The Story Tellers Kit 2 – Built for iOS9 and Swift 2
Welcome to a world of limitless possibilities!
This kit can be used to create everything from simple straight-forward tales to interactive books that change with each reader. Images, animations, even the story text itself can be determined by the reader. And on top of that, you can add countless mini-games, puzzles, hidden interactions, alternate pathways, and so on. All without ever writing code!
- Layout and animate images within Xcode. No more figuring out where things go by plugging in x and y coordinates into the property list.
- Your Pages can use two completely different Scenes, one for the iPad and one for the iPhone, but the properties that define the content can be shared.
- Your images can be physics based. Readers could throw a ball against a wall and have it bounce around. And you can trigger events to occur when certain images collide with another.
- We have a camera! Your page can even set a different camera for the iPhone or iPad (and share the same Scene file). The camera can track a specific object and you can even make images or labels stick to the camera (great for interface elements or inventory slots).
- Text-to-Speech features, including voice properties (dialect / accent, pitch, rate, etc) and text support for unlimited languages.
- Parallax movements. We know everyone loves a slick parallax effect, so not to worry, the kit makes those incredibly easy.
- You can layout labels for text that changes over time. You could even have the user open the iOS keyboard, fill in part of the story themselves, and that text will stay there every time they open the app. A parent could write a child’s name into the story and even include some of their favorite things to read about.
- Find and collect things. Readers search for items in pages, collect them by moving them (or an icon representing them) to an inventory slot. You can even make readers have to collect things to proceed to the next page or before something else is possible.
- Readers can set preferences for the textures of images and animation. So a girl reading the story might choose the hero character to be a courageous princess, and a boy reading it might choose a pirate.
- You can trigger an unlimited number of events at once on an unlimited number of scene element (sadly our previous kit only let you do about 5 things at once).
- You can set up timers and listeners to trigger events. So for something to happen, conditions you create might have to equal something, exceed something, not equal something, intersect, etc. And these conditions can be run in groups, so for example, you might only turn the page when the reader has paired together 4 letters to spell a word. This the cornerstone of an endless number of games.
- On-Demand Resources – This new feature allows your app’s to download resources as needed. So a 500MB binary, might only be a 20Mb download initially since the reader only needs Chapter 1 of your app at first.
- In-App Purchasing – Give away your book for free, then add in-app purchases to up-sell extra content. We’ll be adding support for both consumable and non-consumable purchases. The feature will be available to setup when iOS9 is officially released
Oh the places your readers can go….
Design and animate pages directly within Xcode…
Xcode 7 introduces the option to visually compose Actions on a timeline. You can do this in the Scene for your page OR you can create a separate file specifically for Actions to reuse later (either from the Property list or by dragging them into your page scene).
From there, you’ll simply drag and drop Actions into the timeline. You can change their duration and other settings from the Attributes editor . You can even select multiple Actions and make them loop infinitely. Actions make it easy to compose a series of sounds, or sequences of animations all without writing code or setting properties in the kit’s Property List.
None of the moving elements in the example video on the right were set using properties in the kit’s Property List. They are all physics based or composed using timeline Actions.
Save Characters and Collect Items / Inventory
Some of the coolest features of the kit have to do with saving a reader’s experience and preferences. This could be a favorite dress for their princess, or a favorite vehicle to navigate the world. The kit also makes it incredibly easy to save values for whatever you want. Via the property list you get to choose the name and value of anything worth saving. For example, it could be as simple as Vehicle is Car. So pages can load up with variations based on these saved values. For example you can set textures, run animations, or do unlimited events based on whether or not Vehicle equals Car. You could even jump to other pages, open secret doors, show buttons meant only for cars. These saved values persist throughout the lifespan of the app too! So even if the user closes it, their favorite option will be back next time they open the book app.
The demo video to the right demonstrates this and also shows some inventory features, how the camera can track nodes, and how you can define paths for the character or any node to move along.
Add Physics to make your tale feel real!
Is there anything more fun than seeing things unexpectedly fall? Or slide, or roll, or bounce around? The kit fully supports all the amazing physics properties available as of Xcode 7. And we’ve enhanced them by including easy-to-trigger events to turn on or off things like gravity and physics-based movement whenever you want. And you can create buttons to force physics-based images to move around. For example, you could create multi-directional buttons (Up, Down, Left and Right) to push things around, perhaps in a maze. Plus you can listen for contacts between specific bodies and do an unlimited number of events when they collide.
So not only could you simply enhance a story book with these features, you can create entire mini-games. Angry Birds for example, is nothing more than pushing one thing toward a bunch of other things and counting up what happens afterwards.
No Coding Needed. Ever. Seriously.
So you’ve got a great idea for a children’s book app. You’ve got the illustrations yourself, or maybe you’ve hired someone for that part. But you can’t code and you can’t hire a developer for 20k to do the project for you. That’s where this kit comes in.
We don’t expect our buyers to know anything about programming with Swift 2 (or any language). And we don’t expect you to learn either. That’s our job. We’ve created a world where all you have to do is set simple properties that control or add functionality to the elements you’ve laid out in Xcode.
Aside from adding properties to the images you’ve added to your scene, you can create properties that listen for particular things to happen (like intersections, or values equaling specific amounts), timers to do unlimited events at particular intervals, generators that clone elements (for example, a single star could create an entire night sky with random textures), tap and rotation gestures, and so much more!
We wrote an entire iBook documenting the things we’ve made my possible!
