We Beat the Blerch

How do you bring a character to life in a retro-styled 8bit mobile gaming experience? This was the objective at hand in my first assignment as a lead designer for the game, Beat the Blerch. The Blerch is procrastination’s incarnate, created by Matthew Inman for the Oatmeal series, an iconic comic strip. 

I set out by by researching the Oatmeal website and looking at a graphic novel based on the comic series, “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances." I soon discovered the hilarity of the Blerch. For further inspiration, I also looked up some recent pixel based games like Canabalt and Leo’s Red Carpet Rampage and games from my childhood like Super Mario Bros and Sonic. The phenomenal pixel artist, Paul Robertson  was also a source of creative influence in the overall 90's nostalgia of my first designs and all their pixel glory.

After my initial designs, I decided to go with a homelier looking runner, desperately evading a monstrous Blerch. Adding a grayscale background with colored accents helped capture the beautifully crude style of Matthew Inman’s Oatmeal comics. Lines that are bold and varied in weight coupled with changing character proportions from panel to panel keep the style loose and funny.

Taking a step back, I felt Inman’s characters had too much personality to be boxed into an 8bit retro style. I addressed this by creating fully rendered runner characters in our next design deck. This felt more true to the way Inman had drawn them. The clients loved this touch!

By far Beat the Blerch has been my favorite project to work on. Not only did it incorporate my background in film and animation but it further enhanced the camaraderie between the departments. Sharing memories like watching our President’s face light up when Jeremy, our Junior Engineer added the Blerch character into the game scene for the first time. Or looking over and seeing our QA testers having fun debugging those early builds. At the end of it all, our team left their imprint and I my first shot as a lead designer wrapped in success.  

Building Your Marketing Strategy Before You Launch Your Mobile App

As you get ready to launch your mobile app, it's vital to build your marketing strategy before you launch. When you are excited about the development of your new app, you want your audience to feel the same way. You need to build up the hype around your app by getting customers who are anticipating the release date. Figuring out how you are going to capture the attention of app users and increasing the chances of a download will help make your app more successful once it launches.

Ask Your Audience for Opinions

Your app is an opportunity to solve a problem for your users, and asking for their opinion can make word-of-mouth efforts soar. Make your audience feel important by continuously asking questions. Users who feel like an important part of the process are going to spread the word about the app using social media to their friends and family.

Provide the app to your testers before the app launches. Listen to what they have to say about your product, and look for ways to make changes based on their feedback.

Develop Your Social Marketing Skills

Your social media strategy is going to make or break your new app. Create accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to begin building awareness about your brand and the new app you have created. Use your website to write a blog and to consistently update. You can share links to your content using a texting software platform by sending out an automation text at pre-planned intervals. Make sure that if you are sending individuals to your website because of your newly launched app, your site contains the app for download.

Keep Generating Blog Traffic

Once you develop your social media platforms, you have to keep writing posts for your blog. Every time you write a new post, share it on your social media accounts. You can offer deals to customers if they share your post, such as a discount for when the app officially launches. 

Collect Emails and Create an Opt-In Texting Campaign

You need to have a way to connect with your potential app users by collecting emails when they visit your website or by encouraging users to opt-in to your texting campaign. Once you begin growing your database of customers, you'll want to start sending out strategic emails to get users excited about your upcoming app launch. Try to get users excited about what you have to offer without inundating them with boring, irrelevant messages. 

Focus on Your Press Kit

Your press kit is often the first experience people will have with your app. Talk about your app and provide just enough information to get people wanting to learn more. Write down the official website where you can find your app, and be clear about the release date. Focus on getting quality screenshots, and create a short promotional video. In addition, contact bloggers in your industry and ask for a review of your app when it's ready to launch.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ken Rhie is the CEO of Trumpia, a complete SMS software with mas SMS messaging, smart targeting and automation.

What in the Synth!

Synthesizers are a rhythmic and experimental way to create sounds that other instruments do not. The MEDL team joined together for a Lunch & Learn where our Chief of Tech, Tom Ward discussed the awesome world of building and playing with synthesizers. If you're looking to experiment with such, here are a few take-aways for creating your own sound: 

1. Start - get some sound going to start from and build from there.  

2. Dial-in and make adjustments to shape the sound for a better starting point. 

3. Add effects like delay and reverb. 

4. Use control voltage to change the pitch and create melody. Adjust the filter cut off to achieve more or less frequencies. 

5. Tweak things to give the sound more variety and a more organic sounding nature.

Whoops I Wore It Again!!!

