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Codify, prototyping games on iPad

09-25-2011, 08:43 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Posts: 265
Codify, prototyping games on iPad

Hi everyone

I've been working on a personal project over the past few months. It's called Codify and it's for creating game prototypes on iPad. As developers, I'm very interested to hear what you think about it.

Too often I've been stuck without my laptop, or been too lazy to take my laptop when a good game idea comes to mind. I like to prototype game ideas rapidly and iterate over them, so I thought this tool would be really useful.

This is Codify, it's available now

I've modeled the API after processing, except it uses Lua. Basically you write code, press play and it runs. You can create custom parameters that show up as sliders in the UI, handle touches, and so on.

I've tried to design it around touch-friendly coding. You can touch and drag any number to change its value, tap on colors to change them, you can touch the autocomplete that happens above the keyboard.

Edit: It's released

As developers, what do you think of a tool like this? How often and rapidly do you prototype ideas yourself?

Last edited by TwoLivesLeft; 10-26-2011 at 06:29 AM.
09-26-2011, 03:45 PM
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Berlin, Germany
Posts: 1,670
well first, codify looks like a neat tool..

but i think its the wrong platform.. i recall a discussion about a tilemap editor on ipad and my personal feeling about real productivity tools on the ipad is that the platform is not right..

- too small screen (with lousy resolution)
- virtual keyboard makes the screen space even smaller
- wonky unprecise controls (compare to mouse and keyboard)
- rapid prototyping against slow input methods

the question is why do i need this on the ipad. where is the benefit?

surely if you are on the run taking an ipad with you instead of an notebook
makes no big difference imho

also if you are really working on the go the ipad is even worser at handling than a laptop because you need to hold it at least with a hand that leaves you another hand for input labor.. thats negates the hole purpose of "rapid"

in the end its a gadget tool..(a nice one tho) and the audience imho is more than limited..

maybe the honest question is, how much rapid prototyping do you really need todo on your daily commute to x or y.. and how much real work do you make on the run instead of in your office, at home at your desk or wherever you usualy work out your ideas..

the place where you can start working (coding) in a relaxed and focussed way is usualy also a place where a laptop is the alot better tool to use.

but this is all more about then general usefullness of the ipad as an productivity tool instead of an media conumption tool (which is its purpose and does pretty well)

i've tried alot html editors, 3d tools, 2d tool , vector tools etc. on the ipad but i always went back to desktop applications because of too much limitations with the ipad itself and the way the tools have to workaround the many flaws there is..

even for the most obvious productivity.. painting.. i never found the right tools or way to make it really work.. and the real pro artists i talked to asked for a stylus and pressure sensitivy which is obviously not avaiable and the interest into drawing on the go on with an ipad dimished to scribble level.

i personaly never carry my ipad anywhere nowerdays.. it became the couch device.. i always have my iphone with me and it does everything i really need on the go for non developement.. like putting in ideas, scribbling something on the go if needed etc.. for anything else, like some more serious work than doodling i would suggest a notebook.. if you need to carry a device that does not fit into a pocket then it can the real deal instead of an half one

thats my rambling about that.. except of the above codify looks neat, but i think the platform of choice is wrong for this kind of tasks.. but still some nice ideas there and would be (for me) more interesting if it would be an desktop tool..

you may even look into making it corona compatible they use lua if i recall right and you may got yourself a bigger audience by simply offering it to an actualy target audience..


09-26-2011, 08:36 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Posts: 265
Thanks for your thoughts, mr.Ugly

I agree that coding on your desktop or laptop is faster than iPad. But the current response to Codify beta has really surprised me.

One thing I've found with Codify is that people collaborate a lot more when someone has their iPad out. A friend is coding up a snake game, for example, and others are looking over his shoulder making suggestions and so on. It's not fast, but it's strangely social.

Another friend surprised me by writing a Verlet rope simulation that uses the accelerometer. Sure, you can do these things on your laptop but Codify really encourages you to toy around with quick ideas. Perhaps because it's not as serious as a laptop, it makes you feel like experimenting and just having fun writing code.

In addition to my own ideas like draggable numbers and the color picker, I've tried to make coding on iPad fast by borrowing a lot of ideas from modern IDEs. There's a math palette button that pops up easy operators and functions, a jump-button to jump to any function definition, and a code snippets button to insert common code structures with touchable markers for parameterization.

