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Brace for Impact!

(Silly title, I know, but how could I ever resist such an opportunity?)

My HTML5 Game Engine Impact is now ready. It took some time, but I think it was worth it. I'm proud of what I have achieved and I hope you'll like it too.

Part of why it took so long to put it all together is that it now runs on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Try it yourself at playbiolab.com and impactjs.com/drop or watch a short video:

All those platforms still have their problems with sound and the iPhone 4 has a hard time filling all its pixels, but the games remain to be playable even on the 1st gen iPod Touch. You can read a bit more about Impact on mobile platforms in the documentation.

Even with iOS support, it might come as a shock to some of you that I am selling Impact, rather than releasing it for free. I love free and open source software and I've been contributing stuff for quite some time now. I had a hard time thinking about whether to release my Game Engine for free. The reason I decided to charge for Impact is a) it is easily the biggest thing I've ever made and I'd love to continue working on it full time, and b) I believe it is worth the money.

Ironically, my decision to sell Impact set back the release date quite a bit. If I'm selling something, I want it to be worth every penny. And even though the engine hasn't been far from completion for some time, I hadn't written a single line of documentation.

I feel that a good documentation is crucial for the success and adoption of any software project. So I set myself the goal to write the best documentation I possibly could.

I'm not a big fan of inline documentation (with documentation generators like JSDoc) because it tends to clutter the source code with trivial statements and – more importantly – makes it easy to write bad documentation. If you are writing the documentation separately from the code, you think about it differently. You think about the documentation as something that works without the source code, something that makes sense without the source code.

You rarely see code examples in automatically generated documentations, but for me as a developer, code examples are oftentimes exactly what I need. Take a look at the documentation for the ig.Entity Class - one of the more complex classes of Impact. This is something documentation generators just can't do.

Of course it took me longer to write the documentation separately than it would have if I wrote it inline, but this is only because it is more in-depth, more thorough.

But don't take my word for it. Please see for yourself!

On a lighter note, I'm currently sending out a few thousand emails to those who signed up on the old Impact landing page. I'm using a 10-line PHP script for that. Let's see how this turns out...

Monday, December 20th 2010
— Dominic Szablewski, @phoboslab