Friday, 25 December 2015

Happy Christmas

2015 is fading fast - it's honestly been a bit of a blur here. From revamping several of my iOS apps to bring them in line with the new style and guidelines for the iPad, to also applying a bit of polish to my older Mac apps, it's sometimes felt more like treading water than actually swimming forward.

I did however release a novel this year: Spark of Humanity, the follow-up to 2012's novella, Life Support, and I'm working on a couple of things at the moment too: -

Intertwined - a new novel set in the present, but with a hint of a sci-fi twist.

And I've officially started planning the development of my first game. There's nothing to reveal yet, and it's an awful lot of work, but it's going to be something that's very close to my heart.

Favourite things of the year: -

Movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It's been so great to see the world get excited again for Star Wars. Congratulations to the whole cast and crew on bringing a galaxy far, far away back home.

Game: Life Is Strange. I've already done a post outlining why this became, in a very short space of time, one of my favourite games of all time. As someone who loves strong storylines and characters, as well as time travel, this was basically catnip for me - made all the more potent because it was so good. I honestly didn't want it to end.

UK TV: Humans. It's so great to see sci-fi on British TV, especially sci-fi that remembers that the technology and trappings alone are not enough - you have to have the story at the core of it all to give it meaning.

And a special mention to Doctor Who, which films in my home city, Cardiff, in Wales. This year saw the departure of the wonderful Jenna Coleman, so the next companion has an awful lot to live up to.

US TV: The Flash goes from strength to strength, and we actually have a Supergirl TV show.

As much as I love the DC and Marvel universes, I think it's time to tone down the oversaturation a bit. It's something Disney really need to think about for Star Wars as well - a movie a year for the next six years at least, is only going to dilute the appetite for the franchise. And honestly, as much as I love Yoda as a character, 2 hours plus of him talking backwards is not something I want to sit through...

Book: I can't finish without mentioning the book I've enjoyed most this year, (not least because I write them, and I literally, also have an app for that - or at least one to help me remember what I've read!) I'm thoroughly enjoying Brandon Sanderson's Steelheart series - so FireFight, Book 2 of The Reckoners series is one of the most enjoyable reads this year. I guess that's a little ironic in that I'm suggesting there's too many superhero movies and tv shows - but in actual non-comic-book written form, they're few and far between.

Anyway, 2016 is looming, I wish you all a happy, safe, and creative Christmas and new year. I've got plenty of writing and designing to keep me out of trouble.

Happy writing!




Sunday, 6 December 2015

Life is Strange

For those who don't know, I've been a gamer for far too many years to count. In fact, adventure games from the 8-bit era were my first introduction to gaming, and brought forth my interest in role-playing games as well as writing.

This year, Life is Strange was released, in 5 separate episodes. I was intrigued at first, but didn't bite, as I kind of wanted to play the whole thing through without waiting. This last week, that's what I did.

Wow. Most games, particularly the sort of RPG's that I love, from Knights of the Old Republic, to the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series give you branching dialog and options, and you'll generally have either an indication of the sort of effect your decision will have, or the game will out and out tell you whether it was good or bad.

Life is Strange just gives you the choices, and the consequences may not be felt until the subsequent episodes.

The choices themselves range from the seemingly mundane, to the absolute soul-crushing.

It's superbly voiced, the soundtrack is terrific, and while I don't want to spoil a moment of it, the whole living, breathing world of Arcadia Bay came to life over the course of my 20 hours with the game.

As a writer, and a software developer with an eye on building my own games, I have to say that Life is Strange has inspired me and spurred me on with my own plans and designs.

Games have been a huge part of my life, but I can't think of any title that has affected me as much as Life is Strange. Whether you are a game player or a game writer, a writer or a reader, I have to say: play this game.

Hands-down my favourite game of 2015, Life is Strange is at turns beautiful, haunting, funny, heart-breaking, and horrifying, and overall, glorious.

We all have the same eventual fate - we're all mortal, our brief time on Earth is guaranteed to end at some point  - it's the choices we make along the way that define us. Life is Strange may be "just a game", but it demonstrates perfectly that "it's not where you're going, it's how you get there."

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Update

There are two updates released today: first, Savings Jar for the Mac has been updated to match the colour scheme/design of the iPad release. Secondly, it's the third anniversary of the release of Character Folio - crumbs, the time has flown!

