• TImeline graphic with years exploding from star

My Start App Journey 2014

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Welcome back!
 
I hope to give you a bit of an insight into how and when I started on this amazing journey into mobile app and game development. Here is my timeline –

 

noka3120

August 2011 – Wife insists she should get an iPhone 4.
I didn’t really understand what all the hype was about, what is wrong with a Nokia 3120?
The one that looks like this image to the left (circa 2004).
I used mine for another 3 years until both teenagers and older people alike start to give me strange looks when I’m out using this ‘prehistoric’ device. Come on… it had the game Snake EX2 on it !

 

 

 

11 months go by…. 

 

July 2012 – It was a Sunday night and after we got the kids to bed, both my wife and I were sitting watching the show 60 Minutes on Channel 9 (here in Australia). One of the stories was titled The App Revolution [1]. At the time I had not heard of the game Fruit Ninja, but there was this guy with an Australian accent that mentioned his game had been downloaded more than 15 times the population of Australia! (>300 million downloads). It was Phil Larsen from Halfbrick Studios in Brisbane.

Graphic of Fruit Ninja 300 million downloads at 99 cents
This ultimately got me excited, I did a bit of research online but didn’t really know how to start.. and I told myself I was already busy enough tinkering with my Arduino micro-controller during any free time I might come across.

 

Another 10 months go by…. 

 

May 2013 – Having a wife, kids and a 9 to 5 job, my spare time is extremely limited! At the time I was purely focused on what tool and programming language I should use / learn. I knew a bit of the C programming language from a course I took over 10 years prior?!? The thought of having to learn both Objective-C for iOS development and Java for Android development scared the heck out of me. I knew it could be done, but it didn’t seem like a particularly efficient way forward. I ask myself, ‘is there a tool or language I can use to write a single source code for both iOS and Android’?

 

Graphic of popular programming languages 2014

 

 

mid-May 2013 – In search of the ‘one source code, multiple platforms’ solution, I stumble across Marmalade SDK (Software Development Kit) [2]. They had just released a new product called Marmalade Quick marketed as a solution for rapid 2D game development using a language I had never heard of called Lua. They had a free 30-day trial, so I gave it a whirl!

 

June 2013 – The Marmalade Quick free trial ended, I gain some knowledge of the API (Application Programming Interface) but can’t say I was completely happy. I was going to have to pay a monthly or annual subscription fee to continue learning the API (as there was no free version of the SDK at the time).

 

July – Sept 2013 – As mentioned, since I knew a bit of the C programming language, I turn to a completely free alternative: Cocos2D-X game engine [3]. The workflow required me to use Microsoft Visual Studio Express + Eclipse IDE (Integrated Development Environment) + ‘C++’ programming language. I produce a 50 page manuscript for the workflow to push a basic app onto my Android device! (albeit mostly screen shots and pictures). I purchase a newly released Cocos2D-X book from Amazon called Cocos2d-x by Example: Beginner’s Guide [4]. Working through a first few examples I compile them and upload to my newly purchased Nexus 7! Wow, I actually got something to work on a real device!

 

Lua programming language logo

 

October 2013 – Although I had some small personal success with the Cocos2D-X game engine, I felt the workflow was quite cumbersome. I lean back towards a Lua [5] based development environment since I was initially impressed at how much I could accomplish with such a small amount of code.

 

 

January 2014 – I start to get a bit more serious about development. I choose a preferred SDK (software development kit), stick with it and begin learning the API. My choice is swayed by leveraging the knowledge I gained last year in evaluating various SDKs and game engines.

 

February – October 2014 – My first app was to be a simple kids game, and it will be tested on my own children before releasing it to the app stores. Start simple, work to more complicated. I will be attempting to ‘do it all’ for my first mobile app/game. My focus to this point was on game mechanics by filling the role as ‘The Coder’. During my commute to work I begin listening to Steve P Young’s MobileAppChat podcast (now called AppMasters.co) [6] to hear inspiring stories of both success and failure from many other indie developers in the community. These interviews help keep me motivated!

 

November 2014 – I come to a realization that there are 4 fundamental job role hats that need to be worn in this mobile app/game business – i) ‘The Coder’, ii) ‘The Designer’, iii) ‘The Marketer’, iv) ‘The Entrepreneur’. The last one can often be a mindset of the first three. So maybe there are really only 3 fundamental job role hats to be worn and the entrepreneurial spirit must be present in each. I know I’m going to need a website for my new App company and I plan to do it myself, so I take a few weeks out to learn about website development and sign up for a cheap web hosting service. As part of my web learning, I decide to create this website StartAppsBlog.com to openly discuss topics associated with getting into the mobile application development business.

 

Stay tuned for the next post… I will outline the current app stores that exist and the pros / cons of publishing to these different market places.

 

References:

1. SixtyMinutes-The App Revolution

2. Marmalade SDK

3. Cocos2d-x

4. Cocos2d-x Beginners Guide book

5. Lua Programming Language

6. App Masters Podcast

 

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