At GDC 2009 we had chance to sit down with Engineous Games and have a look at their in-development iPhone game construction set, Sketch Nation Shooter.  The system was in a very early stage back then and has evolved notably, since.  We posted a demo video the developers released back in December.

Sketch Nation Shooter, as Engineous describes it,

...allows users to create their own games by drawing a player, enemies and a level on a piece of paper and taking a picture of the drawing with their iPhone camera. Users can then share their creations with their friends and other users. Our unique image recognition technology automatically detects the objects drawn and calculates collision boundaries. Sketch Nation Shooter is the only game to incorporate the iPhone camera in such a way. iPod Touch users can import their drawings through the Photo Library. After the drawings are imported into the game, users will be able to place enemies and powerups as well as set their properties in our easy to use in-game editor and then play with their unique creations.

Here at GDC 2010 a year later we had a chance to meet up with the developer once again and were shown a rather impressive demo of the app in its current state, in which he created a simple game in under two minutes and took us through the paces of several more complex games. Once created, users can share their games with other players online through their Facebook login and compare global high scores.

Have a look at the video we captured that demonstrates the system in action.

It's an impressive piece of work and we're anxious to see how much gaming goodness iPhone gamers can create with the system. Sketch Nation Shooter for the iPhone is expected to arrive in the App Store in early April. The developer indicates that an iPad-specific version down the road is likely.

  • Mandi

    So excited for this. I've already started drawing!

  • Mandi

    So excited for this. I've already started drawing!

  • OhSoleMio

    I am SO looking forward to this.
    As long as it isn't too expensive.
    Hoping 1.99 or MAYBE even 2.99.

    Freemium to gain access to database would be cool too.

    Ah.. I can't wait.

  • OhSoleMio

    I am SO looking forward to this.
    As long as it isn't too expensive.
    Hoping 1.99 or MAYBE even 2.99.

    Freemium to gain access to database would be cool too.

    Ah.. I can't wait.

  • str1f3

    Really impressive and creative. I was wondering when this was coming out.

  • str1f3

    Really impressive and creative. I was wondering when this was coming out.

  • http://Www.allan-lee.com Allan

    I'm wondering if it allows for secondary frames for animating the objects/scenery and if multiple planes were possible, in refernece to the z.

    • http://blog.sketchnation.com Nitzan

      Unfortunately no, but the game does create some animations (explosions for example) automatically out of your drawings.

  • http://Www.allan-lee.com Allan

    I'm wondering if it allows for secondary frames for animating the objects/scenery and if multiple planes were possible, in refernece to the z.

    • http://blog.sketchnation.com Nitzan

      Unfortunately no, but the game does create some animations (explosions for example) automatically out of your drawings.

  • http://mohammadfauzitaib.com along123

    whoa! This is soo cooOOooool!!

    • oliath

      This is a very clever proof of concept but it looks like it only ever creates a scrolling shootemup from all the demos i have seen.

      I love the idea of this game but it really does look like it will get pretty boring fast after you have played a number of sketch and white scrolling games.

      I also wonder what the scope for protecting younger users from profanity is. We all know how tight a wrap apple likes to keep on these things especially regarding their latest ban fest on anything with breasts in it.....well i wonder just how many levels we will see full of breasts or willies there will be.... who is going to take responsibility for that?

      • http://blog.sketchnation.com Nitzan

        For abuse - every shared game will be checked by an admin before it is approved.

        As far as the game getting boring, well half the fun is that you never know what crazy games users might come up with: http://tatomic.com/SketchNationShooter/traffic.jpg

  • http://mohammadfauzitaib.com along123

    whoa! This is soo cooOOooool!!

    • oliath

      This is a very clever proof of concept but it looks like it only ever creates a scrolling shootemup from all the demos i have seen.

      I love the idea of this game but it really does look like it will get pretty boring fast after you have played a number of sketch and white scrolling games.

      I also wonder what the scope for protecting younger users from profanity is. We all know how tight a wrap apple likes to keep on these things especially regarding their latest ban fest on anything with breasts in it.....well i wonder just how many levels we will see full of breasts or willies there will be.... who is going to take responsibility for that?

      • http://blog.sketchnation.com Nitzan

        For abuse - every shared game will be checked by an admin before it is approved.