The update for Character Folio includes new high resolution icons and a tweaked colour scheme and layout that should help make it really nice on retina-display systems. The app has a new icon to match the new colour scheme.

As it's November 1st, it's also the start of National Novel Writing Month - NaNoWriMo - so to everyone taking part, good luck!

Happy writing.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Update

The Word Count Dashboard update should be available now for the Mac, bringing it in line with the iPad version's colour scheme and minimum day range for a project.

It's a great little tool to have at your side when you're writing - give it a whirl for NaNoWriMo this year.

Happy writing!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Update

There's an update for the Mac version of Word Count Dashboard waiting in the wings - it's with Apple for review, so hopefully I'll be able to release it soon.

This update (1.2) brings the app's appearance in line with the new colour scheme and graphics that I recently applied to the iPad version. It also follows suit in lowering the minimum number of days that a project can be set at to 1 (down from 7).

It also fixes a weird issue I noticed when I upgraded to El Capitan, that seems to offset the position of text in labels, but only if the label is set to a bold font (it's not the app's fault).

Assuming there are no issues with the update, a similar update for the Mac version of Savings Jar will not be far behind.

So, if you're using Word Count Dashboard, or are thinking of giving it a go to help with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November, keep an eye out for the 1.2 update coming soon.

Happy writing!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Update

The sad news for now, is that the planned Subplot 2 update is on hold indefinitely. I've removed the previous blog entry (to avoid confusing anyone more than anything).

In the meantime, thanks to everyone who has been happily using Subplot all these years - and if you're planning on taking part in National Novel Writing Month this November, good luck.

Happy writing.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Plotline updated

Following on from the updates for Savings Jar and Word Count Dashboard, Plotline has been through the same stern talking-to, and now sports a new iOS 8 style look and feel, as well as new icon. It's the same app behind the scenes.



The updated version should be filtering through the App Stores from about 10am UK time.

As an aside, all our apps are now available on the New Zealand Mac and iOS App Stores.

Thank you to everyone who has given Plotline a try - I use it all the time, and I hope you're all enjoying it too.

Happy writing!


Saturday, 1 August 2015

Savings Jar for iPad updated, and happy birthday to Peace of Mind

The iPad version of Savings Jar has been off to the same spa as Word Count Dashboard for a makeover, and now has a clean, iOS 8 look and feel.


 
It's the same app as before, and is a free update to anyone who's already purchased the app.
I've also added a Help tab to the app, which includes some documentation about how to use the app.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the new version, I really like the new look.

It's also the second anniversary of Peace of Mind, which is available for Mac. It's one of those apps that you never knew you needed, but will make things easier down the line. It keeps details of your "arrangements" together, in a way that your loved ones would find useful if you were gone, and they had to deal with your affairs/estate.

It doesn't hold any passwords or account details, just "where to look for everything", and what things you've set up (such as standing orders, which insurer you're with for house insurance, etc.)

It's not a "cool" app that you'll use every day - but it's one that will save a lot of time and effort one day. 

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Word Count Dashboard updated

The iPad version of Word Count Dashboard has been off to the spa for a makeover, and now has a clean, iOS 8 look and feel.


It's the same app as before, and is a free update to anyone who's already purchased the app.

I've also added a Help tab to the app, which includes some documentation about how to use the app (it's similar in style to the ones I created for Plotline and the iPad version of Shelf Life).

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the new version, I really like the new look.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Update

There's been a lot of activity behind the scenes here. Nothing to reveal yet, but the summer will be a busy one.

The Subplot 1.3 update will be released soon.

Meanwhile, in design work for my iPad RPG, I've been playing around with the new Iray renderer in DAZ Studio. It seems really good - but you do have to rethink lighting setup in a scene.

In the writing sphere, I've finished the final edits for Spark of Humanity - with just final tweaks for the ebook formatting to go through. So it will be nice to see that finished soon.

Happy writing.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Happy birthday Novel Ideas

11th April is the one-year anniversary of Novel Ideas being released, and to celebrate that, the app has been off to a spa for a Hollywood-style makeover.

Summary image for the Novel Ideas app
The new look Novel Ideas
It works in exactly the same way as the original version, but has a new colour scheme, inspired in fact by the Ideas List colour scheme in Subplot - which was the original inspiration for the app as well.

Novel Ideas version 1.5 is a free update to anyone who has already purchased the app from the iOS App Store.

