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Lego Building App for iPhone


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#1 Whup

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 01:26 AM

Hi everyone,

For the past few months I've been working on a Lego building app for iPhone. It isn't official, and I've been careful not to reference Lego in any way in the app.

The app is nearly finished, and I'd love to get some feedback from you guys. If you're interested in testing the app with me, please let me know via PM. You'll need an iPhone or iPod touch, and probably an iTunes account. You will NOT need to buy the app to test it!

Please note that the app is geared more around recreating the building experience than giving you lots of pieces or allowing huge constructions. It certainly isn't LDD for iPhone, but it does let you build something small in a realistic (and hopefully fun) way.

Also, I'm only looking for a few testers. Hopefully I'll get a few offers, but I can't guarantee that you'll be involved just because you've asked to be. Likewise, work may suddenly get busy and I'll be months away from testing again!

Thanks for reading, I hope this sounds interesting to some of you!

Whup
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#2 Fuzzylegobricks

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 02:18 AM

View PostWhup, on 02 November 2010 - 01:26 AM, said:



Also, I'm only looking for a few testers.
Thanks for reading, I hope this sounds interesting to some of you!


Hey i would loooooooove :wub:  to test your software (app) :classic:
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#3 Brickdoctor

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 05:13 AM

So will this be a payed or free app when finished?

Also, how will this differ from the Blocks! app?

#4 Whup

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 05:53 AM

I'll get in touch with you soon, Fuzzy! Thanks!

In regards to your questions, Brickdoctor, it will be a paid app, but with a free version to support it. I try and release all my apps alongside a free version; it's not ideal, but it let's people try before they buy!

The difference between what I've done and the excellent Blocks is the interface. I've tried to make something a bit more kid friendly, at the expense of a few restrictions. To be honest, the Eurobricks community is probably better served by an app like Blocks, but I think mine will suit the more casual Lego fan.

Don't let that put you off though, I can honestly say I'm having a lot of fun building models on my phone! :)

#5 Brickdoctor

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 08:37 AM

Okay, not quite sure if this is for me then, no offense intended. :wink: I like big, powerful software and who cares if it's got a steep learning curve! :tongue: It'll be interesting to see the finished app, though, and I'll certainly give the free app a try. Who knows, maybe I'll fall in love with it.

How will this beta testing work, anyways?

#6 Superkalle

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 10:58 AM

View PostBrickdoctor, on 02 November 2010 - 08:37 AM, said:

Okay, not quite sure if this is for me then, no offense intended. :wink: I like big, powerful software and who cares if it's got a steep learning curve! :tongue: It'll be interesting to see the finished app, though, and I'll certainly give the free app a try. Who knows, maybe I'll fall in love with it.

How will this beta testing work, anyways?
Hey Brickdoctor - why ask how the beta testing works if you are not going to be in it :wink:


@Whup - I have two kids, 7 & 9. If you want I can put them to work :classic:. Are they in the right age group?
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#7 Whup

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 01:04 PM

View PostBrickdoctor, on 02 November 2010 - 08:37 AM, said:

Okay, not quite sure if this is for me then, no offense intended. :wink: I like big, powerful software and who cares if it's got a steep learning curve! :tongue: It'll be interesting to see the finished app, though, and I'll certainly give the free app a try. Who knows, maybe I'll fall in love with it.

How will this beta testing work, anyways?

No offense taken - I know what you mean and I wanted to be absolutely clear on what I'm aiming for so that nobody is disappointed.  I'll be interested in what you think of it in the end, but I'm also pretty confident my app can coexist with 'Blocks!' without getting in each others way.

As for beta testing, it will be pretty informal.  I can add a limited number of devices to a list of people allowed to use the app (which means I need a type of serial number off of each participants iPhone/iPod to identify them).  I'll then make the app available to download from my website, and participants can download it and install it on their device using iTunes.  It might sound a little complicated (and at my end it is a little bit), but Apple have set things up this way and it's just how everyone does it.

Once people have played around with it for a bit, I'll ask them some questions and invite all the comments and criticisms!

View PostSuperkalle, on 02 November 2010 - 10:58 AM, said:

Hey Brickdoctor - why ask how the beta testing works if you are not going to be in it :wink:


@Whup - I have two kids, 7 & 9. If you want I can put them to work :classic:. Are they in the right age group?

I would expect your kids to be the perfect age (although I may be proven wrong).  My six month old isn't much of a guide yet, but if you're interested I'd love to know what you and your kids thought of it!

Thanks everyone!

#8 Brickdoctor

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 09:57 PM

View PostSuperkalle, on 02 November 2010 - 10:58 AM, said:

Hey Brickdoctor - why ask how the beta testing works if you are not going to be in it :wink:
Just curious, since I know apps have to be approved to install. Whup answered that question in his post, though. :classic:

#9 Whup

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 04:02 AM

Hi again guys,

I've just this morning checked the last item on my pre-beta check list!  What a great feeling! :sweet:

For those of you that were interested, I'll need the UDID for your device (whether it's an iPhone or iPod Touch).  The easiest way to get hold of this number is to connect your device to your computer and open iTunes. When you select your device under 'Devices' in iTunes, you'll see a little summary of the device (next to a photo).  One of the list items is 'Serial Number', but if you click the serial number it should change to 'Identifier UDID'.  It's a 40 character alpha-numeric number that uniquely identifies your device, and I need it before you can install the game.

