Happy Monday, everyone!
We made it to Issue #61! Thank you to everyone who read last week’s issue ❤️
I’d like to give a big shoutout to Filip Nemecek (who was featured in Issue #42) for releasing Indie Apps Catalog 🥳 Indie Apps Catalog is a directory full of amazing indie apps. You should go check it out if you are wanting to support indie apps or are an indie app developer wanting to submit your app! I’ve had a busy month moving houses so I haven’t submitted mine but I will soon 💪
Countdowns is an app for iOS & macOS designed to help you count down to those important moments in life. Perfect for birthdays, holidays, weddings, anniversaries, vacations, retirement, and other special events! Try it free on the App Store
Today’s Spotlighted Indie Devs
📆 Today I’m featuring Lyzzi Brooks.
This issue (and featuring this indie developer) is a very special moment for me. Lyzzi has been an employee of mine at RokkinCat for over six years now. She started as an intern and has flourished into an amazing software architect and project manager. I've been watching Lyzzi build RPGen over the past year and I was just itching to get her into Indie Dev Monday after release. I'm so excited for and wish her all the success with RPGen! Congrats, Lyzzi 🥰
Go give RPGen today and start adding some new names and details into your RPG campaigns!
👉 Please make sure to follow them or support them anyway you can! 😇 I’m excited to share their indie dev stories.
1) What is your name? Where do you live?
Hi! I’m Lyzzi, and I live in Milwaukee, WI.
2) Introduce yourself. Education? Background? Main job? Interests outside of tech? Interests inside of tech?
I got into software engineering kind of on a whim; I couldn’t decide what to do, but I just felt a pull towards the field. I graduated in 2016 from MSOE with a B.S. in Software Engineering, and I’ve been working at RokkinCat since 2015, where I’ve recently started being a product manager in addition to a software architect. I mainly do mobile front-end development (specifically in Ionic), but I’ve dabbled in quite a lot of areas (back-end dev, Elixir, Swift, webapps, etc).
Inside of tech, I kind of just go with the flow and research whatever interests me at the time. I went through a few-months stint where I did a lot of UI & UX research and self-development.
Outside of tech, I play a lot of board games, tabletop RPGs, video games, and for exercise I’m a recreational dog musher during the fall & wintertime. I’ve got two pups, a Siberian Husky and an Alaskan Husky, and they consume the most of my downtime.
3) Have you ever considered yourself an indie developer?
Not specifically, and it’s still strange to think about. But as I get more feedback and I tell more people, it does start to sink in a bit more. In my mind, I’m still just someone who “made an app”.
4) What got you started/interested in creating your own applications outside of your “normal” job?
Well, I’m a serial side-project creator (crochet, writing, video games, board games), but I hardly ever finish anything. Once I started RPGen, I swore to myself that I’d actually see this one get “finished” (i.e. published to production), no matter how long it took. Turns out I kept thinking of things to add and getting good feedback, so it ended up taking about 8 months of working in the evenings.
5) How do you balance your time between friends/family, work, hobbies, and indie dev?
I honestly haven’t had a whole lot of trouble. I’m a pretty introverted person, and it helped that I picked up the idea during quarantine so I had too much time on my hands. My partner shares a lot of my interests, so he was wonderful at bouncing ideas around with me. However, I seemed to get my best ideas DURING D&D sessions with my friends, so sometimes I was writing or taking notes when I shouldn’t have been 😉
6) RPGen - Congrats on your recent release of RPGen! I know (from working with you for years) that you’ve done a lot of mobile development but this is your first indie app so congrats on that too Where did the idea of RPGen come from? What inspired you to go through the full process of releasing RPGen on both the App Store and Google Play?
Thank you!! The idea stemmed from me spending too much time looking at cool projects on Kickstarter, and from talking to my friends. Nearly all of my friends do some kind of TTRPG, so when I was pitching them on potential (physical) projects they might find useful, one of them said “you have the skills, why not make an app” - duh.
RPGen started as just a name and NPC generator, but as I fleshed out those categories, I realized I could add so much more - story elements, shop and character inventories, and utilities.
Since I was very comfortable working in Ionic, I used that framework. And because of its nature, it makes it easy to create both iOS and Android (and web!) builds. Additionally, I’m always sad when a really cool app isn’t available on my platform, so I didn’t want to leave anyone out!
7) RPGen - I don’t RPG often but when I do I pick terrible names. My first time I was “Johnny Appleseed” and the second time I was “Steve, Blue, and Magenta” from Blue’s Clues I could have totally used RPGen to come up with better names. How does RPGen work though?! Do you have a list of names it can pick from? Or do you have an algorithm that generates the names for each type of person/place/object?”
I guarantee you that there are no lists of premade content! One of my biggest frustrations with other generators is that you very quickly get duplicates, and it seems to run out of unique names very quickly. I wrote individual algorithms for each situation (NPC names, shop names, etc) so that the combinations are “virtually unlimited”; if you’re unlucky, you might come across a duplicate here and there, but you should never run out of unique names.
