. Also, since I created Maddie Bear’s Snack Time for the Fire TV, it seemed like I should be able to test it for myself on an actual device.
Unboxing/Set Up/App Development
Unboxing it reminded me of unboxing the Apple TV. It was just the unit, remote, and a power cord. Setup was also the same, just plug it in and hook it to your TV via HDMI cable and the unit powers up. One thing that I thought was strange is that there’s no way to hook the Fire TV to your computer for app development, it has to be done through your Terminal/Command window. Once you have your Fire TV set up, you’ll have to go into the Settings > About and get its IP address. Then on your computer, connect to it via Terminal/Command window to push apps via adb commands (./adb connect <ip address> ; ./adb install AppName.apk ; etc.). This is pretty easy and I suppose it does save you the time from having to attach/detach the unit from your computer over and over.
Memory is kind of an issue depending on how many apps/games you plan on installing. After the operating system and XBMC, I had a little over 5 gigs of space left. This doesn’t sound terrible until you consider the fact that a lot of the higher-end games take 2-4 gigs of hard drive space. For example, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas takes up almost a gig. Then when you go to play, it says it needs to install another 2 gigs of data. If I were able to hook a thumb drive to the Fire TV and install games on that, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but since it wanted over half my available space, I opted not to install GTA.
Games and apps are categorized as Remote support or Game Controller support. Initially my game Maddie Bear’s Snack Time only supported the remote because I didn’t own a device to map out the game controls. I purchased a game controller and was able to add controller support by the following day. From a consumer standpoint, I do prefer games with controller capability, it makes it feel like you’re playing a real video game and not just an Android app that was ported over last second. Also, as a consumer, I really want there to be more great games available. The more I play on the Fire TV, the more I find myself enjoying the experience as a gaming machine.
If you do develop a game for the Fire TV and integrate Game Circle, Amazon is running a promotion where they’ll give you Amazon coins to give out to your customers. For example, (at the time of this writing) if you purchase GTA San Andreas, you’ll get $20 worth of Amazon coins as a bonus. Unfortunately, Corona SDK does not support Game Circle as of this moment, so Corona-made apps are not available for the Amazon Coin promotion. If you’re thinking about making an app with game controller support, I would purchase a game controller as soon as possible. Amazon is running a limited-time promotion where you receive $10 of Amazon coins and a $7 game, “Sev Zero”, with the purchase of a game controller. So essentially, you can buy a $40 game controller, get $10 of free coins, get $7 Sev for free, buy GTA for $7 with the coins, get another $20 of free coins, and end up with $14 of games, $33 of Amazon Coins, and a game controller for $40.
Since Amazon is giving away from coins like candy, it’s helping indie developer app sales. Where normally people might be hesitant to purchase a game that only has 1 or 2 reviews, now they’re free to buy it since they’re just using coins they got for free. The more developers are able to give away free coins from feature Game Circle apps, the more it helps the community as well. If you’re looking for a great platform to check out, I’d recommend getting a Fire TV.
Looking to make your own Fire TV app using Corona SDK? Check out Ed Maurina’s Fire TV plugin here.
Last week, Kwiksher released their latest version of Kwik Photoshop plugin. I was fortunate enough to be part of the beta testing, and helped CEO Alex Souza discover some of the bugs before the final version was released.
Kwik now is compatible with Corona SDK’s new storyboard tool called “Composer” as well as their new Graphics 2.0 anchor point system. It offers a revamped interface and a plethora of new features and settings that were not available in previous versions. You can now add monetization with iAds and AdMob, splash screens, in-app purchases if you’re a Corona Basic, Pro or Enterprise subscriber, and you no longer have to deal with the annoying task of enabling Adobe Flash to run the plugin.
Kwik has also switched over to a subscription business model to allow for more updates in order to keep up with the ever changing world of mobile app development. When Apple or Android make a change to their operating systems, Corona Labs has to follow suit, which in turn makes Kwiksher have to follow their lead.
There is also another huge benefit to their new subscription model. Let’s say you have an idea for a storybook app, but you’re not ready to make a huge investment in software in case your app doesn’t make you a lot of money or in case you just don’t end up liking app development. You can download the Corona Lab’s Starter Kit for free and then just do a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription to Kwik, depending on how long you’ll need it.
