Design is like food

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I am running on fumes.

The weekend was exhausting. After walking all day Saturday a group of us went out to celebrate St. Patrick’s day. Let’s just say, I’m not as young as I use to be, but I pretended I was. And paid the price. But is was a lot of fun!

Last night (Monday) was a really special event. The leaders of AppCampus hosted a dinner party for us. It was called the “Design Excellence Dinner”. The night was about being excellent when designing our apps including the look/feel and user experience.

There was a comparison to excellence in food. In order for someone to be excellent in the food industry they…

– First need to learn to cook… other people’s recipes

– Then they learn to modify recipes and add their own influence to make them unique

– Then they learn to create their own recipes

– Then they learn to create a language using food

And so they showed us this in action. They invited in some outstanding chefs and a wine expert. And we had an amazing dinner of several course with champagne or wine before (and after) each course. Not just normal food. And not just normal wine. For example the champagne was from the top 1% of stock of champagnes.

The course started off with this dish that was an egg yolk cooked in the shell with a foam on top. I would be terrible in describing exactly what it was, but beforehand the French chef explained that the eggs themselves came from a very small farm specializing the low quantity/high quality eggs. It was amazing to here.

The eggs before they were cooked

The eggs before they were cooked

The second course was a sashimi with a white fish from Finland. Raw. On the plate was a gelatin made from granny smith apples and several other ingredients that included salty things and things of different textures and flavors. I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but it was also fantastic!

Sashimi

Sashimi

 

With each small course a matching wine was brought out and discussed. When done right matching wine with food is that type of unique experience that cannot be easily duplicated. And it makes the food I have been eating seem like cardboard.

The wine kicking in

The wine kicking in

We had one female guest – one of the coaches, Pauliina. She reminds me a lot of Deb. Loudest laugh in the room and highly infectious. Everyone was laughing just from hearing her laugh. She even got us up dancing to some Brazilian music that Danielle queued up.

The main course was a French dish with beans, prosciutto, and smoked pork that was out of this world!

pork

 

Pork part two

Pork part two

Dessert was an amazing pastry with fruit syrup and some sort of fancy liquor.

Dessert

Dessert

I am hoping for an early bedtime and lots of sleep tonight. But then again, I’d trade it for another night like last night!

 

 

 

 

 

TGIF!

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Halfway through Friday! Woohoo! But actually we’re busy most of the weekend, so I’m not sure if its really a true Friday today.

The day started off as normal – wake up at 7, jump in the shower and head to the bus station for an 8:00 bus to Aalto.

The bus station is THE place to be

The bus station is THE place to be

The bus station has two grocery stores, a food court, and is attached to a mall that has just about anything you need. It even has the laundry mat. It is the place to be for just about everything you need.

So I’m considering a name change. Comment below if you have any comments or suggestions. So far the top contenders are:

Puzzle Walk, Mind Trek, Puzzle Trek, or Mind Walk

The positioning statement would go something like this:

“Mind Trek is the only outdoor puzzle app that helps gamers to use their brains and bodies simultaneously so that they have fun, learn, and exercise at the same time.”
Thoughts?

Lunch Today

Lunch today was pretty good. I may have found a new soup for “Soup Night” at the marina. Its simple – potatoe and bacon. Sounds plain. But it was warming and good.
Potato and Bacon Soup

Potato and Bacon Soup

 

I may have forgot to mention that we are across the street from Rovio. You know, the makers of Angry Birds, Bad Piggies, etc. Yeah, those guys. So its a pretty active hub of game developers and designers here.

The Rovio pillow room is great for epic pillow fights.

Pillow fight anyone?

Pillow fight anyone?

 

Off to another workshop and then tonight is a social event with French finger food and wine. Looking forward to unwinding a bit.

Chow chow!

Still trying to make a name

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Today was either the best day here at AppCadamey so far or the worst. I haven’t decided yet.

It started off okay. I got in early, got  coffee and found a cozy spot to work for the day. I made great progress piecing together my Manhattan steps.

Great work cubes

Great work cubes

Today was the day I was to work with 4 branding and design experts 1-on-1 and get feedback on my app. My first coach was Pauliina, an expert on brands. She was a speaker yesterday and a group of us had lunch with her. She has a great outlook and personality.

Her task for me was to come up with my personal mission statement. Why am I doing what I’m doing. I went from “just because” to “to make a game to get people outdoors and active” to “to make people healthier and to appreciate their surroundings” to “to make people’s lives more enjoyable”. This was after much tooth pulling on her part. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but she explained I needed to in order to understand the emotion behind the brand. The emotion that would make someone want to buy my app.

