Launching penguins is a mechanic, smashing seals and ice blocks is a game. Time to design your first level.

Level loading

Now let's solve the first puzzle. Problem: You want to be able to have the potential for unlimited levels in your game. Therefore you don't want the game mechanics (shooting, collision detection, etc.) to be part of the level itself. Otherwise you would be in big trouble if you wanted to change your mechanics. You would need to apply the changes to every level. Which isn't going to be much fun at all.

This means you are not going to hard code a level directly into your GameScene.sks. A better solution is to define an area in the GameScene.sks that is reserved for level design and load a level node into that area.

Level node

Drag an Empty Node into the stage, set Position to (190,-111)` Add level node

This node will be the container for the level you will be creating. The actual loading mechanic will happen in code, you will need to create a code connection to this node to make it accessible to the GameScene class.

Set Name to levelHolder

Create a code connection for the levelHolder node in GameScene.swift

Designing a level

Create a new SKS file (File > New > File > SpriteKit Scene), set Name to Level1.sks Set Size to Custom - (490,275) Set Anchor Point to (0,0)

Time to design your very first level, drag in any of the block assets and drag a few Seal.sks onto the stage and create your own unique design :]

Design tip: Put an asset close to the left edge of the scene, that way the player will be able to see a hint of the level to come.

You need to enable physics on all of the blocks if you want them to be part of the physics simulation. Thankfully you can Hold Cmd and select each node and then set the Physics Definition properties for the group.

Here is one I made earlier: Level 1 Design

Select your blocks and set Body Type to Bounding rectangle Block Physics 1

Did you notice the wall on the right hand side was not part of this setup? That's because this wall is a static wall used to stop the penguin leaving the scene.

Add a wall at the edge of the level. Select your blocks and set Body Type to Bounding rectangle Uncheck Dynamic as this will be a static immovable wall. Block Physics 2

Level loader

Now you are going to add a level loading mechanic.

Open GameScene.swift If you had any issue completing the levelHolder code connection challenge, here is a recap:

Add this property to your class:

/* Level loader holder */
var levelHolder: SKNode!

Add the code connection to the didMove(...) method:

/* Set reference to levelHolder SKNode */
levelHolder = childNode(withName: "levelHolder")

To load your level scene into the GameScene, add the following to the end of didMove(to:):

/* Load Level 1 */
let resourcePath = Bundle.main.path(forResource: "Level1", ofType: "sks")
let level = SKReferenceNode (url: URL (fileURLWithPath: resourcePath!))

This will load the Level1.sks scene using a SKReferenceNode and then the level is added to the level holder, placing it in the game scene.

Run your game... You should see a hint of your level if you put an object near the left edge of Level1. You can launch the penguins but you can't see what's happening.

Level 1 Screenshot

Using a camera

Now that you can launch penguins, it's time to improve the experience by tracking the penguin in flight across the game world. SpriteKit features a SKCameraNode that lets you view a scene through a virtual camera. However, as it stands there is no in-built functionality to follow a node so you are going to have to build your own node tracking solution for the camera.

Add the camera

First you need to add the SKCameraNode to the scene.

Open GameScene.sks, drag a Camera onto the stage, set Name to camera and Position to (0,0) which adds it nicely to the first half of your game world. Adding the camera

Great, you now have a camera that by default displays the first half of the game scene. Before you can view the scene through the eye of the camera, you need to assign the camera to the scene.

Select the scene and set camera to camera. Setting the scene camera

Run your game... Yeah it looks just the same as before :]

Tracking a node

First up you need to have a target for the camera to follow, this would be the penguin. You will be adding a trackerNode property and helpers to the GameScene class, allowing you to track the targeted node and use the update(...) method to animate the camera movement.

Add the following properties to your GameScene class:

/* Tracking helpers */
var trackerNode: SKNode? {
  didSet {
      if let trackerNode = trackerNode {
          /* Set tracker */
          lastTrackerPosition = trackerNode.position
var lastTrackerPosition = CGPoint(x: 0, y: 0)
var lastTimeInterval:TimeInterval = 0

At the end of the touchesBegan(...) method add:

/* Set tracker to follow penguin */
trackerNode = penguin.avatar

When the trackerNode is set to track a new object, you can implement the didSet observer to reset the other tracking helpers.

Add this to your update(...) method:

/* Check there is a node to track and camera is present */
if let trackerNode = trackerNode, let camera = camera {

    /* Calculate horizontal distance to move */
    let moveDistance = trackerNode.position.x - lastTrackerPosition.x

    /* Duration is time between updates */
    let moveDuration = currentTime - lastTimeInterval

    /* Create a move action for the camera */
    let moveCamera = SKAction.moveBy(x: moveDistance, y: 0, duration: moveDuration)

    /* Store last tracker position */
    lastTrackerPosition = trackerNode.position

/* Store current update step time */
lastTimeInterval = currentTime

Take a little time to read through the comments and follow the code.

Run your game... The camera will track the penguin and you can see your hand crafted level design in action.

Restart the game

Now that the player can demolish a level, it also would be great for them to be able to restart the game. It's also very useful for testing your game, always add a restart button.

You will implement this button like you did for the Main Menu, by utilizing the MSButtonNode class.

If you finding yourself needing to create button graphics, take a look at the Make School resources list.

Let's add the restart button to the GameScene.

Open GameScene.sks and drag restart.png into the stage. The Top-Left of the screen would be a nice position. Set Name to buttonRestart and set Custom Class to MSButtonNode.

Run your game... You will notice the restart button is stuck to the game scene, it would be nice to have a UI Layer that sits on top of the game scene so it's always accessible to the player.

Thankfully there is a nice shortcut you can take here, you can effectively stick the button to the camera.

Select buttonRestart and set Parent to camera.

Remember you can also set a node's parent by using the Scene Graph.

Restart Button

Next you need to code connect the button and add a selectedHandler that will restart the GameScene when touched.

Can you do this yourself? Hint: Look at the MainScene buttonPlay implementation.

Open GameScene.swift and add the code connection property.

/* UI Connections */
var buttonRestart: MSButtonNode!

Add the code connection to didMove(...):

/* Set reference to buttonRestart SKSpriteNode */
buttonRestart = childNode(withName: "//buttonRestart") as! MSButtonNode

Add a selectedHandler to restart the GameScene in didMove(...):

/* Setup button selection handler */
buttonRestart.selectedHandler = { [unowned self] in

  if let view = self.view {

    // Load the SKScene from 'GameScene.sks'
    if let scene = SKScene(fileNamed: "GameScene") {

        // Set the scale mode to scale to fit the window
        scene.scaleMode = .aspectFill

        // Present the scene

    // Debug helpers
    view.showsFPS = true
    view.showsPhysics = true
    view.showsDrawCount = true


Run your game... Your Restart button should be fully operational.


Congrats! This is starting to look like a real game.

You learnt to:

  • Implement a dynamic level loader
  • Design your first level
  • Using a SKCameraNode to track a node
  • Adding a restart button

In the next chapter you are going to learn how to take your physics to the next level and build a better catapult.


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

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