Otis: Come to the Block Party.

Wonder Warp Software has released a fun little game called Otis.

I had the opportunity to watch from the side lines as Dan Grover worked on Otis. Dan and I are both members of the Boston chapter of Cocoa Heads. Every month we meet and talk shop, share experiences, and demo things we’ve been working on. Dan demoed Otis a couple of times for the group through out the process and it was great fun to see the progress he made over a relatively short period.

With Otis joining his other product, SimpleChord, Dan has a nice start on a successful indie Mac software company — and he’s still in college. Man, I wish I had started this indie dev stuff when I was his age. Yes, I know that makes me sound old.

Boston Leopard Tech Talk

I’m slowly recovering this morning from the long day of excitement, passion, and learning yesterday. Apple brought the Leopard Tech Talks to Boston (Dedham actually) and with it hundreds of passionate local Mac OS X developers. I had no idea there were so many in the New England area. Until yesterday, my whole Boston area Cocoa world encompassed the local Cocoa Heads chapter.

Because of the NDA I can’t really say much about what Apple presented, but it was well worth the time. Like many others, my mouth is watering with the idea of moving to Leopard only development as soon as possible. Leopard definitely has the feel of a developers’ release as opposed to the very much user oriented Tiger release.

As great as the Leopard talks were, one of the most interesting parts of the day was chatting with other local developers. I got the chance to talk with some promising student developers from North Eastern University. There were developers working for state agencies, some were working on interesting research projects utilizing Cocoa and OpenGL, many were “getting back in to development”, and there were plenty of rock star developers about.

If you have the chance to attend one of these or similar events, definitely make the effort. Your time will be well worth it.

Doom, Quake, NeXT and Apple

John Romero (co-founder of id) has an interesting history write up about developing DOOM and Quake on NeXT computers with John Carmack.

They even wrote their original level editors, DoomEd and QuakeEd in Objective-C! Back in 1993 this pre-Cocoa based application allowed them to edit the same DOOM levels simultaneously over their network:

In fact, with the superpower of NeXTSTEP, one of the earliest incarnations of DoomEd had Carmack in his office, me in my office, DoomEd running on both our computers and both of us editing one map together at the same time. I could see John moving entities around on my screen as I drew new walls. Shared memory spaces and distributed objects. Pure magic.

How cool is that!

found via: Tiny Subversions

Automatically Index your Help Book with Xcode

A simple way to improve your workflow and minimize human error while authoring your application’s help book is to automate the indexing of your help pages.

Xcode provides a simple way to add automated steps to your build process with shell scripts. The Help Indexer tool can be called with command line arguments via a shell script. Add these two together and you have automated help indexing as part of your normal build process.

Here is how to set this up:

1. First, find your projects build target and expand the build steps:

2. Then Control-Click on the Target and select the New Run Script Build Phase menu item.

3. In the Script Phase Editor window type the following, replacing your root help path in the script:

/Developer/Applications/Utilities/Help Indexer.app/Contents/MacOS/Help Indexer ~/WorkSpace/LicenseKeeper/trunk/English.lproj/LicenseKeeperHelp/

Make sure there is a space between “Help Indexer” and your help project path.

4. Close the editor, rename your new build phase to something like “Index Help” and drag it to the top of the build phase list or other appropriate spot.

5. There is no step 5.

Now whenever you build your project, your help files will be automatically indexed for use in Apple’s Help Viewer.

Building a Game Engine with Cocoa

If you are itching to learn some basic game development techniques in Cocoa on Mac OS X, O’Reilly Mac DevCenter has part 1 of a series on building a game engine with Cocoa.

Matthew Russell leads you through the development of a Lines of Action (checkers derivative) computer game. In this first part he sets up the checkers board using a custom view subclass and provides all the source code. He promises to introduce some Artificial Intelligence in a later entry when he ads a computer opponent to the mix.

If you want a deeper look into game programming with Cocoa, I wrote about a book covering similar ground on my Make Mac Games site, a little over a year ago: Cocoa Game Programming Workshop.

Update (Jan 5, 2007): Building a Game Engine with Cocoa, Part 2