My First iPhone Game: Outlaw Poker

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This is the story of Outlaw Poker, an iPhone game I just launched that is equal parts Tetris and Poker. It’s a western themed puzzle falling blocks game. The object is to make 5 hand poker hands with the falling cards. The cards can be rotated just like in Tetris-style games so that you can arrange the cards into Poker hands horizontally or vertically. It is available here on the iTunes App store.

I initially had the idea almost a year ago. I wanted to make an iPhone game just to go through the process of making one as well as to have potential for some passive income. For those of you who are not familiar, developers can sell apps in the iTunes App Store and make money. The developer determines the price and whatever you make, Apple keeps 30% for facilitating the transaction and taking care of the distribution, billing, etc. Not a bad deal especially considering there are over 100 million iPhones in the world.

So how did this game come about? I was thinking about games I liked and games people liked in general. If I had to name one game that had mass appeal, it was Tetris, hands down. Another trend that has caught on in the recent years is the popularity of Poker. My thought was to combine the two popular concepts together: a falling cards game where you have to make Poker hands.

There wasn’t anything out there like this and I wanted to play it. People say one way to make a successful product is to scratch your own itch – that is, make something you want and hopefully others will want it too.

Since I wasn’t an iOS developer but designed stuff, I went about looking for a developer who would want to partner with me to develop this game. Initially I had recruited a lead Creative Designer who would lead the charge on the design direction of the game but he was quickly overwhelmed with his own work. I also managed to find an iOS developer who was initially interested but was also too busy to take the project on.

So the project never went anywhere for a good six months. I would design some screens and work out some details every now and then, always keeping an eye out for an iOS developer looking to meet a cofounder and have a game under his/her belt.

One day I went to some developer meetup and met my cofounder Ben Roesch. He was a friend of a friend and worked at Accenture Tech Labs, where I used to work. I was straight up with him. I told him about the concept, showed what screens I had to him and asked if he wanted to work on this app. I basically told him everything. If he decided to decline but run away and take my idea, he had it and I would be screwed. He was game though. Within 2 weeks he had a rough prototype of the game that basically worked but had none of the bells and whistles. It was a very good sign.

Over the next months, we would hash out the missing artwork/screens, tweak the gameplay, find the sound and music. One of the hardest things to come up with was the new company we formed. I love puns and wanted this new game studio to have a witty name. Since it was an game app company, I thought it would be cool to have the word ‘app’ in the name. Unfortunately anything that I came up with like ‘tap that app’ was already taken. I think I finally came up with Appuccino Games because I’m a big coffee drinker and it reflects the fact that coffee helped us make this game. I wanted the logo to reflect the dual nature of the word play (app and cappuccino). Once the name came together though, it was easy to come up with a concept for the logo – an iPhone that looked like a coffee cup.

I wanted to take this moment to thank everyone who had a hand in making it. A big chunk of this goes to Ben who without him, my concept would never have been realized. Thanks Ben. I also owe Matt Jensen a big thanks. He came up with the original art direction. Even though you didn’t have the bandwidth to join us on this, I still want to thank you for all the work you put in. Don, thanks for forming our new company. I look forward to more business with you. I also want to thank all the beta testers who gave us valuable feedback. I won’t remember everyone but here goes: Craig, Ulliott, Sami Rageb, Christian Arca, Joe Dwyer, Christopher Lee, Brad Flora, Ravi Singh, Tal Liron, Nick Aiello, Brandon Leonardo, and more.

I also want to take a moment to thank Steve Jobs. He’s been an inspiration to my career. Without him, this game would not be possible. The platform this game was built on would not have existed. You have enabled me to not only create this game, but to be able to distribute it to the world. Thank you.

Without further ado, our game is here on the App Store. There’s also a free ad-supported version here. The difference is that the free version has ads AND the ad takes up one whole row so you end up with less playing area.

Popularity: 6% [?]

Monetizing Mobile Presentation Slides

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I recently gave a presentation at a conference for mobile on Monetizing Mobile. Here are my slides.

Popularity: 3% [?]

Cross Platform Mobile Development Face Off

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I recently gave a talk at the Google Android International Code Sprint in Chicago. I compared two cross platform mobile development frameworks. What that means is that you can use these frameworks to create applications in one programming language and deploy them to different mobile platforms with little or no code modification. This is a major convenience to many app developers. Anyways, here are my slides. They are very visual and don’t have a lot of content. My slides are really only there to support my talk but here they are for your viewing pleasure.

Popularity: 2% [?]

Top 10 Free iPad Apps

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I’ve had the iPad since launch which is about 2 weeks now. I’ve downloaded most of the free apps that are made especially for the iPad and here are the ones that are I like in no particular order.

