Tag Archives: behind the scenes

May Mobile App Development Report

8 Jun
2017

The one and only app I worked on in May is the educational finance app, and the work that was done on it varied greatly in 30min-2hour increments throughout the month. The only aspect of the app I worked on in May was adding more information and also rewording some information. As I added more info I decided to change the wording in some of the questions so there wasn’t any hesitation of what the answer would be if you were sure of the answer. With my educational apps I’m not trying to trick anyone into thinking something false, but instead help people become knowledgable about something new to them and also refresh and/or retain the knowledge of those that are informed on the subject or have been in the past.

In May I finished the formulas & ratios section which turned out to be the second largest category in the app and probably my favorite to work on. One reason why I liked working on it is because you can ask more than one question about each ratio without repeating the same question or answer. You can ask about the definition of the ratio, what the ratio is used for, the formula of the ratio, and what different results exhibit about a company or stock. Ratios are a very informative area of finance and I think this category of my app will be very useful for a wide range of investors and students.

Working on the formulas & ratios category in my app. The visible data on the spreadsheet only shows about .05% of the informational data in this app!

Throughout May I also added a few more lines of data to the abbreviations section. One of the podcasts I listen to on a somewhat normal basis in the car is a finance & investing podcast so there were a couple of moments where I would hear something and notice that the issue or terminology used wasn’t incorporated in my app yet. So when this happened I would jot down a quick note in my phone(at a stop light ūüôā ) to remind myself to add information about that topic during one of my next app dev sessions.

In June I plan on finishing and releasing this finance app. I’m really looking forward to completing this app. This app is kind of a personal project for me because I have an interest in Finance and investing personally and professionally. I also have a degree in Business Administration Finance but I don’t use the knowledge I obtained throughout those college¬†years on a daily basis and not even professionally so using this app will be a nice way to refresh and retain information. I think it will end up being very useful for others in a somewhat similar experience like me, newcomers to this subject matter, and people who work in finance and investing areas.

After finishing the Finance app, hopefully in June, I’ll be jumping back into a soundboard app I’ve been working on and I hope to finish and release it in July! It will probably be my last soundboard app for a while though. I like making soundboard apps and the ones I’ve created get downloads, some more than others of course, so those are two good reasons to continue with them. Anyways, back to work on this finance app. Until next time ‚ąě

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 ‚ąě

January Mobile App Development Report

6 Feb
2016

January definitely felt like a new journey for me with various changes going on in my life, thankfully most of them were positive. The first week or so I was sick and recovering from a sinus infection which was lame, but I did manage to somehow make progress in app development land throughout the month.

The only app I really worked on in January was Ultra Fortune Ball which¬†involved many improvements for the big 4.0 update that’s set for a March 3rd release. I choose that date because¬†it’s¬†the date this app was first released on the Apple App Store 5 years ago. Ultra Fortune Ball is the first app I ever developed and published so it’s a bit special to me in very unique¬†kind of way.¬†

I started improving graphics during the last week of December, and then in the beginning of January I continued and finished the graphic enhancements. Pretty much every image in the app is now changed or enhanced in some way. I changed the actual fortune ball itself,¬†but¬†it’s still about the same size as before. Overall I wanted the app to look polished, uniform, and sharp overall. For the ball I made it darker and less blurry on the edges, and then I made the title text darker and sharper. I also decided to go with honeycomb/hexagon graphics for the inside “liquid” part of the ball. I liked the way the honeycomb images looked so much within the app that I eventually decided to make the background stars in the same shape and even the moon also! I also ended up making the buttons have less of a glow around the words¬†and instead made the edges sharper with more contrast between the button and text.

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Being meticulous about design and comparing a few final images to themselves and other different images.

 

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Quick notes about sizes, effects and other random things.

After completing the graphics. I decided to jump into the mechanics of the app itself and how answers are retrieved. I added tables to make the app perform smoother and more functional overall. After adding tables I was able to delete a lot of old code rules within the app, and the code that replaced it was incredibly quicker to incorporate than what I had done years ago. I also added more responses for both languages. There ended up being 173 Spanish answers and then eventually 0ver 200 English answers. There’s more English answers than Spanish basically because I’m more familiar with various English jargons and sayings. After incorporating the changes to the code of the app I turned my attention back to presentation of the app. I added a vibrate feature so that your phone vibrates after you touch or shake the ball IF you have vibrate turned on in your phone settings. There’s also an option to turn this feature off within the app itself in case you want to keep vibrate on for your phone but not in this app.

