BOOKS AND SPRITES

BUILD IOS GAMES WITH SPRITE KIT“Build iOS Games with Sprite Kit,” by Jonathan Penn and Josh Smith, $34 from PragProg.com. It shows you how to make games for the iPhone and iPad. You learn how to build two games that are fun: One is a pinball game and the other a version of “Asteroids.”

This isn’t an easy book, so if you want to build some interesting games using “sprites,” there are other places to go: If you do a web search on “sprite games” you will find instructions and simple games from Microsoft and the UCLA computer department.

Sprites in computer talk are small clusters of anywhere from two to sixteen pixels that define an object that can be moved independently on a screen background. They can be programmed to explode on contacting other sprites, or release other sprites, like missiles to blow apart asteroids.

Early games like those from Atari, Apple and Commodore often used sprites that could be controlled by the mouse as they appeared to move across a scrolling background. Sometimes the background itself could be a large sprite, adding complexity. Early games might have two to eight sprites. As processing power increased, small game machines like the GameBoy Advance, were able to handle 128 sprites at once, keeping track of their locations, movement and special characteristics.

You can download ready-made sprites for your game at many sites on the web; just search for “game sprites.” Of course that’s just the beginning; you must design the game. You can also look at sample games others have designed.

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