Guest Post: The Birth of Corona – Part II

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This is a guest post by Joseph DeSetto. His work includes Corona App of the Week winner Holidazed, a new retro arcade game called Blastonauts (currently “In Review”), and the first two games ever made with Corona — Box of Sox and tapDots.

Joe is author of The Business of Design and Flash MX: Rich Media for the Web and was a speaker at the 2009 HOW Design Conference. He can be found online at or @desetto on Twitter.

Also, in case you missed it, you can read Part I of The Birth of Corona saga here. 😉

We knew when Apple approved tapDots for sale in 2009 that Corona was, in fact, a viable way to create games for the iPhone. It was time to create a next game and push the new SDK a bit further.

I was folding laundry and thought about matching pairs of socks as a game.

My partners and I agreed it was an obscure, but promising, idea with the potential for some great vector art. I made a few crude sketches to get us started, and we then spent a few hours with a deck of Uno cards working out the basic concept, based rather loosely on upside-down Tetris.

Corona was still very early in development, so we needed to do something without physics or gyros or other features that Corona users now take for granted. Matching socks seemed like a good fit as a second “will Apple allow this in the App Store?” test.

Todd Williams got to work on a prototype. Using just colored squares and still sending builds to Walter the Server for processing, we had something that resembled a game rather quickly.

'Box of Sox' prototype

Box of Sox was never a hit on the scale of Flight Control or Angry Birds, but did well for awhile and then was eventually made available for free. But the game was fun and fast and we did get many emails and tweets from addicted players. More importantly, we were now in the games business and Corona was becoming a viable product. It was time to tell the world how we did our “laundry game” with this new SDK.

Instead of launching in a press release to tech pundits in and around Silicon Valley, Carlos and Walter wanted to demo Corona directly to potential customers — graphic designers that were not going to spend six months learning Objective-C.

In June of 2009, I presented a session called iPhone Development for Designers at the HOW Design Conference. We were given a room at the Austin Convention Center with seating for 100, and every chair, wall, and empty space on the floor was filled. Clearly, designers were interested in making iPhone games.

Amusingly, just after finishing my polished set of slides for my first conference speaking gig, I ended up in a shouting match during our otherwise polite Q&A with an Adobe apologist in the audience. He wanted to speculate that Flash would, someday, be well optimized for iPhone and Flash games would be allowed in the App Store.

My answer to him at the time remains the same two years later: If you want to release games in the App Store, why are you waiting around for Adobe to get it right? Flash, especially as a Macromedia product, was a great tool in its time — around the time I wrote a book called Flash MX: Rich Media for the Web and no two computers could stream video the same way. But mobile is a different animal entirely and I felt, and still believe today, Corona is well positioned to being the leading cross-platform development tool for mobile devices.

One disgruntled Flash developer aside, Corona was well received at HOW and in the press coverage that followed. Two years have passed now since Corona found its first fans at HOW and started to overcome its first skeptics. Its been a long strange trip since I was introduced at a Miami hotel lobby to a secretive project that would become Corona.

Congrats to Carlos and Walter on the second anniversary of Corona.
We all look forward to seeing what you have up your sleeve in the next two years…

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This entry has 4 replies

  1. Walter says:

    Thanks Joe for the trip down memory lane. Cannot believe it has been two years ago to the day that we were at HOW!

  2. Carlos Icaza says:

    Joe, I remember how Walter was the first Ansca build server and you kept calling us for features, details and how things should work, not work, etc.

    I will see if I can post some of the pictures from that very first trade show. We all did.

    We had no idea how this venture would turn out, but I think that you, as well as all of our other Corona developers, have made it quite an enjoyable ride for all of us here at Ansca.


  3. Daniel says:

    What an interesting back story. I am enjoying Corona so far and I cannot wait to see what comes in the future!

  4. Altaf says:

    wonderful job, team at corona. I am a fan. Corona is to mobile development what VB was to software development more than a decade ago.