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Now it's time to start working on the good stuff, you're going to construct the first version of your Penguin Launcher

Setup the scene

Open GameScene.sks, set Size to iPhone SE. Remove the SKLabel that came with the default game project. Drag background.png into the stage and snap to the Top-left. Drag ground.png and snap to the bottom-left.

Remember the Bear scene object you made? You will be adding the animated Bear.sks to this scene. SpriteKit lets you add SKS files using using a SKReferenceNode. This is a super powerful feature, and you will make extensive use of it.

If you drag a SKS into the scene and you can't see it, a Quick Save of the scene usually fixes this.

Open GameScene.sks and drag Bear.sks into the stage and place it somewhere near the bottom-left of the scene.

You should have something that looks like this:

GameScene preview

Click on Animate in the timeline bar to see your bear in action.

Building a catapult

Drag catapult.png into the stage, place it near the bottom-left and set Name to catapult Drag catapultArm.png into the stage, place it over the catapult and set Name to catapultArm

You want to ensure the Z-Position of each node looks right, you easily do this with the Scene Graph.

Move your nodes around until the scene looks more natural. GameScene Graph

Run your game...

GameScene basic preview

Launcher model 1

Before modeling the final catapult physics, you are going to implement a simple launching mechanism to learn a bit more about projectile physics first.

SpriteKit doesn't include any handy vector maths libraries out of the box, thankfully the internet tends provide :] There is a handy collection of helper classes and functions called SKTUtils, we've updated these to the latest Xcode so please Download, unzip it and add it into to your project. Copy if needed

Time for you to: - Pin the catapult arm - Spawn penguins - Apply physics forces

Open GameScene.swift and replace the contents with:

import SpriteKit

class GameScene: SKScene {

    /* Game object connections */
    var catapultArm: SKSpriteNode!

    override func didMove(to view: SKView) {
        /* Set reference to catapultArm SKSpriteNode */
        catapultArm = childNode(withName: "catapultArm") as! SKSpriteNode

    override func touchesBegan(_ touches: Set<UITouch>, with event: UIEvent?) {

        /* Add a new penguin to the scene */
        let penguin = MSReferenceNode(fileNamed: "Penguin")

        /* Move penguin to the catapult bucket area */
        penguin.avatar.position = catapultArm.position + CGPoint(x: 32, y: 50)

    override func update(_ currentTime: TimeInterval) {


You're adding Penguin.sks to the scene using your custom MSReferenceNode class. This subclass lets you access the penguin SKSpriteNode inside the Penguin.sks through the use of the avatar property in MSReferenceNode.
To place the penguin at the right spot, take the position of the catapultArm then add (32,50) points to place the penguin roughly around the catapult bucket.

Run your game...

Animated penguin launcher

Great, the penguin spawns at the catapult but sadly falls out of the game world.

Ground physics

You need to enable physics on the ground node to add some much needed physicality to the world.

Can you setup the ground node physics?

The ground will be a static physics body and you want to ensure an accurate shape. Set Body Type to Alpha this is a great option for complex shapes and it will create a physics body that follows the contours of the texture, in this case the ground.png.
Uncheck Dynamic, this sets the body to be Static think of this as an immovable rock with infinite mass.

GameScene basic preview

Run your game. How many penguins you can add? Even a little bit of physics in a game can feel fun :]


It would be nice to add a little impulse to the penguin to get it moving. Imagine the penguin is being hit by an invisible baseball bat.

Add the following to the end of the touchesBegan(...) method:

/* Impulse vector */
let launchDirection = CGVector(dx: 1, dy: 0)
let force = launchDirection * 300

/* Apply impulse to penguin */

First setup a force vector with direction (1,0) e.g. Right

If you need a little recap on vectors, this diagram illustrates the direction of the vector (1,0)

Vector direction

Next multiply this by 300 to ensure you have sufficient impulse to make the penguin fly! Please feel free to tweak with these value and see what happens.

Run your game... Your penguins should hopefully fly across the screen now.

Animated penguin launcher


Your game is starting to come to life, you've learnt to:

  • Build a basic game scene
  • Construct your first version of the catapult
  • Dynamically add penguins to the scene
  • Apply a physics impulse vector to launch the penguin

In the next chapter you will design your first game level.


If you have feedback on this tutorial or find any mistakes, please open issues on the GitHub Repository.

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