Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bomboozle on App Store

Only a few days after submission to Apple, Bomboozle has gone live on the iTunes App Store.

The whole process of putting an application onto the App Store has been really easy and a testament to Apple's setup.  When you realise that your app is now for sale across the world and they handle all the payments and reconciliation it's pretty impressive and once again Apple leveraging an existing platform to great effect.

Use the button below to take you to the Bomboozle page in iTunes.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Bomboozle iPhone Complete

My first iPhone game project with my colleagues at Megadev is now complete.  Bomboozle is a fiendishly addictive puzzler which has proved to be very popular on the flash gaming scene.

The iPhone port has all the original game modes, a great touch interface which feels really intuitive and several tweaks specifically for the iPhone version.

For the tech-heads out there; its written in Objective-C using OpenGL for all the graphics.  I'll be writing some articles soon on a few areas of interest that cropped up during the development.  All in all it's been pretty smooth as iPhone/OSX is a great platform to work on.

All being well the game should be submitted to the iTunes App Store tomorrow evening and available to buy at a reasonable price very soon!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Motion Seat - Fully Loaded

Quick update as my new Sparco race seat arrived and I was able to get it bolted to the frame to test out my motion sim prototype fully loaded.

The test went well, I was driving for around an hour with no problems and able to increase the range of movement which can all be seen in the video.  There's certainly no shortage of power and you can see I get shaken around a bit on a few gear changes ;-)

My focus now will switch to the software development; at the moment its basically mapping g-force directly to deflection of the seat.  Next I'll be mixing in the attitude information and perhaps rotation cues. Speed of movement is also important to human perception of motion so I have several experiments to do to settle on the best mix of motion cues.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Full Size Motion Seat

Finally... its been a long time coming but the firsts tests of my full size motion seat for racing simulators have been quite successful.

Its taken a long time to try out the various methods for positioning and motor control, along with coming up with a suitably strong design for the frame. The video below shows the movement in conjunction with Live for Speed using a updated custom outsim app that I wrote previously for my small scale test.  I'm holding the camera and driving so its not that easy to discern all the motion.

The seat is still not bolted to the frame securely but, I couldn't resist gingerly sitting down into it in order to turn a few laps in Live for Speed.  It's a great feeling as you accelerate off and the sit tips back, quite realistic.  What surprised me is how little actual movement is needed to create the feeling of motion.  The motion has quite decent resolution (you can see gear shifts tipping the seat in the video).

The platform design is very compact and is using Permanent magnet DC motors with hall effect position sensors. At the moment its hooked up to a 4 amp 24v power supply which seems to provide more than enough juice with my 13 stone frame sat in the seat ;-)
It needs a little extra bracing to stop some unwanted movement and a better seat that can be bolted down.  I hope to be able to produce a kit which will include the motion base pre-assembled and ready to go... so all the consumer does is bolt on the seat of their choice and race.

Bomboozle iPhone
Some of my ex-IOMO workmates have founded a studio working on casual games in flash and across other self-publishable platforms.  Check out, I've started work with them on a few projects.  One of which is an iPhone port of their popular flash game called Bomboozle, the original flash version of which can be found at

It's pretty close to being finished and our Apple App Store contact is inked, stay tuned for some screenshots and details of a release date.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Apple Macbook Event, Blackberry cooking up a storm...

A Storm Brewing...
With the announcement of the Blackberry Storm, its seems Rim are after a slice of the iPhone pie.  After all with ActiveSync licensed and therefore Exchange push email completely free for use on the iPhone they must be worried about the stability of their core business.

As the device goes it looks ok and I'm interested to see how the touch manifests itself as the word is that the screen offers "tactile" feedback.  Whether thats just a little vibration as Nokia use with the new 5800 tube phone is of the most interest to me.

The interesting thing is the proposed BlackBerry App Store and Mac sync software which is taking probably the most direct swipe against the iPhone in this product.

But once again as with the Nokia 5800 UI - the overall polished feel of the iPhone looks absent.  Nobody lives and breathes user experience like Apple I suppose.  Obviously until people have used the device in anger we must reserve judgement on the whole experience but it certainly looks like a bold new step for Rim though and I'm eagerly awaiting working on the device.

New MacBooks!
Now the best news I've had for a while!  Looks like Apple are set to introduce the new notebook range next week.  I'm a Macbook (white) user at the moment, great little machine - love the design and very solid.  Yes - I've craved the keyboard, extra power and dual-link DVI of the MacBook Pro range but parts of the case styling seemed a bit coarse to me.

It looks like they've made the speaker grills finer according to posts at Apple Insider which was one of my main beefs,  although I hope they don't move the the slimline Air style keyboard on all models.  The 13" range is also due for an update so I'll be eagerly awaiting the announcement.

Finally I'm working on a independent iPhone game project with some of my ex IOMO colleagues, details soon but it's pretty cool and I'll be looking to share some of my development experiences.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

iPhone Developer Program: First Steps

On Monday I checked my mail and to my surprise, I had an email from Apple saying my request to enter the iPhone Developer Program was accepted.

So I dutifully headed over to the Apple website, paid my £59 and waited a day for them to return my developer portal access.

Since then it's been pretty interesting... being able to put apps on the device has renewed my interest in iPhone development.  Objective C is still taking some getting used to but it's actually quite elegant in some ways.

For example, the thing that strikes you first is method calling/declaration.  You define the method as an english-language template with placeholders for the parameter arguments.

   - (void)showAlertWithMessage:(NSString *)message ErrorCode:(int)errorcode

Defines a method with complete name showAlertWithMessage:ErrorCode, that has to parameters defined in place: message and errorcode.

