Tag Archives: ios

Maddie Bear’s Snack Time

I’m happy to announce that my latest mobile app game, “Maddie Bear’s Snack Time” is now released for iPhone, iPad, Android, Nook Tablets and Amazon Kindle Fire Tablets. Based off of the Maddie Bear book series, Maddie Bear’s Snack Time is a game where Maddie Bear tries to eat as many pieces of fruit as possible while avoiding all of the junk food. It’s an endless runner-style game that is very easy for young children to pick up.

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Kwik 3.0 Now Available

Last week, Kwiksher released their latest version of Kwik Photoshop plugin. I was fortunate enough to be part of the beta testing, and helped CEO Alex Souza discover some of the bugs before the final version was released.

Kwik v3

I was even able to release Maddie Bear’s Birthday for the iPad using the beta version of Kwik.

maddie bear's birthday

Kwik now is compatible with Corona SDK’s new storyboard tool called “Composer” as well as their new Graphics 2.0 anchor point system. It offers a revamped interface and a plethora of new features and settings that were not available in previous versions. You can now add monetization with iAds and AdMob, splash screens, in-app purchases if you’re a Corona Basic, Pro or Enterprise subscriber, and you no longer have to deal with the annoying task of enabling Adobe Flash to run the plugin.

kwik

Kwik has also switched over to a subscription business model to allow for more updates in order to keep up with the ever changing world of mobile app development. When Apple or Android make a change to their operating systems, Corona Labs has to follow suit, which in turn makes Kwiksher have to follow their lead.

There is also another huge benefit to their new subscription model. Let’s say you have an idea for a storybook app, but you’re not ready to make a huge investment in software in case your app doesn’t make you a lot of money or in case you just don’t end up liking app development. You can download the Corona Lab’s Starter Kit for free and then just do a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription to Kwik, depending on how long you’ll need it.

You can also have your script reviewed, have video chat support, and pretty soon, Kwiksher can even publish your app to all of the major app store for you via their services program.

My latest book, Maddie Bear’s Birthday, would have taken much, much longer to develop had I not used Kwik. It saved me days worth of coding. Check out my app at MaddieBearBooks.com to see what is possible with Kwik.

Maddie Bear's Birthday for iPad
Maddie Bear’s Birthday for iPad

Maddie Bear’s Birthday: iPad App Giveaway!

Maddie Bear’s Birthday was just released for the Apple iPad! To celebrate, the first 20 people who purchase the paperback version get a free promo code for the app. Here’s how to claim your free iPad version:

  1. Purchase Maddie Bear’s Birthday from Amazon or the autographed bundle from MaddieBearBooks.com
  2. Use the “Contact” button on MaddieBearBooks.com to e-mail your receipt of purchase
  3. Await your free promo code for the iPad version

You can either give the promo code to a friend, or use it to have both the interactive and paperback version for you and your kids.

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Maddie Bear's Birthday for iPad
Maddie Bear’s Birthday for iPad

Maddie Bear’s Birthday: iPad App Coming Soon!

I’m happy to announce that I just uploaded version 1.0 of the Maddie Bear’s Birthday app to Apple for approval.

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Approval process is usually about two weeks, so hopefully soon you’ll be able to pick up your copy! The iPad version differs from the paperback in that it contains a spot the difference mini game, animations, music and sound effects. Sometimes it’s nice to have a version with all of the bells and whistles and sometimes it’s nice to have a regular book, so that’s why I wanted to create both versions.

You can still pick up a copy of the autographed book bundle from www.MaddieBearBooks.com!

The Cost of Making Apps

I’m going to talk about a somewhat touchy subject, which is good, I’d love to get some different opinions in the comments section. Are we as mobile application developers, selling ourselves and each other short? I’m sure many of you have noticed the change to apps following the “freemium” business model, where the app is free and then you can choose to pay if you want upgrades, get more lives, etc. The obvious reason behind this change is because it’s popular and it’s what sells.

Some people argue that developers did this to themselves. One person offered an app for $1.99, another person made a similar app for $0.99. Not to be outdone, another person made their app for free and/or added an in-app purchase (IAP). Other people argue that this happened because it’s what the consumers demanded and it needed to be done to keep their business afloat.

From the consumer side, I don’t mind paying for a great app that I’ll use often. I always thought it was odd how people will buy a $6 latte, $15 lunch, and $25 dinner without batting an eye, but they’re weary of spending $1-$5 on an app that might give them days of entertainment or help them in their daily lives. I guess the biggest argument is that an app is not something you can physically hold and it doesn’t have that connection with the consumer. This probably why a lot of people still prefer paper books over eBooks, it’s that physical connection you have with the product that can’t be deleted by simply pressing a button.

