tvOS Casual Game App Collaboration with Ben Weatherall

By Press on December 29, 2015 in blog
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We recently tried out the new Apple TV device and tvOS development.  In a quick couple of days of turnaround time, we managed to port a Christmas Theme Flappy Bird-ish game written entirely in SWIFT and submitted to Apple for review.  This is my first time trying out SWFIT + Xcode 7.1 + tvOS.  The process is reasonably smooth, with the usual hicups like: mismatch of device iOS version and Xcode version.  Like many other developers new to tvOS, our device also didn’t come with the USB C cable.  We tried to use a regular USB cable with the USB Type C to Type B adapter from the Apple Store, but Xcode can’t recognize the device.

Let me tell you USB Type C cable was hard to find.  We raided a couple of local stores and eventually found a 3 ft long USB Type C cable from BestBuy Mobile.  It certainly quite inconvenient, since we pretty much have to physically move close to the device every time we want to test out the code.

It took us a while to figure out what a “press” means in the tvOS platform.  And the awkward control on the tvOS simulator added to the challenge.  This is also the first time we played with SpriteKit, fortunately, the good people on stackoverflow comes to the rescue.   As a software architect, I never trust any technology that doesn’t have recent answers on stackoverflow, it pretty much means nobody on earth is using that technology.

Our first impression of tvOS and the new Apple TV is pretty disappointing.  From unboxing, to Siri remote user experience.  It honestly feels like it’s being slapped together in the last minute.  Compared to the launch of the very first iPhone, it feels like it is at least 3 years away from being ready for launch.  Well, then again, we can only treasure the good old memory when Steve Jobs were still leading the pack.

Many years ago, at the launch of the appStore, I had a dream to bring the good old snowcraft to the iOS.   Many moons have passed and life happened, I never have a chance to realize this little project.  With the new tvOS appstore, I once again make an attempt to make this happen.  At the time of this writing, Crossy Road is making all the buzz and becomes the new star of the appStore.  It has the familiar Frogger theme and a new 3D 8 bit-ish graphic style.  I found this graphic style a good fit for my project, so I started with some Google-fu and find an artist (http://benweatherall.tumblr.com/)  with similar style.   So, I shot him an email and started asking for quote.   I was planning to get 2 simple spritesheets done by the end of November and hopefully finish the game in time to make the Christmas Spending season.

Little did I know that Ben Weatherall is actually a developer of Crossy Road :o.  Well, may be it’s luck in disguise.  It turns out, probably due to the primitive search capability of the tvOS appStore.  Our first 2 tvOS apps “Santa Jump TV” and “2048 TV” have next to no download – Shocking!   Looks like we will stick to iOS development for now until tvOS appStore evolves to a point that made it a viable investment for us.

 

 

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