   [myobj showAlertWithMessage:@"Hello" ErrorCode:0]

Invoking the method on an object "myobj" is as simple as writing the template with the parameters in place indicated with colons.  The interesting thing is how the first parameter description is built into what you initially think of as the method "name" from C/Java.  In this case "showAlertWithMessage".

The method name in the Obj-C runtime is actually the complete concatenation of all of the descriptive parts.... quite elegant once you realise it is not a straight function/arguments type of statement.

However, the -/+ thing meaning instance/static(class) methods is still a bit odd though ;-)

Parsing an XML file looked straight forward and actually was once I realised that the Application is a bundle and therefore you need to use the NSBundle class to determine the path to it's resource directory (where all your files get placed when you build).  I find that the documentation while in-depth is not always that easy to navigate.

After being used to Java and Eclipse, Xcode is also not quite as good it feels a bit old-skool (lot's of key pressed and window switching required.. but then hey... that's osx for you;-) ).   The debugger works well and Xcode has some nice touches, like taking a screenshot from the device over the cable.

I'm currently doing some experiments on a driving game (surprise surprise) I have a steering mechanism using the accelerometer and the basics of 3d model import/display going.  It's harder to program than something like XNA but it's definitely interesting and, it's reminded me how much fun learning a new platform can be...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Videos of My Beloved Formula Ford Car

I finally got around to getting some videos of my old Formula Ford day's uploaded onto youtube. Editing the clips with iMovie on the Mac was really simple it's a great interface and very fast.

The clips are from 2004 when I had just managed to cobble together enough money to get Steve Mole Motorsport to build a new car to pretty much the same spec as the works RaySport team.  Silverstone was the 2nd outing for the car and I qualified 3rd finished 5th which was a pretty big step up for me.  I was near the sharp end finally!

Sadly I ran out of money half way through the season and ended up selling the car a couple of years ago as I wasn't using it.

I'm hoping this year to be able to get a new car either in Formula Ford or hopefully BARC Formula Renault to get some slicks and wings action.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

iPhone SDK

So it's finally here, the official iPhone SDK that Apple said they would never need to release ;-)

Late last year I managed to get the un-official iPhone toolchain running on my Vista PC and I build a couple of simple demos. It was a mammoth task and although there was a thriving dev community documentation was a bit lacking (compared to my GBA hacking days).

Now thats all changed, Apple Developer connection has some good docs and video tutorials.  Luckily I bought a Mac just in time because the SDK utilises Xcode for all development.

Getting your head around Objective-C is interesting; the frameworks provided seem pretty good.  Apple have really followed a different path to most other platforms developing the OO technology of the NeXT days to it's fullest conclusion so far.

The inclusion of a new version of Dashcode for building widgets portable between iPhone and OSX is exciting.  Widgets really seems to be emerging as the killer app for mobile 2.0 (a lot of my "day job" at Surfkitchen is focused around developing our white label mobile widgets solution Surfkit Phonetop recently debuted at MWC Barcelona).

Sadly it transpires that the OpenGL API doesn't work in the emulator and Apple are being a bit stingy with the hardware developer certificates but it should prove the source of some interesting blog posts in future...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

How do you them... Apples

After being a Microsoftie for many years, I finally bought an Apple Macbook this week to go along with my work iPhone and my new black turtle-neck ;-)

I've always followed the Mac's progress as it's roots are seated deeply in GUI history which I have always been fascinated by.

Coming to OSX from Windows Vista is an interesting experience.. I actually LIKE Vista it offers definitely productivity improvements over XP too.  Initially Leopard looks a little bland now in comparison and the heavy font anti-aliasing used takes a bit of getting used to initially.
To begin with the weird "Zoom vs. Maximize" thing got on my nerves a bit and the Macbook lacks some keys like pgup/pgdown, delete and my beloved right mouse button!

In some places using OSX is a bit like a step back in time for various reasons that I can't fully articulate; with it's foundations in NeXTStep it's trodden a different path to most of the crowd.. This becomes VERY evident when you start looking at programming Cocoa and is very interesting (more on that in a future post).

But, soon you start to feel the real magic of the platform; the anti aliasing of the display really adds a "print" quality to the display... which with it's glossy coating looks beautiful.  Harnessing the power of OpenGL throughout, the UI is very smooth and responsive.  Apple have really got this right compared to the others who have tried in the Linux and Windows space.

The supplied software is great too, responsive and simple (I can see why Macs are so popular in the consumer space).  The simplicity of the hardware and software design  shows the trademark Apple flair throughout. 

The bottom line is that I will still always have a place in heart for Microsoft, their software has enabled me to work well for many years and I think I will always use Windows PC's on a day to day basis but has gotten steadily more complex over the years for little gain.

The Macbook on the other hand is like a breath of fresh unpolluted air and I'm sure I will get many hours of great use out of it.  I'm particularly interested to start programming for the platform especially as there is now a new outlet for OSX software on the iPhone (and I finally got the toolchain running before xmas!).

Insanely Great!....indeed.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

More motion experiments

Quick update on the motion stuff...

I created my own driver software that interfaces directly with LFS and hooked the motors up to Pulse Width Modulated outputs on the USB board.

The result is much smoother motion with better resolution. Video can be seen here:

I'm starting to investigate micro-controller based positioning implementing the closed loop control inside a PIC microcontroller. I've also got hold of some full size motors and successfully tested them with my motor driver board. Next step is to work out some method of connecting a decent crank to the real motors...