        As far as the game getting boring, well half the fun is that you never know what crazy games users might come up with: http://tatomic.com/SketchNationShooter/traffic.jpg

  • Tower_Defender

    Does it require the camera to incorporate image files? Can you use image files already on your iphone? I don't know... I suggest this so folks with itouches can participate in the fun as well.

    • http://blog.sketchnation.com Nitzan

      You can use the Photo Library to import images, or pick from the build-in art packs.

  • Tower_Defender

    Does it require the camera to incorporate image files? Can you use image files already on your iphone? I don't know... I suggest this so folks with itouches can participate in the fun as well.

    • http://blog.sketchnation.com Nitzan

      You can use the Photo Library to import images, or pick from the build-in art packs.

  • That's Awesome

    that's awesome! I will buy this so you have money to keep developing the concept. Looks like you've been very thoughtful about how to very easy make a casual game.

    my only tweak suggest from watching the video: allow finger to be anywhere for character control/give options for control.

    There could be so many cool game engines you could use for this further down the line. nice for the flying shooters though straight up.

    must go find a pencil

    • http://blog.sketchnation.com Nitzan

      Currently there are two control types implemented: exact control where it follows your finger perfectly, and relative control where your finger can be anywhere on the screen.

      Both can be set in the App options.

      We experimented a bit with accelerometer controls but for some weird reason they break the camera(!) If we have time to figure out the problem we'll include them as well, otherwise they'll come in at the next update.

  • That's Awesome

    that's awesome! I will buy this so you have money to keep developing the concept. Looks like you've been very thoughtful about how to very easy make a casual game.

    my only tweak suggest from watching the video: allow finger to be anywhere for character control/give options for control.

    There could be so many cool game engines you could use for this further down the line. nice for the flying shooters though straight up.

    must go find a pencil

    • http://blog.sketchnation.com Nitzan

      Currently there are two control types implemented: exact control where it follows your finger perfectly, and relative control where your finger can be anywhere on the screen.

      Both can be set in the App options.

      We experimented a bit with accelerometer controls but for some weird reason they break the camera(!) If we have time to figure out the problem we'll include them as well, otherwise they'll come in at the next update.

  • Enderr Wiggin

    Holy freakin' cow this is awesome!

    I'm VERY selective about buying games and I can already say I'll be buying this - I'm not that excited by top-down shooters, but this would be awesome for my kids to draw things and make their own games out of.

    Nitzan: Any thoughts about creating a platformer using this same 'construction set' concept? It'd be so awesome to make my own levels, just like in 'Ultimate Wizard' for the C64...

    • http://blog.sketchnation.com Nitzan

      A platformer is definitely in Sketch Nation's future. The question is how far into the future... :)

  • Enderr Wiggin

    Holy freakin' cow this is awesome!

    I'm VERY selective about buying games and I can already say I'll be buying this - I'm not that excited by top-down shooters, but this would be awesome for my kids to draw things and make their own games out of.

    Nitzan: Any thoughts about creating a platformer using this same 'construction set' concept? It'd be so awesome to make my own levels, just like in 'Ultimate Wizard' for the C64...

    • http://blog.sketchnation.com Nitzan

      A platformer is definitely in Sketch Nation's future. The question is how far into the future... :)

  • Minininjaassassin

    Totally going to draw a giant penis.

  • Minininjaassassin

    Totally going to draw a giant penis.

  • mgrimes

    Sadly it's only worth a buck if you don't use Facebook, and your young kids who you'd like to share games with don't use Facebook (because why would they?)
    Would have been nice to have it feel less like an extension of Facebook with an alternative sharing option (by email, a simple web app, syncing to the mac, gamekit between application install instances... anything?!)

    But in short, just because I don't like Facebook doesn't mean I should have to create a Facebook account for my 5 and 9 year olds that I would like to enjoy the experience with. Fix this and you may find it entices a more diverse community than is currently realized.

  • mgrimes

    Sadly it's only worth a buck if you don't use Facebook, and your young kids who you'd like to share games with don't use Facebook (because why would they?)
    Would have been nice to have it feel less like an extension of Facebook with an alternative sharing option (by email, a simple web app, syncing to the mac, gamekit between application install instances... anything?!)

    But in short, just because I don't like Facebook doesn't mean I should have to create a Facebook account for my 5 and 9 year olds that I would like to enjoy the experience with. Fix this and you may find it entices a more diverse community than is currently realized.