GameSalad Template - Dual Controllers
Posted by [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 May 2012, 2:07 pm

While frequenting the GameSalad forums, I spotted an interesting thread. Apparently, the default template for creating dual controllers is a bit buggy. I know the frustration that this can cause, as my first GameSalad project didn't go so smoothly. The virtual joysticks would jam, creating a rather broken gaming experience. Fortunately, I designed my own system to resolve this problem. A free template is available for download.

I originally published the system in The Unofficial GameSalad Textbook. However, I've been thinking about the creation of a second edition — a PDF with embedded templates as examples. This post is a bit of an experiment in creating those useful files.

So, here's how my control system works. Instead of using invisible sensor actors to locate the touch points, I use nested rules and a single joystick actor. When that actor is touched, the rules are used to determine which point is being used. How exactly is that achieved? It's by determining the position of a touch point. When a touch point is not in use, it simply defaults to X=0 & Y=0. Knowing this, I can use greater than and less than conditions to isolate the touch points.

If a touch is greater than zero, then the touch is in use!

The controller base takes up space on the screen. That's where the rules go to work. If the touch is in the actor's square, then that's the touch data to be used. Since nested rules are being used, there can't be any jamming.

  • If touch #1 is in the square, then use touch #1 location data
  • Otherwise, if touch #2 is in the square, then use touch #2 location data
  • Otherwise, if touch #3 is in the square, then use touch #3 location data
  • Otherwise, if touch #4 is in the square, then use touch #4 location data
  • Otherwise, if touch #5 is in the square, then use touch #5 location data

That takes care of all five touch points for iPhone and iPod Touch devices. For iPad, there are 11 touch points. (That's where a big monitor is handy.) Instead of explaining this further, I posted the template for download.

So, if you're following along, you might have some questions. How is a round controller disc going to work right in a square box? It works by using a round collision shape for the controller actor. That way, the actor only runs the rules when touched. Even though the greater than and less than conditions create a square, they're all in a giant rule that essentially says — only run this when touched.

You might also be wondering, "Can I change the size and position of the actor?" That's what's great about this template. I updated it to be more dynamic. If you look at the rule conditions in the template, I'm using expressions...

  • If game.touches.touch 1.X  < self.Position.X + ( self.Size.Width /2)
  • and game.touches.touch 1.X  > self.Position.X - ( self.Size.Width /2)
  • and game.touches.touch 1.Y  < self.Position.Y + ( self.Size.Height /2)
  • and game.touches.touch 1.Y  < self.Position.Y - ( self.Size.Height /2)

By using the actor's width and height data, the rules will still work even if the actor is resized.

Another big question, "Where's the thumbstick?" If you want to maintain the single actor, they can be displayed with particles. A second actor could be added, which would be constrained to the active touch point. But generally, I don't even use a thumbstick. I don't really see the need. REAL THUMBS WOULD COVER THEM UP! :D

ROUND 2: GameSalad vs Stencyl
Posted by [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 May 2012, 3:10 pm

A little over three months ago, I posted an assessment of two powerful game creation applications. Which one would win in a fight? I didn't really declare a winner, as choosing between Stencyl or GameSalad is essentially a matter of preference. Yet, things did not stand still. During the last three months, one of the competitors dramatically improved. That competitor is GameSalad. Is there a clear winner in the game development battle now?

Apparently, the "GameSalad vs Stencyl" issue is still a popular source of traffic to this website. Many new developers are looking to me to settle the debate. I can't really answer the question, but I can post useful information. That's why I'm posting this article. Things have changed. Here's a list of improvements with GameSalad since the last article...

  • Game Center Achievements are now possible
  • The annual subscription dropped to $299
  • The Android sound bug was addressed
  • A Windows version of GameSalad is now in beta

Some major gripes that I had with GameSalad were resolved. So, did I ready my credit card for another year of action with GameSalad? Well... no... not yet anyway. That's because things have changed with Stencyl too.

In the last three months, my understanding of Stencyl has improved dramatically. There's really nothing technical that stops me from launching a completed Stencyl game. Unfortunately, there are other issues that I'm battling with...