Happy writing!


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Update on the update!

The 1.3 version of Subplot is still coming soon - I had a tweak of the Rich Text output for the reports, and also added in the ability to save a copy of the user guide.

There's a problem with Adobe Reader commandeering the Safari browser's ability to show PDF content - it's a known issue, but it stops some users from seeing the Subplot (and some of my other apps) help files.

So there's an easy way of getting hold of the PDF of the user guide now, from the Help menu in the app itself.

Hopefully Subplot 1.3 will get through the review process soon, and then it'll be released.

There's also an update coming for Novel Ideas, which is one year old on the 11th April.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Update

There's a small update for Subplot coming shortly. Version 1.3 adds a bug fix that was recently uncovered, as well as including support for basic Rich-Text-Format exporting for the reports.

Due to the nature of the development tool used for Subplot's reports, the rtf output isn't perfect, but it should help people who want easier access to the content they've written in Subplot, rather than the standard PDF print.

Happy writing!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Possibilities everywhere

Crumbs there's not enough time in the day for everything I want to do!

I've just built the final ebook version of my novel, Spark of Humanity, which should hopefully give me some breathing room to concentrate on some app development for a while, although I can't go too long without writing something, so that may not last.

I've got some plans for an update to Character Folio, so I may try and squeeze that in between work and writing and app design.

There's also the nagging thought that Subplot is four years old this September! I've been toying with laying it out for the iPad to see how it feels, so I may take that to a prototype stage (but no promises!)

There's also some other app ideas swirling around at the back of my mind, and I absolutely want to carry on with my role-playing game for the iPad.

It really is a great time to be an app developer these days - and I'm also thinking of taking some of the existing apps to Android/Windows - but having the time to do everything is a big factor in all of it.

So, although it's a while since we last released a new app, there are plenty of things happening behind the scenes. Hopefully I'll be able to share a few of those things soon.

Happy writing!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

A look back - and a look forward

Crumbs, it's February already, and the last time I posted anything was Christmas.

A big thank you to everyone who has given my apps a try - I hope you're finding them useful. I think the key to successful app-design, is to concentrate on making something that you want to use for yourself: don't go for the thing that you think will sell - go for the thing that you want to use.

Subplot came about initially because there wasn't a writing tool around that suited the way I wanted to design my novels.

Savings Jar came about because I wanted a little utility for myself to look at saving.

Character Folio arrived because I really wanted to organise information about my novel characters in far greater detail than anything else on the market at the time.

Word Count Dashboard actually came about because I used Savings Jar to count "words" when I was writing the first draft of my novel, Spark of Humanity, and it worked so well, that I rewrote it to specifically deal with word counts.

I wish I had a list of every book that I've ever read: that simple thought gave rise to Shelf Life (even though I can't back-fill it with everything I've read over the years, I can keep track of things going forward).

Peace of Mind came about because I wanted an easy way of leaving behind a summary of my affairs for my loved ones, and it's something that a lot of people don't think about until it's too late. I don't think there's anything else out there quite like it.

Plotline came about because I love the iPad's portability, and wanted something to help me plot out a synopsis on the go - and deliberately without delving into the full range of details that Subplot would demand - sometimes you have to see where the story takes you rather than concentrating on the tiny details up-front.

Novel Ideas came about initially as a way of learning how to program specifically for the form-factor of the iPhone. It's a tiny app, but I know that with that, I have a little virtual organiser for my writing ideas, and I never have to worry about not having a pad and paper with me.

Continuity was a daunting app to build - it's not easy to try and distill what is needed to edit a novel, but I've tried, and it's something I use, especially most recently, as I'm finishing up with Spark of Humanity.

And I think that's the biggest thing that I'm pleased about, looking over my app portfolio: I use all my apps. I wrote them for me - the fact that other people out there enjoy using them is a bonus, and a wonderful one at that.

It's the same with writing - the stories I write, are primarily the things that I want to read.

So next time you're sat down wondering what app to build, or what novel to write - make it one you want to use, rather than one you think other people want.

If you get the first part right, the second will follow.

Currently I'm looking at some game designs - I've loved role-playing games for years, and although it's a big task, I'm working on one for the iPad. That doesn't mean there won't be some updates or other apps down the line - as I use all my own apps, if there's something else I think they need, I'll be sure to add to them.

Happy writing!