Category Archives: Programming

Citrus Engine on Nape and physics performance improvement

Hi folks! Since my studies are over and my new portfolio online, I have time to focus on personal projects. Yep, it was time to contribute again to the Citrus Engine. I’ve worked 3 days at full time focusing on its big issue : mobile performances. I’m glad to say that now they are just an old memories!

6 months ago, I’ve made the CE compatible with Stage3D thanks to Starling and added some cool stuff. CitrusEngineV3 BETA 1 has been downloaded 3047 in 6 months, that’s not bad! However it didn’t see lots of Stage3D game, because it was missing the point : people wants to make mobile games.

You will find all the sources at the end.

Continue reading Citrus Engine on Nape and physics performance improvement

Tribus, Graduation Project

On Wednesday 20 th, I made my last orals for school. Some weeks ago, I’ve finished my training at Swad‘s web agency in Annecy. Since Wednesday my sandwich course at Gobelins school (Annecy) is finished, and now I’m in “holiday”. It means that I’m working on my new Portfolio and looking for a job probably at Lyon, France 😉

Let me introduce Tribus, the first game which use bus public transportation as gamification!
We were 4 people behind this project, Pauline the Graphic Designer, Coraline the Designer, Lory the Project Manager / Developer and me as the lead Developer.
Tribus is based on a simple observation : public transportation are boring time for many people. The idea was to play in real time with the bus public transportation and break the boredom thanks to the Gamification.
The Tribus’ concept is to gamify the bus route using its own elements : location, speed, line, bus stop… and offer a game!

The concept was there, but what type of game offer? A real time massive multi-players space opera? Impossible for a small team in 4 – 6 months, we aren’t Electronic Arts. A survival game with zombies? I loved this idea, it could have been awesome if we have worked on subway : safe point, network lost… all the ingredients were already present. However we wanted a game for everyone : fun, easy to play, stress-free… yep, one more casual game.

Tribus is a Canabalt type of game, it is close to Jetpack Joyride. But how are bus elements injected in the gameplay?
It is very difficult to have information on the bus, bus’ companies don’t disclose these informations. So we used the smartphone’s GPS. Thanks to it we could know our position and so the bus one. We have located bus stop in a database and so we knew if a user follow the bus route and then suppose that he is using the bus! The GPS is also used to know the bus speed and thus change the speed of the game.

We developed for iPhone, using Chipmunk and Sparrow for the game (not the app interface) and made a simple port of the Citrus Engine. Since this is my first project using Objective-C the port is not very “user friendly” and it can be improved a lot. Anyway, that was a very rewarding experience.
All the source code is available on GitHub.

A short video :

Screenshots :

Workspace & Workflow

A simple post to share my configuration and softwares that I mostly used.

Devices :
– an iMac on Mountain Lion and an Acer laptop running Windows 7.
– iPhone 4S.
– iPad 3.
– Nexus 7.

Programming
Eclipse & FDT : Java – Android & AS3.
Unity3D.
IntelliJ : web stuff and Haxe.
Xcode.
Sublime Text 2 : quickly edit/view some code.

Graphic Tools
– Adobe Flash Pro
– Adobe Photoshop
ImageOptim : optimizes images by finding best compression parameters and by removing unnecessary comments and color profiles.
Raskin : it may be useful when you have many big pictures (like levels) to have an overview of the project.

Software for games
ParticleDesigner.
GlyphDesigner : bitmap typo.
TexturePacker : sprite sheets maker.
PhysicsEditor : determine perfect collision shapes for Box2D, Chipmunk and Nape!

Modeling
MySQL Workbench.
SQLite Database Browser.

Utilities

Dash : the awesome documentation browser tool!
LiveReload : don’t press even more F5 on localhost websites!
TotalFinder : how can you live without tabs on your finder ?
Cinch : windows 7 management window for OSX!
Droplr : quickly share files.
Switch : audio sound converter.
Adobe Shadow.

Sparrow Framework, AnimationSequence class


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Coming from AS3 & Starling framework, it is really easy to handle Sparrow. I was surprised to don’t find a class to manage several animations (like the gotoAndPlay in as3) in Starling and it is the same with Sparrow. So I’ve ported the AnimationSequence class (used in the Citrus Engine V3) from Starling to Sparrow.

Basically, the class extends SPSprite with all SPMovieClip animations added into a Dictionary which are addChild/removeChild (with the Juggler).

