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Ten Years of Ape Apps

About two weeks ago on June 13th was the ten year anniversary since I started Ape Apps. Although I did not fully quit my day job and go full time into app development until 2012, June 13th 2010 was the day I released my very first Android app, Mr. Body. At the time, I had been out of college for just over two years, living with three roommates in Kansas City, Missouri, and working as a full time software developer for a corporate financial institution. The night prior, my roommates and I were playing the board game Clue (aka Cluedo if you aren't in the U.S.), and were running low on the paper score cards that come with the board game. At that point, I got the idea to create a digital version of the score card so that we would never run into this issue again. Thus, the idea for Mr. Body was born.

Mr. Body was a pretty simple concept, nothing more than a virtual replacement for the paper sheets that came with the game, and from then on I have used the app every time I've had the pleasure of playing a good old fashioned game of Clue. It was also my first attempt at writing a mobile app, and my first experience using the Java programming language.

Besides support questions and the occasional hate e-mail, the most frequent question I get in my inbox is how I got started in app development. The answer is that I just needed a scorecard for my Clue game. Beyond that I was already a software developer at my day job, so transitioning into apps was relatively simple. I had also toyed with computer programming at a minor hobby level since I was a fairly young kid when my dad brought home Visual Basic for DOS, so by the time I decided to try out mobile app development, I already had a pretty good idea at what I was doing. The best advice I can always give for someone who wants to start out in this field (or get their kid interested in it) is to start as young as possible. It makes things a whole lot easier later down the line!

So back in 2010 when Mr. Body was released, the app stores were not as jam packed as they are today, and Mr. Body was able to generate a few hundred downloads in it's first couple of days without breaking a sweat. I had a banner ad in the app and was starting to see small amounts of money come in, giving me the idea that app development might not be the worst hobby in the world. So a few days later on June 16, I decided to release a second app, a game this time, called Ape Punch.

Ape Punch was a game I originally came up with back in high school for the Ti-83 graphing calculator. I never paid a ton of attention in math class, but I did make little calculator games that I shared with my friends by linking our calculators up together using the link cable. This was the precursor to mobile phone apps. I still have the original Ti-83 Ape Punch game file, dated April 15, 2001, which you can download here if you want:

I don't know how you would be able to use the file anymore, but it's here for posterity. If you count the calculator version, you could say that Ape Punch is almost 20 years old now. Being such a classic game in my own personal library, is was the obvious choice for my first smartphone game.

With Mr. Body and Ape Punch out on the market and making about a dollar per day, I had an idea that night about a completely ridiculous game whose only purpose was to generate mobile ad revenue, and that idea was called Scroll of Destiny.

In Scroll of Destiny, colored bars rapidly scroll up the screen, and tapping on them either gives you points or takes them away, depending on the color. Released on June 17, 2010, the game had one other "feature" designed to generate ad clicks: every once in a while, instead of a colored bar scrolling up the screen, a banner ad would scroll up the screen instead. Since you were clicking on the colored bars so fast, it would be easy to accidently click on one of the ad units, which happened a lot, just as planned. I eventually had to remove the scrolling ad units as it was against the AdMob terms of service, but the game did make a fair amount of money while the ploy lasted.

A few days later on June 20, I released my fourth mobile app, this one playing on the general notoriety of the mobile fart sounds app. The game was called Farting Simon.

Farting Simon was a merger of the two "great" mobile app concepts of the day, the fart sounds app and the simon says game clone. Although the game was made simply for a laugh between my friends and I, it was my first app that connected to my own online service (for the purpose of tracking global high scores), which opened the door to a whole range of apps and games with online capabilities in the months and years that followed.

Those first four titles, Mr. Body, Ape Punch, Scroll of Destiny and Farting Simon, all released within the span of one week in June 2010, marked my entrance into the mobile app development world and the birth of Ape Apps. A lot has changed with Ape Apps since then, and I like to believe that the quality of my work has improved vastly since June 2001, but even still to this day, all four of these original titles are still supported and receive occasional updates. And while Mr. Body is no EZ-Register and Ape Punch is no My Colony, these are still important titles in the Ape Apps library which I plan to continue to support and maintain well into the future!

So here is to 10 years of Ape Apps, and I hope I'm able to write a similar 20 year writeup in June 2030!
Ape Apps, LLC is an independent software development company founded in 2010 by Brandon Stecklein. Over the years, Ape Apps has published over 400 apps and games across various platforms. You can get in touch with Brandon on Twitter or by leaving a post on his wall @bastecklein
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