While iOS Builds, we play Atari 800 Games

(Jeff Fulton)

The History of Apple (early at least) and Atari are linked together in many ways, so it is fitting that while we compile iOS apps, we play Atari 800 games on the machine next to the Mac.

Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong



Miner 2049er

Miner 2049er

Thought it would be fun and nostalgic to post these today.

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iWoz: The "Steve" I Always Liked Was Wozniak

With all the hoopla about the passing of world's greatest technology dictator and reality distortion master last week (okay, and the greatest tech visionary of the last 20 years, but's who's counting?), it appeared that, once again, Steve Woziank got buried under the praise for his short-time partner, Steve Jobs.

A bunch of news stories appeared today on how The Woz was first in-line to buy the new iPhone 4S.  Not because he "had" to buy it himself, but because he "wanted" to buy it himself.  He still gets that organic thrill from buying some kind of cool device for the first time.   The Woz has always been a tech geek, and always will be one.  His early success with Apple simply allowed him to live out his technology fantasies, unabated, for the rest of his life.

Wozniak "wrote" a book a few years ago named iWoz, and it's a fascinating read for many reasons.   Most of it was "dictated" to a writer,  and because of this, it reads like a stream of conscious  from a brilliant mind.  Stories are told several times, or out of order then back-tracked, and re-told.  Details are left out, then filled in. Emotions are absent, then laid fore-bare for everyone to see.   It's like no book I've ever read, and far from being confusing and frustrating, it was also one of the most enlightening biographies I've ever read.

It's obvious to me that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak represented the Yin and Yang of Silicon Valley: The masterful public showman vs. the private technological genius.  While I truly appreciate the that the former role is the one that makes fortunes and builds egos in the technology world, please excuse me if I identify with, and ultimately build my list of personal heroes, out of the latter.



The Flash CS5.5 Air Package to iOS Kicks ass!

I had avoided upgrading the Flash CS5.5 for a few months because the job I had  didn't really need it and I had been exploring Corona and Cocos-2d for iOS development. Then, just last week, I was asked what it would take to translate a client's existing kids web site (Flash animation, games, etc) to the iPhone. Having done this quite a few times to create HTML5 versions of Flash sites I knew that the process was tedious at best no matter what target development platform was from Flash. There just are not any really refined, robust tools to get a detailed swf animation or set of  designed interference widgets from CS5 to HTML5, Corona, or any of the other other iOs (or Android) targeted systems.    Even when the assets are exported easily, coding  them to work the same as ion Flash in a monster job.

The process usually includes taking timeline assets and exporting them as a series pngs, and  then using what ever language constructs exist in the chosen dev platform to re-assemble everything into a workable solution.

I had heard that the CS5.5 and Flash Builder 4.5 Air to iOS package was getting some good results, but I was skeptical because the tests we did with Flash CS5 were terrible.   The same basic code and assets that would run in Lua in Corona at 30 FPS and 15 FPS in HTML5 would run at 5-10 FPS in the CS5 export ipa file when tested on a device.

The new CS5.5 Air exporter (works only with iPhone 3+ and iPad Devices though) is now giving me pretty much full frame rate results on the same games, app and animations that once ran at less than 10 FPS.

This is very encouraging and we are continue testing to see if we can get enough special fx, animations, and game-play elements into an Flash CS5.5 to iPad device to convince the client that this is a viable solution.

One last thing...it does NOT support AS2.  If you do decide to take all of your old games and flood them to the iOS market, you will need to upgrade them to AS3.


Get 100 Atari Classics for the iPhone / iPad for $14.99 USD

The incredibly generous Atari's Greatest Hits for iOS was released yesterday to the iTunes store. You can have 100 Atari classics for $14.99 or you can purchase various game packs such as the Asteroids pack, Warlords pack, or one of the many others for as little at $1.29.

Many of the included games work with Bluetooth multiplayer. For example, Canyon Bomber, Air Sea Battle, Space Duel, Tempest, Street Racer, Flag capture, all of the real Sports titles and many more allow you to play with a friend in the same room.  The 2600 cart version is also available for most of the arcade games. Also, some of the included games were never released on an original physical cart (Tempest 2600 with Bluetooth multiplayer anyone?)

18 of the titles are original arcade games and 82 are 2600 classics (and some not so). Pong is included free when you download the free demo app in the store.

(8bitjeff is Jeff D. Fulton)


One Last Flash On The iPhone Update…

An Apple rep called Jeff today to confirm Jeff's business's license and his participation in the iPhone developer program. Jeff asked him flat-out if they were "accepting Flash made apps" for the iPhone, and the rep told him "absolutely, yes".

So there you go.

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10 Good Things For Game Developers About Flash Being Allowed On The iPhone.

Adobe has restarted  working on their iPhone packager for Flash...again for CS5.  This pretty much confirms that Flash->iPhone conversions are allowed.    One wonders, why Apple made the change.  Was it because they could not single out Flash and allow other tech like Unity?  Was it because Flash apps performed OK on the platform?  Or, was it because developer mindshare had moved to Android in the past 6 months?

Only Apple knows, and we will probably never get the full-story.   However, what does this mean for Flash developers?

1. Libraries of professional games that have workable touch interfaces and the proper optimizations can now be converted for the iPhone with a modicum of effort.

2. Apple says that they  are going to institute strict quality controls on games, so extra effort to make games look and sound professional should help seasoned developers, while restricting hoards of skript kitties.

3. Flash now has momentum again, so convincing producers and product managers that Flash is a viable technology will be much easier.  The last 6 months has been a pretty dark tunnel for professional Flash developers on this front.

4. With the "rush" to the iPhone, web portals might see a lack of good titles to choose from.  This could open-up opportunities for newer developers to cut their teeth before moving onto other platforms.

