Final screens

Well the app is finished now, to be handed in tomorrow. As a final record I wanted to include each screen on this blog.  So here they are:

Icon 

FamilyPhonicsIcon

Welcome and Map:

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-17-04[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-08-25[1]

 

Settings and Credits:

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-08-41[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-08-57[1]

 

 

Drawing Pad:

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-13-20[1]

 

Toy Factory:

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-09-09[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-09-22[1]

 

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-09-26[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-09-54[1]

 

Castle Splat:

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-10-08[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-10-17[1]

 

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-10-27[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-11-29[1]

 

Horse Race:

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-11-43[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-12-42[1]

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-12-52[1]

 

School:

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-13-28[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-13-40[1]

 

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-13-52[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-13-48[1]

 

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-14-01[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-17-01-49[1]

 

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-46-41[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-46-49[1]

 

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-47-06[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-47-14[1]

 

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-47-24[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-47-30[1]

 

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-47-42[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-48-50[1]

 

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-49-00[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-49-08[1]

 

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-49-33[1]Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-49-41[1]

 

Screenshot_2014-05-08-16-49-52[1]

 

 

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Settings screen

The first thing many people mentioned when they tried the app was about turning the sounds and music on or off.

I had to work out how to globally control this in the app.  I did it by creating a global value for both sound and music which is stored and then checked every time the app wants to play a sound or some music.

I then needed settings screen.  I created ‘sliding’ switches which are simply two images which are quickly switched when the user presses them:

OnOff

I gave them a pencil effect, and created the settings screen to be consistent with the stationary theme:

Settings

Sounds and music

I found two really useful resources for royalty-free audio.  Both let you use the material providing you credit them.

For music, I’ve used http://www.incompetech.com .  It is all written by a musician called Kevin MacLoed, and you can pay a fee to use a song, or it’s free if you credit him:

Music1

Music2

For the sound effects in the app I have used http://www.freeSFX.co.uk.  Again, these are free to use providing you credit the site:

Music3

 

 

Drawing mini-app

I’ve learned that one thing can often lead to another.

One example is that I added a ‘pencil drawing’ effect to some of the screens, including the map screen.  This was to tie in to the stationary-type theme.  So to emphasis this, I added some pencils as decoration onto the map screen:

pencils

Of course, when I gave it to my daughter to test, the first thing she did was press them thinking it would do something…. So I decided to add a simple drawing/writing mini-app.

I’d learnt how to do a drawing pad before Christmas with the App Inventor book, so I developed that and made it look like a writing pad.  I added pencils to change colour, a pencil sharpener to make the line fatter or thinner, and a rubber.  And it ended up like this:

drawingpad

So almost by accident I’ve ended up with quite a good addition to the app.  There have been a few instances like this, and they all help make the app feel more substantial and well rounded.

 

Catch up

I’ve realised that I’ve done a load of work over the past three weeks but haven’t updated the blog.  I’ve really spent a lot of hours trying to get the app near a finished state, and had a few late nights etc because I’ve found it’s a bit like editing – once you start it’s hard to stop sometimes.  Also, I’ll think of a solution to a problem, so want to get it on the computer and get it done in case I can’t remember it the next day.

Anyway, here are the main things that have changed.  (I’ll do a separate post for some of the more significant ones.)

1. I had to re-do all of my graphics…..

I reached the app size limit, then realised if I did my graphics as jpg instead of png then it would come back under the limit… So I had to save them all again in PowerPoint, and re-upload them into the app.  Bit boring, but a good lesson to note.

2. Finished the writing animations

I finished all of the animations that show how to form letters.  These are accessed from the writing screens.  I also worked out how to do a small writing window so the child can practice copying the animation:

writing screen

(I should also note I found a ‘chalk’ effect for all the screens in the school section.  Again, it meant redoing all the school screens in PowerPoint, but I think it was worth it.)

3. Recorded all the phonics sounds

I recorded all of these with my daughter (as she was the one who knew all the sounds!). We used my phone, and converted the files to be as small as possible before bringing them into the app (mp3 at 64kbps seemed the best size / quality compromise.).

It was fun, but the recording process took a while as she kept getting distracted – what is it they say, don’t work with children or animals…

4. Added a drawing mini-app (see later post)

5. Lots of redesigns…

What I’ve found is you start to think that one screen looks a bit poorer than the rest.  So you redesign it. Then another screen now seems to be the worst.  So you update that one.  And you learn a new technique in PowerPoint.  Which makes you think of a way to improve a different screen… So you can end up in a loop of continually improving things.  Which is good really, because the overall effect is to make the app seem much more professional.  Here is the Welcome screen as an example:

StartScreensChange

I’ve done this on quite a few screens, giving the app a more consistent ‘stationary’ theme:

CreditsScreensChange2

6. Added royalty-free sounds, music (see later post)

7. Finished the castle game (including a redesign!)

Previously I mentioned the castle game.  Technically it ended up being the most complicated one to get working, but it’s now finished, with a redesign as well.

CastleBeforeAfter

I wasn’t happy with the first look, it wasn’t ‘cartoony’ enough.  Also, to fire you now swipe to break the ropes – much more satisfying….

I’ve also worked out how to add moving images behind things, so it has clouds and a balloon that move.

8. Third game nearly done – seaside horse racing game (see later post)

horse game

 

So a long post, but needed to catch up.  I’ll do separate posts on some of the topics mentioned above.

Big breakthrough…

I had resigned myself to not being able to merge the smaller apps into one big final app.  So my finished project would be three or four small apps, and you’d have to pretend they were one app.

I decided to have one more go at finding a solution, and I may have succeeded.  Using the advice on this link:

https://groups.google.com/forum/print/msg/app-inventor-developers-library/Shx0w7czfyY/hzoq972YY1wJ?showimg

It shows how to copy things manually from one project to another.  It’s a bit labourious, but I’ve just tested it, and it works.

I’ll try it next merging my ToyFactory game into the main app….

Research for Hotel game

I need an idea for a word game based in a hotel.  As with the Castle, I’ve started by just gathering some cartoon-style hotel images:

Wordpress Hotel 1

Wordpress Hotel 2

I’m also wondering if I can do something around the notice boards they have in hotel receptions (above, plenty of word opportunities!), or maybe the old fashioned keys in some hotels:

Wordpress Hotel 3

 

Need to keep brainstorming ideas I think.