On the developer side, I kind of feel like maybe we should all start selling apps for at least $1.99. Not all apps, but the ones that we really spend a lot of time and money on to create a nicely polished product. Let’s say that the average person earns about $30,000 annually. I know in some major cities, $30k a year might be the poverty line, but let’s just pretend. You paid your $99 Apple developer fee for the year, so your mobile app profit is already at a whopping negative $99. You spend 2 months from start to finish building an app, which would normally result in $5,000 ($30,000 divided by 12 months multiplied by 2 months), so now you’re at negative $5,100. Apple takes a 30% cut, so you earn about .70 cents for your app if you price it at the lowest price tier. That means you’d need to sell at least 7,286 copies of your app in 2 months to make back the money you lost. Depending on your app, this might be easy to do or it might never sell that many copies.

This is all assuming you’re a full-time indie developer and $30,000 a year is the median salary in your area, but you still get my point. It could also be argued that the $99 developer fee will be split up by multiple apps you release that year, but also there’s costs like advertising, marketing, and anything you can’t create like sounds, music, artwork, etc. Regardless, I think we owe it to ourselves as developers to take a good look at how we price our apps.

Maybe the “freemium” model isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds, maybe it’s the answer to all of our problems, I’m not quite sure. I would love to hear what you think about app pricing, though.

Pre-Advertising

I still have two more pages of my next children’s book to draw, but just because it isn’t finished doesn’t mean I can wait to advertise it. Once the drawings are finalized, I still have to do minor revisions, export for print, send the files to Amazon, proof the book and then make available…and that’s just for the print version. The app version will open a whole other Pandora’s box of goodies.

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However, the book is far enough along where I need to start getting the word out. I’ve already reserved the placeholder website: www.MaddieBearBooks.com, created a Facebook page, Twitter account, and even Instagram. I’ve been brainstorming ideas how to create more interest such as an in-app purchase inside the app that allows you to buy the paperback version of the book, a limited edition autographed version of the book, stickers, posters, and prints.

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It’s my goal to turn this into a regular book series that I can continue to draw for years to come, so branding will be important. However, I’m still not certain how much money, if any, I’ll be willing to spend on advertising and marketing. I think initially I’ll try social media and word-of-mouth to see how far that goes and determine the next step from there. What are some ideas that you’ve come up with for marketing your products?

From Kwik to Print

Since 2011, I’ve written, illustrated, and developed two children’s book apps and I’m currently working on my third. I’ve also recently illustrated and developed a book app for Huggable Melodies. Thanks to Kwik, creating the apps was very easy and it allowed me to focus on drawing instead of coding.

I drew the artwork in Flash, and then using Photoshop and the Kwik plugin, I was quickly able to covert the artwork into apps for the iPad and Kindle Fire tablets. However, since my daughter is only 16 months old, I wondered if iPads would even still be around in a few years when she could really comprehend the stories I had written for her. This made me want to consider self-published print versions.

The first company I tried out was Bookemon. It allowed me to upload artwork in landscape dimensions in full color and order on an as-needed basis. The only qualms I have with Bookemon is if you only want one copy, it’s a minimum of $15 shipped, which is kind of pricey for a small book. Also, if you allow the general public to order your book from Bookemon, they can read the entire book without buying it and Bookemon takes a royalty fee. I’m considering trying CreateSpace or Lulu for my next book and I’ll post about the process when I decide.

On the technical side, converting a book app to print-ready artwork was fairly easy and just took a little knowledge of resolution. Most digital artwork is 72dpi and printed work is 300dpi or higher. The book on Bookemon is 7.75″x5.75″, so I created a new document in Photoshop at that size with a resolution of 300dpi. Then I changed the image size resolution to 72dpi and got the new dimensions. I changed the stage size to those new dimensions of my Flash file and scaled down the artwork page by page. Since Flash creates vector artwork, there was no loss in quality. I exported each page as a .png file at 300dpi and uploaded them to Bookemon.

A few days later the print books had arrived and the line quality looks great.

 

Because of the vector artwork and high-resolution exporting, the artwork is crisp and colors are vivid. It’s nice to have an interactive digital version as well as a traditional print version of the books. For my next book, Maddie Bear’s Birthday, I may try to implement an in-app purchase in the app version that allows you to order a print version as well. First, I have to finish drawing the book and then decide on a publisher.

Have any questions about going from digital to print? Leave a comment.

Review: Kut by Kwiksher

A couple days ago,¬†Kwiksher announced their new software called “Kut“. You may know of Kwiksher because of their innovative Photoshop plugin “Kwik”, which allows you to create Corona SDK apps without code. However, Kut isn’t a tool to create apps, it’s a Photoshop plugin to help you create artwork for numerous devices quickly. You are free to use Java, JavaScript, Lua, Objective-C, etc. to create the apps, Kut just helps with the graphics side, not the coding.

