Mysteryopolis – gamified narrative game for tablets

From Anthony Zuiker the creator of the huge television franchise CSI: Crime Scene Investigation comes Mysteryopolis — a gamified narrative app targeted at the kids market.

Mysteryopolis was developed as a bundled exclusive for the then new Navi tablet — an Android based tablet designed for kids, and featuring a kid friendly lineup of apps and games.

Mysteryopolis Trailer

I built Mysteryopolis and designed the minigames based on Zuiker’s script, which was originally very large in scope. One of the early challenges on this project was figuring out what we could do within the budget and timeline we had available to us, while still staying true to the creator’s original vision.

Aside from the game design and development, Mysteryopolis also required a content library management system — specifically, we needed to be able to distribute a lightweight game app that allowed users to download episodes (read: very large, very high quality video files) and game content on demand — and delete and reinstall said content in order to manage device resources.

Mysteryopolis received, unsurprisingly, a considerable amount of press upon its release. You can read Fortune magazine’s write up, AdWeek’s take on the app, and VentureBeat’s story on the project.

If you need an app developed, reach out and let’s talk! You can contact me using the contact form on this site, via Skype at stromdotcom or by visiting my company website at https://glowdot.com.

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Playground Wars for iOS, Android and Mac OSX

After building several games for my corporate clients, I’m pleased to have had the opportunity and the funding to develop something purely designed to be fun: Playground Wars!

Playground Wars is a side-scrolling tower defense style game built in Unity for iOS, Android and Mac, with available ports to Windows and the web.

I could write all day about this game, or I could just show you some video of the game in action:

Playground Wars menus and introductory scenes
Deeper game play later in the game demonstrating weather effects and more complex enemies and traps.

Developing Playground Wars was an absolute blast, and it was also the largest team I’ve ever managed — from multiple game artists, sound designers, UI designers, musicians, voice actors and more — Playground Wars was truly a labor of love.

Although the game is no longer available on iOS due to Apple’s 64-bit requirement (we opted not to invest in updating the app for the iOS platform), it is still available for the Mac in the Mac app store, as well as Android.

If you need an app developed, reach out and let’s talk! You can contact me using the contact form on this site, via Skype at stromdotcom or by visiting my company website at https://glowdot.com.

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Sonos on Tour for iOS, Android and the web

I’m super pleased to announce the release of the second game based on my open source time management game platform for the Unity game engine: Sonos on Tour!

Sonos on Tour was conceived and developed by me at the request of Sonos, as an internal game designed to be rolled out to sales associates at big box stores like Target, Best Buy, Fry’s, and so on.

Sonos’ challenge was educating retail associates on the value of Sonos’ products, in order to empower them to convey that value to customers. To that end, I developed a time management game in which the player assumes the role of a floor salesperson selling Sonos products to an ever increasing stream of varied customers. Users must serve customers in the most efficient order possible in order to maximize the day’s sales, and can use their earnings to upgrade their store, hire employees, unlock perks, and more.

Sonos on Tour was designed for iOS, Android and the web, and was distributed privately through an enterprise distribution channel, and only made available to select retail associates in partnership with Sonos.

If you need an app developed, reach out and let’s talk! You can contact me using the contact form on this site, via Skype at stromdotcom or by visiting my company website at https://glowdot.com.

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Accenture Sky Journey

I’m proud to announce the release of Accenture Sky Journey for iOS and Android. Sky Journey is Accenture’s first ever mobile game, and in addition to developing both the iOS and Android versions of the game, I also helped Accenture develop their internal corporate guidelines for products like Sky Journey — specifically, guidelines for adapting Accenture corporate branding regulations to more casual, lighthearted digital products — in this case, a Diner Dash style time management game.

Taking a step back, Sky Journey was also the first game built on my open source time management game platform — a rather massive code framework designed to power time management games built in the Unity game engine.

Understandably, Sky Journey received a great deal of press and attention upon its release — just one example is this writeup of the game in the Guardian.

In March 2018, LinkedIn published their list of the top companies to work for. At #37 was Accenture, and Sky Journey was listed as one of the reasons it’s a great company:

Game on: Accenture developed a 25-level video game app, Sky Journey, in which players run an airport using real business solutions developed by the firm.Daniel Roth, LinkedIn Editor in Chief, 'LinkedIn Top Companies 2018: Where the U.S. wants to work now'

If you need an app developed, reach out and let’s talk! You can contact me using the contact form on this site, via Skype at stromdotcom or by visiting my company website at https://glowdot.com.

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Caremob for iOS – unite globally in support of causes

I’m proud to announce the launch of Caremob for iOS.

Caremob is the first ever real-time global movements app, allowing users to react to current events in any of six ways: protest, support, empathy, peace, celebration and mourning.  Users can leverage Caremob to spread the word about movements they care about, and lend support to existing movements via a novel one-touch time mechanic, allowing virtual mobs to grow in size and gain visibility.

On Caremob, I developed the iOS client app, as well as the backend system that enabled users to link up in unison on a global map. I also brought my vast UI/UX experience and designed the interface for this incredibly original functionality — the first of it’s kind.

