Animation and Page Layout Update

Hello friends of Geoff.

I know it’s been a while since my last update, and for that I apologize. I’d like to say I’ve been so busy putting new features into the app that I don’t have the time to write any updates. That’s partially true, in that I have been spending more time actually doing the work than talking about it. But, it’s not the whole picture. At the launch of the Kickstarter campaign, I was a little overly optimistic about our timeline. We’re not going to be too far behind, but there have been some unforeseen delays which have taken time away from both development and updating.

I have had a lot of help from a developer making a set of visual tools which handle the cross-device and cross-resolution sizing I need in order to support iPhone, iPad, iPhone 4S and iPad 3, as well as the upcoming iPhone 5. These tools were exactly what I needed, but he is developing them all by himself, and they were in an early beta when I first started using them. There were some issues with stability, file compatibility, and feature readiness, which have since been fixed but incurred delays. The good news is that many features were changed or added on my suggestion, including user interface features to save me time and make my workflow for this app more efficient. As time and code permit, he may add even more features which will help bring this project to completion sooner.

But, even after finding the tools to do the job, managing all the content is still a big task. Two animators were hired out of the Kickstarter funds and they powered through the animation list. There’s only a small handful of animations left now, and all the main character idle poses are done and being arranged in the app. New page layouts are being finished at a steady pace now, with final animations and the beginnings of physics-based movement. In this video recorded a few days ago, you can see the first five pages mostly complete, save for fine tuning and interactivity.

This video also shows more progress, including the fact that now I have a tool that allows me to record audio and video simultaneously from the iPad simulator, to actually show what the app is like to see and hear, instead of just faking it by overlaying mute videos with the book’s soundtrack (next time maybe I’ll figure out how to avoid having it also record from my microphone so the narration is more audible and you don’t hear roommates closing doors in the background 😆 ).

Even though we didn’t meet our stretch goals for hiring additional programmers, I found someone on Craigslist willing to work in exchange for the experience. Already he’s enabled volume control (shown in the video) and a Table of Contents (being fine-tuned now). With his help, I can focus on integrating the rest of the content while he upgrades the user interface and gets the app ready for prime time.

There has been a lot of technical progress in the past few weeks; solidifying our tools and practices, fixing old bugs, and getting the framework ready for when all the content is done. Throughout the rest of the month I’m going to be working day and night to get this app finished. I hope that by this time next month we’re waiting for Apple’s approval so we can show this book off in the app store.

Don’t expect any more long updates like this unless some really interesting stories turn up. From this point forward, it should be pretty much just a matter of churning through the rest of the work, rather than solving technical problems and having to re-structure and adapt. And, there may not be many more videos either. We’re going to have to save some of the book’s content as a surprise for when you finally have it in your hands.

We couldn’t have gotten this far without the money and support from Kickstarter. Without being able to afford new hardware, I’d still be recording videos at three frames per second, waiting endlessly for long builds or to open large Photoshop files. I’d still be doing animations right now instead of moving on to layouts and user interface, and during all of it I would have to worry about random computer crashes. But, because of Kickstarter, I’ve been able to outsource enough animation to focus on code, and make sure I have the resources to develop and test without pulling what’s left of my hair out.

So, thanks once again for being a part of this journey. It hasn’t been the shortest or easiest, but it will be worth it when we have a platform for producing beautifully illustrated, top-quality, hand-made, interactive, inclusive, progressive, and just darn cute book apps.

Victor B Andersen
On behalf of the Wompi Studios/Tomato Trouble crew.