Tag: Teen »
Oh wow, Habbo takes me back. I remember messing around with it back when Runescape was still on my radar. In fact, Habbo (then known as Habbo Hotel) has actually been around longer than Runescape. Yeesh I feel old.
And now it's available for the iPad.
What is Habbo? It's essentially a pixelated virtual world/hangout/social network for teenagers. Users can explore various rooms, customize their avatar with lots of accessories and effects, take part in daily events, and more. But don't worry, parents, it's also got live moderators who are available 24/7.
You can now download Habbo for your iPad for free.
Ever had the idea for an app, but felt like the lack of programming and design ability was a bit of a non-starter? Well, 13-year-old Daniel Singer has made an app. He's the designer of Backdoor, a chat app that lets users chat with their friends anonymously, trying to get clues to guess who they are. It's available now on the App Store.
This isn't even Daniel's first thing that he's helped to design: he helped create YouTell.com, an anonymous feedback site. He says that helped lead to the creation of Backdoor. "One day during a meeting, I was kind of thinking about how you reply to feedback, and if you reply a lot, that turns into a conversation. And from a conversation, the best platform to do that would be a messenger, and [on] iOS. And that's kind of how it all started."
While he has a limited iOS programming background at the moment, he's more a design person, and he just started mocking up Backdoor after having the idea. "I'm primarily a UI designer, so I immediately kind of hopped into Photoshop and just started messing with that."
How'd he get started with design in the first place? He says "a few years back" (keep in mind that he's thirteen, almost fourteen years old) that he "wanted to create a gaming youtube channel, because I was in to it at the time, so you had to like make a website and a channel design and all that, and so I had to learn the skills to do that, and from there I wound up liking the skills more than the actual YouTube page, and I kind of pursued those further, primarily with design."
In speaking over the phone with Daniel, his youth is apparent, both from the way he speaks like a typical teenager, and in how he describes how he uses Backdoor: "One of my friends played a prank on me, which was quite funny, which was, I was sitting down at a table and they said "look behind you, it's me" - and it was complete strangers and I looked behind them, and it was funny. I ended up using clues and I kind of guessed that it was someone I knew and not some random stranger. That was fun."
But also, he has a maturity to his voice - his voice was deep enough that I was a bit skeptical if he was still thirteen, which he technically is - he turns fourteen soon - and of course, what he's doing is something that people twice his age are trying to do with startups. He also has a youthful optimism toward what is available with technology that he an do with it: "The skills and the resources are pretty widely available and free as well to the most part. To learn programming and design, in 30 days of your Photoshop free trial, you can learn quite a bit, and then if you're into it and go ahead and get a student plan, which is not that much. It's really openly available to learn."
"I tried looking for a teacher, and there really aren't for design as far as I was able to find, unless you went to art school, but that's a college, a conventional course. I ended up teaching myself a lot about design."
And by going out and learning how to do all of this himself, he's way ahead of even many adults who have the inkling in their head "Maybe I could create an app..." because he just did it.
Donkeys and Elephants: Chow Down is a colorful, cartoony iOS game about munching fruit with an ever-growing donkey/elephant (Donkeys and Elephants, get it?). It also uses a database to track player animal choices and scores, then tallies them to create a global score and potentially predict the outcome of the 2012 election. Stiven Deleur and his father have been hard at work with updates and a kickstarter project since the game's release, and have just recently "paired with a starting company" that's taken a big interest and will potentially have a significant impact on their success. I had a few questions for the young developer, naturally.
You'd mentioned that you decided to use Corona for coding over C++ and Xcode. What was it about Corona that drew you in?
Well my first encounter with app developing was when I heard about a young person who made an iOS app, so I decided to try. I briefly looked online but the Objective-C language seemed fairly hard. There also weren't many tutorials or explanations. A couple months later my dad proposed making an app, and he told me about corona. I decided to check it out. On their website there were lots of tutorials, guides, and even explanations to every function etc. After seeing that I thought that I could definitely make a game.
I imagine that, even with how easy it was to get started, there were some stumbling blocks. Were there any aspects to the app development process that gave you more trouble than others? Any that still give you trouble?
Everything seemed new and complicated at that time. But the major stumbling block was that corona has limitations. Not all services are available (e.g. ads, game networks, etc.) I always had to work around it somehow. Even now I can't do everything I want.
The Donkeys vs. Elephants political theme is obviously a focus here, so I have to ask: Donkey or Elephant?
I currently do not have a very strong view, but if I had to choose it would be Elephant.
And while we're on the subject, was it difficult for you to create a game with a political focus that didn't seem to "take sides?"
As I said I don't have strong views so the app is not bias in either way. Still, I tried to make sure everything was equal.
Have there been any items or upgrades that you've wanted to add to the store but just haven't been able to due to balancing/time constraints/whatever?
Well one thing that I have been thinking about are clothes for the characters. It would take about two weeks of work, but currently I am working on other things so I cannot make it happen just yet.
What's your personal favorite upgrade?
My favorite upgrade is coin multiplier! Even though its not cheap, its worth every credit because you gain money faster and can get more and more upgrades.
I also have to know: between you and your father, who's got the highest score?
Of course I have the highest score :) It might be because I spend so much time testing the game, or because I know exactly how it works. Either way I am beating him by a lot!
Tracking player scores across the world and tallying them up must require a fair bit of work. Was it easier or tougher than you'd expected when you first came up with the idea?
Tracking player scores is actually not that hard. Its not like we hand count them (that would be hard-core!) The scores just get sent to an online database, and then they just get added up. To make that system I had to learn how to use mySQL databases, as well as a little bit of PHP.
I was also wondering, were there any plans to separate the data by region? What I mean is, seeing who prefers what on a global scale is definitely cool, but when it comes down to US elections the folks in other parts of the world don't really have a say. So is there a chance that Donkeys and Elephants: Chow Down might give the totals for the US specifically, as well as the global data?
In the next update the data will be also separated by state. Currently the application is targeted for the 2012 US elections, so the data is not displayed about the rest of the world. However, they can still enjoy the game and be a part of the global score. If the game is a success then that feature will definitely be considered.
So how impressed are your classmates? I imagine there aren't a whole lot of iOS developers sharing a homeroom with you.
Most of my classmates couldn't believe it. I had to show them the app, and my name in the credits.
Once you've finished with Donkeys and Elephants: Chow Down, are you planning to dive right back in and work on another game or take a little breather? And if you are planning a new game, would you care to share any details?
I will still work on applications, mainly improving this one, but I wont focus all of my time on it. I am starting my freshmen year in next week, so I will need to do lots of school work. There are no plan for the next app yet, but it will definitely come
Donkeys and Elephants: Chow Down is available now for $0.99.