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Discover & Share Great Apps

There are millions of mobile apps in the app store. How do you discover the right ones for you? Powerslyde helps you find the right apps for you with a little help from your friends. Receive personal app recommendations, automatically see when your friends add new apps, and share apps with your friends with one swipe.

Stories Behind the Apps

Goodbye 2014. Hello New Year!

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On the eve of the New Year, we quickly reflect on where we are as a mobile start-up that began this journey with you sharing and discovering new apps with our iOS and Android app powerslyde. As the industry, app development and distribution evolve – so do we.

Meeting so many indie app developers of every app type and the amazing array of big app publishers across the globe at conferences in the last year has strengthened our understanding and ability to deliver very unique solutions that are built on the power to share and discover apps.

We want to thank all of our content partners in spreading the word and sharing our Stories Behind the Apps feature, which we continue to grow and offer for free to app devs. As the New Year kicks off look for many of the original Story features to be re-run for the first time.

As we look towards 2015, we know that supporting developers in acquiring new users, monetizing and understand how their app has impact on a user's device can only be built on a platform of trust and most impotrantly for all involved – clarity. 

Happy New Year!

Stories Behind the Apps – Slash Chord

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Tell us about your app! Slash Chord was born from my lifelong love of playing music and being fascinated by music theory. Not only that, but I’ve played bass in about a dozen bands over a 20 year span and I’ve always been intrigued by the musician’s I’ve met who just play by ear and never learned theory. Imagine guys who can shred your face off on guitar but cannot play a ‘G Major’ scale if I asked them to. Even though there is no shortage of music educational materials that are easily accessible to anyone, it seemed there was still this big barrier for many musicians to learn theory. 

I was mulling this over and kicking around the idea of creating a music theory website, then it hit me that maybe if music theory was more fun, more people would take to it. And what’s more fun then a video game! It was when I decided that a game was the best format, I decided a mobile app was the right delivery system.

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How is it different from similar apps or competitors? Slash Chord is a video game in the style of Fruit Ninja that teaches you music theory using popular rock songs as examples. Think music notes instead of watermelons. Build the chord progressions of your favorite rocks songs by slashing the notes that make up the chords with your finger. Slash Chord is different from competitors because is actually teaches you lessons, but in a fun way. 

The music education apps currently in the marketplace can be grouped into 4 categories:

  1. Flash cards – these are dry, educational apps that are heavy on information but are not fun
  2. Kids games – these are cutesy games with animals that teach very simple concepts aimed at kids under 10
  3. Videos / tabs – these are highly instructional and might contain video clips hosted on youtube, these feel like a guitar website that migrated to an app
  4. Flashing lights – These are interesting because they are probably the most popular music apps but they don’t actually teach you anything. In these you might touch glowing lights that fly toward you or strum a virtual guitar, but ultimately these games lack educational value. 

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We feel that Slash Chord fills the void of a fun, educational game for adults. 

What went into the design and UI?  The app icon had a lot of iterations, there were a couple elements we knew we wanted represented, a lightning bolt-esque slash and a guitar head, but then it took us a dozen or more attempts to get it right. The background color, the type of slash, the angle of the guitar, where exactly the slash would break the guitar neck, I’m sure I drove my graphic designer crazy.

icon_128The user interface was a collaboration between myself and my graphic designer, we originally had a more complex interface but then when we started running into code complexity and file size issues, we started to cut out the fat and make the interface as simple as possible. We don’t want to distract users from the gameplay so we removed lots of elements from the gameplay screen, in order to help keep the user focused. 

What tools or resources did you use in building the app? The primary SDK we used turned out to be a bad choice, it has a ton of limitations, including it’s compatibility with other SDKs used for social and monetization. I attended Casual Connect San Francisco 2014 and met some great people there who gave me a ton of feedback and tips when I showed them my demo. The next 2 weeks after Casual Connect, I spent reinventing the app, or ‘pivoting’, for fans of HBO’s Silicon Valley.

What lessons did you learn using these resources?  Being that this is my first app, I didn’t know any better, but if I could turn back the clock I’d use the Unity SDK instead, and maybe Cocos2d for some of the physics. In attending Casual Connect I learned there is no shortage of companies to help you analyze, monetize and promote your app, for the right price of course.  

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What went right and wrong with the release? In short nothing went right and everything went wrong, lol. We encountered every development problem you can think of, we had audio problems, graphics problems, code problems, even the problems had problems. I think that’s pretty typical when it’s the first app for most of the team members, but I sure hope the sailing is smoother next time. We are currently beta testing Slash Chord and have not released it, but we will soft launch launch it in Canada soon for iPad and then launch in the U.S. for iPad and iPhone  thereafter. 

Who is on the team and what are your roles?  Ian Monat – Slash Chord is my vision and I formed the team, created the game content, designed and recorded the sound and manage the marketing. Chris Watson – Graphic designer and built the corresponding website. Bobby Steele – (since left the company) Backend developer. Zac Reitz – Programming intern. Hidden Brains – India-based development firm that was contracted to finish development.

