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LinenLady49 beats the world!

LinenLady49 Scores BigHuge congratulations to LinenLady49 for holding the best Axl & Tuna score


I mean, look at those 22,174 points! The highest I’ve managed to score was somewhere around 2,000. LinenLady49 has bested both me and Dean many times over. For that, and for being such a staunch supporter of our game, we hereby award her the title of “Most Awesome”.

As a way of saying “thank you,” we’re sending her a gift package containing a signed Certificate of Most Awesomeness, an authentic can of TUNA*, and an iTunes gift card to support her mad gaming skills. Please join us in cheering LinenLady49 into even greater heights of Awesomenessdom.

* No Fuzzbots were harmed in the production of said TUNA can.

 Prize Package

Interview with Steve Paris

Steve ParisAxl and TunaI’ve recently had a chance to virtually sit down with Steve Paris and chat about Axl and Tuna. Steve writes for MacWorld UK and he was kind enough to write about the game and the story behind it. You can read the interview on his site here.

Apple Design Awards and Airport Security Don’t Mix

Airport SecurityAs I was heading back to Seattle from WWDC, I was only traveling with a small backpack.  I bundled the Apple Design Award into a t-shirt when I packed that morning, shoved it into my backpack, and forgot all about it when I got the airport.  The backpack went through the x-ray machine and showed up as containing a perfect, black square.

The guy watching the screen from the x-ray machine called for another guy, and another guy, and pretty soon there was small crowd scrutinizing the image.  The backpack came out, I sheepishly admitted to being the owner, and I was taken aside.  When the TSA folks pulled the cube from my bag, it glowed.

Whispers passed over the crowd.  After I explained that the cube is from Apple, the security folks reverently placed the futuristic artifact into its own plastic bin and ran it again through the x-ray machine.  This time, the other passengers got a glimpse of what the commotion was about and, once again, it was the glow of the cube readily visible as it entered and exited the x-ray machine that sent a wave of whispers through the sizable gathering.

Apple Design AwardEventually, the cube made its way back into my bag, but the curious gazes kept coming.  I suspect I will be reading about “intercepted alien technology of unknown origin or purpose” on the blogosphere soon.  What can I say?  Apple knows how to design their products.

One for the Kids!

Way back when, when I was still a wee-little iOS developer about yay high, I created my first interactive book of Hans-Christian’s Anderson’s fairy tales called “The Little Mermaid and Other Stories“.  It came out only a few weeks after the iPad was released and I remember working round-the-clock on the project to get the book out.  Because it was my first interactive book, I needed to spend a lot of energy developing the basic framework – general code structure, run-time page layout, dynamic loading and unloading of assets, etc.  I was working alone on this project so, in addition to the coding, I spent well over half of my time creating illustrations, designing sound effects, editing the content, and, at the very end, creating a short video trailer – definitely not my forte.  Nonetheless, I was happy with the results.  I submitted the app to the App Store and, once it was approved, I watched it go live one sunny Friday morning.

And then I paced.

I was very tired from the effort of the previous six weeks; I squeezed every ounce of creative juice I had in me. I was excited, and very, very nervous.  I don’t even know why.  I do know, however, that I spent most of the afternoon pacing – I just couldn’t stand still.

Yet nothing happened.

The week just before the app went live, I sent dozens of emails to newspapers, review web sites, and popular bloggers announcing the upcoming launch, but every time I refreshed my inbox, I was greeted with a message telling me that I have “no new messages”.  At that point, a wise man suggested I should step away from the computer and go for a walk.  Before I did, I literally hit the refresh button one more time and was rewarded with the following message:

We love your apps.  Thank you!
Zoe age 5,
William age 8 

I almost lost it.  Unbeknownst to them, Zoe and William had given me the justification that I so desperately needed.  I peeled myself away from my laptop to go for the walk and I couldn’t stop smiling.  Mission accomplished.

Since that time, I’ve heard from many more kids and parents and grandparents enjoying the apps and offering me their feedback and suggestions.  I’m always thrilled.  Each time I receive such an email, I’m excited to read it and respond as quickly as I can.  For me, it’s one of the most rewarding reasons of why I do what I do.  And both Zoe and William have a very special place in my heart, because they were the first to let me know that they cared.

Today, out of the blue, I sent an email to Zoe and William’s dad and let him know how much the original email from his kids meant to me.  Soon, he replied:

Thank you so much for the email. William just turned 10 and Zoe is now 7. Each of them now has their own iPad with your app installed. They even take turns reading your app to their little brother Levi (2). Now you have three customers for life. I will make sure they check out your new app [Bobo Explores Light], and I will send you their review (in their own words).
I think you have also inspired William to start working on his own app. He is currently working on his artwork and game rules. I will let you know how he progresses.
Keep up the great work. You have provided hours of enjoyment to William, Zoe and now Levi through a mixture of technology, art and science.

Once again, I am grinning ear to ear and want to send a huge thank you to William and Zoe and Levi and their dad Scott.  You guys rule and inspire me every day!  And, William, I look forward to seeing what you come up with.  Keep it up!


iPads and Bathtubs Don’t Mix

A friend forwarded me the following story that Ingrid Simone posted on Common Sense Media website entitled “My Kids’ First iPad”.  I had to laugh and repost a part of it – Bobo was almost responsible for a minor disaster that was only narrowly averted.  You can read the entire post here.

