Posted on July 18, 2011

Hey, it’s July already! Does time fly or what? I guess is time for a status update and see if I pick up blogging again (didn’t I create something to help with this? So much for that, is not going to be my turn in ages!).

In any case what better way to talk about the last 5 months than to do a quick recap of my old list of evil projects.

The Ones That Got Done

You are looking at one of the projects that I got (kind of) done: the new design for the site.

In case you are wondering how it used to be, here you have a couple screenshots:

There were a few things I wanted to attain with the redesign, but the important ones were improving readability (too many people complained about the white text on dark background), and featuring the multiple apps and projects I am involved in. That it took me this long to have a site that actually supports multiple projects just goes to show how confident I was on finishing more than one.

In any case, I made it live today with some parts missing. I will be adding stuff as time passes and, even through is not my turn in #iDevBlogADay, I mean to write more often in this blog; maybe I should go for the old ‘every Wednesday’.

Of course the big (and old, since it happened more than a month ago) news is we finished Casey’s Contraptions, it was featured by Apple as Game of the Week across the world on its first week, got fantastic reviews, and shoot up all the way to number 2 in the US apps chart. Some articles:

Since then it has maintained a pretty good position in the charts, although sales have slowed down considerably. We have been working on the next version for a while now. The plan is to convert the current iPad-only game into a Universal version, and also sell an iPhone-only cheaper one. Is taking a while since we are recreating each one of the screens so it’s usable on a small screen, and boy, we have lots of UI.

The whole surreal experience of having success in the App Store requires its own post, and Noel also wants me to write about the specific changes we are doing to the iPhone UI, so maybe next week.

The third one that got kind of done is the #iDevBlogADay redesign. Let’s talk briefly about the kind of part.

As you can read here, I changed the rules slightly and made the new design live last February. Since then, I have not touched the site even once, except for adding people to the waiting list. And to tell the truth, I am growing more dissatisfied with its evolution. For one, doing it every 2 weeks doesn’t seem to help with the intended purpose of getting in the habit of writing; lots of people drop from the main list because they forgot about it, and I have read one too many “is going to be short this week because I didn’t have the time” posts.

I have also come to realize the new design is too cold. It was done that way so as to not impose a particular style to the blend of authors and blogs. But after following the #AltDevBlogADay design revisions, I recognize they make a way better job of representing their authors, with photos, bios, links, featured authors, and more.

Problem is I have not even created a basic Join Us form, or even an About page after 5 months. I have not had the time, and I finally didn’t recruit anybody else to help. So not sure what’s next. I think I would like to get closer to the #AltDevBlogADay spirit and support our authors and content better in the future. But maybe is time to point everybody to #AltDevBlogADay and close the doors here. As always, your thoughts on what’s working, what’s not, and how to fix it are very welcomed.

The Ones That Didn’t Get Done

So now for the downers, the other four projects that I did not have time for. iDevTracker, Notedo, and The Legend of Robin Hood received no attention at all. Pretty sad, but lets be serious… didn’t I write before about the reasons things get shelved around here? The first two enter straight into the “boring” category, and the game, although it really pains me, into the “scope creep” one. I should just pay more attention to what I write!

So what’s left? Well, the Elephant Run game! Since the last disgruntled post about Core Animation games I have not touched the prototype again. I still think is a pretty good, small, and doable game idea, so this one is not getting canned for sure. Also I promised to explain how to do a scrolling game with CALayers without wasting memory, I just need to get to it.


You didn’t think I was going to be happy getting rid of projects without adding some more to the queue, did you? Some weekends ago I worked on a quick prototype for a different game after watching The Librarian TV movies and then Raiders of the Lost Ark a couple times back to back. Still no title, but I leave you with a screenshot of what I got done:

11 Responses

  1. First up, great site design! Slick, readable, and very clean.

    Congrats on the success with Casey’s – well deserved.

    Shame about the robin hood game but good to see you’ve incorporated the assets into the site design. I hope it sees the light of day in some form or another :)

    I agree with you regarding iDevBlogADay – too many “I didn’t have time posts” and I’m not sure how much of an encouragement it is anymore since even with the revamped system, its too long between stints.

    Closing it seems a shame. How much work would it be to have it act as an aggregate source for blogs. Allow people to post whenever they want and just let it flow (much live altdevblogaday).

    Anyway, its all good stuff – apart from the “Librarian” inspired game – such a terrible film ;)

    Christopher Waite; July 18, 2011, 3:05 PM

    • #AltDevBlogADay does assign people week days, and is also every 2 weeks. The main difference is they don’t have a waiting list. Instead they divide all participants throughout the week, and I don’t think they kick anybody if the person doesn’t publish that day.

      I am thinking that may not be a bad course of action. But the 2 week period still bothers me… still, with the current participants, it would be 5 or 6 each day if bi-weekly, or 11/12 if weekly! :/

      Miguel A. Friginal; July 19, 2011, 3:46 PM

      • I think moving to the ADBaD model would work well. Bi-Weekly, and keep the daily users balanced. If there’s some way you can automate that, it means significantly less work for you. It should also mean more quality posts when people do post.

        I think having it act as more of a blog aggregator is fine. And I think since iDBaD has an iOS slant, it’s good to keep is separate from ADBaD. That being said, if you don’t want to do any more work on it (as you’ve already done so much!) I don’t think anyone would blame you for telling everyone to sign up for ADBaD. The only potential downside there is that they’re only focused on game dev, whereas iDBaD seems to have moved beyond just iOS games and into general iOS dev.