Typically when we meet with others we like to adorn a new ensemble. But sometimes we remember after the fact that we wore the same outfit twice in a row and cringe a little inside. If you're like me, there's something about forgetting what we wore the last time that makes us judge ourselves a little. Perhaps it's the thought that others will think we have a limited wardrobe, are missing a sense of style or just don't care to style ourselves differently. You could adopt a Mark Zukerberg mentality and wear pretty much the same thing, ALL THE TIME because in a life filled with a million other things to think about, this doesn't have to be one of them. But again, if you're like me and you like to live your life in color, What, Wear & When? is the solution! Now you can catalog your wardrobe, tie items together to create outfits and sync them with events in your calendar in advance or as you go. Even cooler, you can search to see when you last wore that! You will never wear the same thing meeting the same person again...unless you absolutely want to. No more WHOOPS I WORE IT AGAIN! 

Please Pass the Pi 3

It's the holidays and MEDL received an early present. A CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit! Small as a deck of cards, this low-cost, high-performance, mini device demonstrates the dawning of a new technological age. Thanks to the folks at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, for $35, virtually anyone can now learn how to code and build a computer. As a QA tester this was my first introduction to the Pi. At first glance, I thought it was a modest DIY project; a motherboard, power supply, USB MircroSD card reader, and branded case, but when I saw the wide-eyed look on the team, I knew that it was something worthwhile.

What makes 8 million people go ga-ga for this gadget? It allows for any noob or novice to challenge expensive products and services on the market such as media centers, streaming services, computers, virtual home assistants, and gaming systems, with homemade Pi equivalents. For engineers, the sky’s is the limit. Literally. With weather balloons and the precise calculations, the Pi 3 can soar to great heights with astrophotography. Having explored outside the known box with the Raspberry Pi 1 and Pi 2; we decided to immediately retire them to the land of Sony Walkmans and Tamagotchis.

Producers, project managers, QA testers, designers, and of course...engineers united for an office-wide brainstorm where we channeled our inner mad scientists. How will we leverage the Pi 3’s enhanced configuration? We’re talking better graphics, faster CPU, newly introduced smartphone processor, WiFi and Bluetooth integration. Within 15 minutes, Geoff our Associate Creative Director and James, one of our engineers (aka our MEDL DJs ) had the room filled with bells, drums, and trance music galore as they transformed the Pi 3 into a programmable synthesizer. Putting our glow sticks aside, Julian, our lead QA tester (and classically trained gamer) spearheaded the second project. Coupled with a USB catalog brimming with hundreds of classic games and his homemade arcade stick, the Pi 3 became a rad, retro game emulator, allowing us 80s and 90s kids to delve back into the nostalgic world of Mario Brothers, Pac- Man and Mortal Kombat. Like the numeric value of Pi, we discovered the endless ways the Raspberry can transform.

With each project, our curiosity and passion have helped us stay at the forefront of cutting-edge technology. We love what we do! Maybe the next stop for the Pi at MEDL will be a Raspberry Pi Beet Box with percussion performing vegetables? Whatever it is, I'm grateful to call this dynamic team my family. Bring on the new year...HELLO FUTURE!

I Do Stick Figures

Capturing an image on paper. How does that even happen? Drawing more than stick figures and basic shapes escapes most people. How do these lines and shapes come together to create images in the likeness of the object at hand?  If you've ever wanted to learn to draw, this app makes it easy to stop stalling and get drawing. 

Walter Foster, the leading publisher of quality art instruction guides for more than 85 years has perfected the art of teaching artists and has teamed up with MEDL Mobile to provide the Learn to Draw Digital Sketchbook. You will be guided through drawing lessons by this intuitive app that has drawing tools that have been fine-tuned to act closely to it's real world counter-part. 

What we love about this app:
• Pre-loaded with four step-by-step lessons
• Purchase new lessons in-app
• Text or voice instruction for every lesson
• Realistic drawing tools
• Drawing tools are adjustable in size, pressure and hardness
• Background paper style options
• Save any & every drawing
• Freehand drawing mode
• Save drawings to your Photos & share with friends

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Turning Up On A Tuesday

It was a night out for the MEDL team this past Tuesday. We recognized a few standout team members over yummy food and funnies at the Irvine Improv. MEDL Awardees:

Extra Mile – Michael Gilmore

App Assassin – Pranay Kothlapuram

Miracle Grow – James Roosevelt

Unsung Hero – Kimmy Matsuno

Hey Einstein! – Andrew Simmons

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