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Apple’s Intriguing iPhone SDK

Friday, March 7th, 2008

Apple revealed details of its plan for third party iPhone and iPod Touch applications today. Overall, very cool. Gamewise, it’s fairly straightforward to get an OpenGL context up and running and to start playing around.

How powerful is the hardware?

The chipset and graphics coprocessor in the iPhone/iPod Touch is plenty powerful for creating games — It should handle several thousand textured polygons no problem.

The amount of RAM in the phone is equally impressive. And remember, the display is larger and higher resolution than the PSP, with more pixels than both of the DS screens put together.

Some Demos

Dan and I are working on some things for the phone and he’s put together a couple quick demos that show off the power of the hardware and the ease with which you can do cool things with the interface.

The first is a demo of bouncing balls which uses the touchscreen to spawn and the accelerometer data to define the gravity vector.

The second is a test of the hardware’s 3D rendering, which loads a few lowpoly textered meshes.


What’s interesting is the distribution model. The App Store sounds like a marketplace similar to XBLA and PSN, except of course not limited to games. The 70/30 ratio is good, but it remains to be seen how content will be promoted in this store.

Apple already has a section of the iTunes store devoted to iPod games. So will there be a two-tiered approach where big-publisher projects get heavy visibility and other stuff has to fend in a flood of content? Sites like Versiontracker are becoming hard to use because of the volume of content they track, and sifting through it is tedious.

There has been some consternation about a flip-flop in the price structure on one of the consoles’ downloable games portals lately. Hopefully Apple’s 70/30 ratio remains stable.


When you consider the novel interface, the straightforwardness of the API, and the access granted for anyone to develop for the device, it seems likely that we’re going to see some really amazing things made for the phone.

A Game By Any Other Name Would Still Be Shit

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

I recently returned from an epic West Coast odyssey, bookended by both Macworld and the Game Developer’s Conference. Somewhere in between those major events, I made this:

Download Shit Game (Windows) or Download Shit Game (Mac)

I’m not really sure how to explain this little project. I developed it in about a week, and the initial impetus for creation actually came after watching this video on YouTube

I suppose if you wanted to be intellectual, you could look at this game as a statement about creativity in the game industry. Entirely too much time is spent meticulously recreating the gameplay of previously developed games.

This is true in both the mainstream and independent game development spheres. Look at the countless Cave Story homages, as well as the countless iterations of games like Super Monkey Ball, Madden, Smash Bros, etc

I’m not saying this is entirely a bad thing. Recreating the mechanics of a classic is a fantastic way to cut your teeth in game development. In fact, there’s something even endearing about this, especially when a game fails to accurately capture the finesse of the original and it becomes fun to discover and exploit all of the bugs in its engine.

But, as the name implies, it’s hard to take Shit Game too seriously. And I feel kind of silly talking so much about it already. Don’t be fooled by the trailer. The in-game soundtrack consists entirely of pop music recreated in general MIDI.

Grab Shit Game on itch.io

Adieu, Macworld

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

I’ve been in San Francisco for the last week, running the Macworld booth for Danlabgames.

Besides showcasing all of Dan’s games, which went over very well, I tested out a rough demo of Rotrix on the crowd, leading to an estimable response from both gamers and some industry publisher people.

Receiving positive feedback felt very encouraging after pouring so much work into the project, and we’ll see where it leads.

Space Barnacle also seemed to be a hit, and looks fantastic on a glossy 24″ iMac. Going with the 1.6:1 aspect ratio totally paid off. It feels so mischevious to completely fill that high resolution display with a miniscule 288×180 pixel game.

I should be able to release a Mac port as soon as Apple releases Java 6, which, knowing Apple, will only be supported in Leopard… even though it’s been out for nearing 2 years on Windows, Linux, and Solaris. The rumor is that now that the Macintosh is on Intel architecture, they’re just porting the OpenSolaris version instead of rolling their own… which currently means 64-bit intel only? I don’t know, but it’s kind of sucky.

There’s something in the air

That brings me to Apple’s big announcement. The MacBook Air is light, underpowered, and overpriced.

No optical drive, slow hard drive, terrible integrated graphics, only 1 USB port? These are all things I need, but of course if I had a desktop at home, and I didn’t do graphics-intensive game development… and I was rich, maybe it’d be more attractive.

Stake your claim

The real buzz of the conference was iPhone development, even though few details on the SDK were announced at the keynote. A lot of developers are already working on projects with the reverse engineered headers.

Paul Kafasis likened the iPhone to the switch from Classic to OS X. These next few months will be like the wild west, and those that stake a claim early with quality software will have a really solid foundation in the future.