        Owen Goss; July 22, 2011, 8:07 AM

  2. I think moving towards the Alt style is fine — every one is in, and no automatic drops.

    I know they don’t drop you by missing one time, but does the alt list ever get pruned? Or does it rely on the participants to say “remove me”? I guess you could go through the list 2-3 times a year and prune people who haven’t posted in a long time.

    If you decide you need to drop it completely, that is understandable. Not everything in life has to last forever, and you should not feel compelled to support this indefinitely. I am thankful for the help you have been to the community.

    If you do need to let go, you might find someone who is interested in taking over for you, but even if you don’t — do not feel guilty about it, your work has been an encouragement to many devs.


    Doug Sjoquist; July 22, 2011, 8:06 AM

  3. I also think like Owen & Doug, the Alt Dev. blogging system is ok imho, if it’s all kinda of automated then it less work for you (well of course they will be an initial cost to develop the automated tool/process). And iDevBlogADay could have a more iOS oriented blog post as Alt Dev is indeed a more general one.

    I am also curious to know how does the Alt Dev deal with the many blog each day and what happen when people miss, if it’s always get and more people without any purge it will become too big.

    The force drop out is sometime good but also bad, someone might miss a day due to illness or other none schedule events.

    Oh and if you need someone to help manage the iDevBlogADay i’ll be quite happy to help you (not a skill full web dev. beside HTML+Javascript ;-)) to do any kind of boring management/pape work/behind the scene stuff ;-). Like adding people, send reminder, removing people, etc…

    Frederic Tessier; July 22, 2011, 4:28 PM

  4. I haven’t really found it to be a problem for us. Sometimes people miss. Sometimes those people come back on. But I continue to harass everyone (nicely!) behind the scenes. It’s the gentle poking and prodding that’s part of the process of getting everyone to write. It’s definitely *not* zero maintenance however you cut it.

    Mike Acton; July 22, 2011, 7:48 PM

  5. @Christopher You’re wrong! The Librarian movies were great, pulpy fun. And I thought Noah Wyle did a pretty good job with it. I still keep hoping for more. :)

    Mike Acton; July 22, 2011, 8:52 PM

  6. Hi Miguel,

    first of all, thanks so much for kicking a lot of us into blogging with idevblogaday. It helped me and my site a lot to be on it!

    I agree it is a good idea to see where the project stands and frankly, where it goes next depends a lot on what your goals and ambitions are. You have my gratitude and respect no matter what you do. If u decide to reprioritize, well, it is not nice if a project dies, but imo you can rightfully say you triggered the creation of an offspring and how cool is that?

    No matter what you decide, I want to bring to the table that I feel exposure and community support today seems to be much weaker than it was in the early days. Retweet behavior is close to nil and views are not where they were last year. Not only for my own stuff, I barely catch posts of my fellow devs anymore.

    A website redesign will only help so much and I’d love to hear from you (and Mike) if you think you can/want to do things that help the very original idea of getting devs exposure with their blogs/posts?

    I’m thinking Flipbook & paperli streams (which probably already work but nobody points that out), a dedicated reader app (huh? but why not :). A retweet code of honor. Common categories. Archives & search. Stuff like that.

    Again, it depends a lot on what you want. We will keep posting stuff and again, you have my support and gratitude no matter what you decide!! I also want that bowman game!

    Cheers & thx again

    Markus Nigrin; July 23, 2011, 4:01 PM

  7. @Mike I only watched the first 30 minutes of the first one and it was pretty awful… hilarious (in a bad way), but awful.

    Anyway, I see there are 3 of them and with your “recommendation” and Miguel’s – I guess i’ll give them another shot!

    Christopher Waite; July 25, 2011, 1:02 AM

  8. Hey Markus, I *think* Miguel and I really want the same thing. Which is to help give voice to developers however we can (iOS more specifically in Miguel’s case, and gamedev more generally in mine.) Part of that is *encouraging* people to write and share their thoughts, experiences and personal journey. Part of that is creating a collective platform where, yes, the exposure is higher.

    In that regard we help each other. Those that naturally bring an audience to the platform, grow the audience for others.

    I think we *have* been modestly successful with that. I certainly see good evidence that a few people have benefited from their writings directly. In some cases being seen by the “right” person that they needed, in others it’s been more that their message was heard.

    I know I certainly would like to increase the size of the platform however I can, and thus the benefit to the authors. I’m trying new things as much as I can (as I know Miguel has, as time has permitted.) I’d love to hear more ideas on how things for either #AltDevBlogADay *or* #iDevBlogADay can reach a wider (relevant) audience.


    Mike Acton; July 25, 2011, 2:03 AM

  9. I am horrible at writing unless I have a deadline. Every week would be too much, but two weeks is perfect. I just finished my 9th post and ran thru my list of ideas a long time ago, but having a couple of weeks to think thru and formulate thoughts with a deadline in sight is great.

    If the admin is difficult to manage, I’m sure many would be willing to help (as is already evident).

    If someone misses a day, maybe they can have a grace period, but only get to play that card once or twice? Everyone gets sick, gets distracted at some point. As long as it isn’t a pattern. You could make it like UNO, if they get the post in before someone notices, they’re good? ;)

    Not being a game dev, nor the actual coder in my company, I also appreciate being part of a well-rounded group of devs and business-people and sharing ideas and experiences. It’s nice to have a place to visit to find some great posts on the subject, even if I don’t always have time to read them the day they are released.

    Thanks again for all your efforts!

    Justine Pratt; July 25, 2011, 9:42 AM

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