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Leveling up: Apple Sprite Kit improves iOS game development

By Paul Williams / September 9, 2013

One of the more interesting, yet under publicized, iOS 7 features is the Apple Sprite Kit. This new development framework contains a set of APIs that provide sprite animation, physics routines and particle systems for drawing fire, explosions and smoke for 2D mobile games.

Will the iOS 7 Sprite Kit replace Unity or Cocos2D?

The Sprite Kit is essentially the game development version of Apple’s Core Animation API, which makes it easy for developers to program the animated transitions and other graphic effects that are essential to the iOS user experience. Some pundits online have compared it to the popular Unity and Cocos2D game development frameworks.

If you’re a developer planning to enter the iOS game market, you should feel more comfortable working within one of Apple’s own frameworks instead of a third-party tool with less resources behind it. In fact, the Cocos2D community took a hit when Zynga swooped in and hired away one of the framework’s lead developers in 2011.

iOS 7 offers more game development features

A framework for the easy coding of sprite animation and particle physics isn’t the only iOS 7 feature aimed at game developers. UI Kit provides an API for creating even sharper animations and transitions than what’s possible with Core Animation. If you want to add some sizzle to your game’s overall user interface, UI Kit is definitely something you should be looking at.

iOS 7 also offers support for traditional console game controllers — including those using MFi wireless — and a revamped Game Center that hopes to increase competition between friends and strangers all over the world. So if you’re hard at work inventing the next big racing game or first-person shooter, you can soon expect better API support for two-player turn-based gaming.

Best of all, because these game dev tools are also coming for OS X Mavericks (and possibly even Apple TV), porting games between Apple’s desktop and mobile operating systems will be easier than entering a cheat code.