Her homework for me was to come up with my “unique value proposition”. Me personally. What makes me unique and why would someone want to buy this from me versus someone else. I sense more tooth pulling. I have no clue right now.

So back to working on Manhattan. Sitting in  my cube and looking the steps I have captured in New York.

Manhattan is going to rock!

Manhattan is going to rock!

I went through my steps, put them in order, adjusted the scoring, made the clue wording better. I was on a roll! Manhattan IS going to be awesome. This is unlike anything anyone has done before.

My next coach was an actual game designer. I demo’d my app for him and he started asking me about how he could create his own versions. He liked the app, but he was concerned that it would be hard to scale and get out in a lot of places easily and without spending a fortune. So he thought my business proposition needs to be in selling the platform. Use Timmo’s Challenge to prove the concept and then sell the platform to other people to build their own versions.

The last session was with two designers and was for two hours. This is what I was looking forward to. It was billed as a session where they would really push our app forward a great deal. It was scheduled from 3 to 5. It didn’t last that long…

I demo’d the app for them. They didn’t seem impressed and didn’t have much to say other than it was a bit too minimalistic. They started asking questions that made me see that they just didn’t “get it”. This went on for an hour. Me trying to explain why they would want to play it. They thought if it were for fitness than they wouldn’t want to do the clues. If it was a puzzle than they wouldn’t want to do any running. They didn’t get it was what you wanted to use it for.

At 4:30 we gave up. I packed up my stuff and was the first to leave the building for the day. I went back to my room, laid down, and passed out. I couldn’t top thinking that if they didn’t get it then neither would lots of other people. And maybe my friends and family had been too kind.

I woke up an hour later and went for a walk. I needed some inspiration. Something to help me figure out how to explain what this app is in a way people would understand. Luckily, Helsinki has plenty of things to look at and inspire.

Looking for inspiration

Looking for inspiration

I didn’t really find the answer on my walk. But I did find a Mexican restaurant, which cheered me up! And I found this cool thing. it was made of these really beautiful wood slices. The picture doesn’t do it justice.

More inspiration

More inspiration

Well that’s all I have in me tonight. Hopefully tomorrow things will be a bit clearer.

Chow chow!

PS – I just brought my laundry to get washed. 21 euro for a grocery bag of laundry!!! Holy rip off.

Brands, brands, and more brands

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Today was a really great day at AppCampus. They had us really narrow down who our target market is by creating “mood boards” which are basically cut out pictures of our target user. What they look like, what they drive, where they live, what they eat, etc. I’m not yet totally ready to share what I’ve learned about my own app and brand. But soon.

Tomorrow I have a 1-on-1 working session with two professional designers. And by professional, I mean of the highest level. For example one of the guys was on the design team for Nokia’s own brand, which is on over 2 billion devices. A couple other guys work for Fjord, whose clients include the NFL and Citibank. So we’re working with some really heavy hitters to help us create REAL, strong brands. I’m wicked excited to see how they will help Timmo’s Challenge.

This has been standard fare so far though. We had a talk this afternoon by one of the guys that worked on the actual Windows Phone design. He gave us a really interesting talk about modern design and how Microsoft, Apple and Android are all moving in that direction – Microsoft leading the way.

So you probably want some pictures. I won’t disappoint. Today – signs. It is a really strange feeling to not be able to read signs. It’s like – everything seems normal, but you just can’t understand what words mean. Here is an example. Looks like an important company or something. But look at how many letters are in it!

Just try to pronounce it...

Just try to pronounce it…

Food has been the biggest problem. You’ll see some English. Like a restaurant called “Sky Express”. But then you don’t know what they heck you’re buying. Especially ingredients. Although everyone is nice and will help you in English if you ask in English.

The 12 euro one is the pizza with the huge beer!

The 12 euro one is the pizza with the huge beer!

I just had to include this one. I bet Rob would of ordered this just because of the name, whether he was hungry or not.

The El Macho Jr.!

The El Macho Jr.!

You may have never heard this before, but Helsinki is second only to Tokyo for karaoke. They are everywhere and there is always someone singing in them.

Wanna Swengi?!

Wanna Swengi?!

At least half of the street signs had red circles with slashes. Not sure what I’m not suppose to be doing, but I’m not doing it.

Just don't

Just don’t

I have no idea what this store sells, but their manikins are wearing black plastic bags and carrying a yellow plastic bag. Cheap plastic clothing?

What the?!

What the?!

And to end the evening I found these at the local convenient store. These things are AMAZING! Even better than they look!

Orange + chocolate + cookie = awesome!

Orange + chocolate + cookie = awesome!

I’m not sure how I am still awake. I am so tired, and my brain is thinking about so much, that I could literally fall asleep standing up within a  minute.

So I’ll try and get another bl