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Status update – 8 weeks

May 5th, 2009

It’s been eight weeks since I received my Mac Mini, which is an eternity in iPhone development time – so how far have I progressed since then?

I’ve been developing C++/MFC applications for Windows full-time for 11 years. Two months ago I knew nothing about OSX, Xcode, Objective C, Cocoa Touch and OpenGL ES – all of which I needed to master and which presented a considerable learning curve. I just had to trust that my career had given me the skills and experience to adapt to these technologies. I had also written a successful public domain game for the Amiga way back in 1992. This gave me enough confidence in my abilities to splurge the money on the hardware and start on this journey.

OSX wasn’t hard to adapt to, once Apple’s awful mouse driver was replaced. The inability to easily maximize windows to the entire screen is the worst thing for me. I always work full-screen on Windows and don’t see any benefit to having bits of  junk visible around the edges of the window I’m working in. It’s just distracting and a waste of space. If I need to see two windows at once, I put them on different monitors. Unfortunately I don’t have that luxury on the Mac Mini at the moment.

Xcode seems a bit temperamental and I haven’t fully mastered it yet. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Microsoft easily rules the roost when it comes to development tools.

Learning Objective C was kind of like those Magic Eye pictures. I’ve been writing C++ code for fifteen years, but Objective C looked bizarre with its square brackets everywhere. Then after a short while, and crossing my eyes at the screen, suddenly something flipped and it all made sense.

So far all my Cocoa code has been ripped out of demos. You don’t really need much if you’re writing a game.

As for OpenGL ES, I stole enough code from the internet to make a 2D layer on top of it, and now I don’t need to think about it ever again!

I am currently at the point where I have a nice 2D engine which is throwing lots of objects around the screen, colliding and rebounding nicely off walls and each other. The direction of the objects can be altered by swiping with a finger. I also have some nice art assets developed. This is the foundation for a lot of possible games but I don’t want to show my hand just yet.

As far as I can see, the major technical challenges are now out of the way and I can just get on with writing the actual game. Soon it will be time to take some long-service leave from my full-time job and attack this project with all my energy.

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