November Mobile App Development Report

8 Dec
2016

Development work in November was mostly devoted to working on the new finance app I’ve been working on & off with. I continued to gather and check information for different categories and arrange  them in separate lists. I also decided on which exact categories to have in the app, which makes information compiling more productive. In December & January I’ll continue working with a large amount of data for this app. No guarantees, but I plan on releasing this app in the first or early second quarter of 2017. I’ll be reusing a lot of the code that I used in my Quiz of Medicine & RX Quiz of Pharmacy apps so that will save me a lot of time after completing the massive data section. I haven’t touched the design aspect of it yet so the timeframe of app completion will then depend on how quickly that progresses. I have a few rough ideas in mind on how I want it to look, but I want to complete the data portion before diving into design this time.

I ported Word Owl’s Word Search First Grade & Christmas editions to Google Play last month. With the release of great new devices, improvements to the developer console, a huge user base, and increasing download numbers for some of my apps, I’ve decided to focus more on the Google Play store. Apple iOS will still be my main target, and Amazon will stay at second in importance, but now Google Play will be a very strong third target for my apps. I already make an Android based build when I’m releasing an app on Amazon so when I make a build for Google Play I won’t have to change a lot. I won’t be releasing every one of my apps on Google Play because I still have some issues with the store, but going forward I will be focusing more energy there with new apps and possibly some of my older apps. Until next time ∞

More Word Owl’s Word Search Apps on Google Play

26 Nov
2016

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Word Owl’s Word Search First Grade and Christmas editions are both now available on the Google Play app store! The Second Grade & Third Grade editions will also be available on that app store as well in the near future….

The Game Awards 2016 Nominees, My Picks, & the Winners

21 Nov
2016

The Game Awards 2016 will be held live on December 1st at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. My picks are highlighted in teal. Actual winners are now underlined. I don’t pay much attention to trending gamers or eSports so I didn’t list those categories.

 

GAME OF THE YEAR

For a game that delivers the absolute best experience across all creative and technical fields.

  • Doom (id Software/Bethesda Softworks)
  • Inside (Playdead)
  • Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)
  • Titanfall 2 (Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts)
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment)

 –

BEST GAME DIRECTION

Recognizing a game studio for outstanding creative vision, game direction and design.

  • Blizzard Entertainment (for Overwatch)
  • EA DICE (for Battlefield 1)
  • id Software (for Doom)
  • Naughty Dog (for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End)
  • Respawn Entertainment (for Titanfall 2)

 –

BEST NARRATIVE

For outstanding storytelling and narrative development in a game.

  • Firewatch (Campo Santo)
  • Inside (Playdead)
  • Mafia 3 (Hangar 13/2K Games)
  • Oxenfree (Night School Studio)
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment)

 –

BEST ART DIRECTION

For outstanding creative and technical achievement in artistic design and animation.

  • Abzu (Giant Squid/505 Games)
  • Firewatch (Campo Santo)
  • Inside (Playdead)
  • Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment)

 –

BEST MUSIC/SOUND DESIGN

For outstanding audio, inclusive of score, original song, licensed soundtrack and sound design.

  • Battlefield 1 (EA DICE/Electronic Arts)
  • Doom (id Software/Bethesda Softworks)
  • Inside (Playdead)
  • Rez Infinite (Enhance Games)
  • Thumper (Drool)

 –

BEST PERFORMANCE

Awarded to an individual for voice-over acting, motion and/or performance capture.

  • Alex Hernandez as Lincoln Clay, Mafia 3
  • Cissy Jones as Delilah, Firewatch
  • Emily Rose as Elena, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • Nolan North as Nathan Drake, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • Rich Sommer as Henry, Firewatch
  • Troy Baker as Sam Drake, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

 –

GAMES FOR IMPACT

Honoring exemplary games that take on real-world issues and advocate for social change.

  • 1979 Revolution: Black Friday (Ink Stories)
  • Block’hood (Plethora Project/Devolver Digital)
  • Orwell (Osmotic Studios/Surprise Attack)
  • Sea Hero Quest (Glitchers)
  • That Dragon, Cancer (Numinous Games)

 –

BEST INDEPENDENT GAME

For outstanding achievement in a game made outside the traditional publisher system.

  • Firewatch (Campo Santo)
  • Hyper Light Drifter (Heart Machine)
  • Inside (Playdead)
  • Stardew Valley (ConcernedApe/Chucklefish Games)
  • The Witness (Thekla Inc.)

 –

BEST MOBILE/HANDHELD

For the best game playable on mobile phones and dedicated gaming handhelds.

