Articles Written By: Mathias

Mavuno Secondary School

The Mavuno Secondary School under construction in Chonyonyo.The Mavuno Secondary School is under construction in Chonyonyo village.

Hey everyone, I’m hijacking the dev blog to share some important news from Tanzania!

Back in 2008, when I was doing field word for my master’s thesis on IT and poverty alleviation, I got to work four months with some really skilled and inspiring people at Mavuno Project, a local grassroots NGO in north-west Tanzania. Mavuno supports the local population in different ways, e.g., providing education, microfinance services, rain water harvesting and support for organic farming.

Mavuno has just unveiled the its newest and most ambitious project: the constructing of a secondary school for girls aged between 14 and 20 years in the village of Chonyonyo. The project is an initiative designed to empower women in the Kagera region and it’s carried out together with Engineers Without Borders.

Check out the official website here: Mavuno Secondary School

Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to the CIA World Factbook, over one third of Tanzanians are living in poverty. In addition to that, only 60% of Tanzanian women over the age of 15 can read and write. African women, especially those in rural areas, rarely have the opportunity to receive a proper, secondary school education; instead, their roles fall in the household.

The need for education of women and the overall emancipation of women is undoubtedly among the most important challenges that Tanzania faces today. Female education has proven to be the most essential tool to improve the living standards of societies all over the world.

StudentsFuture secondary school students?

There’s a lot of things needed to get the school ready, such as doors and window frames, so if you want to support the construction of the school you can send a donation. Any amount will be greatly appreciated!

There’s a fundraising campaign on Betterplace where you can follow the progress of dollars collected (like on Kickstarter) and even specify exactly which cost you want your donation to cover (but unfortunately the campaign page is in German only right now).

Check out the donation page here: Mavuno’s Betterplace Campaign

I just sent them €50 for building materials and we’re looking into supporting them with SkyGoblin money when we get some!

iOS update

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If you’ve got TJD on your iPhone or iPad you may have already noticed that there’s now an updated version of the app with a chapter 2 preview thingie that you can access from the main menu. The updated app also has push notifications (you’ll be prompted for permssions when the game starts) so that we can message you when the second chapter is out.

Unfortunately, the update came with a whole bunch of unforeseen compatibility issues that caused crashes on older iOS versions, especially on iPad 1 which cannot update to iOS > 5. The compatibility issues have finally been patched (thanks Markus for the help!) and everything should be working flawlessly on all iPhones and iPads. It may not sound like such a big deal but these bugs have really haunted me and last week’s patch is a huge weight off my shoulders!

iOS version stats, courtesy of David Smith. iOS version stats, courtesy of David Smith.

Patching the update also meant I could finally send a code dump to our friends over on Apportable who are helping us port TJD to Android. We’ll have to wait and see just how tricky that’s going to be!

This week I’m taking a break from programming and writing applications for development grants from the Nordic Game Program and Creative Europe. With some luck we’ll convince them to co-finance the development of TJD chapter 3. Keep your fingers crossed!

Casual Connect

Two days at casual connect in amsterdam with henrik and so far we’ve manage to show TJD to what feels like a million people and meet a whole bunch of really cool indies at the showcase floor. We’ve also suffered a terrible defeat to wendy from shark bomb in a swag/giveaway hoarding competition, and then just barely winning a juggling competition (with oded from adventure mob) in a vain attempt to restore company honor.

Henrik’s custom-fitted wooden-monitor was dead-on-arrival after the plane trip (and the old use-paperclip-on-screen trick didn’t really work) so we had to fall back to using my laptop’s display when demoing the game.

Korean TV checking out the beautiful TJD roll-up, and to a lesser extent, the actual game.

One thing I really miss at CC are the super-visible PRESS badges that’ll help you spot potentially important media people in the crowd. Last year’s GDC was a lot easier in reaching out to sites and magazines covering indie games because we’d simply lurk outside the press area and jump unsuspecting journalist-looking people to get attention.

William Volk, one of the creators behind Return to Zork, dropped by our table yesterday!

So finally the third and last day of CC is upon us and it’s time to head to the showcase floor for more promoting/networking/gaming/juggling!

(Hot tip: I’m betting indie prize competition winner will be the last tinker by mimimi productions)

UPDATE: The Last Tinker did win the people’s choice award, congratz guys!

TJD was nominated for best story but lost to Detective Grimoire by flash veterans Tom and Adam Vian. Best art went to Icycle by Reece & Sam of Damp Gnat and See You on the Other Side by Tunnel Vision Productions was named best innovative game. I don’t remember the winner of the other awards, but I know Jeff Jensen’s Spoiler Alert got a bunch of nominations. Weird funny game that’s played backwards, a right-to-left platformer where you have to un-kill all enemies beginning with the end boss.

I also got a chance to hang out with fellow adventure devs and spend some quality time with the in-production builds of The Inner World (by Alexander & friends at Fizbin Studios), Doron Kanaan’s 3D adventure Rose and Oded Sharon’s Bolt Riley. In the end, I decided to give my vote to a promising adventure game called Shrug Island (by Alina Constantin/Amazu Media) because I really enjoyed the style and atmosphere. Reminded me of The Dig somehow..

Indie enthusiasts should also keep theirs out for:
Paperbound (gravity-defying multiplayer arcade awesome) by Dan Holbert/Dissident Logic
Touch of Death (tap’em up) by Wendy Fox & Martin Nerurkar/SharkBomb
Squares Trials (high-speed tapping skillz required) by Franco/Leap Game Studios
Back to Bed (isometric puzzle game inspired by MC Escher and Dali) by Jonas Byrresen/Bed Time Gaming.

..and a bunch more I can’t think of right now + all games I never even got a chance to play this time around!

Thanks everybody for a great week!