Tag Archives: dinosaurs

AppLaunch

Last Thursday my very first app launched: Dino Dog – A Digging Adventure With Dinosaurs. I love that so many years into my career I am still finding whole new experiences and this was absolutely nothing like sending a television show out there into the wild. Here’s roughly how it went…

WEDNESDAY
9pm
Is the app actually going to be released tomorrow? Really? No, something will go wrong.

10pm
Hang on, apps release on a Thursday but it’s Thursday in New Zealand right now. I message my good friend Simon in NZ – “Hey, check your store for Dino Dog!” No reply.

THURSDAY
2am
Wake up groggy. Check messages. He replied – it is there! Back to sleep…

7.30am
Check local app store. There it is. It shows up in a search. Is it featured? No. Oh but the internet tells me that Apple only change their featured apps much later that day.

9am
Must tweet app. Must tweet app. Must tweet app. The publisher StoryToys have not tweeted app yet. Why not? I won’t tweet until they do in case it’s a breach of app launch etiquette.

9.30am
Why aren’t they tweeting the app? Is there something wrong with it? OMG, do they hate it?! Hey, they just tweeted it! TWEET, TWEET, TWEET!

10am
StoryToys’ Chief Product Officer Emmet O’Neill gives me one piece of advice for psychological well-being: don’t obsessively flip the decks in the App Store to see if it has been featured.

3pm
Obsessively flipping decks in the App Store to see if it has been featured.

4pm
Overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness. I’ve only tweeted about it 576 times so far. Shouldn’t I be phoning people up and getting them to mention the app on their websites? Shall I call in to my neighbours to tell them about it? Should I get a t-shirt made up and just go out and wear it? Surely there must be more I can do? Will I phone Apple? I’ll phone Apple. Anyone have Tim Cook’s number?

5pm
Dino Dog is featured in the Kids section of the Irish and UK App Store! A big banner and right up there in the listing order in Best New Apps & Games. Wow. It almost looks like a real app.

6pm
Obsessively flipping decks in the App Stores around the world to see if it has been featured. Featured heavily in the German store and some others. The artwork looks really good. Someone might actually be tempted to give the app a go if this continues.

9pm
Taking a short break from obsessively flipping decks in the App Stores, I get a mail from Gavin from StoryToys who has been very busy obsessively flipping decks in the App Stores. Dino Dog is featured on the home page of the US App Store, getting the first slot in their Kids Apps & Games section. At this point, Dino Dog appears to have been featured in most of the App Stores around the world. People at Apple actually like it. I am filled with a sense of calm. I can stop flipping the decks now. It is done. Over.

9.01pm
Obsessively checking the App Store charts.

 

And that, it seems, is how an app is launched. The big thing throughout the day was this feeling of helplessness, that I should be able to do more. I’m not great at just waiting around to see what happens. I need to be doing. But at this point the hard work StoryToys had done would mean that the app would be given a chance by the right people and, from there, the app would have to speak for itself.

Since then, the app got a great write-up on Apps Playground, was in iLounge’s Apps of the Week and also featured in The Guardian’s Apps of the Week as well as some other lovely reviews and write-ups. Just as important, the feedback from friends (parents and otherwise) has been fantastic. It appears all those lofty goals for Dino Dog that seemed so out of reach at various points in the production had all been reached. One tweet even said the app “just raised the bar on quality”. Could that really be our little app?

And that is one huge difference between apps and television right there. You can work for years on a television show and then you send it into a void. Sure, millions of kids see it but the direct feedback is slow, sometimes non-existent. Not many people review preschool TV shows. It’s just the odd surprise email from parents months later. But this was intense by comparison. Very rewarding in this case but could just as easily have been devastating had the feedback been negative or the app just hadn’t been noticed at all. It is a tough space, no doubt. But I won’t dwell on that. For now, I’m just enjoying this launch.

