360iDev San Jose wrap up

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Last fall, I was invigorated and enthused by 360iDev in Denver, so I was excited to register for 360iDev in San Jose.

The short version is that I had high expectations, and they were exceeded.

I learned so much and met so many helpful and smart developers in those four days. By the time it was over on Wednesday, my mind was so full of ideas and enthusiasm that I had to spend several hours on Thursday and Friday just capturing my thoughts for future apps! My only regret is that I can’t dive into several of those ideas all at once.

I split my session time between sessions that helped improve my understanding and skills and some sessions that stretched me beyond what I was currently doing. 360iDev has an excellent balance between user experience, design and development discussions. It also covered a great mix of technical and business issues. There were so many times where I was able to just sit back and soak in knowledge, but also plenty of times for me to participate in discussions, both planned and informal.

I look forward to the videos of sessions that I missed — there were several times where it was very difficult to choose between two sessions. In almost every time slot, there was at least one session that interested me deeply.

The GameJam was great fun again, but also a great motivator for me. One skill I need to develop better is timeboxing a particular effort — constraints really help me focus, and the GameJam did that for me. My goal was to use Cocos2D, Box2D, and GameKit to build a game using an iPhone and an iPad where the game play was asymmetrical — I came close, but once again was trying too many new things (Box2D and GameKit) during the short (10 hour) time span. I was able to use what I had learned that night in my iPadDevCamp app, and now I have several variations of the basic gameplay to experiment with.

One of my personal goals was to completely set aside my client work at home, both physically and mentally, and immerse myself in new ideas and learning. So, I decided to also hang around San Jose for the iPadDevCamp held the following weekend. I was able to spend 8 days in a row without interruption really growing as an iPhone designer and developer. iPadDevCamp has a different style than 360iDev, it reminded me very much of a weekend long version of the 360iDev GameJam. iPadDevCamp was good and I had more stimulating discussions with more great designers and developers. But, I think without the earlier focused, intense time at 360iDev, I would not have benefitted nearly as much.

I would love to do a 360iDev and a DevCamp together again in the future, but if I had to choose only one event to attend, it would be 360iDev. I look forward to the next one!

Cocos2D version of Owen Goss's BaconFarmer prototype session

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On Monday afternoon at 360iDev I sat in on Rod Strougo’s Cocos2D session, and then watched the prototype master Owen Goss develop a game prototype with input from the crowd live in roughly 60 minutes (very brave, very cool, very fast).

Since I wanted to spend some time getting comfortable with Cocos2D before the 360iDev Game Jam Tuesday night, I decided to see how quickly I could reproduce Owen’s end result, “BaconFarmer”, using Cocos2D.

I finished the first (and probably *only*) version this morning, and you can now download a zip file with the full Xcode project.

I didn’t finish in 60 minutes, nor was my accomplishment anything like Owen’s, but it was fun.

I took about 4 hours, roughly broken down like this:

  • Graphics — 15 minutes
  • Setting up and acquainting myself with Cocos2D project — 30 minutes
  • Getting bacon to show up on screen (Cocos2D sprites) — 60 minutes
  • Added game play, changing state, touches, etc. — 60 minutes
  • Add scoring — 30 minutes

I borrowed a couple of files from Rod’s sample project for background and scoring (Thanks Rod).

Overall, Cocos2D was very easy to get started with — I don’t know it’s long term potential, both Rod and Owen spoke highly of it, so I will probably be using it in the Game Jam tonight.


T-0 360iDev gets off to a great start

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The official conference sessions have not yet begun, but I am already invigorated by 360iDev in San Jose. It is good to see friends and acquaintances I met in Denver last fall, and to meet new developers as well. I spent the morning in Kendall Gelner’s Advanced Debugging session and gained some useful new tools for app development. I split the rest of the day between the beginning stages working through some iPad app ideas and getting to know other developers a little better.

The energy level certainly picked up at the welcome reception this evening, and will probably continue long into the night without me. I’m lousy at Rock Band, but had a good time trying anyway, and it was fun watching other groups pretending to be musicians tonight!

I am looking forward to a very full three days of learning cool new stuff, meeting great people, and building on relationships already begun.