StarSceptre: The iOS game that was coded entirely on an iPad

During your commute to work, what do you accomplish? Drink a cup of coffee? Reply to some emails? How about developing a game? That's exactly what London-based developer Richard Morgan, the one-man developer behind 8Bit Magic Games, did!

The Story

StarSceptre is Richard Morgan's second game to hit the App Store, and he coded the entire game on his iPad. He's a busy advertising creative that doesn't have a lot of free time, but as he mentioned on the StarSceptre website, after developing his first game, he was trying hard to find time to work on a new game.

"My work commute is the only spare time I have," says Richard Morgan, "I needed a way to make games in that time – on the move, on my iPad."

Richard's search led him to an app called Codea, which is built on the Lua programming language. The app lets you code programs for iOS right on your iPad. It ended up being a perfect match for Richard's needs and his morning commute to work was no longer wasted time.

When it came to beta-testing StarSceptre, the on-the-go development gave Richard a unique experience of interacting with the people on his train ride every morning.

"When people see me coding and testing the game, I get some really funny looks. They see someone who just can't sit still. So I invite them to try the game, and within seconds they're hooked. It's pure magic to sit and watch someone else not only play your game but get lost in it."

StarSceptre is a success story for indie game developers everywhere. The future of game developing for mobile platforms is constantly changing with new software and hardware becoming available all the time.

Apps like Codea not only give current developers access to a fantastic software they can take anywhere, but it means would-be developers now have fewer barriers getting started. With an iPad in your hand and an app like Codea in your tool belt, it opens up a world of possibilities

The Game

StarSceptre is a retro-style top-down shooter that will remind you of the time you spent as a kid (in the 80s and 90s), spending your quarters at the local arcade.

The controls are motion-based. You steer the ship out of harm's way by tilting your iPad to the left or right. This movement takes only a couple minutes to get used to and does an excellent job of providing a more immersive experience. After only playing it for about 20 minutes, it already felt completely natural to swerve left and right with my hands rather than using more conventional controls.

The visuals are fantastic, and the game runs buttery smooth both on iPhone and iPad. There are absolutely no in-app purchases to be found, and no ads get in the way of gameplay either.

Supporting a creative indie developer is well worth the $1.99 price tag; however, the game also offers a very enjoyable experience, making it a win-win when you purchase the game.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.