An AnimationSequence is defined with a texture atlas, an array with animation states and a simple string with the first animation :

AnimationSequence *mc = [[AnimationSequence alloc] initWithTextureAtlas:[SPTextureAtlas atlasWithContentsOfFile:@"Hero.xml"] andAnimations:[NSArray arrayWithObjects:@"walk", @"jump", @"idle", nil] andFirstAnimation:@"idle"];

To change an animation :

[mc changeAnimation:@"walk" withLoop:YES];
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#import "SPSprite.h"
 
@interface AnimationSequence : SPSprite {
 
    NSMutableDictionary *mcSequences;
 
    SPTextureAtlas *textureAtlas;
    NSArray *animations;
    NSString *previousAnimation;
}
 
@property (nonatomic) NSMutableDictionary *mcSequences;
@property (nonatomic) SPTextureAtlas *textureAtlas;
@property (nonatomic) NSArray *animations;
@property (nonatomic) NSString *previousAnimation;
 
- (id) initWithTextureAtlas:(SPTextureAtlas *) textAtlas andAnimations:(NSArray *) multiAnimations andFirstAnimation:(NSString *) firstAnim;
 
- (void) changeAnimation:(NSString *) animation withLoop:(BOOL)animLoop;
 
@end
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//
//  AnimationSequence.m
//  ChipmunkWrapper
//
//  Created by Aymeric Lamboley on 06/03/12.
//
 
#import "AnimationSequence.h"
 
@implementation AnimationSequence
 
@synthesize mcSequences, textureAtlas, animations, previousAnimation;
 
- (id) initWithTextureAtlas:(SPTextureAtlas *)textAtlas andAnimations:(NSArray *)multiAnimations andFirstAnimation:(NSString *)firstAnim {
 
    if (self = [super init]) {
 
        textureAtlas = textAtlas;
        animations = multiAnimations;
        mcSequences = [[NSMutableDictionary alloc] init];
 
        for (NSString *animation in multiAnimations) {
 
            if ([textureAtlas texturesStartingWith:animation].count == 0) {
                NSLog(@"One object doesn't have the %@ animation in its TextureAtlas", animation);
            }
 
            [mcSequences setObject:[[SPMovieClip alloc] initWithFrames:[textureAtlas texturesStartingWith:animation] fps:25] forKey:animation];
        }
 
        [self addChild:[mcSequences objectForKey:firstAnim]];
        [[SPStage mainStage].juggler addObject:[mcSequences objectForKey:firstAnim]];
 
        previousAnimation = firstAnim;
    }
 
    return self;
}
 
- (void) changeAnimation:(NSString *)animation withLoop:(BOOL)animLoop {
 
    if (!([mcSequences objectForKey:animation])) {
 
        NSLog(@"One object doesn't have the %@ animation set up in its initial array?", animation);
    }
 
    [self removeChild:[mcSequences objectForKey:previousAnimation]];
    [self.stage.juggler removeObject:[mcSequences objectForKey:previousAnimation]];
 
    [self addChild:[mcSequences objectForKey:animation]];
    [self.stage.juggler addObject:[mcSequences objectForKey:animation]];
    ((SPMovieClip *)[mcSequences objectForKey:animation]).loop = animLoop;
    ((SPMovieClip *)[mcSequences objectForKey:animation]).currentFrame = 0;
 
    previousAnimation = animation;
}
 
- (void) dealloc {
 
    [self removeChild:[mcSequences objectForKey:previousAnimation]];
    [self.stage.juggler removeObject:[mcSequences objectForKey:previousAnimation]];
}
 
@end

Be careful, this version uses the ARC mode!

The Citrus Engine goes on Haxe NME, welcome to the CitruxEngine

One month ago I started to work on the CitruxEngine. I was very confident with Haxe performance on mobile and NME cross platform opportunities. And now, I can say those are awesome!

In April 14-15th, I was in Paris to assist to the Haxe conf 2012. It was really cool, Silex Labs has made a good job! Conferences were very interested and the community greatly friendly. And I had the opportunity to make a lightning talk concerning my contribution to the Citrus Engine 2D game framework and its port on Haxe NME. The presentation was a bit from scratch, but that was a good experience! I’m very happy to be the first to start the lightning talk, since there were very serious projects 😀

CitruxEngine Github.
CitruxEngine Demo. Simple demo which have been tested on Flash & CPP (using left/right key and spacebar) and iOS (touch & accelerometer). There are sound, animations (idle, walk and jump) and physics.
The port is currently not finished!

