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Book Review - Learn iPhone and iPad Cocos2d Game Development, by Steffen Itterheim
by Michael Haney on 09/19/11 06:08:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Disclosure Statement/Supporting Story: I *was not* supplied a free evaluation copy of Steffen Itterheim's book. I initially purchased this book through Google Books, but it was DRM bound to adobe's reading software, which was unable to index or search the document for text. I was unhappy with this and emailed Steffen directly asking for a DRM free PDF of the book equivalent to the one being sold by the publisher. I emailed him my receipt and he emailed me back a DRM free PDF of the book. It's hard for me not to support an author who clearly supports his product as much as Steffen does. In any case, find my brief review of the book below:

What to expect

  • Great explanation of cocos2d classes and usage
  • Great examples of working game code, you'll even make a couple of games using this book
  • Clear and perhaps even more importantly, concise explanation of code and concepts
  • Some programming knowledge is required, but you could consider this a beginner's book
  • Explanations as to *why* you do things the way you just did
  • Some professional tips and tricks that are very helpful in making a game (performance considerations, memory usage, etc)
  • A great deal of material
  • Some basic instructions on game center, ad hoc deployment, provisioning, and certificate generation (Apple development account stuff)

What to NOT expect

  • Explanation of technical game design in general
  • Explanation of objective c or the cocoa libraries
  • Explanation of game programming paradigms
  • A book for absolute beginners 
  • Anything related to artwork (with the exception of how to maximize performance and memory usage, as it pertains to artwork)
  • Extremely detailed instructions on deploying your game to the app store
  • Instructions on registering company accounts with Apple

My take
Overall, this was probably one of the best game engine programming books I've ever read. The example games were interesting and relatively non-trivial. The information was generally not fluff--reading the book thoroughly is a must because there's a lot of advice given in the text that will help you with the engine later on. For example, in my game Total Toads, our particle effects were performing extremely poorly. I referred back to this book and immediately figured out from the particle effects section that it was because our particle textures were way larger than they needed to be! This book is definitely a keeper if you plan to make cocos2d games, I refer to it frequently! I'd definitely recommend purchasing this book if you have little to no knowledge of game engine programming, but do have some knowledge of programming in general (in objective-c). Knowledge of the Cocoa libraries are not needed for this book. I would've liked to see more information on generic game programming (i.e. common design patterns and techniques), but this book should be more than sufficient to teach you everything you need to know to make a simple first game. All you need to do is supply a good idea and some hard work.

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Fernando Fernandes
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It sounds good. I'll give it a shot. Do you guys know this Cocos2d course from uDemy?
e-from-scratch/ If yes, what is your take on it?

Michael Haney
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I've never heard of that until now. My immediate impressions are that books are a bit easier to learn from books than videos because you can go at your own pace. Books also tend to have more detail in them than videos. Not to mention that that video tutorial costs about 4x what the book costs. I'd like to try it out...but I'm unwilling to spend that much money on it.

Steffen Itterheim
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Thanks for this review! :)

I want to add that the 2nd edition of the Learn Cocos2D book is coming, most likely end of October 2011. The entire book has gotten a 2nd pass, and it has a new chapter about integrating UIKit (Cocoa Touch) libraries with Cocos2D. It also introduces you to Kobold2D ( which includes all the projects from the book, and most of them have been ported to also work on Mac.

Also, my trusted programmer's artwork was replaced in several instances in favor of more, uhm, presentable graphics. :)

And a lot more improvements. I'm really selling myself short here being a programmer, not a marketer.