In addition to developing a scalable, very unique social platform, I developed the algorithms that formed the basis of Caremob’s patent pending technology.

Download Caremob for iOS.

If you need an app developed, reach out and let’s talk! You can contact me using the contact form on this site, via Skype at stromdotcom or by visiting my company website at https://glowdot.com.

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Capture – a Shazam-like film companion app

Around 2015, I was asked by Circle of Confusion (the production company behind The Walking Dead television show on AMC) to build a companion app for a film they had made called Capture.

Capture was one of those projects that is simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. One of the challenges of app development is trying to plan out the timeline and budget for a process that is absolutely full of unknowns. And some projects have many more unknowns than others.

In the case of the capture app, the task was to develop and app that was a fairly typical film companion app, including a trailer, some character bios, photo stills, plot description, and so on. So far, not many unknowns there.

But this app also needed to listen when it was opened, and recognize audio cues. When a particular audio clip from the film was recognized, it would trigger some event — an incoming text message, an incoming phone call, an audio clip, vibration, or a film clip would start playing full screen, for example.

Essentially, this was Shazam but for a specific set of movie clips.

The first step, naturally, in planning out a project like this is to figure out what the big challenges are, and start to look at how they might be solved.

On a project like this, there is obviously no way we are going to develop a proprietary algorithm for recognizing audio out in the wild. This is, coincidentally, an area I studied with some seriousness in graduate school — specifically recognizing patterns in audio clips, images, and other assorted media using a fuzzy algorithm (specifically, wavelets). It was not something that would be feasible to do from scratch for a film companion app, to say the least!

Fortunately, we were able to find and license a C library that did just what we needed. The library needed an Objective-C wrapper to be used in the iOS project, so that was step one in prototyping this app. Once that was done, the rest of the app could be built around our audio recognition engine, and we could then focus on processing the audio clips into data we could embed in the app and building the system that would allow us to trigger the various events that would occur when our recognition engine would fire off a notification that we had an audio match.

The result was one of the most satisfying apps to test — we spent hours playing clips from the film and watching our phones go crazy in response.

Capture is available for iOS — but of course, in order to fully experience it you need to also watch the film, which you can stream on Amazon.

If you need an app developed, reach out and let’s talk! You can contact me using the contact form on this site, via Skype at stromdotcom or by visiting my company website at https://glowdot.com.

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Focus – safe driving app for iOS and Android

Today my latest client project Focus was released in the Apple and Google Play app stores.

Focus is a safe driving app, which uses proprietary, state of the art speech to text technology to allow users to send and reply to text messages, make calls, send inter-app messages to other Focus users, and more. In addition, Focus leverages built-in text to speech technology to power a fully voice controlled user interface and read-back of messages, notes, and more.

Focus uses a proprietary blend of speech recognition systems — notably Siri, OpenEars, and Nuance. What makes it proprietary exactly? I built a simple AI system that determines the best library for the job, given the requirements of the user and the ambient sound conditions. As an example: matching speech against a list of known commands in a noisy car would require one combination of audio library and settings, whereas speech transcription in a quiet environment would be better suited using another combination. This degree of intelligent fine tuning resulted in a speech recognition app that outperformed the biggest names in voice recognition at release — an amazing feat considering the relatively small size of the team, and the constrained budget of a modest, bootstrapped startup.

But before that blending technology could be built, I had to build an iOS wrapper for the low level C code that makes up the Nuance speech framework. Nuance is an embedded speech recognition platform, not designed out of the box for high level use, as in an app like Focus. I essentially built the SDK a company like Nuance would normally provide to end users to use in client apps like Focus. This is no easy task, but luckily it’s something I have done before (as on the Capture app with the Audible Magic library). Tasks with a difficulty of this magnitude — which often come up well into the development process — are why it is absolutely critical that your development team is top notch.

If you need an app developed, reach out and let’s talk! You can contact me using the contact form on this site, via Skype at stromdotcom or by visiting my company website at https://glowdot.com.

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Welcome to the new StromCode!

I finally got a few minutes to bring my personal site StromCode back to life! If you’ve been around a while, you may remember this site from as far back as 2001, when I hosted several code tutorials here — notably my win32 api programming guide, my intro to VST programming in C++ and later the same guide ported to C#, my guide to low level network programming in C, or the many, many tutorials on web application and API development in PHP.

The world has finally caught up, and there are many much better places to get the sort of info I used to post here, so I’m repurposing StromCode as my personal blog and CV of sorts.

Back in the early 2000s, I was still pursuing my studies in Computer Science, although I was also running one of the largest media hosting sites on the Internet and building up my digital consultancy into what it is today. That consultancy, Glowdot Productions, Inc., would eventually go on to build apps, games, and other software for companies like Warner Bros., Disney, Dreamworks, CBC, Sonos, Accenture, Circle of Confusion, and many, many local startups taking a stab at the social media space — a world I started my career in and in which I had my first success.

In 2019, I still lead mobile and other platform developments for local startups and large corporations alike, in addition to offering guidance and advice in tech to up and coming entrepreneurs.

On StromCode, I plan to break down as many of my current and past projects as I can, and offer whatever insights I am able to provide into the process of developing software for current gen platforms.

Stay tuned!

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