On the older version of this app the ball would get smaller and then bigger while the inside spun while it was retrieving an answer. Although that looked fine with the new images I wanted to improve the answer animation to look more refined. So I incorporated a framed animation that uses the different honeycomb images that I made earlier in the month so that the sizes changed while the inside also spins. I tried a few different speeds for the sizes changes and spin until I saw one that felt right. After that I made the ball have a blur effect and a contained movement animation where it kind of bounces around without going off screen. After all of that and towards the end of the month I made new app icon and loading screens using the new images.

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Working on load screens for different device sizes.

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A side by side comparison of the main menu. Out with the old, in with the new.

I’m very satisfied with how the update turned out and I’m glad I decided to take time to work on a substantial update instead of something minor or ignoring it and working on a different app. I can’t wait to release it for all the people who have already downloaded the app, whether it be days ago, months ago, or years ago and of course for future downloaders also. Until next time ‚ąě

August Mobile App Development Report

7 Sep
2015

New apps are on the horizon, but first a couple of updates….

  • Crunchy Numbers Math Arcade received a minor update that improved the tweet feature to automatically input the hashtag(#CrunchyNumbersMathArcade) for the game in the editable tweet text box. The process of uploading the new build(and of course waiting on review period) took longer than the work in the actual update itself. Most players never tweet scores and I don’t think many people will use it in this game, but I wanted to do it because this is one of my favorite apps I’ve developed so it gets spoiled.
  • Motivational Quotes to inspire received a nice update. More info on it can be found on the Motivational Quotes to Inspire 1.5 Update¬†post. One of the main changes in the new version was a minor update to the Settings section layout as seen below.

MQTI_beforeafterupdate

  • In August I also worked a lot of my new pharmacy quiz app which included a lot of research, heavy work with tables, & UI design. I’ve started to use the Paper app along with the Pencil stylus to mock up UI designs. Working on an interfaces in a drawing app is really neat. I can quickly change things to roughly see how it will look on different devices and also test if it’s user friendly for the users hands. One of the first main menu iterations can be seen below, the finished version is still incomplete. There’s been a lot of work going into this app. I’ve been able¬†to use a bit of data and some code¬†from Quiz of Medicine, but a lot¬†of the new app is being¬†built from of the ground up.¬† This new medical app will focus on the top 200 drugs in 2015 for the medicine portion of the quizzes whereas Quiz of Medicine focused on featuring over 400 different medications. My new pharmacy app will include brands, generics, indications and drug class¬†quiz types like Quiz of Medicine, but it will also include a couple of new quiz types as well. This will be a very focused well rounded pharmacy app for students and various people in different medical positions.

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  • During August I also started to compile a list of words for my new Word Owl’s Word Search app. This will be the Halloween Edition so the overall design and words will be of course be Halloween themed. This app will be completely kid friendly so there will be no horror images or shocking words. I’ll be putting my medical app aside and working on this app more in September because I plan on releasing it during the first week of October.
  • Somehow I thought I was going to be finished with the pharmacy app during August and then jumping right into the Halloween word search app after, but other plans got in the way of those plans……..and I’ve been really distracted by Rocket League during my app development time! Rocket League is a very fun game that features two of my favorite things; racing and soccer! The game was free in July on PS Plus and I had never heard of it before downloading it, but definitely glad that I did. Ok, back to working on the word search! Until next time ‚ąě

November Mobile App Progress Report

9 Dec
2014

November app development consisted mostly of working on games for Game Jams. Both of the game jams were created by GameSalad and both had a separate two-week time period. In the end I was able to make a neat “finished enough” game for each jam even though I didn’t fully utilize the full time allowed. I decided to join both because I like the spark of energy and challenge a good game jam provides. Overall I’m happy with the outcome of both of the games I created for the jams and I’ll be releasing them on the Apple App Store in the near future. I’ll probably release the¬†second one on¬†other app stores as well.