You might be asking why this would be helpful. Say you or your client want to create an app that will run on all iOS and Android devices. Well, you could create the artwork for retina iPads, shrink it down in Photoshop for non-retina, shrink it again for phones, and then repeat for Android, Kindle Fire, Nook, etc. or you could design everything in Photoshop one time and then let Kut do the rest for you. Let me show you what I mean.

First, I downloaded the free trial of Kut and installed it via the Adobe Extensions Manager. Then in Photoshop I opened the Kut panel.

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I opened Kut’s settings and selected the devices I would like to support.

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I started a new Document. In this case, I chose iPad Retina as my starting device since it has one of the largest resolutions of 2048×1536.

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Using different layers, I created a screen for a game that is sure to win numerous awards for fantastic artwork. I saved my .PSD file to a folder on my Desktop.

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I clicked the Publish button and got a popup window since it was my first time using Kut (in this instance, I wasn’t making an app icon, but Kut will create icons for your app if you want it to).

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.38.01 AMSo I did as the pop up asked and pasted the code into Terminal.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.38.19 AMAnd just like that, I had artwork compressed and sized for every device.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.39.22 AMObviously had I purchased the full version, the watermark of “KUT KUT KUT KUT” would not be on each image. However, in mere moments, I was able to create artwork for a game for 8 different devices. This could normally take hours and Kut did it all in a click of a button. If you’re thinking about picking up Kut, buy it before December 31st and it’s only $19.99.

EDIT:

I decided to pick up the full license to remove the watermark. Kut is definitely very useful software for cross-platform development and for $19.99, you can’t go wrong. This time when I published out my artwork, I was given a developer’s report that is part of the full-version of Kut.

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This is extremely useful for rebuilding the interface in your coding language of choice. Now not only do I know the dimensions of my artwork, I also know the exact coordinates to place them on the screen. If you’re reading this, you should stop now and download Kut, it’s a great tool that I’m going to be using a lot.

Public-Funded Apps

In my previous blog post about being a one-man studio, I noted that since I create my personal apps as a hobby, I don’t have funding for sound effects, narration, etc. Now for my current project, which is a storybook series called “Maddie Bear Books“, I’m in the same boat.

Once I finish the storyline and illustrations for the first book of the series, I don’t have any money to pay a professional narrator or to buy any sound effects/music that I can’t create myself. To try to raise some funds, I decided to start a “Bearstarter” campaign. It’s a lot like Kickstarter, but without the Kickstarter fees, overhead costs of shipping and producing rewards, minimum monetary goals to meet, etc.

The benefit of going this route is that if people want to donate out of the goodness of their hearts, there’s no minimum amount to raise or if they want a physical product for their donation, I also have signed prints available. All of the proceeds go directly into app and book production and it’s a cool chance to be part of a project from the very beginning.

Click on Maddie Bear for more information.

Click for Bearstarter Information!
Click for Bearstarter Information!

Mobile Apps & Social Media

I recently decided that I would start working on my next mobile app, a children’s eBook series. I wanted to base the story off of my daughter and two of my friends’ daughters using anthropomorphic animals. However, if you’ve been following the trend of mobile apps these days, you know that you need to spend just as much time marketing your apps as you have developing them. Before I have even finished writing the storyline to my new app series, I spent some time pre-marketing it.

Maddie Bear's Birthday

I did a web search to make sure there weren’t similar products with similar names already coming up on Google. Then I purchased a domain name and made a temporary website placeholder (www.MaddieBearBooks.com) as well as started a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/MaddieBearBooks). I figured the last account I would need would be a Twitter account (www.twitter.com/MaddieBearBooks) and then I’d have all the major bases covered. However, after hearing¬†Noah Malewicz say he also did Instagram to promote his app “City Birds” during the Corona Geek Hangout, I figured I should hit that market as well.

The thing was, I didn’t want to create an Instagram account just to have one. After perusing other Instagram users’ images, it seemed like there were way too many “selfies”, food pictures, and the like, so I decided to try something a little bit more creative for Maddie Bear’s page.

http://instagram.com/maddiebearbooks
Maddie Bear jumps off the Adobe Flash stage onto the timeline.
http://instagram.com/maddiebearbooks
Maddie Bear takes drawing her story on the Wacom Cintiq into her own hands.
http://instagram.com/maddiebearbooks
Maddie Bear takes my Sharpie pen to write her name on paper.

I thought doing some illusions and tricks might be a little more visually enticing to look at versus pictures of me drawing the artwork. Whether if all of this social media marketing will pay off or not is yet to be seen, I should probably finish the app first…