I will not present some code here. If you are already familiar with the Citrus Engine, there will be no problem. Take a look on the example on Github.

HTML5
When I started the port, I would the CitruxEngine be as cross platform as possible. HTML5 is promising, and Niel Drummond the man behind Jeash has made an incredible job! However I found that the Haxe NME Box2D port has not very good performance with HTML5. So I’ve dropped the HTML5 target at the moment, but I keep an eye on Jeash!

Box2D
Thanks to Haxe NME, Box2D runs very well on mobile! This is mostly the reason why I’ve started the CitruxEngine. The Citrus Engine uses the AS3 Alchemy version of Box2D which has some differences with the original. It seems there is a bug with the Haxe NME Box2D port : the beginContact & endContact listeners are fired all the time if a dynamic body is on a static body (like a hero on a platform), whereas it fires only once if there are 2 dynamics bodies. This behavior is blocking me.

SpriteSheets
I made my test with the spritesheet haxelib which uses SpriteLoq. At the moment it works well. I’ve not made serious test with animations.

Level Editor
I love how the Citrus Engine handles Flash Pro as a Level Editor. I would like the Haxe NME version handles it as well. But at the moment we can’t read AS3 code in a SWF file (it is the way that class and properties are defined), so I need to think to an external way. Maybe it’s time to reconsider the Level Architect!

Console
The console is really a cool feature of the Citrus Engine, it will be available in the CitruxEngine too. I’ve started to implement it, but it’s not ready yet.

I will continue to work on the CitruxEngine, but now I’ve to focus on my school project using Objective-C, it’s really hard to get back when you have tested Haxe power ! In less than two months I will be graduate and looking for a job, future is exciting.

Thanks to postite & elsassph for their help!

haXe workflow with Sublime Text 2, Php & nme examples


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A good IDE is the developer’s best friend. FDT is my favorite one to code AS3 stuff, however I’m not very satisfied with haXe integration… it could be better. A good source code editor is also an amazing tool. I’ve found Sublime Text 2 some months ago, and it sounds always awesome to me. There is an extension which add Package control management to ST2 for adding new plugin, like haXe one.

Come on, download Sublime Text 2, install the Package control and haXe plugins!

That’s ok ? Now we can create a simple Php project.
Create a new file, save it as Test.hx and add this code :

package;
 
class Test {
 
    static function main() {
 
    	new Test();
    }
 
    public function new() {
 
    	var number:Float = 4;
 
        trace(number + 5);
    }
}

Then press ctrl (even if you use a mac) + shift + b. A new file called build.hxml is opened with some code generated to compile. You should just need that :

# Autogenerated build.hxml

# www
-php www
-main Test

Then press ctrl + enter. Your php files are generated. Pretty easy!

Now let’s make more stuff, a PDO connection with a simple query.

var cnx:Connection = PDO.open('mysql:host=localhost;dbname=igobelins', 'myUsr', 'myPwd');

If you press ctrl + space you have some greats auto-completion features! ctrl + i and the class is imported. If you make some mistake your code is highlighted in pink.

Our php stuff :

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package;
 
import php.db.Connection;
import php.db.Mysql;
import php.db.Object;
import php.db.PDO;
import php.db.ResultSet;
 
class Test {
 
	public var cnx:Connection
 
    static function main() {
 
    	new Test();
    }
 
    public function new() {
 
      cnx = PDO.open('mysql:host=localhost;dbname=igobelins', 'myUsr', 'myPWd');
 
      var sql:String = "SELECT * FROM configs";
 
      var results:ResultSet = cnx.request(sql);
 
      for (result in results) {
       	trace(result.user);
       }
 
       cnx.close();
    }
}

According that you have a field user in your database, it will show the names.