As far as I know there is no reason to keep your UDID secret, but I think it would best for you to PM it to me just in case I'm wrong.

Thanks everyone!

#10 Whup

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 11:55 AM

Hi everyone,

My Lego building app, Bricasso has just been released onto the iTunes app store!
It's not a free app, but I've got a few free copies to give away if anyone is interested.  You can take a look at it on iTunes here:

Bricasso on iTunes

And here are a couple of screenshots:

Posted Image
Posted Image

Thanks guys,

Wade Perry
Lemur Software

Edited by Whup, 30 November 2010 - 11:56 AM.


#11 Calabar

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 03:18 PM

Hi, as images shows bricks that are a bit "aliased" (due to limited iphone 3D capability, I think), it would be great a feature to improve graphics for a static image: you click an icon and the improved graphics is applied to the scene. As soon as the scene is moved, the graphics turns standard.
That feature would be useful to take screenshots with a best looking graphics.

Some little questions: how many bricks are supported? How many decorations? Is it possible to import LDD or MLCad files?
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#12 Superkalle

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 05:07 PM

Very interesting app.

Could you post some more pics on how to operate tha app, including a feature list.

Also, a video would be great, like the one you have for Dude In a Tube.
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#13 kyphur

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 05:25 PM

If this could support LDraw (dat/ldr/mpd) files it would make this a required app for me.

Without the ability to use existing files and share them between my iPhone & Computer then it's just something neat to tinker with.

I love the idea and will probably buy it either way.

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#14 NovaStar

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 05:33 PM

Have you any plans for an ipad version? If so, happy to test! :classic:

#15 Brickdoctor

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 06:08 PM

Looks pretty sweet.  :sweet:
I think yours is the first iPod/Phone building app that has proper dimensions for LEGO bricks. :thumbup: I see what Calabar means, though. Any plans for a iPad or iPhone 4-optimized version?

#16 kyphur

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 06:41 PM

Well, I'm trying to buy the app but iTunes seems to be having problems selling it to me currently!

No worries, it finally worked...

Edited by kyphur, 30 November 2010 - 06:45 PM.

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#17 Superkalle

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 06:55 PM

OK Kyphur, maybe you can give us a review  :classic:
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#18 kyphur

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 08:04 PM

Here are some captioned screen shots:

I've played around with it a bit and can say that it's a neat little app but in it's current form it isn't really practical for anything other than burning through idle time.

The limitations:
  • No ability to load & save models means that you have to always start from scratch.
  • Limited Parts Catalog limits the complexity of models you can build
  • No support for SNOT.
  • No support for iPhone4 Retina Display, the building area graphics are low quality looking on my iPhone4.

Now it's not all bad, despite these limitation I actually like the app and I hope the developer is interested in expanding it into something more.

The Good:

  • The building interface works well.
  • It automatically stacks bricks.
  • It detects proper stud connections.
  • It allows brick rotation.
  • It includes a basic (3 screen) tutorial. See my screen shots.
  • Overhead view makes brick placement easier.
  • You can rotate the model.

While I think the AFOL who uses LDD or LDraw based Lego CAD on their computer will bore quickly I can see younger kids enjoying this app in it's current form.

I think it's current form could serve very well as a "Lite" free version of a much more sophisticated application. If the developer does decide to "amp it up" here are some of my suggestions:

  • Add support for iPhone4 Display.
  • Add support for Save/Load Model.
  • Add more parts.
  • Make the basic color palette available for all parts.
  • Add larger building base options (currently supports 6 x 6, 8 x 8 & 12 x 12)

This would make it a fun basic Lego CAD iDevice app for AFOLs.

If you really want to take it further then there is a whole other list of suggestions but that's for a later time.

Edited by kyphur, 30 November 2010 - 08:18 PM.

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#19 Superkalle

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 08:14 PM

Thanks for the review! Great job!

PS: The link to the screenshot is not working ("private").
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#20 MightySlickPancake

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 08:16 PM

Great review and amazing app, but I'm having the same problem as Superkalle. I would love to see photos.

Thanks, CB
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#21 kyphur

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 08:17 PM

Sorry, fixed the permissions on the images...

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#22 Brickdoctor

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 09:48 PM

Screenshots aren't looking all that bad. I'd like to see some of the above mentioned features before I consider buying it, though.

#23 Whup

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 09:53 PM

View PostCalabar, on 30 November 2010 - 03:18 PM, said:

Hi, as images shows bricks that are a bit "aliased" (due to limited iphone 3D capability, I think), it would be great a feature to improve graphics for a static image: you click an icon and the improved graphics is applied to the scene. As soon as the scene is moved, the graphics turns standard.
That feature would be useful to take screenshots with a best looking graphics.

