Archive for April, 2010

Praise for Chaos Rings by Square Enix – Gene List Included

Monday, April 26th, 2010

I’ve spent a good dozen hours playing the iPhone game Chaos Rings by Square Enix, and man am I impressed; it is probably the first app I’ve played that has honestly made me forget that I was not holding a PSP in my hands instead of my iPhone. Sure, if I try real hard I can detect things like modular, limited memory-friendly, areas, and slight frame rate wobble, but it does nothing to detract from the gameplay. The app runs smooth, the art direction is great, and the story is surprisingly interesting.

Chaos Rings is priced a little bit steep, but the large amount of replay value (multiple characters and alternate endings) makes it well worth the price. If you are into interesting RPGs, definitely give this a look. If you do get it, we’ve actually whipped up a little resource to help you along: Chaos Rings Gene List Guide You’ll know what that means later ;)

The iPhone Walks Into a Bar Debacle – Could it be Planned?

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

As you’ve likely heard from multiple news sources, a prototype of the next generation iPhone 4G was recently discovered at a German beer house in Redwood City, California, apparently left there by an Apple employee following a night of drunken reverie. After an interesting journey, the device eventually ended up with the folks at Gizmodo, and it is now believed to be the real deal; the media frenzy over this has been intense to say the least.

Although this event was in all likelihood an honest and hilarious mistake, part of me wonders if the whole thing could have been planned. It doesn’t sound crazy to imagine Steve listening to his Archduke of Psychology’s instructions that, in light of Apple’s recent Machiavellian power plays, a few touches of perceived vulnerability might go a long way towards humanizing the company and quelling the nascent fires of rebellion brewing throughout the populace.

It can be argued that an event like this breaks Apple’s control of the news cycle for the product, but if you consider this as a planned tactical maneuver the point becomes moot (as it still would be a “controlled” leak). Something about it just seems too picture perfect: employees birthday, pictures of him drinking in the phone, the device left right on the bar stool in plain site, etc. It is an interesting way to generate buzz for the upcoming product, lighten the tense mood regarding Apple, and see how the public reacts to potential features for the next gen device without being officially married to them.

I’m not trying to be a conspiracy theorist, but I think it’s prudent to consider any news involving Apple as a potential strategic ploy. Also, the fact that the employee who lost the phone is still alive, and still apparently working at Apple, is an interesting point given Apple’s history regarding leaks. That being said, I think the situation probably was in fact unintentional, but it’s an interesting thought experiment to consider alternate possibilities.

That’s my two cents. I’m curious what everyone else thinks regarding this, so please feel free to post some comments; thanks!

How to build multiple targets (as in Lite Version and Full Version of an iPhone or iPad app) from a single Xcode Project

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

There are times you may find yourself needing to create multiple variations of an Xcode project, the most common example of which being a Lite Version and a Full Version of an iPhone app or iPad app. One option to accomplish this is to simply copy the project folder and rename it, working with each project separately from that point on. This is not a good idea, as now you have twice the work to manage things going forward, and confusions are bound to arise. My friend Smasher puts it succinctly: “in that path lies madness!”, and with this he is correct.

A much better plan is to configure your single Xcode project with multiple targets, so that you can develop multiple versions of the project concurrently and selectively build the one you need at a given moment. Here is a step by step guide to do just this, synthesized from the info in various threads at iphonedevsdk coupled with personal trial and error, and using the case of Lite Version / Full Version:

Step 1: Make a copy of your original target by right clicking the existing target and selecting “duplicate”. Rename this target to YourAppLite

Step 2: When you created the second target; a new pList file should have appeared in the resources folder YourApp-info_copy.pList or something similar; rename this to YourAppLite-info.pList

Step 3: Edit this new pList to have a different Bundle Identifier, com.yourcompany.YourAppLite, for example. If you do not do this both versions of your app will be seen as the same app instead of two unique ones, and when you build the light version it will overwrite your full version in the simulator or testing device.

Step 4: If you are going to use a different application icon for the light version (as you should), edit this new pList’s Icon file property to reference a different icon from the full version, IconLite.png for example. Obviously you must create this asset and add it to your project for this new icon to appear for the lite version.

Step 5: Highlight the new target (YourAppLite) and right click to “Get Info”, then navigate to the build tab and set Configuration to “All Configurations”. Now scroll down a bit until you find the “Info.plist file” parameter under the Packaging group; alter this to reference the new lite version pList we created above instead of the original pList.

Warning-Potential Gotcha:You may have noticed when you duplicated the target another product with the same name as the first appeared in the products folder. You may, like I was, be tempted to name the second one YourAppLite and change some properties in the pList to reflect this. Do NOT do this; there appears to be a bug which makes the debugger unable to launch the executable when you build. Furthermore, once you have done this even if you change the product name back it still gives the error. Perhaps this was just me being silly, but others have run into a similar issue; at any rate it is not necessary to change the product name for everything to work correctly, so I recommend leaving it alone.