Ok that was pretty cool, what about nme ? Go on this page and download the haXe project. In ST2 go in File/Open Folder… and select the Folder you have just unzipped. It should show the different folders & files in a left panel. Browse the Source and open SimpleBox2DExample.hx and then press ctrl + enter. It is compiled for flash and open quickly the result in the Flash Player. Ok but with NME I would like to target cpp. No problem press ctrl + shift + b then select cpp and compile. This way you can quickly change the target.
He wait, there isn’t html5 target !? I don’t know the reason but it is not offered. But you can add it (thanks to Julien Roche for the tips) : on Mac open the file Users/YourUserName/Library/Application Support/Sublime Text 2/Packages/HaXe/HaxeComplete.py and add html5 to nme_targets on line 124. Restart ST2, press ctrl + shift + b select html5 then compile. You have a new target 😉

Sublime Text 2 and the haXe plugin are awesome, but so far it can not be as powerful as an IDE for debugging. No breakpoint for example, anyway it is already a great tool for a simple code editor!

Recently, JetBrains has released a haXe plugin for IntelliJ. We should keep an eye on it!

Air NativeProcess and bash file to compile haXe nme project

Last week I’ve made some test with haXe nme and box2d. The result is awesome : beautiful perf and a quick export on the target required! When I tried to run box2d from flash on a iPhone there was really bad performance : 10 dynamics objects – 5 fps. With haXe nme, more than 80 dynamics objects and 30 fps… that the power of native app. And for the fun I had an html5 box2d export, but not running smoothly.
At the moment, what I’m really missing is a powerful IDE for writing code and don’t use the console (even if it works great). FlashDevelop is the best one, but runs only on windows. Sadly, FDT supports haXe but not the nme. However it seems that JetBrains are working on a plugin for haXe and nme! But right now, I use Sublime Text 2 with the haXe plugin.

Anyway, I thought it would be cool to have a simple utilitarian app to create nmml files and compile projects with options (targets, mode, …). An Air application seemed to be an elegant way. Let’s go for a proof of concept on this last part :

The problem was how to run terminal command line with Air? The NativeProcess class provides command line integration and general launching capabilities. The NativeProcess class lets an AIR application execute native processes on the host operating system.
So it means that if I write a simple bash file, I’m able to run it with AIR!

Continue reading Air NativeProcess and bash file to compile haXe nme project

CitrusEngine goes Stage3D with Starling

Hey folks, happy new year! My previous post go back from 1st december, I’ve been really busy : adding Starling in the CitrusEngine, learning iOS and working on my 2nd year school project. And obviously some great holidays between christmas & the new year.

Today I’m very pleased to share with you the Citrus Engine working on Starling! For those who don’t know it, it’s a platformer game engine using Box2D Alchemy and Signal libraries. However, it’s not only made for platformer games, you can use it for every 2D contents even if it isn’t a game thanks to its great Box2D management. So before this update, it has supported : Box2D physics, Signals event, a Sound Manager, a Console for quick debugging & tools, Input management, lots of defined objects like Hero, Baddy, Platform, Coin, Sensor, Moving Platform…, parallax, a Loader manager, level editors thanks to its own (the Level Architect made with Air), or using Flash Pro, or Gleed2D. 2 views : the flash display list and blitting, and a layer management!

Thanks to this update, the CitrusEngine now support the great stage3d framework Starling and I’ve also added 3 new objects Cannon, Teleporter & Treadmill, a Level Manager and an abstract class to store the game’s data. This two last things are optional you may use it or not. In this blog post I will explain how I’ve adapted the CE for Starling, and my updates with some examples. For a quick getting start with the engine please refer on its website or to the tutorials on this blog.

But let’s stop chatting, it’s time to test the demo :
Click here for the demo.

Continue reading CitrusEngine goes Stage3D with Starling

From AS3 to Objective-C

Some days after my article about what is happening to Flash developers, I have started to learn Objective-C and I already like it!
In this post, I will try to compare ActionScript 3 to Objecitive-C. I’m really new to Objective-C so if you find any errors in what I say, please add a comment to correct me.

According to Wikipedia : Objective-C is a reflective, object-oriented programming language that adds Smalltalk-style messaging to the C programming language. Today, it is used primarily on Apple’s Mac OS X and iOS. Objective-C is the primary language used for Apple’s Cocoa API.

Continue reading From AS3 to Objective-C

My thoughts on Flash and its recent events

Update : Unity3D has set up an exporter to target Flash which works very well! Without doubt they are working on an exporter for HTML5 too. This technology seems to be promising, I’ve added it on my to learn list!

I wouldn’t come back on the Adobe announcements, everyone know what’s happened and it has already been discussed everywhere. I just would like to share my student point of view about the future.

Continue reading My thoughts on Flash and its recent events