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What were you doing prior to creating Slash ChordAside from being a lifelong musician I come from a corporate marketing background and run my own ecommerce business in the auto part industry. Chris is a Creative Director at a large hospital chain, Bobby teaches game design and Zach was a game design student.

What other appscan't you live without or inspire you? I see these as two very different questions, some of the apps that inspired me to create Slash Chord are Smule’s Magic Piano and Guitar!, as well as Ovelin’s Guitar Bots, and of course Fruit Ninja. The only other game I’ll play with any regularity is Angry Birds, I love the Star Wars version, and back in the console days, I played a lot of Guitar Hero and RockBand. The apps I can’t live without are more practical, like Facebook, Podcasts and from April to October, MLB.com. et.

Head over to iTunes to download Slash Chord!

Hey app devs!  Wanna be featured like our friends at Slash ChordClick Here.

Stories Behind the Apps – QuickWord

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Tell us about QuickWord and how your app different from similar games? QuickWord is a word game that is available on the iOS App Store for the iPhone, iPad and iPod. As a concept I came up with the idea many years ago with inspiration from the board game 'Scrabble' and TV programme 'CountDown'.  It involves the user selecting 9 letters (with different values assigned to each letter) then trying to make up the highest scoring word they can within a 40 second time limit.  There are 10 rounds in each game, some rounds have letter or word multipliers to make it more interesting, keeping players thinking and allowing them to make some big word scores.  There is a single player mode where you can attempt to beat your own high scores, a versus computer mode where you can challenge the computer (with 7 different difficulty levels) and a 2 Player Pass-and-Play mode so you can play against a friend.

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QuickWord is different from many games in that we don't ask the user to log in and connect to the internet. The reason behind this is that when I developed the app I was commuting by train to Glasgow on a daily basis to do my full time job.  To relieve boredom on the train I would play games on my phone.  However, as the train went underground my phone signal would always be lost.  Most of the games I had on my phone were unplayable without an internet connection which became frustrating.  QuickWord is a game that you can play anytime and anywhere no matter whether you have a phone signal or not.  I also hate that some games only allow you to play them a few times before having to wait a while (or pay) so in QuickWord we allow people to play whenever they want with no restrictions whatsoever.

iTunesArtwork@2xWhat went into the design and UI? The app icon and user interface buttons were designed using Art Text 2 Lite (a free Mac graphics design app).  I chose a blue background for the App Icon to match the blue background within the game, adding a gradient to make it stand out more on the App Store.  The graphics on the icon are representations of the letter tiles in the game, with 'Q' and 'W' on them as an abbreviation of the game name.  The User Interface was initially designed for the user to tap the letters to select or deselect them.  However, I later changed this to the drag and drop option as it is more intuitive for users.

What tools or resources did you use in building the app? QuickWord was built using the standard Apple development software (XCode).  The 'Stack Overflow' website/community and Ray Wenderlich’s tutorials were a great help as I was completely new to XCode/iOS development.  Whenever I got stuck I found that on most occasions someone had previously had the same problem so there was a similar question on Stack Overflow.  Without this help QuickWord would possibly not have existed or certainly have taken a lot longer to develop.  In terms of learning the basics and how to implement some features, Ray Wenderlich's tutorials were invaluable.

What lessons did you learn creating the game?  It's important to try to do things for yourself before asking for help.  The people on Stack Overflow are generally very helpful, especially if you have tried your best to find a solution and are genuinely stuck.  Also, when you find example code of what you are trying to do on the internet it is important to fully understand the code before using it or you can inherit faults, such as memory issues.

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What went right and wrong with the release? Development generally went pretty well.  It took six months in total to design and develop part-time (not too bad considering I was new to iOS development).  I got stuck now and again but with resources like Stack Overflow I was able to overcome these problems relatively quickly.  One major issue I did have was something I only fully understood when I began developing my second game, 'Name the Animal'.  The problem was around the memory usage.  As users played the game over and over I wasn't clearing up all the memory properly so it ended up with the game slowing down and eventually crashing.  This could have been prevented by learning more about XCode and the memory debugging tools prior to releasing the app.  The release went well in terms of initial downloads and I regularly update it which helps to get it noticed on the App Store.  Perhaps some more effort could have been put into marketing before release to build up a fan base rather than relying on people finding it through the App Store.  Marketing was really left until the last minute and as an independent developer with limited funding it is difficult to get your app noticed in what is a very competitive market place.  Also, some of the players hated the initial 'Vs Computer' game mode. They didn't like that the computer used some obscure words.  This was fixed in a later release by limiting the computer 'vocabulary' to more common words making it more like a human opponent.

We have had a lot of ideas during the development and it is certainly difficult at times to decide out of all the features we want to put in, which ones has to be in the first version and which ones can wait.

Who is on the team and what are your roles?  Ultima Testing is a one man team at the moment. I do everything including the Design, Development, Testing, Releases and Marketing.  My background is development/testing so it is quite a challenge taking on all of the other responsibilities.