The theme for the first game jam was “Soar to New Heights”. The first thing that popped in my head when I read about it was…..space. I went back and forth with a few different ideas but all of them shared a similar space theme. One of the suggested rules of the game jam was to make it a quick in & out type of game so I decided to make a fast paced arcade game that focuses on quick hand-eye coordination and quick replay. I finished most of the game by the end of the game jam and it worked great on iOS, but it ended up not working properly for the required HTML format of the game jam. I had to slow down the game, remove some of the code that affected difficulty, remove particle effects, and take away random constrained movements of the spaceship. The result was a highly stripped down version of what the game actually was, but it was playable. I wasn’t surprised that my game didn’t win, but I did get some nice positive feedback. I’ll be putting a few finishing touches on the game in December and releasing it soon after. Here’s a vine video of it….

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The theme for the second game jam was “Old School” so of course I had to join it. I was bouncing back and forth between different ideas for this Game Jam, but then I thought back to my childhood. One of the games I liked a lot was a game created in the 80’s called Number Munchers. So I created a game that’s inspired by it, but very different. I‚Äôve been calling the game Number Nomber, but I may change it. Number Nomber is a challenging math game that makes you think. I‚Äôm really excited about how the game turned out. I ran into a few big problems while developing this one with how the answers were displayed, but I eventually made it work smoothly after a good bit of trail & error. I‚Äôve used actual math in a lot of apps I‚Äôve developed, possibly all, but this app definitely involved the most in multiple ways! The winners haven‚Äôt been announced for this Game Jam yet, but I no matter the result I‚Äôm looking forward to releasing it. Before releasing it I‚Äôm going to add some different modes to give the player more challenging options. I‚Äôm also considering changing the art style. I‚Äôll keep it simple and retro, but I may add some overlays or filters.

I also worked on my new soundboard app in November, and I‚Äôll hopefully be finishing and releasing it in December. In November I finished the overall design, all of the code unrelated to sound, and almost all of the sound effects. In December I‚Äôm planning on finishing the sfx, implementing them, and then final testing. It‚Äôs going to be‚Ķ..Ultra! After the new soundboard is released I‚Äôll focus on finishing my Game Jam games. Until next time ‚ąě

October Mobile App Progress Report

4 Nov
2014

Finished development on Zompy Jumpy, and published it on the Apple, Amazon, and Google Play app stores. It’s a challenging game with minimalistic retro design and simple gameplay. As I wrote in the September progress report, I felt like making a quick game that’s kind of silly since I had a lot of stress going on in my life. Working on the difficulty was the most difficult task I had while creating Zompy Jumpy. I wanted it to be hard, but also have a decent amount of short replay value. I knew going into it that I wanted it to remain a simple quick in & out game so there’s not any character progression or anything like that. The main replay value for a game like this is the challenge of increasing your score on the next run and moving up the leaderboards. I used Game Center on iOS, and Amazon Game Circle on Android for leaderboards. Once again people have proven to me that they’re better than I am at my own games, which is totally cool. There’s already a person on the Game Center leaderboard that survived 60 seconds which is REALLY good for this game. It’s more than double my high score!

Zompy Jumpy was released a week later than I wanted to, but I kept going back and forth on a couple of issues with the game. At first I thought about having the bottom character automatically jump every time the top character did like some sort of shadow, which makes sense since the character at the bottom is a silhouette of the top character. Then I decided to give separate jump controls to both characters. Both styles made the player pay attention to zombies on both sides of the screen, but the first control scheme made the game become too much about luck instead of skill since the zombies are somewhat randomly generated. Eventually I decided to let the player control both characters since it kept the game challenging, but also made the game more about the skill of timing jumps and double jumps instead of just hoping zombies came at both characters at the same time….which in that case would make the bottom half of the screen somewhat irrelevant. Having both characters separate makes the players look back and forth at both sides of the screen while deciding on when to jump. I eventually made the zombies spawn were sometimes both characters need to jump at the same time and sometimes they don’t. The moral of this story is…..Game development involves a lot of trail and error even when there’s only one or two main game mechanics.