With 4 million phones sold already, and another 10 million forecasted by the end of the year, along with an untold number of iPod Touches, it’ll be a populous platform. And Cocoa developers will have an intimidating head start.


Of course there’s a huge potential for games on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Just the hardware specs run circles around the DS. They’re equipped with a 660Mhz ARM1176 with a 3d graphics co-processor for hardware accelerated rendering, and include 128mb of main RAM, to say nothing of the gigabytes of speedy flash storage and wifi. And apparently, they’re running OpenGL ES 1.1 and SDL has already been unofficially ported.

A friend noted that if the iPhone were a game console, it’d already be the fastest selling console in history.

On Monday I was interviewed by San Francisco’s ABC 7 affiliate, for a story on mobile gaming. Bizzare and fun, with some footage from Wacky Mini Golf and Rotrix.

I’ll be staying in the bay area through GDC, so I’ve got another giant Moscone event to look forward to. Apple being Apple, the late February launch of the iPhone SDK may very well be after that — February 29th even.


One of the best parts about events like Macworld is that it provides a chance to meet and knock around with all the great people of the Mac and tech scenes, some of whom you only see once a year.

I have to give a shoutout to the Picturesque guys, who had the booth next to me. Keep doing great stuff, and send me some of those photos!

Fun fact: Derek Yu, the editor of Tigsource and artist of Aquaria interned at Panic a couple years back, working on a cancelled project that Cabel showed a screenshot of during his session at last year’s C4. I knew that pixel art looked familiar.

Cursorcerer: Hide Your Cursor at Will

Friday, October 29th, 2021

Cursorcerer is a little tool I hacked together which allows you to hide the cursor at any time by use of a global hotkey. It can also autohide an idle cursor and bring it back as soon as you move the mouse.

The inspiration for this tool is one of my favorite and most utilized macOS features: the control-scrollwheel zoom trick. I use it all the time to make things like embedded web videos full screen. The trick’s only major downfall is that it’s a constant battle to get the cursor out of the way.

Cursorcerer Screenshot

To install, just double click on the prefpane. Hit control-option-k to zap and unzap the cursor. If you want to uninstall, go to ~/Library/PreferencePanes/ and trash Cursorcerer.

The technique behind this global cursor hiding hack originates in a useful post to the Apple carbon-dev mailing list from Red Sweater’s Daniel Jalkut.

Cursorcerer 3.2 is signed, notarized, and works in MacOS Monterey, Big Sur, and Catalina—and now natively supports Apple Silicon M1 Macs as well as Intel-based Macs. You may wish to right-click and select Open on the PrefPane to quickly bypass GateKeeper.

Update: Cursorcerer has been updated to a 64-bit version that runs smoothly in the latest versions of MacOS. The minimum idle hiding threshold has also been lowered at the request of some users. Legacy users can grab the 32-bit version here, or 2.0 here.

Download Cursorcerer 3.2

If you use Cursorcerer, please consider supporting it with a PayPal donation, or say hi on Twitter.

Chicago iPhone Launch

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

While hanging out in Chicago this past Friday, I decided to check out the line at the Michigan Avenue Apple Store in anticipation of the dramatic 6pm launch of the iPhone. It was nuts: cops on Segways, restauraunts handing out free food, and a line that stretched around the entire block.

I tried taking a few pictures on my crappy cellphone, but realized that I could probably get better results from the iSight in my MacBook Pro. So I ended up walking around, holding my machine up and attempting to capture the general pandemonium.

Around 6:15, I went across the street to a Starbucks to see what kind of stuff I’d managed to get, and quickly spliced it together into a little video in iMovie.

When I came out, everyone in line had already gotten phones, and I could finally wander into the store to try out some of the demo units on display.

I guess my thoughts echo those of most reviews. Really nice flashy interface, and my few minutes of trying to type ‘doomlaser.com’ into the touch screen made me want to destroy it.

Kernel Panic Screen Saver!

Monday, April 9th, 2007

So awhile back I was thinking, “You know what would be funny? A screen saver that fakes a kernel panic!”

For those of you who might never have seen one, a kernel panic is basically the most shocking crash that you can get on a Mac. It’s Apple’s equivalent to the famed Blue Screen of Death.

What a great way to play a prank on someone, or frighten yourself.

So here is the end result, a harmless screen saver that faithfully emulates the horrifying experience of a kernel panic. It comes complete with a misleading Quartz Composer Preview so that the effect is all the more terrifying.

Update: KPSaver is now 64-bit and compatible with Mac OS X 10.6 and above. Legacy users can download the old version here.

If you enjoy KPSaver, please consider supporting it with a PayPal donation.

Download KPSaver

Enjoy KPSaver? You might find our free Mac app Cursorcerer useful, and Say hi to @Doomlaser on Twitter