When I first set out to develop the concept of Top Tale, it wasn't long before I realized that it would be just as viable to play as a mobile app. Now let me be clear, the priority will always be the analog card game, but the mobile app is just that, more mobile. I envision users playing Top Tale in airports, at restaurants and bars, and really just about anywhere.
Although once can claim that the Top Tale box is small enough to fit into a purse, backpack, or some large pants pockets, not many people would just randomly lug around a card game (not judging if you do!). The fact is, the mobile app offers up a lot more flexibility with game modes providing different ways to play, social media integration, and much more!
Opportunities to play Top Tale as a filler game or time killer, make having a Top Tale mobile app just more practical to have at the ready. After all, you never know when you'll have your next opportunity to Get To Know Your Fellow Human. ;)
So developing a mobile app became part of the Yub Nub Games business plan, in fact, I wanted to make sure it was part of the Kickstarter campaign for Top Tale: The O.G. Volume 1. Prior to the Kickstarter, I contracted out the development of the mobile app through UpWork, and was fortunate to have a gentlemen out of the UK, named Scott Mitchell, develop the demo app. The way it works, is that I outline what I want in the app, provide some images and text content, and then Scott does all the coding.
For the Kickstarter, I just wanted something simple that people could test Top Tale as a game concept. The demo app provided potential backers with a free way to try Top Tale before they buy, in addition to the Tabletopia, Tabletop Simulator, and Print and Play demos. Scott come through on providing a rudimentary mobile app demo that I could at least release on Google Play (Apple App Store would come months later). Part of the biggest learning curve for me, was going through the publishing process.
For the Google Play store, it was fairly straight forward and I was able to fumble my way through without too much trouble. With the Apple App store, I had to by an Apple device to even publish, so I purchased an older MacBook that didn't have a working keyboard or touchpad. With an external mouse and keyboard, I was able to get the job done with a lot of frustration and angst.
As part of the Kickstarter campaign for Top Tale: The O.G. Volume 1, I had some stretch goals that were meant to fund some advanced features in the Top Tale mobile app, and although we didn't get to unlocking those stretch goals, I did come up with a set of new functions that would really wound out the mobile app and make it a viable way to enhance the Top Tale series.
Next, I contracted Scott once again to do four major updates:
1) User Interface and User Experience updates with new Game Modes
2) A Tutorial to allow players to quickly learn how to play without having to read the instructions
3) User accounts through Google Firebase, allowing Social Media logins
4) Unlock code functionality to unlock new content in the app
As of writing this blog entry, the first two are more or less complete, and the second two are expected in the coming month. I've published milestone 1 as version 1.6, and plan to release milestone 2 as 1.7 soon (just a few bugs that need to be fixed first).
As far as the unlock code, each physical copy of Top Tale will come with a one-time use code (example below), which allows a Top Tale app user to unlock the same card topics that they purchased physically, as digital cards in the mobile app. I'll also have special promotional card topics that I'll be giving out at conventions and with the Kickstarter backer copies, which will not be available for purchase.
As new volumes of Top Tale come out, the number of card topics that can be unlocked in the app can grow to hundreds! Once the content is unlocked by a user, that content is forever associated with their user account. Eventually, I may also add the option to purchase new cards solely through the mobile app, adding another revenue stream. However as I mentioned at the start, the focus is on the physical card game.
So as you can see, the Top Tale mobile app is a big part of my business plan. I'm attempting to develop both the app and the physical games in parallel, and will be evolving both over time, based on user feedback. I welcome you to check out the mobile app now on either Google Play or the Apple App Store, and I would welcome any feedback or questions. Feel free to e-mail me directly if you prefer: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any questions about developing an app, or anything else related to what I've mentioned above, I welcome questions in the comments below.