We’re more excited about the launch of iOS7 than we have been for any previous update from Apple. That might sound odd given that we’ve had access to the Beta versions for over 2 months, and it’s been installed on my iPhone 5 since July, but the reason we’re so excited is down to several decisions we made a few months ago:
Decision 1: Let’s develop an app specifically for the launch of iOS7
We’ve never developed an app purely to take advantage of an update to iOS before. That’s been partly due to time constraints, but also because there’s not been as big an opportunity to do something like this since the iPhone itself first launched. Why is that? Because iOS7 is different – properly different. You’ve all seen it, so I won’t go over every reason why, but suffice to say that once the dust settles and iOS7 has permeated to over 90% of iOS users (which it will do very, very quickly), most apps that still look how they did before iOS7 will look extremely dated. And that goes not just for smaller developers like us, but for the big boys too. In that respect, this is about as level as the playing field is ever going to get.
Decision 2: The app should be a game, using the new Sprite Kit framework
When Apple showed off iOS7 at WWDC in June, the focus in the media was all about the new aesthetics, Jonny Ive, and whether this or that icon looked better or worse. And that’s totally understandable. But we were most excited about something Apple announced that has no design element to it – a new framework called Sprite Kit. Although it’s new, Sprite Kit is pretty familiar to anyone like us that has used Cocos2d in the past. Cocos2d is a superb 3rd-party open source framework that makes developing games on iOS much more simple and fun. Some of the biggest games around, such as Kingdom Rush and Plants vs Zombies, were written using Cocos2d. And now Apple has implemented it’s own native version. And whilst Sprite Kit certainly isn’t open source, it has improved certain aspects of game development, with more sure to follow.
These first couple of decisions led to Boluga’s first ever ‘Game Jam’. The rules were simple: create a fully playable game concept in 1 week. That’s it. 3 games, developed in 5 working days, and the best one, as judged by the team, plus my children and nephew (who was with us on work experience), would be the game we develop for the launch of iOS7. But then came…
Decision 3: Not 1 game, but 2!
One of the great things about our Game Jam was that because we gave ourselves such limited time, we had no choice but to concentrate on an idea that was simple, but fun. 5 days might be a little misleading, as we had a few weeks beforehand to come up with our concept – but absolutely no coding was done. When judgement day arrived, we were mightily impressed by what each other had come up with in such a short space of time. So much so, that we decided we should pull out all the stops and try to get 2 of the games completed in time. The basic gameplay was there already, but both concepts needed a lot of fine-tuning, all of their graphics, and Game Center integration (something we all agreed necessary early on). However, using Sprite Kit has been an absolute joy. Yes, there’s been a few teething problems. But the speed at which we were able to make these games is testament to the slick new workflow available to iOS developers thanks to the new framework.
So, here we are in September, and last night we got our date. iOS7 will go live on September 18th, and today we were able to submit both apps for review! Now all we need is for you guys to keep £1.38 of your hard-earned money to one side until then. And when that date arrives, open up the App Store and search for ‘Rotational’ and then ‘Circle’. We hope you enjoy them.
UPDATE: Rotational is now live in the App Store!