  • Clash Royale (Supercell)
  • Fire Emblem Fates (Intelligent Systems/Nintendo)
  • Monster Hunter Generations (Capcom)
  • Pokémon Go (Niantic Labs)
  • Severed (DrinkBox Studios)

 –

BEST VR GAME

For the best game experience playable in virtual reality.

  • Batman: Arkham VR (Rocksteady Studios/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • Eve: Valkyrie (CCP Games)
  • Job Simulator (Owlchemy Labs)
  • Rez Infinite (Enhance Games)
  • Thumper (Drool)

 –

BEST ACTION GAME

For the best game experience focused around first or third person combat.

  • Battlefield 1 (EA DICE/Electronic Arts)
  • Doom (id Software/Bethesda Softworks)
  • Gears of War 4 (The Coalition/Microsoft Studios)
  • Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)
  • Titanfall 2 (Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts)

 –

BEST ACTION/ADVENTURE GAME

For the best game experience that combines combat with traversal and puzzle solving.

  • Dishonored 2 (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks)
  • Hitman (IO Interactive/Square Enix)
  • Hyper Light Drifter (Heart Machine)
  • Ratchet & Clank (Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment)

 –

BEST RPG

The best game designed for rich player character customization and progression, both offline and online, including massively multiplayer.

  • Dark Souls 3 (FromSoftware/Bandai Namco Entertainment)
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (Eidos Montreal/Square Enix)
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine (CD Projekt Red/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • World of Warcraft: Legion (Blizzard Entertainment)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X (Monolith Soft/Nintendo)

 –

BEST FIGHTING GAME

For a game designed primarily around head-to-head combat.

  • Killer Instinct Season 3 (Iron Galaxy Studios/Microsoft Studios)
  • The King of Fighters 14 (SNK/Atlus USA)
  • Pokkén Tournament (Bandai Namco Studios/The Pokémon Co. International)
  • Street Fighter 5 (Capcom)

 –

BEST STRATEGY GAME

Best game focused on real time or turn-based strategy.

  • Sid Meier’s Civilization 6 (Firaxis Games/2K Games)
  • Fire Emblem Fates (Intelligent Systems/Nintendo)
  • The Banner Saga 2 (Stoic Studio/Versus Evil)
  • Total War: Warhammer (The Creative Assembly/Sega)
  • XCOM 2 (Firaxis Games/2K Games)

 –

BEST FAMILY GAME

Best game for family play, including toys-to-life, rhythm/music/dance, and other genres.

  • Dragon Quest Builders (Square Enix)
  • Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (TT Fusion/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • Pokémon Go (Niantic Labs)
  • Ratchet & Clank (Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Skylanders Imaginators (Toy for Bob/Activision)

 –

BEST SPORTS/RACING

For traditional and non-traditional sports and racing games.

  • FIFA 17 (EA Vancouver/Electronic Arts)
  • Forza Horizon 3 (Playground Games/Microsoft Studios)
  • MLB The Show 16 (SIE San Diego Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • NBA 2K17 (Visual Concepts/2K Sports)
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 (PES Productions/Konami)

 –

BEST MULTIPLAYER

For outstanding online multiplayer gameplay and design, including co-op and massively multiplayer experiences.

  • Battlefield 1 (EA DICE/Electronic Arts)
  • Gears of War 4 (The Coalition/Microsoft Studios)
  • Overcooked (Ghost Town Games/Team17)
  • Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)
  • Titanfall 2 (Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts)
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)

 –

MOST ANTICIPATED GAME

An upcoming game that has shown significant ambition and promise in moving the gaming medium forward.

  • God of War (SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda (BioWare/Electronic Arts)
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Studios/Rockstar Games)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo)

 –

BEST FAN CREATION

For fan-created content, such as mods, fan films, and other player content.

  • Project A2MR
  • Pokémon Uranium
  • Brutal Doom 64
  • Enderal: The Shards of Order

October Mobile App Development Report

8 Nov
2016

The amount of time I had towards app development in October seems like it was split almost evenly into working on a new app and working on some updates. I started the month by working on gathering more data for my financial app. When I gather data for this app I also verify it with different sources and then organize it to make it flow smoothly into app dev implementation. Eventually I’ll comb through all the data again and make sure there are no duplicates, misspelled words, and any other hiccups.

In October I also decided to update some of my free Amazon apps that were running interstitial AdMob ads. I recently began to notice through some random testing that my free Amazon apps running these ads were loading and responding slower than my the same Android apps on Google Play. Both Amazon & Google Play accept the same Android build once I convert it but Amazons Android based operating system is different than a pure Android OS. Due to this situation sometimes things that work one way on an Android OS may react differently on an Amazon Android OS. I want to make sure my apps work as smooth as possible and that the ads don’t get in the way of that so I decided to try some different implementations.

