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Stories Behind the Apps

Carcapp – Carcassonne Scoreboard

Editors Note:  Carcassonne is a board game where players lay tiles to determine layout and develop many variants for unique game play.  It is set in the southern French city of Carcassonne which is famous for its unique Roman and Medieval fortifications. The players develop the area around Carcassonne and deploy their followers on the roads, in the cities, in the cloisters, and in the fields. The skill of the players to develop the area will determine who is victorious.

In this Edition of Stories Behind the Apps, we are speaking with Ben Goevaerts regarding their new app, Carcapp.  Hi Ben, please tell us about your app, Carcapp! 

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Carcapp is a very simple app to guide you while playing the classic board game Carcassonne. The game includes a complicated scoring system.  Scoring is a  challenge in that you need to manually count and track the points you receive, it detracts from gameplay.  This is where Carcapp comes in.  It's a simple scoring system where you can select a color, enter the names of the players and add points whenever needed. We're currently planning to expand Carcapp with more features that work great with Carcassonne expansions.

Please describe what Carcapp is and why it’s different from similar apps or competitors?

Other app’s use the standard iOS design which was not intended for Board Games.  Carcapp has a custom design that matches perfectly with the original game style.

Where did the inspiration for the design of the Carcapp icon and user interface come from?

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The inspiration for design and the app icon came from the box of the board game and manual, while the real inspiration for Carcapp was Carcassonne itself.  Personally, I enjoy the game very much because it’s played with many variations and aspects. The tactics used when playing with two people are very different than when playing with three to six people. There is one way to play the game, as can use different tactics with different players.  It gets really fun when you are playing with a new player – you need to get to know him as a player and then adapt your own tactics. You have the option of adding many different expansions and the game can be played with many more players.  The ability to expand the game and play with many people makes it impossible to get boring! I always try new expansions with friends, which is why we will soon update the app to support more of those expansions.

What software development tools were particularly helpful in creating Carcapp?

Photoshop for the design work and Xcode for coding.

Did you learn any lessons while using them?

The development tools worked great! We had no issues.

Was there anything that went right or wrong with development and release?

Carcapp is a very basic app so everything went quite well. First we completed the design, and then we did the development work.  We submitted it to iTunes and Apple released it. It is a paid app, (USD $0.99), and very quickly we had about 150 people who have downloaded it.  We are already planning updates as some of our users are already requesting them!

Who is on the team and what are your roles?

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Ben Goevaerts

We are a small team.  Currently, there are two of us, Pieter Baeyens, who is our Designer and myself, Ben Goevaerts – iOS developer, idea guy and marketer.

What were you and Pieter doing before you doing in life and work before you started building Carcapp?

Pieter is a student studying graphic design.  I have been doing freelance iOS development work.  In my spare time I love to make apps for myself.

What are some apps you can’t live without or that inspire you?

The actual Carcassonne App where you actually play the game is amazing. It's design, gameplay and UX is perfect. I wish every app were like that.

Carcassonne is currently available in iOS only – (sorry Android fans), it is currently available in iTunes, available for download.

If you love Carcassonne and want to simplify scoring for you game play, check it out and download it from iTunes.

Stories Behind the Apps – gWhiz

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Tell us about gWhiz, who is on the team and what are your roles?

gWhiz LLC was founded in 2008 by Kevin Reville and Mike MacDonald, both of whom had enjoyed success with prior startups.  Early on, they recognized the potential for mobile technology to revolutionize learning so they built a team of dedicated professionals including project managers, technical architects, developers, graphic designers, and marketers to build the company.

How is gWhiz different from similar apps?

The company’s first and most popular educational app is gFlash. This app was the first totally free flashcard app on the app store. It was also the first flashcard app to offer auto-generated multiple choice, adaptive study, flashcard content from brand name publishers (McGraw-Hill, Wiley, and others), Google Docs integration, the capability to share flashcard sets with other users via email, and a matching game. It allows users to study at their own pace and on their own time, wherever life takes them.

What was the inspiration for the design of your app icon and user interface?gflash70

The icon and user interface are a result of gWhiz’s design goal for a fast, mobile flashcard solution. Creating paper flashcards is labor intensive and time-consuming. To create cards directly on a mobile device can have its challenges too.  So co-founder Kevin Reville came up with the idea of creating flashcard content using a Google Docs Spreadsheet.  This enabled users to quickly create flashcards and upload them to their iPhones and share them.  This innovation is one of the app’s greatest features and a differentiator from competitors. It was also the inspiration for the “g” in the icon and the name.

