How Swing Copter Inspired Me to Learn iOS Development


At first, I was perplexed by the controls of this deceptively simple game. You have one life. You’re some type of ball shaped creature with a copter hat. And you’re trying to fly as high as you can while avoiding swinging hammers. You score a point for every hammer level you clear. You tap the screen to move the character left and right, while taking into account the momentum. Most people crash straight into the wall on their first attempt. In many ways this game is much like life.

To succeed at the game requires a very intense type of concentration. Any sort of distraction, even the blink of an eye can send you crashing into a hammer. After about a month of practice, I had attained a high score of 109. I had finally achieved my life goal of scoring over 100 points in Swing Copter. And from that day on, I retired from the game. What remained was a spark of interest in developing iOS games.

And so I set out to teach myself iOS development. As usual, when I begin learning any new thing, I go and consume as much material as I can on the topic. I’m plowing through codeschool courses and raywenderlich tutorials. It took a while getting used to the Xcode environment and working with an IDE, coming from a dynamic language background. Within a couple weeks, I slapped together Scatter Ball, a game based on the Skatter Ball game you normally find at fairs and carnivals.

With SpriteKit and the built in physics engine, it wasn’t too hard to throw something like that together. It didn’t require any advanced physics knowledge or math, just some tinkering around with the API. The game play is simple. You launch a ball by pulling down on the launcher, and you try to catch the ball with the catcher by moving it left and right, as the ball scatters through the pins. If you want to check it out, I’ve published the app on the app store.