Blog

The Happy Coder is an indie developer blog written by Bruno Godbout.  Posts are on a variety of topics related to software development and indie developer life.

On Opinionated Software

Guy English on Opinionated Software:

Being opinionated and shipping the truest form of your vision of software doesn’t assure success. I understand the amount of heart, soul, concentration and perseverance it takes to ship a piece of software that really makes you proud and hits all of the marks you’d set for yourself and your team. It can be a really great piece of software.

That doesn’t mean it deserves to be a hit.

I agree. You may have built a masterpiece. But unless you are just lucky, you won't have a hit if you do not reach enough customers that share your opinion.

Who did you build your app for? Do you know how to reach them? Why would they want to buy your app?

Those are questions not enough developers ask themselves.

Apple addresses iOS 7 motion sickness problem

A few weeks ago I read about how some the new dynamic user interface features of iOS 7 were causing motion sickness for some people. Frankly, I wasn't surprised. I found that some of the transitions, particularly the zooming of the app startup and going back to the springboard, too flashy. It demos well, but you get tired of it quickly.

Apple had apparently considered this to be a potential problem since they included a "Reduce Motion" option in Settings/General/Acessibility. But the initial implementation of the "Reduce Motion" option only addressed some of the problem. It turned off the parallax effects but not other motions such as the zooming.

Well, Apple listened and the iOS 7.0.3 update more aggressively tones down the motion. No more zooming in and out of the springboard. Instead you get a nice fade transition when going from springboard to app and vice versa.

So if the excessive motion was preventing you from using iOS 7, give the latest update a try.

3D Virtual Desktop on Kickstarter

I came across the 3D Virtual Desktop in the app store a few months ago and bought the app right away. I have been looking for an app to help manage encounters for our D&D games for some time. This app did not accomplish what I needed, but was a step in the right direction. I was hoping the developer would keep working on it and eventually implement the features I thought were missing.

Well the good news is the developer is still working on it. The bad news is that he has not been making enough money off of it to fund the features it needs to be really useful. So he's using Kickstarter to fund it.

I like the direction he is taking the app. He is using Unity in order to both iOS and Android. I like this. I am the lone iPad owner in a group of Android gamers, but we could all use the same app and share access to the map.

The project is funded for the basic features, but there are some nice stretch goals to reach. My personal favorites are:

  • Line of sight / fog of war
  • Naming / numbering of miniatures
  • Loading and saving of pre-prepared scenarios / encounters
  • Condition markers
  • Area of effect for spells etc

Something I don't see in the list that would be great is the ability to mirror to a monitor / TV (air play?). Our game host has a nice big TV screen where we could all look at the map instead of looking down at each of our tablet views (this would also make it useful for players who do not have a tablet). I will reach out to the developers to see what they think.

Meanwhile, if you play a desktop RPG I encourage you to make a pledge to this project. This has the potential to be a really awesome app.

Starting work earlier

My 9 year old son has been going to a game design day camp this week (lucky kid: when I was his age we didn't even have computers, yadda yadda yadda, insert more jealous dad rant).

The camp is across town, so the family has been getting up an hour earlier in order to get there in time. So I've been starting my work day an hour earlier too. What a difference! I've been much more productive. I think I'm going to have to keep that up.

Constraints

Another excellent article from Matt Gemmell on product design:

Generally, the best products demonstrate choice rather than offering it. Wise choices made on your behalf before you were even aware of them. Good compromises, made so that you wouldn’t ever have to make bad ones. We have a word for that kind of constraint: optimisation.

Matt's article talks mainly about hardware product constraints, but the same rules apply to software products. A great app will provide the best implementation of the most useful features and no more. Too many features and options will make an application too complicated and painful to use.