Progress #4 MWC

Hello world,

Its been quite some time since I wrote my last post.

CoShopping

I’ve been busy working on CoShopping. I put out the iOS version on the appstore already and also Android betatest version. Currently both are finished only Android requires some more testing.

I am working on the backend for CoShopping to allow buying the discounts for the shops and create the easy way to import the discounts. It also mostly works except for the buying part and some security issues. I was able to import current discounts using the new backend already.

CoShopping has already some users but only a few (10 or so). I want it to become a online shop where a little local grocery stores  can introduce their discounts for a fair price to attract local customers. Usually people go to the big shopping centres to buy stuff which is overpriced and not as good quality to save time because they don’t want to search every little store as there is no discount list for them or they don’t have webpage.

MWC Barcelona

I’ve been to mobile world congress in Barcelona this year. I’ve got invited by GameLab Barcelona for free so I took some week off to visit. It was nice to change the locality. Barcelona is always full of people while here in Presov I barely see somebody in the street in the evening. Also the weather was sunny I spent some time on the beach and going through the city practicing my spanish skills while being pleasantly surprised I haven’t managed to forget everything already (I lived in Spain for 6 months before). I visited the 4YFN and MWC to get in touch how to projects are being developed now. It was first chance for me to see how they are getting funds from the Bussiness angels/Venture capitals because we have nothing like this in Slovakia. There are not meets and no investors easily accessible.

It was an eye opening event for me. People were starting bussinesses everywhere right left up down 🙂 with even simple ideas like some kind of vibrator, flats booking, homemade food market… Just every possible idea and mostly everything was working for them.

Also there was presentation from crowdcube platform where they shown us a company which got invested in a million pounds/hour for four hours straight and afterwards still going strong and getting more investments just from their crowd funding platform 🙂 Kind of money here we can imagine in our wildest dreams.

Games

I took a part in the Ludum Dare 38 and after some initial struggle eventually created the entry. My game is about little child trying to find his parents in the house haunted by the ghost and is called Amadeus.

I wrote most of the details on the game page of LDJAM so I won’t repeat them here if you want go there to look on how the universe has worked it out for me this time.

Other games I am working on including Splice and DieLight in this order. Both are being rewritten to Monogame and Xamarin with Splice being the first. I will write on progress then.

eNetworking

This is another project I got inspiration for in Barcelona MWC. They have a networking app for conference and here we have conferences but no networking app. I started doing this for iOS and Android with a friend who was supposed to do the server backend because I don’t want to do everything in another project alone again – CoShopping is enough of that experience for me. However there are another caveats this time 🙂 My friend got a lot of work in his job and does not have time right now to work so the progress stopped after 100 hours put into that and having iOS app working. I guess this is how the small projects usually go… Hopefully we will continue in the beginning of the summer again.

 

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Progress #3 -Student syndrome

Progress #3 -Student syndrome

Hi world,

there is Ludum dare event this weekend! Although from last report my body was kept to work, my mind already flew to the LDJAM 🙂 After the jam I hope I will have some new game to write about. But now let’s get back to the report.

6 hours a day experiment

Last week I started the experiment with a six days a week working for six hours a day I wrote about in the last progress. This is strict limit and there is no exception (no less, no more working hours per day). It is a short time-frame to make some definitive assumptions. Anyway I can write some experience.

I am working for the six hours straight without the youtube/chats/web. Towards the end I am feeling a sense of urgency knowing that after six hours I have to stop and the rest of the job has to be done next day. To finish the tasks in the six hours schedule I started to do more planning in the evening. Also I enjoy the work more because it takes only fixed amount of time and I feel happier if I can finish everything I set up for that day.

I assume that most of the productivity now comes from a strict deadline which makes me to experience a little student syndrome everyday 🙂

CoShopping

This weeks work was shorter. Once the temperatures here went way below zero, I had an unplanned trip to check my grandmother’s house to prevent it from freezing.

During the week I kept on working on feedback I received for CoShopping. At some point I got fed up with Xamarin’s tools so much that I rewrote part of the GUI to the code instead of using their UI designer. Also with the programmer’s rage in mind I wrote a very negative comment on reddit discussion summarising my current experience with Xamarin’s technology. It was done with a hope that it will prevent somebody from loosing so much valuable time. I will also write a blogpost about my experience with Xamarin with some advices how to overcome the obstacles and what to choose or avoid if Xamarin is chosen. I am not feeling like an expert in Xamarin but a lot of teams are in same position trying to deliver their multi-platform apps and may use some of these experiences.

