Tampa iOS Meetup: Learn how to make games with Sprite Kit and “Flappy Bird”! (Tuesday, April 25, 2017)

I’ve just announced the next session of Tampa iOS Meetup, Tampa Bay’s beginner-friendly gathering for people who want to learn how to write iPhone and iPad apps. It takes place on Tuesday, April 25th at 6:30 p.m., and we’re going to code Flappy Bird!

The best videogames are the ones that tap into that masochistic, addiction-prone part of your brain, the one that tells you to play just once more, because this time you’ve got it figured out. They are, to borrow a line from Atari/Chuck E. Cheese founder Nolan Bushnell, “easy to learn, hard to master”. In 2013, Flappy Bird met those criteria for 50 million frustrated-but-addicted players. It was a free iOS game where you tapped the screen to make a bird’s wings flap and give it lift as it navigated an increasingly maddeningly impassable field of Mario-esque tubes. Coded by 29-year-old Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen over the course of a few nights after work, it got millions of downloads and was making $50,000 a day just through advertising.

Click the graph to see the source.

“Games” is the most popular category in the iOS App Store, accounting over 25% of active apps. They’re over two and a half times as popular as the next-most-popular category, business apps. Look in any place where people are waiting these days — in line at the bank or grocery, at public transit stops and airports, cafes and restaurants — and you’ll see people passing the time with a mobile game. Gaming is a basic human activity — we’ve had them since our earliest days, and we’ve had computer games for almost as long as we’ve had computers.

Despite the fact that games are the most-used type of mobile app, there are far fewer game development tutorials than there are for “standard” apps. That’s a pity, because one of the best ways to learn programming is satisfaction, and there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a game you created in action. While games can be complex, the concepts behind them are simple, and some of the most popular games are pretty simple as well. Why not try game development as a way to learn programming, Swift, and iOS?

Animated scene showing 'Flappy Bird' gameplay.

The Details

This is a hands-on workshop! It works best if you bring a Mac laptop, as you’ll build a simple game as I walk you through the project and explain game programming principles. At the end, I’ll show you where you can download files for the completed game, so you can learn from it and start coding your own!

(Yes, you can still come if you don’t bring a Mac laptop.)

What’s Tampa iOS Meetup all about?

Tampa iOS Meetup is the Tampa Bay area’s meetup for beginning programmers and developers new to iOS development. We take a hands-on approach because it’s our answer to a question that I’ve been asked again and again, and it goes something like this:

“I’ve been studying iOS development for some time, and I’m still having a problem writing apps. I know how to program specific features in iOS, but I don’t know how to turn a bunch of features into an app.”

It’s one thing to go through tutorials that show you how to program a specific feature. It’s a completely different thing to take the knowledge from those tutorials and then write an app. My goal for Tampa iOS Meetup in 2017 is to show you how to make that leap by walking you through the process of making apps.

Special thanks to our sponsor

Tampa iOS Meetup wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of Wolters Kluwer. They provide both the space in which to hold the meetup, as well as the food and drinks! Special thanks to John Wang, my go-to guy at Wolters Kluwer, and source of valuable feedback for my presentations.