Since Zompy Jumpy is free I wanted to use an ad platform on both Apple and Android versions. I went with iAds on Apple since it’s a solid platform that I’ve used before. I’ve had up & down results with iAds in the past, but it’s easy to implement and the statistical dashboards available for it are informative so I’ll continue to use it for my free Apple apps. I’ve never used an ad platform on Android, but after doing some research I decided to give Chartboost a try. I’m not sure what to expect aside from the possible positive and negative things I’ve read about it online, however, it will be interesting to see how it performs. If I’m dissatisfied with it I may switch to Revmob in the future, but I’ll give Chartboost a fair chance with a couple of different apps first. I don’t write about monetization much because it’s not my main focus with app development, but I spent some of my app development time researching different ad platforms. So yeap, that’s mainly it for October. I think this might be the first monthly progress report were I don’t have a list of different apps I worked on. November has started out in a nice positive direction though, and I’m back on schedule somewhat in app development land so….Until next time ‚ąě

September Mobile App Progress Report

6 Oct
2014
  • Worked on my first game with zombies. I had a lot of different things going on in my life outside of app development so I felt like creating a¬†game with quick challenging gameplay that’s kind of silly. In this game you play as a character in a tracksuit that jumps over dancing zombies. I created all of the graphics in a retro 8-bit style with an emphasis on minor details and minimalism.¬†I wanted to make sure the game had a certain aesthetic tone also so I used a specific color palette influenced by some of the main colors used in The Walking Dead TV¬†show. It’s close to being finished so it will probably be released sometime during the middle of October.
  • With the release of iOS 8 Apple introduced app bundles. (However, you don’t have to have iOS 8¬†take advantage of app bundles on the App Store.) I’m a big fan of app bundles because it gives developers the opportunity to bundle similar apps together at a discount for consumers. So for my first one I put together the Word Owl’s Word Search bundle which features all four of my Word Owl Word Search apps for the price of only $1.99. I’ll definitely be putting together other bundles for my apps that have similarities when possible in the future. Hopefully some of the other app stores will add a bundle feature eventually.

 

So that was mainly it in September app development land. Last month was a super busy month outside of app development. It was filled with a lot of fun and a lot of stress, but that seems to be a common theme in my life lately. The¬†future is ahead and I think there’s going to be more positivity¬†than negativity¬†so I’m looking forward to it! In regards to app development, my next two apps will be soundboards. Like my other soundboard apps they’ll also be unique, filled with sound effects, and unlike anything else on the app stores. After those two apps I’ll be jumping back into development on a children’s educational game I started working on briefly a couple of months ago. Until next time ‚ąě

August Mobile App Progress Report

4 Sep
2014
  • Updated the free versions of Ultra Fortune Ball, Chinatown Fortune Cookie, &¬†Jumbo Egg Hunt 2, and re-released them on the Apple App Store. I initially made free versions of these apps to test how they would perform¬†on the Apple App Store, and see if they affected the downloads of any of my other apps. I’m not totally sure if they directly increased downloads of my other apps, but they did get a lot of downloads themselves and confirmed my thought¬†that people would really like free apps from 8-Bit Avrin. I’ll be embracing the idea of making certain apps free(with ads and/or in-app purchases) in the future. However, they¬†definitely¬†won’t have annoying ads that constantly pop up or ridiculous in-app purchases that make the apps¬†worse.
  • Completed a massive update on the Amazon App Store. More info on this can be found on this post.
  • Created a new icon for Light Up The Tree!¬†Made the iOS version universal to work efficiently¬†on supported¬†iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices.
  • Also updated Gift Wrap Difference to become universal on the Apple App Store. Previously there was a separate iPhone version and iPad version. The iPad version had more downloads so I removed the iPhone version and made the iPad version universal so now it works¬†full screen on¬†supported¬†iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices.
  • Added full screen support for Saving Bunnies on the Apple App Store. This update hasn’t gone live yet, but it should available soon. I also added full screen support for some of my other apps including this one on the Amazon App Store which was a part of the massive update mentioned above.
  • Started minor development on the entertainment app I mentioned in the progress report post last month. Also started working on graphics for the educational children’s app mentioned in that post. However, both of these apps will be pushed back to make way for a game that I’ve started working on. This game will feature¬†challenging gameplay¬†with a minimalistic design and quirky characters. ¬†I’ll jump right back into development on the¬†children’s educational game followed by the entertainment app after I finish this game.

 

As you can tell, August was a super busy month in app development land. I was also¬†busy trying to make¬†substantial progress with my full-time career, but things have been moving slow in that area¬†so I used some of the time I had available to work extra hard on apps. App development in August mainly consisted of updates, but I improved the quality of some of my older apps, and learned a lot while working on them. Looking forward to eventually releasing new apps though. Until next time ‚ąě