Anyway against all the circumstances, the CoShopping is almost done and I need only a few more days to finish it and publish as a beta so testers can come up with new bugs 🙂

Currently I am not implementing any new feature and I am working more on the UI design stuff, like recomposing the page for adding products, unifying the fonts and colours, etc. Also I am testing everything to make sure there is not “WTF, this was working!” when I will enjoy the new feedback 🙂

After this beta the app should be ready for release. It will be the first app released by myself on the AppStore. I already worked on one iOS app and a few Windows phone/Android apps before which were published. But the CoShopping will be the first iOS app published by myself 🙂

Summarised, the plan for next week is to publish the beta and update the website because it contains old app’s photos. Also the website should no longer states the beta-test since it will be going out. Rather it should be some marketing website translated to Slovak and Czech languages for marketing people that will come across.

That’s all for now and I am off and getting ready for LDJAM finally 🙂

 

Progress #2 – getting feedback

Hi guys,

last time I had trouble to focus on the finishing CoShopping app and made the games DieLight and Fobia instead. This week I went to Prague to visit some friends. Between drinking good beer they are always willing to give me good feedback on my apps 🙂

CoShopping

Before the trip I was able to beat all known bugs in the CoShopping. Also I managed to translate most of the app to Czech and Slovak languages. Translation is actually high priority because app is mainly targeted for these two markets.

During the trip I collected some feedback to implement. These are not new features but rather modifications to already implemented ones to make them more user-friendly.

DieLight

The rest of the time I spent on studying how I should implement free-to-play monetization into the DieLight. Eventually I have decided on going with in-game currency and achievements system.

Getting achievements will earn player the in-game currency “coins”. Player will spent his coins for unlocking more types of mazes. All the game content will be achievable without paying real money for coins if player will spend enough time getting achievements. Player can also choose to directly purchase coins and unlock the content faster.

Using this approach will let me make the game free to start with. Players that became interested over initial gameplay will progress faster by spending some money on the game. I saw similar concepts implemented by About fun company and their games are pretty successful. In the following time I will have to come up with exact achievement and new content system that will be interesting enough for player to spend some money.

During my trip I showed the game to my friends and they enjoyed it. Little things like these when you can see somebody enjoying my product keeps me motivated to publish it to market and see how it will be doing.

6 hours per day 6 days a week experiment

On the train ride back from the trip I read the thesis from Thomas Garrigue Masaryk. It is from the year 1905 and is about introducing 8 hour working day to the old Austria. In that time there was no limit for working hours length in the most of the world.

He argues that less working hours leads to more work done. It is achieved by letting the worker to rest longer which in turn leads to less stress, errors and injuries due to worker being more concentrated on the job. According to Masaryk, such approach should be applicable for the occupations where stable every day performance for a long period of time is required. There are also occupations, for example some seasonal jobs, where this is not beneficial. Due to the short-time nature of such jobs the short burst of performance for a few weeks is desirable and a long recovery time is not an issue. Masaryk argues that even 6 hours a day for 6 days a week should lead to a better performance for everyday job. He makes some interesting arguments about human physiology to prove that more rest leads to better working results.

I will try to implement this for a month and see where this will take me. From now for a month I will work Monday – Saturday 6 hours a day and rest of the time will be spent on some non-working activity. This means no chats/web browsing/news reading during work hours to make them more efficient.

New ideas

I like these kind of trips because they make me relaxed and flowing with new ideas. I came up with a turn-based multiplayer system for DieLight. It is interesting but I think it will take a long time to implement and I cannot manage it without making some money from game or app first. Here comes the time when I have to decide not to implement more features to the app nor to the game and just finished both products.

Progress #1 – DieLight resurrection

Progress #1 – DieLight resurrection

Hi guys,

until last weekend I was having pause from CoShopping and working on Fobia game trying various stuff which I will write about in some of the next posts.

This week’s plan was to make a progress on CoShopping towards the goal to publish it before the end of the year. However that was not how things happened.

Through the week I got to talk to my friend who recently broke up with his girlfriend. Because he lives in different city we decided that we will get together to talk on Saturday. I know him from the beginning of my university studies and I already became suspicious that it won’t end up just with talking. I was right and it turned out to be a party until the morning leaving me not able to do anything useful on sunday 🙂 While trying to get myself together I watched some talks with Rami Ismail from Vlambeer which somehow made me look again at my last Ludum dare project Pyramid.

Thats how the things got started. The game feels good and is easy to understand and I already had an iOS version working.