After some load time and touch recognition testing with different ad providers I decided to switch my free apps on Amazon from Admob interstitial & Revmob banner ads to Chartboost interstitial & Admob banner ads. After doing this each app that I updated loaded faster and the ad impressions were better. I’m not sure of the exact technicalities that caused these actions before & after, but testing different implementations eventually worked to bring out the best performance. I still prefer Admob as my main ad provider when feasible, but Chartboost has its positive aspects as well.

In November I plan on continuing work on my new financial app. It’s a very data heavy app and like my other apps, the main features are going to work without an internet connection, so working with data is a very important part of this app. I don’t think I’ll be finished with this app this year, but after I finish with the data I’ll jump into user experience(UX) & user interface(UI). When I start working on those facets I’ll upload some screenshots to present how the app will look. Until next time ∞

September Mobile App Development Report

7 Oct
2016

September seemed like it passed by incredibly fast. I told myself I wouldn’t try to do as much as I have in the previous months and slow down a bit, but September went by so fast I’m not sure if I did slow down or not. App development started with work on a financial educational app I’ve been working off & on in small increments. The work on it mostly consisted of researching, gathering, and organizing data. I’ve got a couple of other updates I plan on working on and finishing this year so I’m not sure when I’ll finish this new app, but I’m looking forward to continuing progress on it and eventually releasing it.

Most of my app development time in September consisted of working on the six app Word Owl’s Word Search update. Since I’ve been able to enhance standard text to better formatted higher resolutions I wanted to put that into use on more apps that have prominent text in them. The standard text in my word search apps mainly appear on the left side displaying the words within the word search. I already created higher resolution letter blocks and buttons so they didn’t need enhancing and they’re unrelated to how the standard text displays. I really like my word search apps especially the educational aspect of them and how they look overall so I knew I wanted to improve these apps. I worked on and tested each app individually to keep the process more organized since there were going to be 6 different app updates on different app stores which in the end equals over a dozen individual builds. With each Word Owl Word Search app I learned new things in regards to touch recognition and focused more on presentation. Since I knew I was definitely going to improve text resolution in all of my word search apps I decided it would also be a good time to go ahead and improve touch recognition in those that didn’t have it. The touch improvement does a better job of not selecting unwanted letters. Sometimes a letter block would change alpha as if its being selected because of its close proximity to the letter being selected, but now there’s a less chance of that happening. The code within the app already took this into consideration initially and made sure to not let it interfere with the correct selections. However, now with the update there’s a better chance of a letter block not thinking its being selected externally even its momentarily touched on the edges.

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Making a promo banner for the update in Pixelmator

In terms of presentation, I decided to add a little game complete animation to the apps that didn’t have an additional one. All of the apps had a level complete/good job pop up but with some of them I took the level complete congrats a step up with some sort of firework type explosion depending on what the app theme was. Snowflakes for Christmas, bats for Halloween, and different color word blocks for the sight word classroom editions. The holiday versions already had this implemented, but some of the grade level versions didn’t so I added it to them. After finishing all of the builds I tested them on different devices(tablets & phones) on each platform(iOS, Amazon Android & Google Play Android). I ran into a few bugs throughout testing which involved a lot of back and forth with finding and fixing the bug, generating a build, & testing. Eventually all of the apps turned out fine so then I proceeded to uploading builds and updating metadata. I looked into which keywords each app had, and decided to add some new ones to each one that weren’t used in the others to kind of spread out the chance of a person finding at least one of my word search apps. I also updated some of the screenshots and descriptions. After releasing an update I like to pay closer attention to update numbers, and most of these apps ended up receiving nice update numbers so far. Getting a lot of update downloads lets me know that a lot of people must be enjoying my apps and finding them useful at least to some extent. I’m sure there are some that download apps & updates without even using the app yet because I do that sometimes but I think most people will usually check out an app somewhat soon after downloading it initially. 

Ok enough rambling about that update but that’s what took over most of my dev time in September. The update themselves didn’t take long individually, but since it was six different apps on various app stores the overall time was dominant. Towards the end of September I added some more data for the finance app I mentioned earlier. In October I plan on updating the RX Quiz of Medicine app with enhanced text resolution and possibly Strike the Goal since they have a fair amount of standardized text, especially RX. Until next time ∞

Word Owl’s Word Search Updates

24 Sep
2016

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Word Owl’s Word Search Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Grade, and Christmas & Halloween editions.

√ Enhanced text resolution.

√ Improved touch recognition.

√ Added an additional level complete animation.*

 

(*The additional level complete animation was only added to the Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd grade editions. All the other editions already had an additional animation.)