IMG_0174What were you doing prior to creating QuickWordwas (and still am) a full time software tester. I do contract work for various clients.  I would like to be able to fully concentrate my efforts on game development, however, my contract work takes priority at the moment as it pays the bills.  I only get the opportunity to work on apps during contract breaks or evenings and weekends.  Though when I started designing/developing QuickWord I was working for a client on a contract where I wasn't particularly busy, and quite bored, so a lot of the research/design was done in their time (during the day) and I'd develop in the evening and at weekends.

What other apps inspire you? I don't think there are any apps that I can't live without, I tend to spend more time playing the PS4 than using apps.  'Flappy Bird' inspires me in that it is such a simple game to develop yet was insanely successful.  'Strung Along' is one of my favourite apps at the moment.  This app inspires me as it was developed by a very small team.  It is really innovative and a great little app developed in Unity3D.  I am considering using Unity3D for future developments and it shows you that it is possible to create great little games with limited resources and budget.

Head over to iTunes to download QuickWord!

Hey app devs!  Wanna be featured like our friends at QuickWordClick Here.

Stories Behind the Apps – Botpocalypse

Botpocalypse Logo4Tell us about your app! Botpocalypse is a fast-paced, survival-style arcade game where gamers can compete against friends for the highest score or longest survival time, acquire new characters, and unlock achievements.

Inspired by both Crackpot from the Atari 2600 and the legendary arcade game Galaga, Botpocalypse features original characters from the robotic world of Billionaires Apparel. All of the characters and gameplay were inspired by the series of bots we’ve designed over time for our clothing line. We also pay homage to our hometown, Charlotte (NC), with a destroyed cityscape in the background of the game.

promo1How is your app different from similar apps?In terms of gameplay we have yet to really come across any current apps that are similar, which is one of the main reasons we decided to jump in and create it. As mentioned previously though, it falls somewhere along the lines of arcade classics like Galaga or Crackpot. As a whole the game is styled similarly to a variety of retro, arcade-style games.

The biggest difference between us and our competitors is that Billionaires as a brand offers a broader scope of products & services than most gaming companies. For instance, we’re launching with game-inspired merchandise out the gate, something most game developers are not able to do. This stems from our clothing line and the ability to print our products on demand. We also have a digital record label that we plan to tie in with music for future updates & games.

Botpocalypse Bomb Icon Blue BrickWhat went into the design and UI? We wanted a simple, yet familiar UI experience. Something that is intuitive to the user. We researched how other apps implemented their UI and worked to blend what we saw as a great interface with our own unique style. For the icon, we really wanted to create something that was simple and easily recognizable as the Botpocalypse brand grows. We decided the best representation was to use the nuke special item from within the game.

What tools did you use in building the app? We use GameMaker: Studio Master Edition in order to create and maintain Botpocalypse. The Game Maker Community (http://gmc.yoyogames.com) is a really great starting point for anyone seeking how to develop their own games. The community is really friendly as a whole and is always willing to help out.

What lessons did you learn building the app? The biggest lesson learned was how to properly use and optimize GameMaker to its full potential.

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What went right and wrong with the release? The biggest hurdle we faced was when Apple released iOS8 in September, which pushed our release date back a few months. Unfortunately we hadn’t anticipated the new iOS, which caused issues with the game. Also (full disclosure), our lead developer may have gotten hooked on Destiny when it was released a few months back. 🙂

Overall, we really had a great team that was willing and dedicated to put the time in to make a unique game.

Who is on the team and what are your roles? Producer, Art Director, Business & Legal – Drew Burdick, Producer, Game Design & Development – Alex Fernandez, Pixel Art – Glint Games (glintgames.itch.io),Music – Steven Berliner (Menu), Robbie Dooley (In-Game), QA Lead – Denis Higgins.

Drew BurdickWhat were you doing prior to creating Botpocalypse Alex is a family man and works full-time at company in Charlotte, NC called Red Ventures as a Senior Front-End Developer. Drew is also a family man and works full-time running Billionaires’ various sub-brands. A little over a year ago we met through our wives and hit it off. After a few months, the idea came up to build a game together and thus, Billionaires Gaming and the idea for Botpocalypse was born.

What other apps inspire you?  Oceanhorn – Reminiscent of playing Zelda on Nintendo consoles growing up, Plex – Great overall functionality with a sleek UI, Instagram – User friendly and to the point, 1Password – Without this, we would literally have no idea what password or login was used for all of our social media accounts, developer accounts, emails, and more. Must have, Mailbox – So intuitive and makes managing our emails a breeze, and lastly Botpocalypse – I mean, come on, we had to right? Seriously though. It's addicting. In all honesty, Alex lost a lot of development hours playing it. 🙂

Head over to iTunes or Google Play to download Botpocalypse

Hey app devs!  Wanna be featured like our friends at BotpocalypseClick Here.