5. Flash still will not run on mobile Safari.  This means that HTML5 apps and games are still very viable for web-based platforms that want to target mobile devices.  This makes HTML5 the lowest common denominator, and opens-up Flash for higher-end content.

6. Related to the above, as HTML5 becomes the norm for web sites, Adobe has the opportunity to support the HTML5 Canvas AND Actionscript/SWF/Air in the Flash IDE.  This will only make the IDE more powerful and worth the cost.

7.  As "web" tech becomes more commoditized with HTML5, Adobe can focus on making the ctionscript/SWF/Air format much more powerful and full featured for games and high-end apps by giving us true 3D support, enhanced audio support,  better networking support, and more target platforms

8. Creating games that target multiple mobile platforms is now much easier.  Expect to see great Flash-made games launched for both iPhone and Android (Google Web App Store) very soon.

9. With so many great Flash developers working on iPhone games, the craft of mobile games will only get better....and more competitive.

10. Maybe people will start buying books on optimized Flash game development again (OK, that's an advantage for US!)


Update: Flash Exported Apps Being Approved In The iTunes Store

Word has come through that Flash exported apps using the CS5  iPhone packager are now being approved by Apple for the iTunes store.  Many of the apps have been waiting in the queue for months.

This is good news for Flash devs, but maybe not so good news for iPhone specific devs as the base of available developers just grew by 1 million+ ...

For us it is good news. Jeff just bought CS5 last week and was going to convert some Flash games for the iTunes store, just "for the hell of it".  Now it looks like there is a better reason.


Apple Appears To Have Relaxed Their Rules On The Flash iPhone Packager

It appears that Apple has relaxed their rules on iPhone apps developed with Flash.  You still can't run the apps in Mobile Safari, but it looks like apps made with the CS5  iPhone packager are now OK.

The Wall Street Journal has the news.

So what does this mean for you?  Well, it looks like you could start creating some optimized Flash games, export them with CS5 with your iPhone developer key, submit them to itunes, and then get just as frustrated as you do now when no one buys them! (just kidding...kind of).

(thanks to horseman from the forums)


The perfect Apple BlueTooth Mouse Replacement?

I don't know about perfect, but the Targus Blue Tooth laptop mouse was only $34.99 at Best Buy and the scroll wheel actually works. Outside the Apple community there is little knowledge of a dirty little secret that they would like to keep quiet- the $80 Blue Tooth Apple mouse is a piece of crap. There, I said it. I have been to numerous web sites where every crappy hack fix has been presented as a cure for the atrociously poor quality "wonder ball" (think bionic scroll wheel / center button).


A little over 2 months after purchasing a Mac Book for my wife and an iMac for myself, both $80 Blue Tooth mice crapped out. Her's just died outright and I purchased a plain old Microsoft wireless laser mouse to replace it. It has worked beautifully ever since. My iMac Blue Tooth's roller ball stopped functioning not long after, but I wanted full Blue Tooth to keep a free USB port.  So I tried everything I could dig up on the infobaun to fix it myself and none of it worked. Even the much ballyhooed "White Piece Of Paper" trick did nothing but make it only work going up (occasionally). So, today, while on a fruitless search for non suck-worthy SpongeBob Mac games with my son, I happened upon this little Targus beauty at Best Buy. Now, I can actually scroll up and down on Web Pages and even in Flash Develop in Parallels!!

I admit that it doesn't match my the rest of my peripherals (look-wise) and isn't quite as pretty as the apple version, but then again, I don't feel like throwing it at the wall yet either - so even Stevens in my book.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing else bad to say about my iMac and Mac Book purchases. It has been nearly a year and the machines functional like new and still run Windows better than any dedicated PC hardware I have ever owned. The Keyboard is divine, the screen absolutely beautiful (good enough to watch an 800K Galaxy game stream today). It's just that mouse. It is designed like a piece of art, it uses very little power and has incredible battery life...but the ball thingy just blows chunks.

Anyway, if you are in need a a replacement, or want a good Blue Tooth mouse for any reason, you can go wrong with this baby.

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Three iPhone Game Video Previews

You know, to be honest, we never planned to review iPhone games on this site. However, someone asked us first, we decided "OK, why not?", and since then we have been inundated with requests to review iPhone games.

At first, people sent us links so we could download and play the games directly on an Apple device. This is the best method, as it allows us to actually play the game, and formulate a real review. However, the latest trend is for people to send us links to videos of the game being played. Umm, O. K., I'm game I suppose. Here are the latest three videos that have been randomly sent to us out of the blue:

Wave Wars Lite

From what I can tell, this looks like a scaled 2D/pseudo 3D space shooter controlled with touch controls. Yes, that is right, I am super intuitive. It looks fairly enjoyable, but this is one that needs to played. Luckily, the company also sent over a link to an iPhone download, so there might be a review coming next week.


The Cave

The developer's blog says that this game about the game: "In The Cave you play inside a semi-transparent asteroid so you see through it the infinite space." I say, "huh?" After looking at the video though, it seems to be quite an interesting game. If appears to be a full in 3D (at least with rotation and scaling), and it seems that you smash asteroids into each other or something. I've been thinking about about this one for a bit of time here, and I believe this one could be quite good. If it utilizes both touch and the accelerometer it could prove to be a very intriguing action puzzler.

Buster Boy

Yotta Digital sent over this video today of their game Buster Boy:

This is quite cool looking, touch sensitive "bubble shooter". The scaled 2D visuals are really nice, and game play looks very interesting. Out of the three games previewed here, this is the one that I would most likely buy first. Of course, it is also the the most accessible and the one furthest along in the dev cycle as it has a planned release date of Feb '09 (this month).

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