– – –

Establish some ground rules. Introducing an iPad (or any tablet) in your home the first time will require setting some ground rules. Even if you have other electronic devices the kids use, you’ll want to think about the questions the iPad will raise. A few examples:

How does iPad time figure into overall screen time limits? In my house, we don’t have hard-and-fast screen time limits. But maybe you’re a one-hour-a-day max family.

Is iPad time now included in that hour? Is it OK to make in-app purchases? We have tips for how to approach this question.

Is it OK to use the iPad without asking first? For us, no. Always ask first.

Is it OK to use the iPad while also watching TV? I encourage my kids to do one screen at a time.

Is it OK to take the iPad into the bathroom? I didn’t think I needed to address this until my 6-year-old son took the iPad into the bathroom so he could continue with the Bobo Explores Light science book app while taking his bath. The iPad was resting on a bench outside the tub, and he reasoned “but my hands are dry.” It could’ve been a disaster, and I could’ve avoided the close call by establishing that rule up front — and of course by making better use of those eyes in the back of my head. (Side note: Clearly this is a thoroughly engaging app! A 5-star keeper!)

KAPi Awards in Vegas

KAPi AwardI just returned from the Consumer Electronics Show hosted in Las Vegas this past week. What a crazy, crazy event. I thought I’ve seen “large” before, but this show put a whole new meaning to that word. The most succinct way I came up with describing it (and it worked for my mom, so chances are it will work for you too) is to imagine an IKEA store, in size and layout, then to put about 8 to 10 such stores next to each other, fill them with electronic gadgets, cars, and TV screens (thousands and thousands of TV screens) and you have yourself something similar to what amounts to the public mayhem at CES. Here is another way to put it: After having explored the conference for a full day, I met up with Dean MacAdam, the creative mind behind Bobo, and we wandered the place together. At one point we found ourselves among a few huge exhibitors and Dean asked me whether I knew where we were. All I could do was reply that this was the first time I’ve stepped foot anywhere within a 300 yard radius of our current location and that I was as lost as a baby.

One of the most impressive displays for me came from Samsung who was showing off their latest, greatest OLED TV. I’m not much of a gadget geek, but this thing blew me away. The images were so sharp, the colors so vibrant, and the blacks so black that you couldn’t tell an image from a vivid painting. The thing that just floored me, however, was the fact that this enormous TV (a good double-arms’ length span) was thiner than an iPhone. Even I had to admit that was cool.

The highlight of the entire event as well as the reason for my presence, however, were the Kids At Play Interactive Awards. Dean and I flew down to Vegas to meet, shake hands with, and receive a KAPi award from the folks at Children’s Technology Review and Living in Digital Times.

We were very honored to be among the eight other recipients of the award for 2012. It gave us a much appreciated pat on the back as well as validation for our work; not to mention we spent a delightful evening hanging out with extremely creative people who enjoy kids and, at times, acting like kids as much as we do.

The award was followed by a wearable technologies fashion show and we just couldn’t resist snapping a picture. Here is Dean surrounded by some of the lovely ladies from the show. What can I say… we had a great time!

Dean with a KAPi

The Hall of Fame

I’m super excited to report that our little Bobo was spotted in Apple’s Hall of Fame.  Check it out and happy holidays!

Hall of Fame

Essentials for your iPad

My mom just got an iPad for herself and, naturally, I was bombarded with a barrage of questions:

  • How can I delete an email?
  • Can I call you on Skype?
  • Why does the screen turn dark when I don’t touch it for a while?
  • How can I read books on this?
  • Why do the icons shimmer when I hold them?  etc.

All were delightful, of course, and made me appreciate the device all over again.  It really is a sleek little box that, for the most part, just works – even with my mom driving.

At some point during the Q&A, it became apparent that we need to install some apps that no device should be without.  I went to the App Store searching my memory and trying to remember all the goodies that she would likely find helpful.  It turns out that Apple beat me to the punch because among the main features of the US store this week is the “App Starter Kit”:

Starter Kit

I followed the link and was delighted to find out that Bobo Explores Light shows up among the selected apps, right on the front page.  Check it out!

Bobo Starter

Who Says Three Little Pigs Are Only For Kids?!?

PiggieYesterday, I was excited to receive the following email from Judith in Clermont, FL:

I have been delighted and intrigued since my first meeting with your pigs. I teach a conversation class for adult learners who use English as their second language. I brought in my iPad and passed it around for the learners to take turns reading each page. We discussed the meaning of each part of the story as many words are difficult for them. I can say no one was in the least bored. They couldn’t wait for their turn to play and read. Believe it or not, with all the discussions, etc. we spent almost a full hour on this very enjoyable lesson.

I’ve heard of our interactive books being used in a variety of classroom settings before, but this is definitely the first story involving adults and Three Little Pigs.  The iPad is really a remarkable device that has the potential to inspire people in all sorts of situations.  Do you have stories from your classroom as well?  Let me know!



Bobo on a World Tour

Bobo has been seen touring the world, being featured as part of Apple’s iOS5 Tech Talks. Over these next couple of months, the talk will travel around the UK, Germany, Italy, US, China, Korea, and Brazil.  The following snapshot comes from London, taken by a fellow Cocos2D developer @itlgames, the creator of iPhone’s 8-bit-style classics Alone and The Big Little Quest. Thanks for passing it along!

Bobo in London