  • Despair - Sure GameSalad and Stencyl have improved, but can I really compete with a flood of free games? Just recently, I downloaded "Got Cow?", "Cut the Rope: Experiments" and "Mini Motor Racing" for free. If this is the kind of stuff being given away, I feel a little awkward charging 99¢ for my games.
  • Artwork - If I am going to compete with these free games, my games have to look a lot better. I just don't have that level of content right now. I haven't decided if I want to spend thousands of dollars on hiring an illustrator or investing weeks of time to create the art myself.

And yet, I still poked around with the latest Stencyl update. Version 2.1 makes it a lot easier to create scenes/levels. It resolves mostly tedious stuff, like being able to place actors outside of the scene or holding the shift key to snap actors to the grid. Little details like that make Stencyl more user friendly. That's exactly what the software needs. Stencyl isn't standing still. Something interesting is going on over there. Apparently, version 3.0 is going to be a major change. Things could be quite different mere months from now.

So, I still see it as the same stalemate as before... but GameSalad clearly won round 2. Major issues were resolved.

Yet, the ultimate issue with GameSalad still remains. I can't customize my GameSalad games. With GameSalad, my games feel locked in and limited. With Stencyl, my projects feel more like my own. Stencyl has features like custom polygon collision shapes, Web Requests and Universal Binaries. The ability to add custom code removes boundaries. I like to see the code. Things feel less hidden with Stencyl. I feel less restricted. I can make my dreams a reality with Stencyl. For rebuilding the Photics Arcade, Stencyl is the clear choice. All I have to do is keep working with it. Although, that's easier said than done.

Ironically, because these two applications both have their advantages and disadvantages, I have been incredibly less productive. I'm like a carpenter without my favorite hammer. Instead of just banging away, knocking down those nails, I find myself switching back-and-forth between the tools. I can't just forget about GameSalad. The software is improving and my most successful project to date is The Unofficial GameSalad Textbook. The plan is to muscle through the Stencyl textbook and then go back to release the second edition of the GameSalad book.

The truth is that there's money to be made with both applications.
That makes me the winner in this fight. :D

Upgrading to OS X Mountain Lion - The Cheap Way!
Posted by [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 June 2012, 9:35 pm

Apple's 2012 World Wide Development Conference kicked off today. And overall, the news was impressive. If you have $2199 to spend on a laptop, the 2880 x 1800 retina display of the new MacBook Pro might interest you. Meanwhile, iOS is getting upgraded with anti-Google technology — like maps and improved Siri responses. Yet, I was most excited by a fairly minor announcement. OS X Mountain Lion is releasing next month... for $19.99.

That news alone wasn't the cause of my excitement. It was already common knowledge that Mountain Lion would arrive in the summer. The unknown was the upgrade path. Apparently, I can upgrade straight from Snow Leopard (10.6) to Mountain Lion (10.8). While I speculated that skipping a version was possible, Apple made it official today. Instead of upgrading my Mac Mini to Lion, I decided to save $29.99! I didn't see a reason to upgrade to Lion. Somehow, I managed without features like fullscreen chess.

With Mountain Lion, it's the opposite. I'm looking forward to the upgrade. There's a bunch of great features: Game Center, iMessage, AirPlay Mirroring, Dictation, and iCloud apps (Reminders & Notes). It's $10 cheaper than Lion, but I think Mountain Lion is the better value. Regardless, I'm getting the features of both for just $19.99*.

*plus New York state sales tax :D

And yet, that's not the end of the savings. Because I knew Mountain Lion was on the way... and that it would be sold through the Mac App Store... I decided to pick up an iTunes gift card. Best Buy was having a sale. I put a $50 credit on my account for only $40. That's a 20% discount! Instead of spending $59.98 (plus tax) on the two upgrades for my Mac Mini,     I'm getting Mountain Lion for much less. It's basically a triple saving day!

  • I thought Mountain Lion (10.8) would be $29.99 instead of $19.99
  • I didn't have to buy Lion (10.7)
  • I saved money by getting a 20% discount on an iTunes Gift card

If I keep saving money like this, I might be able to afford one of those Retina display MacBook Pros one day. My Mac Mini (the early 2009 model) just barely meets the system requirements for Mountain Lion. Apple is not well known for showing mercy on older hardware. This might be the last major upgrade for my Mac Mini.