Thanks to the Dino Dog team, StoryToys and all involved, especially Emmet O’Neill in StoryToys who was instrumental in making it happen and making it a better app than it ever would have been without him, Ciara Moore who worked so hard on it, Giant Animation who brought their dedication to quality and everyone who worked on, tested and advised on the app and those people behind the scenes on contracts etc. who often get missed. But also thanks to everyone who supported us – Meabh (who did some casting and voice direction on the app), friends and family and my old colleagues in Geronimo Productions whose enthusiasm and support keeps me going more than they’ll know.

If your kids have played the app, I do hope they have enjoyed it! If not, it’s HERE so what are you waiting for?

DinoDog

Space or dinosaurs? Space or dinosaurs? Two of the most fun things for kids. I had tackled space before (and likely will again!) so I felt it was time to bring some awesome dinosaur-themed fun to kids and what better way than bringing together a good story, funny characters and games and activities so children can take part in the adventure themselves?

So I teamed up with top app publisher Storytoys, who specialise in merging narrative with interactivity for kids, to bring Doug the Dog (Greatest Adventurer Ever, according to him) and Bonnie the Adventurous Little Bear to life. These two intrepid explorers began their quest to travel the world, dig for fossils and assemble amazing dinosaurs.

At its core, Dino Dog is a fun digging game in which kids guide Doug deep underground in search of bones, breaking through soil and hard rocks while enjoying air vents, crossing hot lava (Hot! Hot! Hot!), moving boulders and so much more. Look out for Dig Claws which will help Doug dig extra fast.

DinoDogScreen01

When kids have found enough fossil pieces, they get to break open the rocks to see what bones they have discovered – it’s like unwrapping a present. Then it’s time to clean the bones and assemble the dinosaur. So each dinosaur is a new surprise and each one is amazing. Back at the Museum, kids can learn about their dinosaurs and hopefully this introduction could spark a whole new interest or feed an already-existing one.

It’s all wrapped up in a funny cartoon story that takes Bonnie and Doug around the world facing daring challenges such as: putting up a tent, choosing an ice-cream flavour and finding Doug’s mysterious Great Uncle Grit. The stuff of legends!

DinoDog02

The app is brimming with content with lovely animation (gorgeous work from Giant Animation) and great sounds and just a lot of fun. StoryToys have a video here so you can check it out.

So when will Dino Dog be coming out? It’s out right now for iOS! Click this link to take you to iTunes HERE or search your Apple App Store for Dino Dog. It will also be out on Android devices in the not to distant future so keep an eye out. If you like it, spread the word!

PlanetsOrDinosaurs

There were two subjects I was fascinated with as a child – space and dinosaurs. I thought perhaps that they were locked to their time (especially space with much more attention being given to space travel in the ’70s and ’80s) and that they were a boy thing (especially dinosaurs).

I was so wrong.

My daughter Daisy became curious about dinosaurs at around three years old, initially from Peppa Pig’s Mr. Dinosaur (or, more correctly, George Pig’s). A conversation with me on what a dinosaur was led to a genuine interest.

She became curious about space at around the same age, when she noticed the Moon one evening. Again, a conversation with me about it led to a genuine interest.

I learned two important lessons:

Lesson 1: Talk to your children.
Lesson 2: Girls in this day and age find dinosaurs and space fascinating.

So I aimed to feed Daisy’s interest. Looking to books, I found a bunch of baby books (‘this dinosaur has a purple tail’) and quite a few very technical books for older children… but, at the time, pretty much nothing in between. Very little that was aimed at preschoolers and yet taught quality information on either space or dinosaurs.

Talking with other children and parents, it seemed my Daisy wasn’t alone. Other children had these interests too. But, when interests aren’t fed, they quickly fade. And the world wasn’t offering what I needed to feed those interests in an age-appropriate way.

So I decided to take action and do what I do – create.

And the choice became simply: planets or dinosaurs?

You know which one I chose. Several years later, Daisy was six years old and watching Planet Cosmo along with her younger sister Alice and, of course, with children across the country and soon the world. Today, I have added to my gallery some images showing the visual development of Planet Cosmo. I hope you find it interesting.

And dinosaurs? Well the end of this particular story is still to come…