Some little questions: how many bricks are supported? How many decorations? Is it possible to import LDD or MLCad files?

You're right, the images are aliased (ie, jaggy lines for those not familiar with aliasing) but it was a trade off I had to make on my iPhone 3G to keep the interface really fast and fluid.  If I can sell a few copies my wife will let me get an iPhone 4 and I'll be able to set up a higher quality rendering path.  It does look lovely all smooth and anti-aliased though.

The only limit in number of bricks is how many before things slow down past useable.  My iPhone 3G handles a couple of hundred bricks fine.  At this stage it is not possible to import models from other apps.

View PostSuperkalle, on 30 November 2010 - 05:07 PM, said:

Very interesting app.

Could you post some more pics on how to operate tha app, including a feature list.

Also, a video would be great, like the one you have for Dude In a Tube.

That's a good idea regarding the video - I'll put one together on the weekend and make a bit of a description on my website.


View PostNovaStar, on 30 November 2010 - 05:33 PM, said:

Have you any plans for an ipad version? If so, happy to test! :classic:

Oh yeah, iPad version is not far away at all, and should be submitted to Apple within a couple of weeks!

View PostBrickdoctor, on 30 November 2010 - 06:08 PM, said:

Looks pretty sweet.  :sweet:
I think yours is the first iPod/Phone building app that has proper dimensions for LEGO bricks. :thumbup: I see what Calabar means, though. Any plans for a iPad or iPhone 4-optimized version?

I'm glad you like the look of it!  And yes, dimensions were carefully taken from actual pieces.  Actually, some of the bricks were just guessed (such as the slopes), but when I sat down and actually measured them I realised I was spot on anyway.  I guess you look at those little bits of plastic for long enough and you just know. :tongue:

And yes, iPad version is on the way (it will be included with the iPhone3 version).  I'm not 100% on the iPhone 4 version since I don't have one yet, but I'd definitely like to!

View Postkyphur, on 30 November 2010 - 08:04 PM, said:

Here are some captioned screen shots:

I've played around with it a bit and can say that it's a neat little app but in it's current form it isn't really practical for anything other than burning through idle time.

The limitations:
  • No ability to load & save models means that you have to always start from scratch.
  • Limited Parts Catalog limits the complexity of models you can build
  • No support for SNOT.
  • No support for iPhone4 Retina Display, the building area graphics are low quality looking on my iPhone4.

Now it's not all bad, despite these limitation I actually like the app and I hope the developer is interested in expanding it into something more.

The Good:

  • The building interface works well.
  • It automatically stacks bricks.
  • It detects proper stud connections.
  • It allows brick rotation.
  • It includes a basic (3 screen) tutorial. See my screen shots.
  • Overhead view makes brick placement easier.
  • You can rotate the model.

While I think the AFOL who uses LDD or LDraw based Lego CAD on their computer will bore quickly I can see younger kids enjoying this app in it's current form.

I think it's current form could serve very well as a "Lite" free version of a much more sophisticated application. If the developer does decide to "amp it up" here are some of my suggestions:

  • Add support for iPhone4 Display.
  • Add support for Save/Load Model.
  • Add more parts.
  • Make the basic color palette available for all parts.
  • Add larger building base options (currently supports 6 x 6, 8 x 8 & 12 x 12)

This would make it a fun basic Lego CAD iDevice app for AFOLs.

If you really want to take it further then there is a whole other list of suggestions but that's for a later time.


Thanks very much for the constructive feedback Kyphur.  I've got to head to work for now, but I will respond to your thoughts as soon as I can!

Thanks everyone!

Edited by Whup, 30 November 2010 - 09:55 PM.


#24 kyphur

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 09:53 PM

View PostWhup, on 30 November 2010 - 09:48 PM, said:

You're right, the images are aliased (ie, jaggy lines for those not familiar with aliasing) but it was a trade off I had to make on my iPhone 3G to keep the interface really fast and fluid.  If I can sell a few copies my wife will let me get an iPhone 4 and I'll be able to set up a higher quality rendering path.  It does look lovely all smooth and anti-aliased though.

iPhone 3G is old... At the very least have a setting that allows us to enable or disable anti-aliasing for 3GS, iPad and iPhone4.

I understand the thought of if the revenue supports it I'll get an iPhone4 but maybe if you support the iPhone4 the revenue will come!

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#25 Calabar

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 11:57 PM

View PostWhup, on 30 November 2010 - 09:53 PM, said:

You're right, the images are aliased (ie, jaggy lines for those not familiar with aliasing) but it was a trade off I had to make on my iPhone 3G to keep the interface really fast and fluid.
Exactly! And that's why I thought the "enhanced graphics" feature as something applied temporarily to a static scene, in order to take screenshots or simply admire a finished work!  :classic:
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