Specifically for names, I’d study and break apart existing names, and create “recipes” to generate more. Each race has suffixes/endings that occur frequently, and the endings specifically give the names their racial feel; e.g. female elves tend to end in -wyn, -yra, and -dis, just to name a few. Then I’d study the actual vowels and consonants that they have in common; e.g. elvish names hardly ever use ‘j’ or ‘z’, and sometimes they have vowel combinations like ‘ae’. Then it was just a matter of fine-tuning the algorithm to create consistently nice-sounding names. And then repeating it for each gender and race that I introduce (which is now a lot, and more to come!)
8) RPGen - What was your experience like building for iOS and Android and getting everything setup for distribution on App Store and Google Play? Was one more difficult than the other? Do you feel pretty comfortable on both platforms now?
I was pretty used to submitting apps to both stores through work, so it wasn’t too bad, but they both have their difficulties. I did learn a lot about pre-ordering/pre-registration and finding beta testers, and going through the motions that our clients usually do (like setting up the actual dev accounts).
To get around having to micromanage my builds to each platform, I use Ionic AppFlow, which lets me simply update the app through the magical cloud. As long as you aren’t adding plugins, and only updating the JS, HTML, and CSS, it can get deployed without a new binary.
My biggest gripe is that Apple requires a new binary whenever you update store-facing content, like descriptions and images. Since I hardly ever run new binaries, this was a pain in the butt. With Android, managing different “levels” of testing can get confusing; e.g. alpha, beta, production testers.
9) RPGen - I’m going to assume that you’ve seen a lot of names generated from all of your testing. Do you have any favorites that you can share with us?
So many! I’m always hitting “favorite” whenever a good one comes up. Here are some of my currently favorited ones:
- Mistfortune - an alcoholic drink
- Mouseheim Kingdom - a large location
- Countess Madru Greygrumble the Third - a female dwarf
- “The prince has been seen around town dressed as a barmaid.” - a rumour
- Zorfy worfy - command word
- The Cottonbutton Inn - an inn/tavern
- A tiefling named Trust, who is a falconer - NPC background
If you play around with RPGen, please tweet me some of your favorites. They’re all so unique and fun!
10) RPGen - How would you recommend people get started with role playing games if they haven’t before? Are there any communities to join to find groups? Or any good online learning materials?
That’s the beauty of the internet - nerds congregate here, and it’s much easier to find like-minded people. There are probably hundreds of Discord servers, forums, and communities out there, you just have to find them. Even your local Reddit group will probably have posts looking for players.
If you just want to dip your toes in, I recommend attending a small convention. They often have a “gaming” track, where you can sign up for games and just sit down and play a one-shot with a premade character. Try a bunch of systems and see what you like most - roleplaying, combat, story, puzzles, or even being a DM. Don’t get too hung up on following the rules - as long as you’re having fun, that’s all that matters. I’m actually at Gen Con right now, and it’s wonderful to be around your people 🥰
11) RPGen - What do you have planned next for RPGen?! Anything you can share with us?
Yes! This week will bring at least 3 new name generators: trolls, goblins, and wolfkin. I also just added a feature where you can specify which races you want to generate NPCs in. I’ve got a list of so many other things I want to add, but no strict schedule, so it’s at my whim what I feel like adding that day 🙃
12) What’s been the hardest part of being an indie dev? What is the most fun part of being an indie dev?
Marketing and “tooting my own horn” has been the hardest. I feel awkward promoting my stuff anywhere, and wish someone else could do it for me. I think everyone goes through the thought process of “no one will use this, this is dumb,” but once I started getting some good feedback, I realized, hey I actually have something that people will use, and that makes me happy.
The best part is just doing what I want, no clients to be beholden to or other people to review my code 😈 It’s also been so cool getting feedback and ideas from users, especially random people that just found it somewhere.
13) Is there anything else you’d like to tell the indie dev community about you?
If you have ideas for anything you want to see in RPGen, please reach out to me! Some of the best ideas came from other people. You can follow me on Twitter at @Lyzzi_Lightyear (which is usually me complaining and occasional dog pics) and @RPGenApp. And you can download RPGen at bit.ly/rpgen-ios & bit.ly/rpgen-android
14) Do you have any other indie devs that readers should follow / lookout for?
There’s a dude named @joshdholtz that is pretty cool! In seriousness, I’m pretty new to the indie dev community, so I’ll just shout out the guys that make @Telemetry_Deck and @AppAirport. I used both of these services when developing RPGen, and they were wonderful.
Newly Released and Updated Indie Apps
Here are some newly released and newly updated apps from this past week! If you would like to possibly see your app in this list, please submit your app to the look at me form 👀
Thank you to everybody who made it to this footer! You either spent the time to read or took the effort to scroll 😊
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