What tools, people, or communities were particularly helped you in creating gWhiz?  The original inspiration was a stack of paper flashcards that sat on cofounder Mike gflashscreenshot2 (1)MacDonald’s kitchen table.  When Mike got the idea from his seeing his daughters flashcards in late 2007, smartphone use had yet to take off.  The first release of gFlash on BlackBerry was met with moderate success.  In 2008, when Apple released the iPhone and iPod Touch, adoption took off.  Our user community has been a great source of feedback.  We obtain feedback directly or through App Reviews.  This has helped greatly and many gFlash features are a direct result of customer feedback. Our publisher partners, McGraw-Hill, Barron’s, Wiley, and others have been very helpful.  They have been in the business of education for a long time and have helped greatly by providing high quality content, advice and guidance.  We have also been fortunate to benefit from close relationships with people working in education – from pre-k to college professors; and naturally our students too!

Most importantly our friends and family have provided immeasurable support throughout the process.

What did you learn?

Our users are absolutely the best students. They excel and get good grades, usually beyond the expectations of their teachers. They are often Advanced Placement (AP) students; law school graduates; studying for the EMT exam or pilots undergoing recertification. They have high expectations and demand reliability, customization, and features that help them learn faster with better results. There is no question they have made our apps better.  For development tools we have used Xcode from the start. We have had a few challenges along the way but have found success learned to expect the unexpected.  With Android, we use Eclipse as part of the Android ADT package to develop gFlash and many of our other apps. With so many phone configurations, it can be a challenge.

What would you say went right and wrong with the release?

We were early entrants into the mobile education space and able to gain first-mover advantage.  As a result, we gained a large and loyal following among students of all ages and remained the number one Educational app in the App Store for over a year. 

What were you doing before launching gWhiz?


IMG_gWhiz Team (1)Co-founder Kevin Reville has managed the development of hundreds of applications. He has been the project manager for every key publisher partnership to date. Prior to its acquisition by The Boeing Company, Kevin was instrumental in the creation and growth of Conquest, Inc. — a premier provider of advanced large-scale systems and software technology solutions to federal and commercial users.

Mike MacDonald co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer has oversight for the overall design of new apps to ensure consistency and maintain the vision across platforms.  He has also led the development of many of the gWhiz apps and is a key innovation leader in the industry. Mike is former founder and CEO of Visual Mining Inc., a leading provider of data visualization capabilities. Mike has over 20 years experience developing commercial-grade software applications.

What are some apps that inspire you?

As a small company, we have turned to social media to get our message out. So Facebook, Twitter and Buffer are key apps we use on a daily basis.  We found inspiration in Words with Friends in developing one of our other apps.  We wanted to integrate gaming in a test prep app to help make studying fun!  We liked the idea of gamification and wanted to create a compelling to integrate into a test prep app.  

Head over to the App Stores and download gWhiz!

iTunes and Google Play

Hey Devs!  Want to be featured like gWhiz?  Head over to this link and apply!

Stories Behind the Apps – Quiztador

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Tell us about Quiztador We all love games that both teach you new stuff but also lets you challenge your friends in a fun and constructive way. For us Quiztador started in the summer of 2013 when we were playing different trivia games and thought it would be more fun to do our own.

screen1136x1136-1How is your app different from similar games? Quiztador is a multiplayer trivia game where players compete by answering questions in a wide range of categories. The first four rounds they will build up their time, and then try to be the last person left as that time ticks away. We think something that stands out is the ability to play 4 people in a game and the fact that we’ve tried to incorporate some of the best elements from various game shows, such as an option to use a number of tactics when you get a difficult question. For instance, you can copy an opponents answer or use 50:50 to eliminate two wrong answers. We also think our business model is a bit different, it’s a free to play game where everything in the game can be unlocked with the single in game currency Gold, which you will earn quite generous amounts of just by completing games (winners get more). Gold can of course also be bought as an in app purchase, which at the same time removes adverts. We’re hoping it’s a model our users will like, as we ourselves don’t like games where you feel forced to spend money to get anywhere.

QuiztadorIcon300x300-300x300What went into the design and UI? When designing the user interface we wanted to get the best from the best quiz apps out there and make it better, add a lot of more features and a more actionpacked gameview. All of this covered in a Conquistador age cartoony yet sophisticated theme. The backgrounds and UI elements were all made in photoshop with vector graphics. We have also been inspired by artists such as Steve Purcell (know for Day of the Tentacle and Monkey Island games).

What tools or resources did you use in building the app? An interesting aspect of Quiztador compared to many other games out there is that it isn’t developed in Cocos2D or a 3D engine, instead it is developed entirely in XCode with the standard UIKit. We’ve used a lot of wonderful open source libraries, such as AFNetworking and DrupaliOSsdk for connecting with the Drupal based backend, and Facebook’s POP framework for a lot of the animations. StackOverflow is a great resource in finding answers to specific problems that arise during development.

