A Tale of Two Apps: Talented UHS students create Hustle and Wordchemy


The Story of Hustle

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I was tying my shoe in the morning while rushing to school and I was like “BAM SON!,” I gotta create this app!
I had been thinking about something like this app some time ago but just never got motivated to do it. At that time I had recently read this awesome book by Cal Newport and it really motivated me to not worry too much about failing when creating new projects and to “Just Do It”.
So as I walked into 1st Period Shrake, I hit my buddy Steven Veshkini up with the idea and later sent him the blueprint of the app and the rest is history… or should I say: Steven’s coding story.
And thus, Yo-Yo Fu (Sr.) convinced Steven Veshkini (Sr.) to create an iPhone app called Hustle. The Sword & Shield asked them to share their experience in the app-making process.
Sword & Shield: Why is the name Hustle?
Steven Veshkini: When someone hustles, they basically do something rapidly. That is the goal of the app: to encourage people to get things done rapidly and defeat procrastination.
S&S: Aren’t there a ton of productivity apps like Hustle on the market?
Yo-Yo Fu: Mostly all ideas are and will be taken. It’s all about re-innovating them and improving on them.
S&S: Was making the app difficult?
Veshkini: I didn’t have much development help since not many people I know are experienced in programming. However, I did get some help from Daniel Johnson (Sr.), who explained a bit about how Apple accepts or denies apps. I also got opinions on the user interface and graphics from my friends.
Fu: Progress [on the Android version] is going pretty slowly. We have a team with different people specializing in different things. I specialize in marketing and web design and video. Salman Azmi (Sr.) and Muhammed Joyo (Sr.) are the Android guys.
S&S: Who inspires you to do what you do?
Fu: People tease me for this all the time but it would have to be the characters (Carly, Sam, Gibby, Freddie) from iCarly. I just love the idea of how they work so well together and have so much fun yet have their own successful web show. Have lots of fun while being successful–that has become the motto of my life.
Veshkini: I am very interested in computer science and application development in general. I wanted to create an app to learn more about programming on mobile devices. When Yo-Yo came to me with the idea of Hustle, I thought that I could kill two birds with one stone by fulfilling my desire to program on the iPhone while also trying to help my peers who suffer from procrastination. [As for my inspirations], Thomas Gui is a good friend of mine and we constantly support each other in one another’s endeavors.
S&S: Are you going to create more apps in the future?
Veshkini: Yes I am definitely going to create more apps in the future! My end goal is game development and I am slowly getting there.
Fu: I feel that our team chemistry is great compared to other groups I have worked with for projects, so I definitely would like to work with my buds again, whether it is for another app, music, whatever.

The Buzz on Hustle

The Story of Wordchemy

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I remember in freshman year thinking, “What if there was a word game that let you swap letters like in Bejeweled?” I already knew some programming at that time, and I had released a simple memory game on the App Store, so I decided I would make that word game myself. Originally, the game was going to have bombs and other complex elements, but ultimately I realized that the game was fun enough without them. The main reasons I wanted to make Wordchemy was that I wished the game existed and I thought it would be fun to make.
Daniel Johnson (Sr.) turned his idea into a reality. The Sword & Shield interviewed Johnson to gain insight into his experience making the iPhone game entitled Wordchemy.
S&S: Why is the name Wordchemy?
Daniel Johnson: “Wordchemy” is a combination of “word” and “alchemy”, because a major part of the gameplay is “transmuting” letters into special forms that allow you to make even longer words. I ended up using this name because it was unique and it seemed to fit my game’s graphical style.
S&S: Who inspires you to do what you do?
Johnson: I think I mainly inspire myself to make things. Imagining things and having ideas comes naturally to me, and I enjoy taking those ideas and making them real. My parents and friends certainly encourage me, but I’m mainly self-driven to do what I do.
S&S: Tell us a little about your experience making Wordchemy.
Johnson: The process of making Wordchemy was actually quite complex. I started out by writing out my ideas, and then I used Photoshop to mock up the gameplay layout. When I started to code, I first built the game controller, which managed the actual gameplay, and programmed the mechanics of the game itself; I made a series of “views” to display and animate different parts of my game, including the letter tiles and the undo bar, and I programmed the controller to initialize these views and manage user input.  My dad and other testers played with these prototypes, and I tuned the settings and eliminated some modes. Then I began the tedious process of creating all of the menus and animating them. Then I redesigned all of the graphics to work on retina-display devices (which didn’t exist when I started development). I built a website for my app and made a promotional trailer, and then finally released my app on the store last January.
S&S: Who helped you through this process?
Johnson: My relatives, especially my dad, helped a lot with testing and refining the game. They played my various prototypes and helped me make sure that the game worked properly and that all the buttons and menus made sense. My dad especially put in hundreds of hours testing my game. The programming itself was all my own, however. I taught myself how to program in Objective-C, and I designed and coded the game all by myself.
S&S: Are you going to create more apps in the future?
Johnson: I’ve had some ideas for apps that would be pretty cool, but making an app takes a long time, and not all of it is enjoyable. I’d estimate that more than half of the time I worked on Wordchemy was in making menus, fixing bugs, and connecting third-party libraries (such as GameCenter and ad networks), which are all somewhat unpleasant to do. I may make another app eventually, but I have many other ideas for unrelated projects and little free time to do them in, so I think it’s unlikely.

The Buzz on Wordchemy

Staff Writers