August Mobile App Development Report

8 Sep
2016

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August continued the trend of…..UPDATES! Since January 2016 I’ve been steadily working on various app updates during most of my development time. August was a massive month of work, but due to what I was able to accomplish it will be the last month this year in app dev land that’s devoted mainly to updates. However before diving into what’s next, let talk about what happened in August.

The first app update I worked on and completed was 8-Bit Eagle Smash. For this app I updated the text score font to match the look of the rest of the game. This game was created in a couple of days during a gamejam so it was kind of rushed, but the new font obviously looks better with game. I should have updated it earlier than 2 years after release, but other apps continued to take precedence over this one. While testing I also noticed that one of the tweet functions caused the pre-entered text to be cut off so I also fixed that. After doing a quick search on Twitter I discovered that most people(like 99.99%) who play this game don’t tweet their scores, but I still wanted to feature to work efficiently as intended. The game also received 64-bit support and overall performance enhancements which cut down on the already short load times. More can be read about the game itself and the gamejam that initiated its development on the 8-Bit Eagle Smash release post.

With iAds closing down I also had to replace it in the remaining apps that still had it embedded. I only put banner ads in 8-Bit Eagle Smash so I replaced the iOS banner ads with Admob banner ads. Then for the Zompy Jumpy update I replaced the iOS banner ads with Revmob and replaced the Chartboost interstitial ads with Admob. Zompy Jumpy is also running on a newer improved game engine so the minor loading times and gameplay movements are improved. When it comes to ad providers Admob is my favorite and then it’s kind of a tie between Revmob & Chartboost. Chartboost doesn’t have banner ads so I’ve decided to go with an Admob interstitial & Revmob banner ad combination for most of my free apps.

The biggest and overall most time consuming update that I worked on and finished in August was Professor Piggy Bank. I started working on this update months ago, but this month brought the update to completion. This is one of my favorite apps and it gets a decent amount of downloads sometimes, including some from actual classrooms, so I wanted to make sure this app received a few more major improvements. A list of what all the app update contains can be seen on the Professor Piggy Bank 2.0 post or on one of the app store pages so for this post we’ll just dive into what was worked on in August. The last big section that was completed in August was the recording and implementation of the additional dialogue. The Quiz mode features more than double the amount of questions so there was a lot of new audio to record. I also added some new correct answer graphic pop ups so we had to record audio for those as well. My wife happily agreed to continue being the voice of the game so one day we got the parents to keep to kids to minimize disruptions and we were able to record all the new dialogue that evening. I already told her in person and also via a Facebook post but another big THANK YOU to my wife for lending me her lovely voice. Kiss kiss! Ok back to dev land……I also did the minor editing to each piece of audio after we recorded it so after we were done I only had to implement it into the actual app. After finishing the implementation I started testing the app with the completed new update. I ran into some issues in quiz mode with a couple of incorrect sections in the quiz spreadsheet so I found those and fixed them quickly. After testing I worked on a couple of new screenshots to showcase some of the visual enhancements. Once I got the screenshots I wanted I had to edit them to conform to the various different sizes required for each app store that the app is on.

There have been issues with blurry text appearing in some of my apps so I updated two of my text heavy apps, Quiz of Medicine & Ultra Fortune Ball. The issues mainly appeared in Android devices, and usually they were Kindle Fire devices. This fix also enhanced the text resolution overall so I decided to update the iOS versions of these apps that didn’t have this component already embedded. So during August both of those apps received that update and I also replaced the iOS banner ads that were no longer working.

Now that the majority of the updates that I’ve wanted to do are done I’m now able to jump into app dev on a new app. The new app I’m working on is a finance app so yea nothing too exciting if you’re not interested in finance. However, it’s one of my interests and I’ve noticed a void within the app stores for the type of app I’m creating so I decided to jump back into development on it. I had the idea for it a while ago, but pushed it back because of other new releases and updates. I’m hoping to finish and release it sometime this year. In August I mainly worked on gathering data for it, and that will continue in September as well along with some UI design hopefully. There are still one couple of other app updates that I’ll be working on in September as well, but nothing that time consuming compared to some of the other big updates I’ve released this year. They’ll mainly be blurry text fixes to my word search apps on the Amazon app store. This issue doesn’t appear on all devices and it doesn’t make the text unreadable at all, but knowing that it does appear for some users along with knowing how to fix it means……I’m fixing it. I also plan on making some new videos for the newer versions of some of my apps. It’s somewhat unfair to apps that had an initial release video, but have received major visual & feature updates since then. So yea I’ll be working on a couple of new videos sometime soon too. Until next time ∞