SPOILER: I created a gameplay video and attached the link to the end of the page so you can let me know what you think.

Graphics update

Graphics was mostly missing, so I went ahead and drawn something in my favourite graphics editor inkscape. I drawn the new menus and dialogs. Afterwards I drawn new graphics for gameplay controls and background. Every control now has two versions, one is highlighted and one is normal. The highlighted one is shown after the touch to make the game fell more responsive.

Levels management

Also the level selecting mechanism was really shitty. It haD only two options to start from the beginning or to continue. It was made in a hurry for a competition and level selecting was not an important thing than. Also there was no information on the progress and no way to return to interesting levels.

To solve all the issues at once I created a level selecting page where player can choose which level he would like to play. I wanted to preserver the “Continue” mechanism so player has to play all the levels in their order and cannot skip any of them. I used colours to distingues between three kinds of level: already won, locked, not won yet. The result currently looks like this:

dielight-2016-11-25-21-26-52-levelselect

Player can see which levels were played, which level is required to be won to progress in the game and that there are more levels left to be played.

Gameplay

When I had graphics in place I tested the new level selecting by playing 207 levels in row 🙂   I felt that gameplay with rotating the light in the iOS version was a little bit hard to grasp. There were just too many angles to be covered and the result after rotating the light a little bit was hard to be imagined when mind was under the stress of time going out. Rotating the maze instead of light seems to be a better idea. It rotates only 90 degrees each time as in the Ludum dare version. With only 4 possible rotations it was easier for me to imagine how the rotation result will look and use correct rotation under the time pressure.

Also I had to widen the light to cover the corners because now there are only 4 possible rotations of maze. With narrow light the corners were shown only during rotation animation making the gameplay stressful.

Other stuff

Rest of the time I spent looking into the monetisation options and playing the games from About fun because they use the free-to-play model I think that will suite this game the best.

I created a video with current DieLight gameplay. Here is the link because I don’t know how to embed it directly.

Gameplay video

Porting and redesign of CoShopping

Hi guys,

winter is coming, my runing session are coming short (haven’t run for last two weeks) and I’m becoming a little bit lazy with blogging. I guess it is because currently I am writing the CoShopping ‘s iOS version for the third time.

First it was in swift, then ported to Xamarin.Forms. This seemed to be a good decision because backend part was supposed to be same for Android and iOS version and there should be only minor changes required in the frontend part between iOS and Android versions. It proved to be very wrong. Xamarin.Forms is not mature project, it is full of bugs with each new version breaking the previously working api and introducing new bugs. It breaks also such a simple things as menu will inevitable crash the app on iOS 10 while on iOS 9 it was happily working 🙂 If somebody out there is trying to find crossplatform option for development I have to say that Xamarin.Forms is waste of time and money. This is based on my experience. They have a lot of bugs and are very slow in resolving them.

Currently I am porting this to Xamarin.iOS. This seems to be working. I managed to save all the backend stuff while having to write completely new frontend staff. Hovewer when I had to do a rewrite I also done some redesign with the UI and introduced a multiple local lists feature. Main screen of the app now looks like this:

simulator-screen-shot-15-nov-2016-01-33-33

I also created new icon:

120

I hope I can finish everything this week and put out the final betatest version. Before christmass I want to put the app out for iOS and work on the Android version using Xamarin.Android.

Fobia

I also have to write that I’m working on the game called Fobia. It is mix between tapan kaikki and commandos. Players are in the position of commandos trying to reach their objective while killing the enemy soldiers in the stealth or action way. It is top-down shooter which features cooperative multiplayer.

I will write a separate blog posts about this because it seems to be getting more updates than CoShopping.

What has been going on in september?

Hi guys,

while this report is already a month late… I still consider it my first weekly report 🙂

What happened to regular weekly this month? I’ve been travelling for weekends this month and hadn’t any energy left. While this makes me feel bad for not writing my reports it actually helped me to recover from the work.

Discounts please

I’ve spent a lot of time doing development on the CoShopping‘s new feature – discounts. CoShopping now show if there are some discounts on the products that while user is going through his shopping list.

To enter the discounts into the backend server I had to create some UI. I have experience with django and its auto-generated admin looked promising to avoid development the custom web interface. I took the opportunity and rewritten all the poor code from  php to python and django. Now it looks really good, sometimes I catch myself just going through this beautiful code 🙂 Django’s admin is up to the task of entering the discounts catalogues into the server part.

