Bogdan Vladu is the owner of Game Dev Helper, a studio that creates popular third-party tools including SpriteHelper, LevelHelper and CodeHelper (previously known as CoronaComplete). After working as a train traffic control software engineer, Bogdan made the leap to mobile game development three years ago, and has since created a range of helpful tools for Corona developers.
The see a complete list of offerings, please visit our 3rd party tools and services page.
The inspiration behind the tools
At the end of 2010, I had an idea to build a simple breakout game with lots of traps, animations and player abilities. The game would have more then 100 levels, and I realized I needed good tools to complete this project. None of the tools on the market impressed me at the time, and as a long-time developer I needed tools that gave me lots of flexibility and didn’t restrict me. That’s how SpriteHelper and LevelHelper got started. After a few weeks of development, I had the first versions of the tools that contained all the features I needed for my game. I was pretty impressed with how everything shaped up and I decided to release them to the public. Here are the first versions of SpriteHelper and LevelHelper:
People noticed my apps and tools, and I started to receive a lot of feedback. It was then that I found out about Corona SDK. Lots of People were emailing me to support Corona so I decided it was a great opportunity to make the product available to more developers.
Time has passed, and a lot of features have been added to the tools. Giving support on the forums and via email helped me understand what people needed. So with each version, I added as many features as I could and made old features more user-friendly.
This is how LevelHelper and SpriteHelper look now:
With LevelHelper and SpriteHelper, I now offer a bundled API. To help users even further, I added in much of the things that I see people struggle with, into the API. For example, I’ve seen people have problems with collision handling, so I added a robust and easy way of doing that. I’ve come across developers having problems with animations, so I added a simple way of handling this as well. All that things that take many lines of code or are hard for users to accomplish, have been added in the API to help users and create a pleasant development experience.
Writing the API for Corona SDK made me realize that I lose a lot of time debugging and searching for errors. That’s how CoronaComplete came about. I always love a challenge and writing a good text editor is hard. Writing a good code editor is even harder.
I always loved the look and feel of Xcode – it’s my favorite IDE, and I thought it will be interesting to have an Xcode specifically tailored for Corona. When I started CoronaComplete, I wanted something native for Mac OS, speed and simplicity in usage. Feedback from the users told me that I succeeded. But, as with all my apps, the best is yet to come.
This is how CoronaComplete looks now:
What is SpriteHelper?
SpriteHelper is a texture editor, with advance resampling algorithms and multiple image formats. It’s also a physics editor that has support for concave and convex shapes, auto tracing, multiple shapes per sprite and advance collision detection such as the ability to figure out via code if you have collided with the head or the torso of a character. Finally, SpriteHelper is an animations editor that provides features such as time per frame, user data per frame and via code, notifications like “animation has ended,” “animation has completed all repetitions,” and “animation has reached frame.” SpriteHelper also comes bundled with an API that makes loading a sprite or an animation together with its physical representation with one line of code.
What is LevelHelper?
LevelHelper is the big brother of SpriteHelper. It uses the generated documents of SpriteHelper and lets you design big, complex levels with or without physics for your game. Among the most important features, are the ability to create joints, parallaxes, custom user data, animations, beziers, path movement and more. Since at the core LevelHelper is a level editor, the most important thing is how you layout the game world. Transformations such as scale, rotation around a specific point or the origin, lasso selection and more are made to be as easy to use as possible.
What is CodeHelper?
CodeHelper is a full IDE for Corona SDK. It has features such as autocomplete with smart arguments, debugging, error navigator, variable printing, assets visualizer, console and more. And since the app was designed to help the user code faster and find the answer he/she is looking for quickly, it has a built-in help navigator – when you write your code, you can also read the documentation of Corona about the particular function you want to use. Switching simulator devices and even recording the simulator and save the recording to a movie file is also supported.
I wish you all happy coding and great ideas for future projects. And as personal advice, don’t get discouraged when things get complicated. It is then, that you will be the most satisfied in what you accomplish.