Kindle I’ve had the Kindle for a long time and love it. I find it very convenient to read books on my way to work. The iPad version doesn’t have that slick iBooks UI however I find that it’s actually easier for page turning. I also find that the user interface for the bookstore is a bit lacking – it’s essentially the Amazon website in a web view. However, I have access to all my books and that’s all that matter. Download link

Netflix If you have a Netflix account, then you need this app. You have access to all the on demand movies which you can stream instantly to your iPad. My only gripe is that the UI for app is basically the website – which isn’t all that iPad friendly. Download link

WeatherBug I like this weather app better than the Weather Channel app because it displays all the relevant information on the first dashboard. It seems they’ve really thought about the iPad screen and visualize a lot of information on a single screen. Download link

TweetDeck The TweetDeck app for the iPad is really nice. They’ve really thought about the form factor of the iPad and designed their app to fit it really well. It’s perfect for any power Twitter user. Twitterific is great as well, but I feel it’s a little too simple, like the Twitter website and for many people, that’s probably a good thing. The two apps are built for different types of users. Download link

ABC Player If you watch ABC shows this app is a must have. I’m a big V and Lost fan so this is great. One annoying thing about this app is that it doesn’t rotate depending on the orientation. I wouldn’t even mention this except for the fact that it’s a big brand. Download link

Epicurious This was one of the first iPad apps I download. I was very impressed. The design of it is really slick and suiting of a recipe book. It showcases the iPad really well. Download link

NYT Editor’s Choice The New York Times has always been at the leading edge of technology. I was an early adopter of the New York Times reader Silverlight app and AIR app that followed. They’ve always made well designed apps and this is no exception. Download link

Godfinger I am not much of a gamer these days but I was hooked on Godfinger for days. The graphics were cute and clean and the gameplay was incredibly addictive. Kudos to the team for sucking me in with all the game mechanics. I would give this game a negative score on utility because it’s got a high chance of making you less productive. Download link

Marvel Comics I’m not a huge fan of comics but I can appreciate the innovation here. The way that comics are presented here is pretty awesome. You can zoom in to the pane view and swipe your finger to the next pane. It’s a totally new comic book reading experience. Download link

Roambi This is a data visualizer’s wet dream. If you didn’t think the iPad had any business use, this app will change your mind. It turns your iPad into an instant dashboard. From a UI perspective, it’s downright sexy. I love it. Download link

Popularity: 2% [?]

Recap of Day of Mobile

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Organizers of the Day of Mobile sent out a newsletter to follow up after the conference.

Here are the hackathon results:

Best Overall App: Novarra Team
Best Overall Runner Up: Runner up: Ravi Singh (@code4ever)
Best Open Source App – Mike Laurence (@mikelaurence)
Best Student App – Knapp Lab Team (IIT)
Best iPhone App – Pek Pongpaet (@pekpongpaet) and Chad Paulson (@chadpaulson)
Best Android App – Android Technical
Best Blackberry App – Vibhor Goyal (@vbgoz)
Best Design: Jon Jenkins

Also some of the speakers have posted their presentations up which is great since I didn’t get to go to any of them.

Slide shows/Contact Information:

Jason Shah
Twitter: @jasonshah
Presentation: Media on the Android Platform – http://www.jsdfllc.com/node/96

Jeff Norris
Twitter: @norrisjp
Presentation: Growing an iPhone App with an Internal Open Source Project – http://www.norrissoftware.com/presentations

Mark Murphy
Twitter: @commonsguy
Presentation: Making Money in Mobile – http://www.slideshare.net/commonsguy/making-money-at-mobile

Dave Uhler
Presentation: Mobility Application Trends in the Enterprise – http://slalomworks.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/dayofmobile1.pdf

Robert Martin
Twitter: @unclebobmartin
Presentation: Dynamic Languages Are The Future – http://vimeo.com/10025459

J Schwan
Twitter: @jschwan
J’s Meetup Group: http://www.meetup.com/Chicago-Mobile-Application-Development-Enthusiasts/
Presentation: Mobile Development Tips and Tricks – http://blogs.solstice-consulting.com/2010/02/mobile-web-development-tips-and-tricks.html

Sean Vosen/Vincent Riccardi
Presentation: Connecting Your Apps to the Cloud – Vivo: http://www.slideshare.net/VOKALInteractive/connecting-your-apps-to-the-cloud-mobile-cms

Chris Grove
Twitter: @cagrove
Presentation: Multi Platform Apps – http://www.scribd.com/doc/28084781

Popularity: 1% [?]

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