Also, if you add a bluetooth keyboard (Codify has special support for this) it essentially becomes as quick as a netbook for prototyping.

One major point is that people who don't have iOS developer licenses can explore touch based prototypes directly on their iPad. Sure if they're serious about it they can move to a full development kit. But this allows for some easy and fun exploration.

In the end I agree that functionally it doesn't compete with a laptop. But I would argue that there's a lot more to offer than the pure function of coding. There's a lot of pleasure in the creative and social aspects that I feel are exemplified by Codify.
09-27-2011, 07:49 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 978
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Pretty sweet! Would love to try doing a Game Jam with just this.

Limitations can often bring focus and new solutions.

How close are you to releasing it?
09-27-2011, 09:37 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Posts: 265
Thanks MindJuice.

I've put a version through review with Apple - they rejected it on the basis of "Downloadable Code" - the app had iTunes File Sharing enabled so you could download your own creations to your computer. I have disabled this and resubmitted it to Apple.
09-28-2011, 04:01 AM
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 9
Wow. This looks incredible, and definitely something I'd use.

The presentation and interface for Codify look really, really slick - I'm really impressed by the videos. This looks like it could be a great way to introduce kids to programming, too, which I think is really important and increasingly difficult these days.

I'll be *very* interested in picking this up once it's released. I hope it gets past review!
09-28-2011, 05:33 AM
I completely agree that this is absolutely brilliant as an educational tool.

Kids these days don't have the simplicity of having BASIC on their computers like I and many others here did back in ye olden days of the 80s with the 8-bit machines. You started them up and seconds later it said "Ready" with a flashing cursor tempting you in. People with no interest in learning programming were writing 10 print "billy woz ere"; 20 goto 10, and to many this was a fascinating step into a new world and got them interested in learning how to do more.

While nowadays yes of course they do have all the tools at their disposal to make anything, but the initial hurdle puts so many of people off. If someone has no [known] interest in programming why would they go to the trouble of installing Visual Studio Express? How do they even know that's the best option? There are just so many things you need to understand before you can even write hello world these days they simply don't bother. Apps like Codify are what fill this gap.

This thinking is what initially got me writing my 3D LOGO programming app Logograph, but the issue of Apple rejecting this sort of thing made me put it on hold ~50% complete.

TwoLivesLeft - in case you don't know about it you should take a look at the Raspberry Pi (that $25 linux computer, www.raspberrypi.org) - it is the sort of platform that Codify is perfect for. In my opinion as well as iOS too of course - I agree totally that an iPad version of this would be fantastic.

Apps: Lead Wars (TA Thread) | Coming soon: Super Grav (1-4 player Thrust-style racer/shooter)
DemonStudios Ltd | Indie Game Developer
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09-28-2011, 07:29 AM
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 9
TwoLivesLeft - I just took another look at your 'sharks with fricking laser beams' Crabitron video from August... have you been using Codify to make that? It looked like it had a similar editor sidebar on the left hand side. If so... wow.
09-28-2011, 08:45 AM
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Posts: 265
@jwfrosty thanks for the feedback, I'm glad you like it! Unfortunately I have to say space sharks was not Codify. It's the in-game editor for Crabitron developed by my friend John. It's great for building scripted physics rigs to use in game.

Thanks for the kind words about the interface. UI design is something I'm really passionate about.

Codify is soon to get sprites and a nice sprite picker (you tap the code and a grid of images pops up allowing you to visually select your graphics). And I'm considering integrating a Box2D API down the track so things like the Space Sharks will be possible.

@DemonJim I really hope people find it educational. Sometimes you miss the joy of writing code, especially when you work on large projects. However I did make Codify primarily as a tool that I wanted to use I prototype ideas a lot, so that has really defined my goals.

If Apple approve this then perhaps you could reconsider submitting your Logograph App? I actually submitted Codify in an unfinished state for just this reason. There are some iPad apps on the App Store right now that interpret code. So there is hope.

Raspberry Pi looks fantastic. After the iPad version of Codify is complete I plan to start a Github project to open source the renderer and code system for other platforms.
09-28-2011, 09:04 AM
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 9
@TwoLivesLeft Oh well, still looks great! I guess is it best to follow you on Twitter to know if / when Codify is released?