Apps Have No Intrinsic Value

Today I saw this article online. Granted the information is from 2012, but the article reports the conclusion from an analytical firm that 60% of the apps in the App Store have never been downloaded, even once.

This figure is both astonishing and completely unsurprising.

You might argue that discoverability is a big problem, and that other App Stores that let you see new or recently updated apps easier might not have this problem.

You might also argue that a large portion of these are fart apps or redundant flashlight apps, or other things that you would not expect people to use regardless.

However, in my personal opinion, this points to a more fundamental problem.

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Thoughts on the announced Myst TV Series

What is there to say about Myst?  It’s one of gaming’s first genuine hits with mainstream audiences.  It was a pioneer of computer graphics and game visuals.  It’s approach to storytelling and puzzle design have inspired modern games like The Room and Gone Home, and its sense of mystery and wonder was one of the big inspirations behind the TV series Lost.  For me, it was one of the games that got me into wanting to learn computer graphics and make immersive worlds, alongside the original Doom.

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While later games in the series released in the early 2000’s eventually lost the widespread appeal that the early games did, the series made a splash again when it was released on iOS in 2009.  It was on the top sellers lists for a while, as people who owned the game back in the day but never finished it bought it again on their touch devices, and it found a new audience as well.  It also was a pioneer of “serious” games on mobile, with its success at an (at the time) astonishing 727 MB download encouraged other developers to make bigger games on the platform.

In this light, Legendary’s recently announced partnership with Cyan to make a Myst television show alongside a transmedia game element makes a lot of sense.

I look at the comments sections of articles reporting the announcement, and I see a lot of reactions similar to this Penny Arcade joke.  I’m not sure how much of this is the internet snark machine and how much of this is people not understanding how much potential there is in this idea, so I figured I’d talk about why I think it’s a good idea and talk about my theories about what it might look like.

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Thoughts On Recent Happenings

Well, the first bit of news is that my startup has announced the release date for our first iOS app (December 22nd) and released the trailer!

I’m really proud of how the final app turned out and I’m also really pleased with the trailer.  I’ve never edited a video before in my life and within a couple evenings I was able to capture all the footage with Quicktime and edit it with iMovie into what you see above.

I have a couple thoughts about this:

First, the song is stuck in my head after all the time editing the video, but it’s great and catchy so that’s not a bad thing.  Jamendo is a great resource for this sort of thing.  I even found some pretty excellent instrumental metal on there.  A few years back I remember checking out all the creative commons music and thinking there was some decent stuff but nothing amazing.  Times have changed.

Second, I want to slap the next person who claims that Apple machines are “toys” or “overpriced” or “fascist”.  Programs like iMovie and Garage Band empower anyone to become content creators in a matter of hours.  I have a <$750 notebook with a 10 hour battery life that can run games, let me make a polished trailer for my app, has a full office suite, and has presets in their music software that sound better than my physical guitar amp and effects pedal. As far as being a “toy”, I do more power user command line things on my Mac than I ever did on my Windows machines.  Power of UNIX.

There are legitimate reasons to criticize Apple the company, their hardware, and their software, but there’s these tired memes that have no basis in fact (at least not anymore) that make up much of the criticism I hear online and in person.  I feel like debunking these might merit its own post at some point in time.

What else?  I ended up having to install Windows 8 (upgrading from 7) on my desktop for various reasons.  My first impression was that it was the most beautiful OS I’d ever seen.  The colors and typography are tailor made to look amazing in commercials.  The welcome screen alone was seriously enough to amaze.  My second impression was “Oh my God, they’ve ruined everything.”  It’s overall maybe more stable and more efficient than 7, but every interface decision they made is objectively wrong.  Hiding basic functionality behind unintuitive gestures, defying 20 years of user conditioning and muscle memory by getting rid of the start menu, adding layers and layers of steps to the workflow for no real reason… I’m actually kind of astonished they broke it this much.  This is itself worthy of another dedicated writeup sometime.  If Windows 10 makes the mobile interface more intuitive and makes a dedicated and better interface for desktop while keeping the under-the-hood improvements (nay, expanding on them) I’ll be happy I guess.

Finally, Gear VR Innovator edition and public Mantle SDK announcements. As a graphics programmer, I can’t wait to start playing around with Mantle and see what I can do to max out my desktop GPU, and what sorts of new engine architectures will be enabled.  The Gear VR might be enough to get me to upgrade to a Note 4 instead of an iPhone 6+ when I’m eligible for a phone upgrade.  It’s just an early adopter device but it’s going to be really exciting to see what happens with it.  I expect much of the content (but not all, I’ve seen some “real” games in development for it) is going to be video/multimedia/“experience” software though, since mobile at high framerates and resolutions is really demanding.  I should do a writeup comparing this eventuality to the 90s CD-ROM boom and why this is and isn’t a good thing.