Only unresolved issue for now is that most shops are changing their discount catalogues on a weekly base here in Slovakia. Because of that, catalogues have to be entered into the backend very often and it can take up the whole day. I am thinking about hiring some student to help me out on this for one-two days a week.

Also I spent some time analyzing text-matching algorithms like Levenshtein distance and other fuzzy stuff to implement good name matching between product names and user entered text in the mobile app.  I was trying to find the balance between good match and not too much work on the app side because it has to be very responsive.

Betatest resolution

Other part of the month I spent working on the comments from betatesters. These are still not done and I had to move the releasing of the new version to the end of this week, although it was scheduled to be released last week. Maybe it is not necessary to fix everything but to release more often? Testers will have more time to test and in the meantime other issues still can be fixed. Also the release process will become more fluent, because now it is looks very random to me 🙂

Daily struggle with Xamarin

I don’t know if I already mentioned that I use Xamarin for a mobile development. I choosen this because CoShopping is multiplatform and I don’t like to write the bussiness logic more than once (database related stuff mainly). Hovewer now I am running into the bugs sometimes which are caused by the Xamarin’s multiplatform Xamarin Forms. Last time I reported to them that the context menu is crashing the app on iOS 10 while it is working on iOS 9. Now also other people reported this kind of bug but Xamarin still has no response. Because it is internal stuff of their library there is no correct solution but to write completely custom context menu 🙂

I guess next time when I will start a project I will use the native instruments for each platform. There may be more work but at least there won’t be any unresolvable bugs or the bugs that will take forever to implement for such a simple stuff as a menu.

Future

From now on I will spend some time studying the google adwords in order to understand how it can help me with app marketing. Also I want to ask the local TV station which has the show about best applications if they could mention CoShopping once it is out. This probably has still some time.

Also I got a little bit help from the outside. Microsoft has announced there won’t be anymore windows phone devices. Luckily for me this means I don’t have to support third platform which was originally planned… but of course I am sorry for all the WP’s users 🙂

August’s progress

Hi all,

Today it is raining here in Slovakia and all the young children have to go to elementary school for the first time this year. Bad sign? 🙂

It has been quite a while since my last post. For the future I will try to make a weekly posts. 

I wanted to continue in single apps and games development and I did. Most importantly I put out betatest version of the CoShopping, which is cooperative shopping app. Currently there is the iOS version and while it is being tested by my friends I am working on the Android version. If somebody wants to try current webpage for betatest is at CoShopping.

Already I got first comments from betatesters so I will have some more fun resolving that to everyones happiness. If you try the app and have the comments, please do not hesitate to write them.

Working regiment

For my apps development I managed to introduce normal work hours for myself. I go to the office in the morning and comeback in the evening at latest. Initially I stayed at the office too long during the night. This was fun at the beginning because I worked at my own app but it also caused me to be really tired and my progress significantly slowed down. I was tired and nervous because it was not going as expected (I like to plan) so I tried to go home earlier and not to think about development when I am not in the office. 

Now I must say this new working pace was sustainable for a five to six days a week and afterwards one day of a rest.

Ludum Dare 36

Previous weekend happened to be the ludum dare gamejam. For those of readers who are not familiar with a term gamejam. It is an event where game developers get together physically or online and spent some time to create a game. For ludum dare it is 72 hours straight from friday night to monday night. During this time gamedevs usually loose a lot of sleep some going 40 hours straight to finish their idea the best they can in the very limited amount of time. I joined the game jam as usually: got up in the morning and working until the morning. After spending about 40 hours and almost unlimited amount of coffee, I had my game Pyramid as ready as I was able to make it in the time. Also if somebody wants to try the Pyramid is here. Afterwards I spent some time to make the game working on the iPhone. It looks promising so I will get it to some friends if it is good enough to spend some more time on it and publish to appstore.

Since the competition I was getting to the normal work regiment rather unsuccesfully because I got used work until the morning again. Hope this resolves soon. Now I have to go to Prague and hopefully I will bring some more ideas and feedback from there.

Also I said that I will write some gym stuff. Now there was little time and energy so I switched from gym and running  because I was always tired and had some knee pain. Now I am running three times per week for 10km and doing short street workout sessions for upper body also three times per week. Also because of the previous knee pain I am not working out legs apart from running. I find this less energy consuming and I need my energy somewhere else. I will try this for a few weeks and afterwards decide if it brings some progress. My focus is on general conditioning.

Recapitulation

Done iOS betatest. Working on Android version and resolvinf betatest comments for iOS for CoShopping.

Done Ludum Dare 36 game Pyramid. Created also iOS version.