Mixed Feelings on 24Kpwn

The iPhone dev team announced a few days ago that the jailbreak technique they discovered for the 2nd gen iPod touch will likely work on the new iPhone 3G S. At first I was excited to hear about this.. If they can jailbreak it then it’s only a matter of time until they publish an unlock and I can go back to T-Mobile prepaid. This would save me over $1000 over the next two years. As an iPhone user this is great news.

But as an iPhone developer, this is very sad news. If you can jailbreak your phone then you can run unsigned code on it, which means you’ll be able to pirate games on the 3G S.

Now I’m not someone to whine about piracy. That would make me a massive hypocrite. But growing up in an age when tty spoofing and blue boxes still worked has given me a bit of a nuanced view on piracy (and security systems in general). I don’t think it should be illegal for people hack systems in order to gain greater access to them, or to utilize the fruits of their work to break intellectual property laws (which need overhauling anyways). But I do think it should be the right of intellectual property holders and security system developers to do everything they can to prevent people from gaining access to their systems and utilizing their work in new and different ways than they intended.

So back when Apple first launched the App Store it was happy days for everyone. You could run homebrew code unsigned using a variety of pwn tools, but you could also pay for software through the App Store–and this paid software could only be ran on devices that it was digitally signed to run on. But then the hackers figured out a way to effectively unsign signed apps and then you could run a paid application on any phone. I’m not saying this is wrong. It’s just sad that Apple’s encryption was defeated.

I was hoping the 3G S would turn the tides back in the IP holder’s favor, making it impossible–at least for a short time–to run apps that weren’t signed specifically for you on your phone. I mean, eventually it needs to happen (duh!) but I was hoping it would be another year, or at least another 6-9 months.

So I have mixed feelings. I wish they would release a baseband exploit that frees us from the tyranny of AT&T and not a jailbreak that allows people to pirate my one dollar game. But I seriously doubt the holders of these exploits will be that generous. 🙂

Update: Shoutout to the guys on the iPhone Games Network who discussed this post on a recent podcast. I wouldn’t quite say I’m “pleading” with the hacker community to not release a jailbreak (afaik you need the jailbreak in order to apply the baseband exploit anyways), I’m just saying it would be incredibly awesome of them to release a baseband crack that doesn’t jailbreak your phone. 🙂 And quite honestly, I think Apple would feel the same way. They probably hate AT&T more than the rest of us combined–it was pretty obvious in their WWDC talks there was some friction there.

Bork3D Game Engine for iPhone

I’ve decided to put the foundation I wrote for Anytime Golf up for sale. I’m calling it the Bork3D Game Engine. I think I can carve out a niche in the iPhone engine space for programmer-types with high expectations of the hardware that want a solid foundation on which to build their game. There are other options out there but I believe most game developers look at those and fear (rightfully so, I hear) that those other options won’t meet their performance criteria.

Selling a game engine is an interesting thing.  I think the Unity folks have a good business model: they’re clearly targeting non-programmer types who want to put together something 3D quickly.  Torque has their iTGB offering that’s similar.  There’s a good deal of money to be made there.  Unfortunately it doesn’t produce great games. (Oh no he didn’t!) OK in fairness these engines produce awesome games on PC. They are awesome PC engines. I’m a licensed Torque user and I love it. They’re just not mobile engines.

The Bork3D Game Engine was built for mobile platforms. It actually has it’s roots in Rude Engine that I wrote for Vector Blaster, and can run on Pocket PC, Symbian and N-Gage in addition to iPhone. But it isn’t a complete game engine by any stretch of the imagination. If you want in-game content creation tools and a scripting language please leave. However if you want to build in-game content creation tools and install your favorite scripting language, c’mon in!

So what do you get?

  • All the source code
  • OpenGL ES abstraction layer
  • Debug-rendering API
  • Component-oriented game object system
  • High-performance static and boned mesh rendering system w/ tool pipeline for 3dsmax and Maya
  • Decorator system for rendering billboards
  • Texture manager w/ tool pipeline
  • Runtime “tweaker” for changing game variables via a web browser
  • User interface widgets w/ abstractions for handling iPhone user input
  • Font renderer w/ tool pipeline for generating fonts (supports unicode)
  • In-game profiler
  • Audio system for sound effects and background music
  • Integration with the Bullet Physics SDK
  • Unit test framework

And what does it cost? I’m selling it for only $49 (if you’re indy). Fourty-nine bucks. That’s a lot of code for not much. I’m probably crazy. I guess I’m softening as I grow older, considering this is 1/15th what I was selling Rude Engine for a few years ago.

See bork3d.com for more information.

There are also threads on TouchArcade and iphonedevsdk.com about the engine.

Anytime Golf now $0.99

My game Anytime Golf is now only $0.99!

Although getting the word out about the game has been challenging (a lot more challenging than last year with my first iPhone game), folks who have found the game seem to have great things to say about it. Here’s a selection:

“A quality game of golf… cracking 3D graphics and realistic physics… hard not to recommend.” AppGamer.net

“I am struck by the amazing 3D graphics that you see in this app, but this is more than just a beautiful game… The interface is easy to navigate and the game play is a load of fun… If you love golf you would be missing out big-time if you didn’t give Anytime Golf a try.” iPhoneAppsFinder.com

“Great 3D graphics and excellent game play make this a very addictive app.” iPhoneNess.com

“The holes are really well designed… The physics are superb… The graphics are among the best on the iPhone. A+” App Store reviewer

You can purchase Anytime Golf on the App Store here.

PSP Go hands-on

I got to play with the new PSP Go today at E3, here’s my thoughts.

It’s small, and it’s thin. Like, cramp your hands thin. It’s obviously designed with little kids in mind. I think the space between the face and the back is less than a half inch. On top of that, all of the face buttons are drawn in closer to each other.. I only got to play it for about 10 minutes but the whole time I had ergonomic concerns.. I don’t think I would last more than 30-45 minutes on it tops.

The screen is smaller. The large screen I thought was the original PSP’s best feature. It was comfortable to play games and watch video on the PSP. Why change that?

It looks great and has a solid feel to it. Sony build quality you would expect. Well, not entirely. The face buttons feel a bit more fragile, but I thought the original PSP’s buttons felt fragile until I got used to them.

But $249? For reals? The device is cheaper to manufacture than the old PSP (I assume, since it lacks a UMD drive and has a smaller screen), and you’re charging more for it? In this economy? With very little new content coming on PSP in 2009? OK.. whatever.. I’m just asking.

And yes, still no second-analog stick. Why? I have no idea. But seriously. Why? There’s room for it on the front panel. Gamers want the second-analog. Developers want the second-analog. Everyone wants the second analog. Give the people what they want.