Author Archives: Dave Willson

Idea 1 – Reference Manager

As I mentioned, I started a new section created specifically to address ideas that I’m coming up with during my day to day life.  These ideas are not intended for me to actually build, but to practice writing problem statements and articulating my ideas clearly.

With that in mind, I present my first problem statement — the need for better reference management software.  As it stands, there are robust reference management tools, but they miss the ability to manage the knowledge and annotations within the articles itself.  On the other side, there are good annotation programs that don’t manage the references.

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New Section

I’ve added a new section called ideas.

This is a place where I will post ideas for Information Systems. The idea is that I need to practice articulating specific problems and distill my ideas into simple concepts that I can share with others. I will never have the drive or resources to see most of these through, so if any one stumbles upon these and thinks it’s a good idea, steal away!

Check it out here: Ideas

Week 11: Delays

Ok, so it isn’t really week 11.  I thought, however, that I need to get back to the weekly postings.  The past few months have been exceptionally busy with my work, and unfortunately the thing that got cut out in the long weeks were my extra projects, like my coding.  The good news is that while my coding in iOS has gone down, my experience with software development has gone up!

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Week 10: Learning to speak

I have been working away on my application for the past couple weeks, and by working I mean banging my head against a keyboard hoping it would do what I would need it to do.  Fortunately, today I had another breakthrough, albeit a minor one.

The best analogy I could use to explain it to people is that I am a child, learning a new language, and always learning more about the world, but I lack the necessary words to communicate.  The analogy stands in that I am constantly understanding how the code should work, but having the right code is another matter.  Oh well, here’s what I’ve been doing.

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Week 8: Leaving the books behind

The title is slightly misleading, since it assumes I’ve finished the book, but I haven’t.  Instead of finishing the book, I’ve made the decision to dive head first into development.  I won’t leave the book behind entirely, since there is a chapter on SQLite that I think will help me, but I feel I have enough of a groundwork that I can working on my own things, and I’ll learn as I go.  Beyond feeling like I have enough of a foundation, the other reason is that I needed to get serious and set a series deadline for myself.

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Research Phase

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m working on discovering what it takes to launch a social game on the scale of FarmVille or Tap Zoo.  I’m completely unfamiliar with the games and their mechanics, but I have an idea for a social game similar to these based on both my current work environment, and one of my favourite games from when I was younger.

I found a few interesting links about the history of development of FarmVille, including one at saying the development team was 10 people, but a budget of $40 million dollars.  Using this as a reference, I could never afford it, but there’s an escapist article describing the process as a much quicker and leaner development.  Given the history of FarmVille, I guess it is possible this was the first iteration, instead of the full launch.

Setting my sights on FarmVille may be a tad too high, and there are some similar games that may be a better case study.

For example, Zombie Farm was developed in 5 months by one guy, doing everything.  I’ll never do that because I have neither the technical nor artistic abilities.  Plus, I’d like to develop a team of either developers or contractors I can go to in the future.  Finding the appropriate funding will take some time.

Until I find out more about everything, it’ll be hard to estimate what I need to have in place.  Until then, I’ll just work on the design doc, i guess.

Update:  Found the GDC chat by Zynga at Slideshare that mentions 6 developers, 2 artists, and 3 producers/designers. Hm.

Week 5: Slow and steady

Another week, another 2 chapters done!

The challenge now is applying what I learned.  Programming is as much about doing as it is learning.  So far, I’ve become an expert at copying text out of a book, but it is actually very helpful because you learn structure.  This week was exciting because I started coding new animations.  In previous chapters, I have had the chance to use pre-existing animations to remove, or move rows, but now I’m actually modifying objects to animate them.  It reminds me why I  wanted to start doing this in the first place; to make games

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Week 4: Saving for Later

It was a shortened work week thanks to something called “Family Day,” which is a holiday giving another day to spend with the family.  I spent it going through another 4 chapters.  Sadly, since last Monday I haven’t had a chance to go back to the lessons.  Work has been especially busy, so I have put my studies on hold.

Coincidentally enough, the work I finished was learning how to save the contents of my application, so that I could retrieve the list at a later time.  Fitting.

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