—————————————-INTERMISSION—————————————
Now you should be all ready to built multiple targets, but there are still some things we want to do to make managing both branches as seamless as possible. Go grab a drink, then resume the adventure.
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Step 6: Once again highlight the new target (YourAppLite) and right click to “Get Info”, then navigate to the build tab and make sure Configuration is still on “All Configurations”. Now scroll down quite a ways until you find the “Other C Flags” parameter under the GCC Language group; alter this to be “-DLITE_VERSION” (the leading -D is necessary). What this does is allow you to do things like:

#ifdef LITE_VERSION
// Code unique to your lite version
#else
// Code unique to your full version
#endif

in your code, just like a normal if statement.

Step 7: For any project resources that only need to be in the lite version OR the full version, you can “Get Info” on the file and then navigate to the “Targets” tab, deselecting the unnecessary target. This will help to keep each respective bundle size down, and is especially useful for large packages like adMob (which you’d likely only want in your lite version). Keep in mind that removing assets from a target in this way will likely coincide with the type of branching code described in step 6.

Step 8 (Optional): If you want a separate Default.png file for your lite version, first create the file and name it DefaultLite.png and add it to your project along side the regular Default.png. Now, right click on your YourAppLite target, select Add –> New Build Phase –> New Run Script Build Phase and paste the following in the script field:

mv ${TARGET_BUILD_DIR}/${CONTENTS_FOLDER_PATH}/DefaultLite.png ${TARGET_BUILD_DIR}/${CONTENTS_FOLDER_PATH}/Default.png

Now close the window and expand the arrow next to YourAppLite target. You should see the run script you created, now grab it and move it just below “Copy Bundle Resources”. This will overwrite your Default.png with the DefaultLite.png at run time when you are building your lite version, just as you want.

Warning-Potential Weird Gotcha: Whenever I duplicate a target I notice that any Library Search Paths get slightly altered, so if you are using Library Search Paths and are getting strange errors, make sure you have the same values there in your Lite and Full version targets.

———————————————-Victory!——————————————–
And there you have it; multiple targets at your fingertips. Please feel free to leave some comments or point out any mistakes or gotchas. I hope you found this useful; good luck!
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iPhone OS 4 Announcement Initiates the Battle of Five Armies

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Things are about to get crazy in the mobile landscape after the iPhone OS 4.0 Announcement. With one fell swoop, Apple has launched a direct assault on Google, Adobe, social gaming networks like plus+ and OpenFeint, and various advertising networks that have been seeking to monetize iPhone impressions. Make no mistake about it, the gloves are now off.

First on the list is Game Center, an apple managed social gaming network promising to be “Xbox live for the iPhone”, with features such as friend discovery, player matching, leader boards, and achievements. In the wake of this, one wonders how existing networks like OpenFeint and Plus+ will fair in the new, vastly altered, landscape. Emails issued from existing networks such as these sound optimistic and appreciative of the announcement, but this seems to me a brave front and an effort to phase out with grace. I personally hope that the developers of OF and the like weather the storm well.

iAds, an integrated advertising network for the iPhone OS, was another massive announcement. There is no denying that some element of this is a power play against Google, who has thus far dominated the search and advertising spheres…a counterstrike for the Android’s encroachments on Apple’s mobile territory perhaps. Google’s ability to reprise is hampered due to current legal issues regarding its acquisition of mobile advertiser adMob, a fact of which Apple is no doubt aware.

The announcement of iAds also included some more interesting information; Ads must be created the way Apple wants, in HTML5 (read as NOT flash). This in itself could be seen as a jab against Adobe, but it pales in comparison to the uppercut that accompanies it: iPhone apps created via the soon-to-be-released Adobe CS5 will NOT be accepted onto the app store! This is a crushing, tirade inducing, blow to Adobe, who has no doubt wasted a great deal of resources on a now obsolete key feature of CS5.

As in a game of risk, it is often unwise to provoke multiple powerful opponents simultaneously unless you are absolutely sure you can defeat them immediately…but it appears that Apple may have waited until just the right moment to strike. I admit this is the sort of Evil Empire move that frightens me to some degree, but yet I can not deny its tactical grace.

So there it is, the war is coming: who will stand, and who will fall? I await your comments.

iTough Joke Generator is Released!

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Finally after a grueling 10 day review battle iTough Joke Generator – Tough Guy Facts see’s the light of day! Check out the official Press Release here:
The iPhone Gets Tough with iTough Fact Generator by Omegasoft

The fairly hysterical promo video:

Or buy the app directly (leaving a wonderful review of course!) here:
iTough Joke Generator : Tough Guy Facts for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store

Are you Tough enough!!?