MKAnnotationViews and AutoLayout

Having just developed a plist-based design framework that works in Interface Builder, I’m more interested than ever in using xibs and storyboards to design my views.

I also like using AutoLayout. There are significant advantages when it comes to things like labels that make it so much easier to deal with than manually setting frames everywhere in code. Things like Dynamic Type, accessibility, and localisation all become easier and there’s less room for error.

There are some things that do become more complicated with AutoLayout (mostly transforms) but there are well established workarounds for most of these.

I was recently designing a new app that involved using MapKit and I wanted to use AutoLayout to design a subclsss of MKAnnotationView but this isn’t entirely straightforward.

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Controlling Interface Builder with Plists

I have an appearance manager that reads styles from a plist file and applies then throughout the app through the use of the appearance proxy and through notifications to various custom subclasses of the standard UIKit views and controls.

This works great and allows for of a lot of easy features like different coloured themes or dark modes. The major downside right now is that none of the changes to the plist are reflected in Storyboards or Xib files.

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Barista! Post Mortem Part 2

In part 1 I took a high level overview of the game. In this part, I’ll get to why I shipped the game if I recognised that it wasn’t that great. Why not try to make it better first?

It is impossible to over-emphasise how important finishing something is for two important reasons. One, the purely practical one of learning what’s involved. Icons, screenshots, videos, descriptions, metadata, marketing—there’s a lot of work and knowing what’s involved lets me plan better for it in future.

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Barista! Now Available!

An illustration of a Barista having trouble keeping up. Coffee is spilling everywhere.

My new game, Barista!, is now available in the App Store!

Barista! is a fast-paced coffee creation game. Can you fulfil all of the orders and get to the end of the day before your Jim fires you?

Orders appear on the blackboard and you’ve got to get ’em made before the time runs out!

With four different types of drinks with various combinations of cups, espresso shots, and mixers, can you harness the power of caffeine to keep track of it all and survive the day or will the pressure grind you up like so many medium roasted beans?

* Four different drink combinations with up to 3 shots per drink to keep you on your toes!
* Bonus Busy Days where you can double your earnings—if you can keep on top of things!
* Up to four orders at once to really test your cool under fire!
* Many levels of coffee-making mayhem!

Created as part of my 100 Hour Game challenge, it ended up taking me around 160 hours to get it to finished product.

This is actually pretty good for me. Usually projects take 2–3 times longer. This only took 60% so…win!

I’m excited to finally get this out there. I’ve learned a lot during this process and I’m eager to take what I’ve learned and get going on my next game.

Barista! is available in the App Store.

Button to Download Barista! On The App Store

Barista! Original Soundtrack: Dark Roast

After further negotiations with the wolves, I have reached an understanding and have gained some control over my many distractions.

Things that have happened in the last few weeks:

1. Trail Wallet 3.3 was successfully released
2. EmptyBucket went into beta

Which just leaves number 3 on that original list, Barista!

My 100 Hour Game (that has evolved into a 200 hour game) has been on hiatus for the past few months but it is, as the walrus said, time.

This week I finally finished the primary game music, one of the last major blocks. I have also completed the victory and defeat music and started adding the dozens of sound effects.

The main track, now named Dark Roast, is a remix of the music from Tap Tap Power. Tap Tap Power was my first foray into games development, created with my good friend Tom Krones from Till The Money Runs Out.

The music was originally conceived as a chip tune in keeping with the game’s theme, but it has been brought out of the 8-bit world and now completely betrays the fact that I was trained as a drummer.

You can listen to it here:

Wolves

The Native American grandfather telling his grandson about the two wolves is lucky that he only has two—everyone has their own set and I have at least seven. Like the dwarves, each has its own distinct personality. I am yet to decide if they want to devour me or protect me. I think it’s a mix.

Our wolves follow us wherever we go and, right now, mine are lying under the kumquat trees outside enjoying the Hoi An sun. The ones capable of enjoyment, at least.

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Making Sense of the Madness

There’s a saying among game designers: “Your first ten games will suck—so get them out of the way fast.”

Over the New Year I read Jesse Schell’s outstanding Art of Game Design and it is a phenomenal work, full of immense insights about game design and, frankly, creativity in general that are presented in a friendly, approachable way. It doesn’t seek to provide a comprehensive solution to game design—in fact, it argues that there may never be such a thing.

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