Developer Interview with Lucy Thomson of The Tokeru Trust at The iMums
My name is Lucy Thomson and my story is thus, I’m basically a lone ranger chick developer who comes from web programming. When I moved back to Sydney with my family in 2009 one of us had to stay home with our daughter until a place in daycare became free. That was me. However, I’m not very good at not working at or creating things.
“Mac” used to be a dirty word in my vocabulary, but from the moment I touched an iPad back in 2010 I was a complete convert. Now I’m an Apple nut with 2 mac book pros, 4 iPhones, iPad and iPad mini.
Being a mum has influenced me greatly though too and 6 of my 7 apps are kiddy centric. I look after the kiddywinks during the day (a girl at school, a boy at home), doing school runs, nappies, all the usual mum things, and then as soon as they are in bed at night I put on the massive headphones, black tshirt and antisocial mindset to become what’s in my heart – a geeky coder girl.
How did the idea for your app come about?
The next app that will be released is called “Escape From Tokeru”. It came about because my daughter and her neighbourhood friends loved playing my previous app called Diode (the idea for which I thought of in those last few seconds between wake and sleep).
However the kids all became stuck on level 6 or so since it was aimed at adults rather than children. So I decided to release a version of Diode for kids. I wanted to create a whole story around the gameplay though, which is a challenging part maze, part path solving and creation game. I had been scribbling out ideas for three little characters, Kiki, Suri and Toro (who are the main characters – The Light Emitters), and decided to weave them into a narrative to give the game a structure and world to live in.
My daughter is in first grade now and problem solving and showing off how clever she is has become a strong interest for her. Basically every app I create, I do from something she is interested in. She’s a great source of inspiration.
And how long was the process from the original idea to the release of the app?
The process was pretty quick due only to the fact that I had a huge amount of reusable code from Diode. So from the moment I drew my three Light Emitters to this week when I submitted the app to iTunes was about 6 weeks. That was working mostly for a few hours 5 nights of the week, and squeezing in some extra hours when my 18 month old boy slept during the day. Most apps take me a lot longer than that.
Did you hire a developer or do it yourself?
I do absolutely everything myself. I design the app interface, create all the graphics, do all the coding, sound work and testing. Of course the neighbourhood kids are my main testing and feedback facility, and they are absolutely ruthless, which ultimately makes for better apps I hope.
What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome in the development process?
I think as always with every app it is the solitary development. When I work in a studio or office I have an entire team of like minded individuals who are highly creative, terribly clever and most importantly fun. There is banter, lunches out getting pulled pork rolls, brain storming sessions and the one I miss the most, a second set of eyes. When you come up against a brick wall and you’re tired and fed up and think you’re going to give up, it was always great to have that other developer there to bounce some ideas off. Maybe they would look at your code and show you where you’ve missed the crucial ‘;’, or maybe they just read about a new code library that could do just exactly what you’re looking for.
I still create apps so that my mind doesn’t become mush. I have to code, it’s just how I am. Until I can find a spot in daycare for my son though, I will continue to do it in and around family life. I love it, but it sure is hard.
Have you had much support during the development process (from family, peers, Apple Inc.)?
I always have support from my husband, and my family are very interested to see what I’m working on. My mum is actually great for testing things on. She was a teacher for 40 years and can give great guidance on the age group certain skillsets would be suited to. And she’s my mum, she loves everything I do, it’s great for the ego.
My husband also tries to give me a couple of hours on some weekends if I was trying to knock over a particular chuck of the app. Getting a stage complete, or sounds put in.
here are some great communities out there, Moms With Apps for example are always very supportive and really try to help developers and creators get the word out about the work and plans. I find though that I’m so busy getting apps done, that I have very little time to contribute to them though. I suppose also, like a lot of developers who feel like they are really just stumbling around in the dark, that I would question the worth of that which I do input. A bit like the blind leading the blind!
What are your plans for the future? Will you be developing any more apps?
Oh absolutely. Like I say, I can’t choose not to, creating is just a part of me. I become terribly depressed if I haven’t got a project on the boil. However, I would like to work with some other app creators. I know two other mums who are great on the idea side, but who need the geek part, so I may be able to help them out on some projects this year.
I also released an app called Loopy Tunes just before my son was born and I’d like to do an update for that this year, maybe some Christmasy tunes and loops would be a nice addition.
And no doubt in that blink before I drift off to sleep, another few ideas will flash into being.
What sort of feedback has your app been receiving so far?
The apps that I have released so far have had some really fantastic feedback. “A Fine Musician” has a lot of downloads from Educational Institutions, and for me that is the best feedback ever. To know that schools consider it’s of a teaching standard really makes me feel good about it.
“Loopy Tunes” has been very popular and was in the staff favourites as well as creative and educational sections of iTunes. Reviews and feedback have been very positive and have had a few great suggestions for updates I could make.
I can’t wait to see what people think of “Escape From Tokeru”, I think it’s pretty slick and a great mind teaser. I love puzzles and problem solving and it’s a great skill for kids to master.
And finally, what advice would you give to anyone considering creating their own app?
Do it because you love it. If you want to make an app purely to make money then I would say stop right now. It’s a tough business, which takes a lot of time and twice that in energy. Just watch iTunes for a week to see how many apps are submitted. That’s what you’re competing against, and the list is only getting bigger. There are a lot of incredibly good apps in there, but they are smothered by the mounds of rubbish. You can’t count on the good stuff bubbling to the top, the app store just doesn’t work that way.
I barely make enough money to cover the electricity that it costs to run my laptop, but I love to create. I have to stay active, to learn new coding skills, to better my illustration skills (which I know are severely lacking) and to keep my mind busy. I love being a mum and a wife, but I could so easily loose the “independant Lucy” if I don’t do a little bit of something that I love just for me.
So if you want to make an app because you’re like me, then go for it. There are loads of ‘a ha!’ moments along the way, and that day your very first app goes live is really exciting. I’m getting a chill in my spine now remembering reading the email that “A Fine Musician” was live. And when you love creating something, then ultimately it really is worth the effort.
Thank you so much for talking with us today and sharing a bit about your company. We really appreciated the chance to get to know you!
by The Trustee for the Tokeru Trust
Category: Entertainment, Games, Music, Educational
Requirements: Compatible with iPad 2 WiFI, iPad 2 3G, iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini, iPadMini4G, iPhone5c, iPhone5s, iPhone6, iPhone6Plus, iPodTouchSixthGen
Size: 157.56 MB
A Fine Musician
by The Trustee for the Tokeru Trust
Category: Books, Entertainment
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPad WiFi, iPad 3G, iPod Touch (3. Gen.), iPhone 4, iPodTouchFourthGen, iPad 2 WiFI, iPad 2 3G, iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini, iPadMini4G, iPhone5c, iPhone5s, iPhone6, iPhone6Plus, iPodTouchSixthGen
Size: 136.99 MB
Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB
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