You can also have your script reviewed, have video chat support, and pretty soon, Kwiksher can even publish your app to all of the major app store for you via their services program.
My latest book, Maddie Bear’s Birthday, would have taken much, much longer to develop had I not used Kwik. It saved me days worth of coding. Check out my app at MaddieBearBooks.com to see what is possible with Kwik.
In my previous blog post about being a one-man studio, I noted that since I create my personal apps as a hobby, I don’t have funding for sound effects, narration, etc. Now for my current project, which is a storybook series called “Maddie Bear Books“, I’m in the same boat.
Once I finish the storyline and illustrations for the first book of the series, I don’t have any money to pay a professional narrator or to buy any sound effects/music that I can’t create myself. To try to raise some funds, I decided to start a “Bearstarter” campaign. It’s a lot like Kickstarter, but without the Kickstarter fees, overhead costs of shipping and producing rewards, minimum monetary goals to meet, etc.
The benefit of going this route is that if people want to donate out of the goodness of their hearts, there’s no minimum amount to raise or if they want a physical product for their donation, I also have signed prints available. All of the proceeds go directly into app and book production and it’s a cool chance to be part of a project from the very beginning.
I recently decided that I would start working on my next mobile app, a children’s eBook series. I wanted to base the story off of my daughter and two of my friends’ daughters using anthropomorphic animals. However, if you’ve been following the trend of mobile apps these days, you know that you need to spend just as much time marketing your apps as you have developing them. Before I have even finished writing the storyline to my new app series, I spent some time pre-marketing it.
I did a web search to make sure there weren’t similar products with similar names already coming up on Google. Then I purchased a domain name and made a temporary website placeholder (www.MaddieBearBooks.com) as well as started a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/MaddieBearBooks). I figured the last account I would need would be a Twitter account (www.twitter.com/MaddieBearBooks) and then I’d have all the major bases covered. However, after hearing Noah Malewicz say he also did Instagram to promote his app “City Birds” during the Corona Geek Hangout, I figured I should hit that market as well.
The thing was, I didn’t want to create an Instagram account just to have one. After perusing other Instagram users’ images, it seemed like there were way too many “selfies”, food pictures, and the like, so I decided to try something a little bit more creative for Maddie Bear’s page.
I thought doing some illusions and tricks might be a little more visually enticing to look at versus pictures of me drawing the artwork. Whether if all of this social media marketing will pay off or not is yet to be seen, I should probably finish the app first…
Today I’m going to review “Corona SDK Hotshot” by Nevin Flanagan, which is published by Packt Publishing. If you’re a regular Corona user, you’re probably well past the “Hello World” style tutorials that are available in most coding books, but you may not be ready for expert-level books, either. Corona SDK Hotshot is a great intermediate level book that assumes previous knowledge of the platform and lets you create 10 different game apps.
One thing that I noticed from this book that is different than most, is that the author first shows you how to layout your game idea. Instead of just throwing you into the coding, you first first think about what you want your game to do, how will it function, the screen order, etc. to properly plan out the app. This is good practice for new game developers to draft out their ideas and properly layout the game plan instead of just jumping right into coding and artwork.
The variety of the games that you develop in the book is nice, ranging from tapping enemies before they get to a certain point, jet shooter-style, RPG, and even a translation app. I think my favorite example was chapter 5’s game, “Atmosfall” because it reminded me of “Vapor Trail” for Sega Genesis (I’m aware that I may be the only person that has ever played this game before). It’s a top-down view game of an aircraft that shoots enemies that also shoot at you, not a new concept, but still entertaining.
The examples aren’t just about the finished product, though. Through the process of building the games, you learn about integrating multiple touches, loading music, algorithms, Game Center, etc., which can help you build games that integrate these features and do not necessarily follow the examples given. Again, this book is not for total beginners who are new to Corona SDK, it assumes prior knowledge.
Overall, I thought this book was good from a standpoint of someone who understands Corona SDK and Lua and wants to create a variety of game types. I picked up the PDF version to read on my iPad while traveling and on my Macbook when I was ready to code. If you’re interested in creating gaming applications, it’s definitely worth checking out.