What lessons did you learn creating the game?  One lesson is that there are a lot of fantastic open source libraries available for developers, and a lot of helpful people behind them.

What went right and wrong with the release? Nothing major have gone wrong so far, but I think a lot of people might underestimate the importance of marketing after the release. We haven’t had a lot of downloads yet, partly because we have been waiting to start marketing the app until we could release version 1.1, which polishes up the things we weren’t satisfied with ourselves. We also wanted to start out with some caution since the only thing that we’re a bit unsure about is how the servers will perform with a lot of users.

We have had a lot of ideas during the development and it is certainly difficult at times to decide out of all the features we want to put in, which ones has to be in the first version and which ones can wait.

Who is on the team and what are your roles?  Markus Ekblad (iOS and backend developer), Johan Lindgren (Design and UI), Niklas Nilsson (Project manager, developer, marketing), Daniel Olsson (Marketing)

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What were you doing prior to creating QuiztadorWe are running an app/web agency where we do work for clients and whenever there is some time to spare we’ll work on our own projects such as Quiztador. Before that we have different backgrounds within design and computer programming.

What other apps inspire you? When it comes to design and user interface, the National Geographic City Guides is a greatinspiration, as is Clear for its inventive minimalistic UI. I can say that at least one of us on the team can’t live without Hearthstone, the iPad card game from Blizzard.

Head over to iTunes to download Quiztador!

Hey app devs!  Wanna be featured like our friends at QuiztadorClick Here.

A Year of Stories Behind the Apps

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Whew, it has been a year since we launched our Stories Behind the Apps feature and what an amazing journey it has been. We realized early on that powersylde is powered by people. It is this authenticity that fuels our app and the excitement of discovering and sharing great apps with friends and family.

 

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When telling the story behind powerslyde, we realized that every app has a story that humanizes it and allows us to relate to it in a new way. This peek behind the ideas and process has revelealed some incredible people and stories behind some great apps. Attending mobile developers conferences, the feedback from the community has been amazing and we look forward to another year of sharing these tales. Below is a brief look at five of our favorite App Stories, in no particualr order, from the last year.

Post a comment below, tweet or send us an email and let us know what your favorite Story Behind the App is and we will award the winner one free year of unique and powerful analytics reports focusing on data around their app and users. If you have or know of an app that has a great story that should be told, don't hesitate to contact us!

 

logotype_transbg-300x101Codename Cygnus is a very cool, incredibly unique genre of game – an interactive radio drama! Players take on the role  of a secret agent in an interactive fictional world inspired by old time serial radio dramas. With either a spoken word or a simple tap on the screen you can progress through the story in  multiple-choice dialogue moments like those you often find in adventure or RPG games, but in this case it is audio-only. Players can choose between options to accomplish mission objectives  and listen to the drama unfold as characters react to the decisions. You get to be the type of spy that you want to be in an audio-only world of action and intrigue.

 

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What’s Inside My Body is a wonderful app where children find out what there is under their skin, their muscles, their bones, until they can hear the beat of their own heart. Layer by layer they will take a deeper look into the things, playing and interacting with the short activities hidden in each layer. What's Inside my body is part of a project whose aim is to achieve a series of educational apps made to satisfy children’s curiosity. Children can find out “what’s inside” things around them simply erasing layer by layer.

 

RunPees

RunPee tells people the best time to run and pee during a movie without missing the best parts. The app also lets you know if there's anything extra after the end credits, and if so what. It also gives a synopsis of the first three minutes of a movie.  The process in getting the Peetimes is a team effort. There's mom, who mostly does kids movies, sis, who does horror films, and the lead developer, who sees the action movies. They have a professional movie reviewer in Hollywood who gets Peetimes for the blockbuster movies so that people who go to the opening shows will be taken care of. 

 

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Spaceteam is a cooperative shouting game – yes you read that right, shouting. You connect to other players in the same room and try to fly a spaceship as a team by manipulating random technobabble controls. Meanwhile your ship is falling apart and being chased by an exploding star. After a few minutes of chaos you inevitably lose and everyone gets a medal. Chaotic fun for all!

 

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Galaxy Dash: Race to the Outer Run combines the excitement of an endless runner with the thrill of space combat! In the game you play as a star captain and privateer who is navigating through the Outer Run, a dangerous but lucrative smuggling route on the edge of the galaxy. Your goal is to blast obstacles in your way, collect tons of loot, and survive as long as possible to become the most infamous smuggler in the galaxy! This is a super fun combination of game play styles.

Make sure to head over to Google Play or the App Store to download Stories Behind the Apps for your mobile device.