Timers, Generators, Listeners and an Arsenal of Events
The Story Tellers iOS Starter Kit 2 can be used to create thousands of story book apps, but this also includes games. And we do, literally mean thousands. The kit includes over 100 events and various ways to trigger those events. Example events are moving an element along a path, opening a page, panning elements, reversing gravity, incrementing a variable (saved value), stopping all physics on an element, playing sounds, setting different textures, switching cameras, and the list goes on. You can perform these events by simply setting properties (again, you never need to write code). Ways to trigger events include….
- Timers, as either a one-time event or repeatedly called at intervals you set
- Touch Events or Touch Up Events (when the user’s finger leaves the screen)
- Gestures (tap, double tap, rotate, two finger tap, three finger, etc)
- Automatically when a new page (scene) opens
- When physics bodies collide with one another (including specific objects)
- When new elements are generated (cloned) or added to a scene
- And last but not least, with Listeners that are constantly “listening” for certain conditions. For example, values equaling an amount, not equaling an amount, intersections, etc.
On top of the growing list of events we’ve added in the kit, events can also run actions which also give you countless ways to control elements / nodes in your scene. Actions can rotate, position, move, scale, hide, show, animate textures, play sounds, and more.
Keep in mind, the starter kit is Swift 2 and SpriteKit based, which is the bleeding edge of up-to-date iOS code. As such, you’ll never have to worry about the kit not being up to Apple’s standards or third-party frameworks “breaking” things down the road. That’s not something we want to worry about either, so we’re using Apple’s frameworks only. Plus although you don’t need to, you can alter the code or extend it using two Swift files meant for you to add code modifications (and not worry about us over-writing those particular files when we update the kit).
Puzzles that breath fire! Physics-based stacking games, and more!
Puzzles were a popular mini-game in our first Story Tellers Kit, so we’ve brought them back in full force for this kit. To make traditional puzzles even more spectacular, you can attach particle emitters to individual pieces, for example, a fire emitter could stick to the piece with a dragon’s mouth. But simple 2D puzzles are just the beginning. You can make elaborate physics-based puzzles. The kit includes a demo page with a stackable rock puzzle where pieces most be arranged in order.
Lights, Cameras, Shadows! Oh what a lovely scene.
Design with Different Scene Files for the iPhone and iPad
In most cases, you can design your book’s pages (technically speaking, .sks Scene files) using a single file for both the iPhone and iPad. Although there’s an obvious difference in size between the two devices, this can be solved by having two different cameras in your scene, one for each device family. And we’ve also added some properties that help fine-tune some differences between the devices. But if you choose to, you can create two different scene files, and layout elements in unique ways for each device. You could even use different images, but name elements the same so your property list entries can be used for both scenes. If you really want to do things differently for both devices, you could have separate scene files and a separate property list page as well (we doubt you’ll ever need to do that though). Point is, we’ve made the kit as easy as possible to support Universal apps, while also giving you the flexibility to design things completely separate for the iPhone and iPad.
And yes you can lock pages….
As hinted at in the images above, you can lock pages until the reader has done something in the book. For example, collecting items, reading other pages, and when iOS9 is officially released, we’ll add In-App Purchasing features, so you can unlock pages via actual purchases!
Particle Emitters, Lights, Physics Fields, Sound Emitters, and more…
Unfortunately, we can’t take credit for giving you such cool options like, audio emitters, particle emitters, linear or radial gravity fields, spring fields, drag fields, turbulence fields, noise fields, lights (with shadows), because all that’s build right into Xcode 7. You can drag and drop these right into your scene and start seeing their effect (in some cases in the preview area without building your app). For example, in the image to the left, a Light node is added, then the Earth image has it’s Light Mask and Shadow Mask set to the same number as the Light node, and wah-lah! Moving the Earth around casts a different shadow in relation to the light node.
We’ve added plenty of properties and events to interact with every kind of node. For example, you could attach any node to any other, and even set a parallax effect so the two move in relation to each other but not exactly at a 1 to 1 ratio.
Glorious iBook Documentation
To whet your appetite for this kit, we’re giving away every bit of documentation for free. Below you can find links to download the glorious iBook version of the guide or an alternate PDF version.
The iBook version can be downloaded directly to your iPad, iPad mini or Mac and opened in iBooks.Download the iBook Download the PDF
Example Pages from the Documentation
Video Documentation and Demos
Text-to-Speech Options and Adding a Language Preference Menu to your iOS Story Book App
Refining Thumbnail Menus with Separate Open and Close Buttons in the Story Tellers iOS Starter Kit
Changing/Saving Characters and Following Paths in the Story Tellers iOS Starter Kit 2
So it’s your first time with Xcode and the Story Tellers iOS Starter Kit 2…. Now what? (Video Guide)
Video Guide to Making a Stackable Physics-Based Puzzle in the Story Tellers iOS Starter Kit 2
Added Bonus: Watch the entire making of the kit and learn Swift 2!
Learn the Swift 2 programming behind the Story Teller iOS Starter Kit 2! As a buyer of the kit, not only do you get the kit itself, you also have access to this in-depth 14 hour series of creation videos. If you ever decide to make modifications to your version of the kit, you’ll know exactly where to add code and how it all works. If you just want to learn a little casual coding the first couple hours are a great introduction to using Swift 2 and setting up a Universal Sprite Kit app.
- Initial Setup with Xcode 7’s Scene features
- Page Events, Next, Previous, Random Pages, and Transitions
- Element / SKNodes – Showing, Hiding, Removing, and Moving Based on Touch
- Running SKActions from the Property List
- Setting Up Dynamic SKLabelNodes
- SKEmitterNodes, Event Timers, Listeners and Element Generators
- Tap and Rotation Gestures in Swift 2
- Sounds, Textures, and Camera Tracking
- Physics in Sprite Kit and Swift 2
- Conditional Values, Saving SKTexture Preferences, Touch Up Events, Inventory Slots / Paths and More