So now, the waiting begins. Mountain Lion is scheduled to launch in July.

Naming Policy Clarified, Rules of Conduct Updated
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 April 2009, 3:12 pm
We've expanded on existing language in our User Agreement ( by creating a Naming Policy....

Guild Wars Update - Wednesday, April 1
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 April 2009, 9:00 pm
*Bug Fix* * Fixed a bug that prevented some text in the Hall of Monuments from displaying properly. More......

Guild Wars Update - Wednesday, April 1
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 April 2009, 5:54 pm
*Skill Updates* For more information on these changes, please see the Developer Updates...

I'm Back
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 April 2009, 10:59 am
Just saying that I'm back

I'm Back
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 April 2009, 10:59 am
Just saying that I'm back

Photics: Conquest - Launched
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 March 2009, 10:42 pm
I was getting a lot of email about the old game, so I decided to bring it back. I dropped the Guild Wars theme from the game and I relaunched it. ...

Guild Wars: Conquest - Shut Down
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 18 March 2009, 6:41 am
I blame Google for this one. I worked hard on the game, but they killed my advertisements. They just turned it off. They didn't exactly say why. They...

Guild Wars Update - Monday, March 30
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 March 2009, 7:32 pm
*Miscellaneous* * Updating in-game messaging to match the NCsoft website ( launch. More......

World of WarCraft - Guest Pass Key
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 March 2009, 12:31 pm
Hey, I got a guest pass key for World of Warcraft. Does anyone need it or want it? :)

Wii Menu version 4.0
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 March 2009, 10:28 pm
My Wii was pulsing. It felt like the old Batman TV show. Instead of a ringing red phone, I had a glowing blue light. "Yes Commissioner... what's...

Community Party This Weekend!
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 March 2009, 3:00 pm
There's a player-run community party this weekend! Participate in fun events and win cool in-game prizes! Head over to Community News...

Community News - March 19, 2009
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 March 2009, 3:00 pm
    To celebrate Easter and the upcoming Guild Wars 4th birthday, *Monk of Kindness* and *Scions of Carver [SCAR]* invite you to...

Guild Wars: Conquest - Shut Down
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 18 March 2009, 6:41 am
I blame Google for this one. I worked hard on the game, but they killed my advertisements. They just turned it off. They didn't exactly say why. They...

March 16, 2009 - WiiWare / Virtual Console Updates
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 16 March 2009, 8:09 am
Every Monday, at 9:00 AM Pacfic Time / 12:00 PM Eastern Time, Nintendo adds to the Wii shop channel. For 3/16/2009 there is one WiiWare game and one...

Guild Wars on my G1 Phone!
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 March 2009, 6:35 pm
Today, a dream has been realized. I was able to load up Guild Wars on my G1 phone. I'm not kidding! This is not my browser based game -- Guild Wars:...

age of empires 3
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 March 2009, 9:43 am
I played age of empire 3 and finished the demo. I liked it. Compared to the other age of empire games, this one is good. I rate it 8.5 out of 10. ...

i need help
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 March 2009, 8:14 pm
There was an ad on gulid war conqest. I think it was called trade mark. I am having a hard time finding the website. Can some one plz help me find...

Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 March 2009, 2:43 pm
A little while back Photics showed me this website:

Community News Update
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 March 2009, 3:20 pm
We have some cool player-run events coming up soon, including a fan fiction contest and an invitation to the annual MesCon! Want to find out more?...

Community News - March 12, 2009
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 March 2009, 3:20 pm
    Mog Ruith of Armagh and

Congrats, Daniel and Kekai!
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 March 2009, 5:26 pm
For the fourth year in a row, several of our talented artists have received awards for their exceptional concept art. Congratulations to our Art...

Guild Wars on a Netbook
Posted by Photics Forums [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 March 2009, 9:25 pm
I was in Best Buy the other day and I saw some adorable little netbooks. They're so cute! I don't like laptops because they're so big and heavy. A...

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